The Sounds' Maja Ivarsson: "You Never Really Grow Up, Being in a Band"
Winning over American crowds can sometimes be tough for foreign rock bands.
But Swedish group The Sounds has always enjoyed an easy, reciprocal relationship with U.S. fans.
"In Sweden, we have a little bit of a different crowd," lead singer Maja Ivarsson explains. "Over here in America, though, we've also had such a loyal and great fanbase for such a long time. We love America."
Last fall, with the release of Weekend, their fifth studio album, Ivarsson and The Sounds delivered yet another in a decade-and-a-half-long string of records that have consistently pleased American admirers.
"We did a lot more preproduction on this album, where we actually started to rehearse the songs before we recorded them, which is something you basically only really do for your first album," the singer says.
"But we really never sat down to discuss it and say to ourselves, 'What is this going to sound like?' We just started writing sounds and realized it was starting to go in this direction or another direction."
The 11-track release is quite dance friendly, though it still broods, veering from energizing drum dynamics to folky guitar plucks and emotionally charged lyrics. In many ways, it sounds like the work of a New Wave pop band that's finally achieved absolute sonic maturity and a stable group dynamic after 16 years together.
"We don't really analyze ourselves like that, but I guess we've been a band for a really long time and there's a reason to why we are still together," Ivarsson says.
"Over the years, we've kind of learned how to respect each other a little bit more, but then I think that comes with age as well. Of course, there's always arguments and stuff, otherwise it would be really unhealthy. But then again, it's never been an issue for us."
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"We were really young when we started out and obviously we were going to act like those teenagers that we were," Ivarsson laughs. "Now I'm turning 35 this year, so I'm much more of a grownup, even though you never really grow up, being in a band."
Since 1998, Maja has been touring, performing, and writing music with these same band members: guitarist Félix Rodríguez, bassist Johan Bengtsson, drummer Fredrik Blond, and multi-instrumentalist Jesper Anderberg on keyboard, piano, and guitar.
"This is our family and we know each other better than we know our real families," she says. "We enjoy each other's company and I think the experience of playing a lot of shows together has helped a lot in the studio."
Rather than envisioning some lofty summation of their oeuvre, the singer and her bandmates' ambitions with this new album were actually quite simple.
"We wanted to express what we started out doing in the beginning and keep it a little bit more straightforward," Ivarsson insists. "We wanted to try to get back to our roots and the foundations of The Sounds."
That's why, when she and the group perform at downtown Miami's Grand Central, it won't be all about Weekend. They'll carefully, considerately draw from the entirety of their much-admired catalog.
"It's always nice to be able to play new songs for your fans," Ivarsson admits. "But we play from all of our records. We really do try to cover all five albums because we are here for our fans.
"If I have any other favorite songs, I can sing them to myself at home," she laughs.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
The Sounds. With Blondfire and Ghost Beach. Presented by Poplife. Wednesday, April 16. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $20 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
Follow Alex Silva on Twitter @Silvasgoldd
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