- Posted on Mar 8th 2011 12:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
Soeren Solkaer Starbird
Over the last decade, the Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo has amassed a stellar, if underrated, discography, gradually dialing back the noisiness of their debut, 'Chain Gang of Love,' and incorporating other sounds, such as the dreamy synths heard on their forthcoming fifth album, 'Raven in the Grave.'
Before assembling a full backing band -- one said to include two drummers -- and hitting the road to promote 'Raven,' Foo and Wagner will head to SXSW and perform as a duo. Chatting with Spinner just before the Texas trip, Foo explained why the new record represents a rebirth for the Raves.
The new album is being billed as a departure, but it's somewhat reminiscent of 2008's 'Beauty Dies' and 'Sometimes They Drop By' EPs. Did you know even then you were heading in this more electronic direction?
I think [we knew] going even further back. To me, it still sounds very Raveonettes. What makes it sound like the EPs is there are more synthesizers, more keyboards, more sort of ambient sounds. We've always been a very guitar-driven band. It's less of the noise- and guitar-driven stuff. It's more of that electronic, atmospheric sound. What really makes it sound different to me is that it doesn't have that surfy, Beach Boys sound. The beats are very different sounding.
Did you and Sune sit down before making the album and discuss using less guitar and different kinds of beats?
No, it wasn't a conscious decision to do anything differently. It was more just going for what resonated with us at that point. It's what you feel connected with when you're trying to make a record. It's an intuitive process. Sune sends me fragments, and I sent him feedback. We try to steer each other in a direction where we feel engaged. I don't know how to explain it. [The record] has kind of a subtle, dance-y feel to it, with beautiful atmosphere. It's sort of dark. It's much darker sounding than the previous record, but it's also very hopeful.
Did your decision to use less guitar have anything to do with the countless bands that have come along in recent years and emulated your sound? Was there a desire to break away from the pack?
We never try to break away from a particular pack. There are a lot of guitars on the record; they're just less distorted. They're more clean and more reverb-y. It's just whatever sounds pleasing to ourselves at the moment. It wasn't an attempt to do something different.
If I have to be completely honest with you, I feel like our previous record ['In and Out of Control'] -- and I don't want to make people feel like I didn't love that record -- was a record I didn't feel as connected with in certain ways. There were a lot more people involved, and I love that me and Sune, it was just the two of us making this record. It was a close, intimate process for the two of us.
It was a little bit of, "Where do we go? We've been a band for 10 years. What do we do now? Can we do something that will really make ourselves really excited, or is this the end of the Raveonettes? Do we have any more to offer?" That was sort of how we went into the process of making the record.
The song 'Summer Moon,' like the last two tracks on the 'Sometimes They Drop By' EP, remind me of the 'Twin Peaks' theme. I know you're a big David Lynch fan -- was that a conscious homage?
Anything you're inspired by will always be somewhere in the pool of things that you draw upon. It's in your subconscious. But it wasn't a deliberate attempt to do something that was 'Twin Peaks'-inspired. I will say there are a lot of references to [film composer and frequent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator] Bernard Herrmann on this record -- like the song 'War in Heaven.' That was very deliberate.
You're from Denmark and you now live in Los Angeles. Sune lives in New York City. How have these different places influenced your writing?
That's hard for me to pinpoint. I guess it's absorbed somehow. Interestingly enough, we were here in L.A. when we were finishing up the record -- we were recording the vocals here and doing some press photos -- and we were like, "How do we find a place here in L.A. that resonates with this record?" We wanted it to have snow and a kind of Danish atmosphere, visually. We ended up driving up to the mountains and shooting photos up in the snow in Mt. Baldy. As I said when we were doing the press release, it's a perfect winter soundtrack. It's very wintry sounding to me.
You said the record was an attempt to figure out if the Raveonettes have anything left to say, any life left. What did you discover? Are you feeling good about the future?
Yeah, we're at a pretty positive place. We've already talked about what the next record is going to be like, but we'll keep it a secret for now. I do feel like we really found a real connection again, me and Sune. I think we'll take it one record at time, and we'll just make records as long as we enjoy it, as long as we get excited about it.
Catch the Raveonettes' SXSW Sets on Friday, March 18 at Rusty Spurs (405 E 7th St.) 12:50AM, and Saturday, March 19 at Cedar Street Courtyard (208 W 4th St.) 12AM.
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