An Interview with The Sounds — the band’s twenty-year run and how they got here

Swedish indie-rockers The Sounds have been together for twenty years, now just as much experts on the music circuit as they are about spending prolonged periods of time with other people. Founded in 1988 by lead-singer Maja Ivarsson, Félix Rodríguez, Johan Bengtsson, and Fredrik Blond, the group added it’s final member Jesper Anderberg after meeting him by chance at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden. We spoke with Anderberg about the band’s recent milestones, which included a celebratory tour last year for the ten year anniversary of their second album Dying to Say this to You, as well as the recent release of their The Tales We Tell EP and their upcoming return to Los Angeles. The group has two dates scheduled at the Fonda Theatre Hollywood for November 12 and November 13.

Anderberg remains the youngest member of the group, being only sixteen years old when added to play keyboards and guitar, while the rest were around eighteen at the time. In a lot of ways, The Sounds grew up together, spending the latter half of their teenage years as a band trying to work out the kinks of their possible future career together. Twenty-years later, they’re still spending a good chunk of their time together, at least two hundred days out of the year Anderberg estimates.

“It’s definitely been hard sometimes to stick together, you can’t be friends all the time when you’re living on top of each other like we do,” Anderberg explained. “But it’s the sort of bond that started when I was sixteen, so we’ve spent so much time together that we’ve almost become a family and you’re allowed to be mad at each or have bad days. We’ve grown up in this together and each of us can relate to that experience in a different way than with other friends we have.”

By his own admission not a nostalgic person, Anderberg conceded that the weight of the band’s lengthy time together truly hit him on last year’s tour for the anniversary of Dying to Say this to You. Not thinking so much about himself or even the growth of the band since the album’s 2006 release, Anderberg felt the shift in the music scene between then and now was even more prominent in his mind.

“It was a lot different than it is now, it was much more dirty, dark, and in some ways, the club life was much cooler. Back then we played some rough places and I can miss that sometimes,” Anderberg said of the music scene back in 2006. “But for me personally it was fun to see the audience react to it though because you can totally tell that you affected their life growing up listening to that album. There were people there our age with kids, so we’d talk to them about their high-school memories and you could really see how the songs resonated in their lives.”

Other than having a talent for living in close quarters with others for extended time periods, The Sounds have also managed to stay afloat for twenty-years because of their refusal to be pigeon-holed as a one-sound band. When they first broke out onto the music scene comparisons to new wave acts like Blondie and Missing Persons were everywhere, but the band was never content with peddling one version of themselves album after album. With the release of The Tales We Tell EP the group has offered up the freshest pairings of a newly expanded experimentalism in their sound. Opening track “The Darkness” is a murky, driving rock piece indicative of their core sonics, but is immediately followed by, “Sail Into the Sun,” an acoustic ditty that sees The Sounds giving folk-darlings First Aid Kit a run for their money. Toss in a gloriously glam sax solo on, “Turn to Gold,” and a bit of 80’s sheen on, “Thrill,” and the EP is one of the band’s most exciting releases yet.

“When we first recorded it we thought it didn’t really go well with some of the other songs, but we decided that was good since we didn’t want to put ourselves in a hole of the same sounding songs,” Anderberg said about the creation of, “Sail Into the Sun,” and the organization of the rest of the EP. “What’s great about an EP is it’s so short so it’s good to have some different sounding songs on it.”

Right now the future for The Sounds is being taken by the band one day at a time, with new music on the horizon but Anderberg almost gleeful about the unknown factor of where they’ll head next. Promising new music and a different setlist that pulls from their entire discography every night, The Sounds high-octane show will find a combustible environment when they take the stage at the Fonda Theatre for two nights. With a laugh, Anderberg explains that they’re one of those 90’s bands with no big production or LED backdrops–just pure indie-rock glitz.

Words: Steven Ward

The Sounds will be playing a string of dates in Southern California, including back-to-back days November 12 +13 at the Fonda Theatre, as well as The Glasshouse in Pomona on November 16. The sounds will be supported by with Fitness and GGOOLLDD.

Visit the The Sounds’ website and Facebook for more information.

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