Music: The Raveonettes’ Sharin Foo: The New Gay Interview
If Lou Reed fucked Ronnie Spector and they decided to keep the baby, it would probably have a built-in affinity for the droning mix of fuzzy noise and girl-group bounce that defines The Raveonettes. While most bands pale in comparison to their influences (try being excited about Vampire Weekend after an hour spent with Graceland,) the Danish Duo of Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner make no secret of where they found their sound.
Their debut EP Whip It On, (and its lead single, Beat City) set the tone early with hard guitars and retro vocals and their first full length, Chain Gang of Love, followed suit. 2005′s Pretty In Black turned down the distortion and featured some famous guest stars (see below) but this year’s Lust Lust Lust sees a return to form, and Saturday’s show should have enough loud guitars, cool vocals and messy sexuality to match it.
Full Interview below the fold:
The New Gay Zack: Saturday’s DC show is the last stop on your tour. Are we going to get an extra-special show, or will you all just be worn out?
Sharin Foo: I think you’re going to get an extra-special show. We’re definitely a little tired, but there’s a certain excitement about the last show on a tour. Washington has always been a good audience, and it’s on a Saturday night so I think it will be good.
TNG: Will it just be you and Sune onstage with guitars or are you bringing a band?
SF: We have a three-piece on stage these days, its a very stripped down set-up. We have a girl, Leah, playing upright drums and then we always play along with the tracks and samples. So there’s , the vocals, harmonies, the two guitars and the electronic sounds.
TNG: Will you still be loud?
SF: Yes, it’s very loud. It’s still a wall of sound, very atmospheric.
TNG: Speaking of wall of sound, where’d you develop your apparent love of the 1950’s sound and imagery?
SF: We have a love of many decades, the ‘50s is one. We like the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and the present time. The ‘50s has a certain innocence, they write really classic songs with very few means, it’s very simple songwriting. Someone like Buddy Holly or the Everly Brothers, it’s very romantic and nostalgic. We like to have elements of that in our music.
TNG: Between you and The Pipettes and the reunion of The Jesus and Mary Chain , it seems like a lot of people are making music that sounds like Phil Spector‘s. Why do you think this ‘50s revival is happening now?
SF: I don’t know. I don’t really know anyone that sounds exactly like we do, we’re not set to any one time period. The Jesus and Mary Chain are doing same thing, they’re inspired by pop music, yes, from the ‘50s, but then they make it current. I think that [some of the bands are] more true to this era, from girl groups to the early ‘60s, but we don’t really stay true to anything.
TNG: With everyone copying from this one era, do you think audiences will get tired of it?
SF: You can get tired of any revival, but for us we think that we don’t really think so much in time periods. For us its time a more classic [sound,] its more the denominator.
TNG: It seems like distortion is really big right now. The new Magnetic Fields album had a lot of it, and Lust Lust Lust does too. Since your last album took all the fuzz away, why’d you bring it back?
SF: I don’t know why. When you make an album its an intuitive process, what you gravitate toward sonically is what you go for. It’s what your respond to emotionally, it’s not like making a decision to make something more noisy or make something anything, really. It is just like a process that takes itself. Pretty in Black was devoid of noise and distortion, that was a reaction to doing very noisy stuff for three years in a row. For “Pretty in Black” it was charming and fresh, and for “Lust Lust Lust” it just felt right to do it this way.
TNG: Your last album had guest turns from Ronnie Spector and [former Velvet Underground Drummer] Maureen Tucker. How come this one doesn’t have any special guests?
SF: How can you have special guests when you’ve already had them? We used our quota. We felt like doing it ourselves, it felt good and felt right. We have been collaborating, we’ve had people work with our music in the aftermath and do remixes. That’s what we find interesting, having others reinterpret the music with the electronic language. That’s the fun part right now.
TNG: What were Maureen and Ronnie like?
SF: They were great. Very different people, but strong personalities, each in their own ways. We had Suicide’s Martin Rev too. It was all great. Ronnie is definitely a diva still, she might actually come to our show tonight in New York. [This interview was conducted the night of March 26.] Maureen is very down to earth, very accessible, cool, smart. Rev was very experimental, avant-garde, with dark sunglasses inside a dark studio to lift up his Lower East Side cool image. They were all fun and all had something to contribute musically. We were really flattered that they wanted to participate.
TNG: Do you get tired of always being compared to the Velvet Underground?
SF: The Velvet Underground was one of the most influential bands, they made such classic and timeless albums. That’s just flattering, really. Bring all the comparisons on, we don’t care. We feel very confident that we have strong personalities, we’re not scared of comparison.
TNG: If The Raveonettes are the modern day answer to The Velvet Underground, and you’re a sexy blonde with a good voice, does that make you Nico?
SF: [Laughing,] I wish sometimes that I had that great German accent when I sing, I’ve been too Americanized at this point. It doesn’t really make me anyone, does it? I’ll be John Cale, and Sune can be Nico. We’ll find Lou Reed somewhere.
TNG: I would love to see Sune dressed as Nico.
SF: [Not amused,] We played at Lou Reed’s party at South By Southwest. I think it went alright. I heard he was there, but I didn’t actually see him.
TNG: In 2006, Blender Magazine named you one of the sexiest women in rock. How did you feel about this?
SF: I’m neither flattered nor am I offended.
TNG: Have your fans reacted to you any differently since then?
SF: No, people have treated me with respect as a human being, whatever I look like.
TNG: You probably get this a lot, but is there any sexual tension between you and Sune? You sing such sexually tense songs.
SF: We’re colleagues and good friends. We’ve been together for may years, and we know the good sides and the bad sides to each other.
TNG: So you’re not actually trying to kill each other, like in the video for “That Great Love Sound?”
SF: There’s moments when, if looks could kill they would’ve, but no. We’re not violent people.
TNG: Just in videos.
SF: That’s all catharsis, it’s video. Thats when you can live all the aggression out. It’s band therapy.
TNG: Some of your songs, like “The Christmas Song” or “Ode to L.A.” are really sweet, but some of them are also so grungy. How are the different parts of yourself shown in these different songs? How do you write two such different styles?
SF: There’s always tension between sweetness and darkness. Even “The Christmas Song” is kind of dark, so I think that’s something I always like in our music. It’s the opposites and the tensions between that, the light and the dark, the sweetness and the seedy, the divy, debauched details, it just makes it more dimensional when you get all those facets in there. That’s why we also like, sonically, the really romantic sounds. These opposites, like the sweet vocals and the noisy, fuzzy music, that’s another tension.
TNG: So what’s next? Do you have any other eras to take us through?
SF: We’re gonna tour through end of July, then we’re probably gonna start working on new stuff.
TNG: But will it all still sound like the ‘50s?
SF: I think I said before, we didn’t just stay in the the ‘50s and ‘60s…
TNG: But will you, say, start putting a lot of synth in your songs and start sounding like New Order?
SF: I think we do sound like New Order, come to think of it. I really don’t know, we don’t feel like we have to do anything, we feel very liberated in our music. We just do whatever we feel like. It is a moment in time when you make an album, whatever is in that moment in time is what you end up covering.
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