Monday, November 7, 2011

The Sounds - Music

I will admit to all of you that I do not possess a complete understanding of musical theory. I took piano lessons for a few years, I know the difference between a chord and a hook, and, sure, I can spot a chorus when I see one, but that's about it. 

Some of these other writers just blow me away. They'll interview the more technologically oriented musicians, like Steve Aoki, and their command of the language is flat-out impressive. 

I try to stick with the facts, statistics and dates of the band, plus a healthy dose of rhetoric in my attempt to express how listening to a band makes me feel, so I can share my perspective with the reader. Yeah, that seems like some pink-and-glitter Hallmark Card plastic bullshit, but it's the truth.

There's a lot of blogs out there that do get into the technical aspects of music, and that's been a great education. It's so much more interesting to read what a person wrote because they cared enough about the subject to stop and write about it. I've learned more about music from reading than I ever could from anywhere else, short of UCLA.

Swedish act The Sounds takes American rock and gets experimental

The Sounds have drawn a lot of comparisons to groups from the ’80s that wielded synth and rock elements with equal measure to great success like the Pretenders, Concrete Blonde and Pat Benetar. Call it “new wave” or “rock pop,” the group pulls it off with a modern formula that’s proven addictive to audiences from London to L.A.

The band’s latest release, Something to Die For, has been described by critics as a dramatic change from the group’s earlier style, but the band is still drawing upon synth-pop and new wave music. Félix Rodríguez, lead guitarist for the group (which is playing at The Glass House in Pomona and The Wiltern in L.A. Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, respectively), spoke to CULTURE about what The Sounds are all about.

The Sounds met in the city of Helsingborg, Sweden. What was it like getting started in the music scene in that city?

I wouldn’t say we had a big scene—about 150,000 people—but music has always been a part of the history of the city. There’s a club—we played [there] a lot—called The Tivoli, where there were a lot of local bands playing support[ing] acts when bigger bands would come into town. The music scene there is mostly just electronica bands, though.

How is the rock scene in an American city like Los Angeles different than one in Helsingborg?

I mean, L.A. has a lot of different musical genres. I guess the music scene is more American-based, traditional rock. Sweden was more influenced by British music and electronica. I was more influenced by Brit pop than American rock. The Sounds fans are pretty similar in a way. Our fans are there to see a good show.

American people are more open-minded than in Sweden. We got popular in the U.S. because of word-of-mouth. In Sweden, you go see a show if you really like the band, but you also want to just go out to the club.
It’s not the same vibe as L.A. Here, a lot of people just go to shows because they just want to see the band.

So, with Something to Die For, how much of the songwriting for the album was experimentation, and how much of it was evolution?

I think this is kind of an experimental album in a way, but it depends on what song you are looking at. “Better Off Dead” has a lot of hooks, but here are a lot of layers and different vibes with this song. I’m more into writing a song the way it should be written, even if you are doing something that doesn’t make sense to another songwriter. You have to break all the rules.

A lot of people write songs just to be big. I’d rather create something that people might get into, instead of creating something that’s been done before. If you don’t like it, you can blame it on us, so it’s an honest album.

What do you think of the subject of medical cannabis?

I don’t understand why it’s illegal in America because it seems like alcohol does more damage than marijuana. I think that it can help people who have cancer and other illnesses.

As a citizen of Sweden, what is your opinion of the American government’s war on marijuana?

We see cannabis as a drug and we classify all drugs the same. In Sweden, it’s easier to get help for drugs. If you just put people in jail, it won’t treat them. Jail is not a rehab. In Sweden, they try to help you. You can still go to jail in smuggling drugs, but if you are an addict, it’s easier to get help instead of going to jail. This makes better people, and it makes for a better society. In the long run that would help better.

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