dimanche 27 mars 2011

Interview • The Sounds : "An album should contain 10 great songs - otherwise, don't release it" (UK)

It has been almost ten years since The Sounds first appeared on the musical scene with Living in America, an album full to overflowing with big pop anthems. With the forthcoming release of their fourth album, Something to die for, no need to say that the band is still going strong, and still delivering the goods - and they still got many things to say. Felix, the guitarist, has answered our questions about the group and the pop scene in general.

We have witnessed a real evolution, from your first LP on, where your sound becomes poppier and poppier (which is not a bad thing per se). Why is that? Was it a conscious choice you made?
I wouldn't say it's something we've been trying to do. I think it's just the way we write music, we never want to repeat ourselves from one album to another. When I write songs I don't sit down and think that I have to make this song into a song that would " fit " a specific genre . I just write whatever feeling that is on my mind at the time and then try to translate that feeling into music. So I guess that's why we sometimes introduce new elements in our music: it is just a way to express ourselves and not being afraid to try new things. It's never something that has been forced or thought through, it's just a feeling that we captured at that moment.

Looking back to those three previous albums, how would you describe each one of them, in a few words?
First album : a really great pop record, a naive fast pop record. Second album : that album took 3 months to record. 3 big expensive studios. Still sounded like it was recorded in a shitty studio with bad equipment. It ended up genius. Third album : this one was a point where we wanted to do something different than the other albums. A little bit bigger, more epic and with more of a melancholy feeling. Recorded in 5 different studios with 5 different people.

Now could you describe your new album, "Something to die for", for us? If it is anything to go by, your first single, "Better off dead", is already kind of difficult to describe, since its sound seems very complex and original, when compared to what's out right now.
I remember when I wrote Better off dead, I immediately emailed our manager the song explaining it in these words:

Copenhagen techno after hours party
Bad bad mushrooms
And evil giants hunting me in the woods

He answered : "Holy fuck I can't wait to hear it!". Then 10 minutes later he emailed me back saying : "You're crazy dude.....I LOVE IT!!". So I guess that song might be hard to explain, well not for me maybe. But the feeling I had at that moment was a bit darker and I remember having a hunting feeling inside me. It's a love story between two people where things not always go the right way. In this album you can hear a lot of darker lyrics compared to the first two albums. Those two had more of a frustrated feeling to them, rather than a darker feeling. And when I say dark I'm not saying dark in a negative way, it's sometimes darker in a changing way to something positive. Some songs have been written and produced in a more aggresive way I think, and there is a bit more of a cold feeling in some songs as well. This album is a lot like us, I guess, it echoes how we work and how we think. Because its just us, our studio and our thoughts and feelings that made this album ending up the way it is.
If one looks at the song titles, there seems to be a lot of dark themes involved, especially death ("Better off dead", "Dance with the devil", "Something to die for" ... + we kind of wanted "Diana" to be about the Princess of Wales too haha). Why did you want to venture into those darker themes? Would you say that
your music has always had a sort of darker edge to it, compared to the lighter pop we're used to listen?
I wouldn't say this album is about "death " at all. It is darker, yes, but the word death is something else. Like in Something to die for, we use the word "die" but what that song means has nothing to do with death. That song is a very positive song and it is about being strong and standing up for things that you believe in - which, I think is really important nowadays. And Dance with the devil represents the devil inside us that I believe we all have - and i don't necceserly mean that a devil inside you is something horrible. We all have at some time in our lives flirted with the forbidden, or done things that we shouldn't have done. It could be many things ... If you "dance with the devil", you might be doing something really bad for you, but you still do it because it makes you live on the edge sometimes. Our music has always had a touch of darkness, but maybe in between the lines. And i guess that's why now some people might think this is a lot darker that the rest, just because of some song titles. But if you look closer you'll see that melancholy and dark lyrics have always been around our songs. I like the way you can write a song with a happy feeling in the melody, but then write the lyrics in the opposite way.

Who or what inspires you? Maybe some artists ... ?
I would say it's the people around me that inspires me, and the fact that we travel around the world and see so many different people can be inspiring. It gives me stories to write about.

There are a lot of Swedish singers and producers in the music world today. How do you explain this
dominion of the Swedish and what do you think of it?
I don't know why we have so many great writers and producers. We get this question a lot, and we have been talking about the "Bjorn Borg effect". He was the biggest tennis player in the world at one point and when he succeeded there were many new tennis players from Sweden that came out after him. Maybe he opened doors for the rest of the Swedes and showed that it was possible to become this big and great even if you come from a small country. Which leads to ABBA ... maybe when we saw them conquering the world we got that effect. It they can, so can we. But there might be other explanations as well ... Maybe it's in the water we got here! I guess you have to come here and see for yourselves.

Talking about Swedish artists, Robyn released 3 short albums last year, each one including between 5 and 8 songs. Ryan Tedder said that he thought it was the "future of music" and that artists may soon release their albums at a quicker pace, but with less tracks on them. Do you agree?
Hmmm ... I haven't heard that before. I don't think it's the new way to do it - I don't think that releasing an album with 13-14 song nowadays is the way to do it. The sooner a new album comes out, the faster you will go on tour, and that's the way to do it now. But to just release an album fast is not the way either. You release an album when the album is ready and good. I think an album should contain 10 great songs - otherwise, don't release it.

Back to your plans for 2011: can we expect you in France for a gig or two?
Ohh fuck yes... I really want to come there again. Last time we had a blast !

This one's not really a question, but we just wanted to let you know that Midnight sun, from "Crossing the rubicon", is a wonderful track that we've been loving for quite a while. And "The best of me" is the best thing on the new album. There, we've said it.
Haha thanks! Yeah those songs are pretty well written songs ... I remember when we did Midnight sun, me and Jesper were in the studio late late one night. When the song was written, we kept playing it on repeat laying on the ground smoking cigarettes saying : "I think we nailed it !".

Who would you be your dream collaboration? (past or present artists, and you can pick more than one)
Freddy Mercury for sure...great writer, great performer. A genius.

Now, for our traditional questions:
• What was the last album you bought?
Hmm ...  I dunno ... Yeah I downloaded the Blood Diamond soundtrack. Great soundtrack.

• If we looked into you iPod right now, what would we find?
The Sounds, The Sounds, The Sounds and some Felix Rodriguez songs.

• There are some artists we often talk about on Hall-Musique, and it is our habit to ask the ones we interview what they think about those artists. If you're OK with it, what would you say in a few words about ...
The Killers? Great band, I think they are really good songwriters and musicians.
Hurts? Haven't heard of them I think, or maybe I have but I'm bad with names.
Scissor Sisters? They are kind of funny ... Me and Jesper went to their show in Copenhagen and at the after party the guitarist (or someone else from the band) said hello when we were standing in line for the bathroom.
Goldfrapp? Hmmm ... can't really say I know any songs but I think I shazamed one song on my iphone wondering what song it was. It was Goldfrapp and I liked it.

Born this way: second coming or pure trash?
I think it's a good Gaga song ... sound A LOT like Madonna's Express Yourself, but you all know that by now.

Thank you very much for taking some time to answer our questions. We wish you the best with this 4th album that we already love (and bonus points for your long answers, we definitely appreciate it).

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