Friday, April 11, 2008

Raveonettes interview


“Wait, I just have to find my passport.” Bassist/vocalist Sharin Foo is in the midst of a journey to Toronto when she spares a few moments to take a phone call from Inpress in anticipation of The Raveonettes’ upcoming Australian tour. Despite being distracted by the rigmarole of crossing the American-Canadian border, the statuesque Dane talks with careful consideration and engaging enthusiasm, most notably about their recently released, fourth long-player.

“I think this is our darkest album,” she says of Lust Lust Lust; their most critically acclaimed work to date. “[Debut release] Whip It On was very celebratory; it was the ultimate party album. It was like a road trip and made you want to drive really fast, party and get really trashed. Then Chain Gang of Love was very dense and texturised. Pretty in Black was organic, much bigger sounding, more produced and it didn’t have any noise or distortion, which was pretty unusual.”

Following the slight direction change of Pretty In Black, their latest recording sees The Raveonettes step back towards the nature of their earlier work but without the self-imposed shackles of only recording songs of less than three minutes in b-flat minor/major. Keen on retaining complete creative control over their output, Foo and bandmate Sune Rose Wagner chose to produce Lust Lust Lust themselves, and crafted an album they are intensely proud of. “In many ways that’s how we’ve always worked, especially to begin with as a foundation for an album, but this time around we kept it really lo-fi. It is the album with the most space in the music because it is so minimal in its production. So it is very atmospheric and very intimate.” As well as allowing them the freedom to make the record that they really wanted, shying away from the studio experience also turned out to be generally agreeable for the duo. “We both recorded at home alone and were shooting sounds back and forth. It was just very enjoyable to have that peace and no pressure of a big studio, which is something we don’t really utilise anyway.”

While it is an undeniably dark record, there is also an underlying innocence and charm to their subject-matter. “I think that’s very true,” Foo concurs. “We really are both super romantic. This album is more personal than any other album really. We had been touring a lot and we just felt a little bit lost and were trying to find balance, so I think it is a reflection upon that. It’s a romantic album. It’s about longing and nostalgia.” Indeed, The Raveonettes’ distinctive fuzzy, distorted sound has never really gone hand-in-hand with the kind of morose, pessimistic meanderings one might expect from such a genre. Rather, their style and imagery is drenched in idealistic reminiscence of 50s and 60s Americana, which makes for an alluring juxtaposition. “It’s the nostalgia of it. It’s that old fashioned fascination that we have,” Foo tells me when I ask her what she finds so appealing about that particular era of America’s history, considering The Raveonettes are Danish. “I think, coming from a small country like Denmark, we have a fascination with something strange and different; this outsider’s perspective of Americana with a very naïve approach and an almost voyeuristic sense to it.”

Such is the influence of this era on both their sound and style that the band’s name is a reference to the Buddy Holly version of Rave On! and the 60s girl group The Ronettes. This leads me to ask Foo whether, if she ever chanced upon a time-machine, she would set the dial back 50 years. Would it appeal to actually live in those days and have a slick-haired, cigarette-smoking, motorbike-riding boyfriend called Johnny? “No. I would hate it,” she laughs. “It’s very romanticised. It’s an escape from reality.”

Regardless of how romanticised it is, the stylish, supercool and devilishly attractive Raveonettes are clearly very conscious of the importance of their whole aesthetic. “Yes, definitely,” Foo says when I ask her if they like to have a similar amount of creative control over things such as artwork as they do over the recording of their music. “It’s always been important for us that it all makes sense. The visuals and the imagery are part of the creative outlet and it emphasises what the music is like.”

Despite haling from Denmark, the duo’s love of America is such that they now both live there, with Sharin based in Los Angeles and Sune abiding in New York. “It was very inspiring to get out of Denmark,” Foo tells me when I ask whether she felt the need to move away from her homeland in order for the band to succeed. “Not because there is anything wrong with Denmark but because it is always inspiring to be in a different context to what you are used to; to get a little perspective. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up in L.A. but that’s where my life took me and that’s where my relationship is and… I don’t know; that’s just where I ended up.” She pauses briefly, before adding: “And the U.S. is ultimately where rock ‘n’ roll comes from.”

Because The Raveonettes’ beguiling, fuzzy surf rock leans towards bygone days, and amidst talk of rock n roll’s origins, I wonder whether any contemporary artists are currently featuring on the stereo of their tour bus. “I love Primal Scream,” Foo enthuses when I ask her for a few of her present-day favourites. “They’ve been around for a long time and they are very innovative. I like Liars, and I like a band called Autolux from Los Angeles.”

Before we get the chance to speak at any length about The Raveonettes bringing their atmospheric, electrifying live experience to Melbourne, Foo has to bid me an apologetic farewell in order to go through border customs. “We’re not through yet. They’re pretty tough you know,” she sighs. Just before she signs off, she briefly talks of her excitement about heading to Australia for the second time and leaves me with her memories of the band’s previous tour of these shores. “It was exciting because it was the first time we were there and it’s always fun to play in front of a new audience that has been waiting for you to come. The weather was good, the wine was good the food was good.”

Interview by Rob Townsend

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I only just got into them but really like the new reocrd.

There my new favorite band.

Sune is hot too!!!