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original site launched April 1, 2004, .com relaunched October 1, 2004
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Guitarist Felix Rodriguez talks friendships, sophomore discs and new songs
by Ashley Graham
“I wake up, one hour ago, and I realize ‘Oh yeah, I am releasing album today!’” So starts the conversation with Felix Rodriguez of Sweden’s The Sounds, one of the hippest, coolest, sexiest bands pumping through stereos today, on the day of their most recent album’s release. Throughout the fifteen minutes on the phone, Rodriguez’s thick accent will obscure his words ever-so-slightly here and there, but one thing is clear: the dude is excited to be doing what he is.
And who wouldn’t be? The Sounds’ sophomore disc, Dying To Say This To You, is freakin’ fantastic, and Rodriguez and crew--Maja Ivarsson, Vocals; Fredrik Nilsson, Drums; Jesper Anderberg, Keyboards; Johan Bengtsson, Bass--have every reason to be out of their minds with pride. Which may very well be what you know about the Sounds.
You’ve probably seen the pictures of them staring at the camera, hands on hips or hands behind backs or cocky swagger in tow, and while that certainly seems to be one aspect of this band, their too-cool-for-school-edness, if you will, it most definitely isn’t all that they’re about. (If it were possible to transfer microcassette, there would be a link here with a brief snippet of Rodriguez saying “I’m exciiiited” with about the most glee you’d ever hear.)
Much of the band’s charm comes from the fact that all of the members remain such dedicated friends. The Sounds formed in 1998, while in their teens—which, at their relatively young ages, means they’ve been a unit for a good third, if not more, of their lives. (Rodriguez has known Bengtsson since he was twelve.) This is the very core of the band and it is what Rodriguez believes makes everything work so well.
“I think that is one of our strengths, that we’re all really good friends,” he says as his accent hits a height of cuteness on the “fri” to “ends” transition. “We have just grown stronger and stronger together. We’ve experienced so much together as a band. You grow up really fast touring this much and you learn a lot. You learn how to handle things and respect people. And sometimes we have fun! Good friends you can have arguments with but you still will be friends.”
Those friendships have gotten the Sounds to where they are today, back in the driver’s seat of a career on the fast track. The band’s image is the kind made for magazine covers, and the pomp and attitude of their 80s-revival sound is a refreshing divergence from fools like The Killers who tried to take over the genre while they were away. The Sounds’ sound belongs in dance clubs and roller rinks the world over. And now, more so than ever, as Dying is a return to the thing so lovable about the Sounds: the live show.
The contrast in recording between first and second albums is always great, and the Sounds found they were no exception to the rule. Dying To Say This To You landed them in Oakland’s Studio 880, where the likes of Green Day have recorded, Jeff Saltzman (The Killers) working production duties with additional add-ins from Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha. As Rodriguez says, they weren’t in Sweden anymore.
“We played all of those [original] songs live, out on the road, and we wrote them in our hometown, so this was quite different,” Rodriguez says of Dying’s recording process. “Someone comes up with a beat, or a line and we begin from that. It happens fast—like, our song ‘Painted by Numbers,’ we wrote that shortly before the album was supposed to be done. Everything is allowed, everything is supported.”
Rodriguez agrees that Dying is offering up something a bit different than Living in America did two years ago, a change he attributes to the band’s desire to strip away the pretty packaging of their previous studio work and get back to the heart of what makes the Sounds, the Sounds. “We wanted to capture more of our live feel. We wanted to keep this one more simple. But it’s definitely still the Sounds! We still have the catchy melodies!”
And what are audiences to expect from this Sounds outing?
“Well, we have new songs to play for you, of course,” Rodriguez says before breaking into a fit of self-conscious, “oh, duh” laughter. “The energy is still there. We’re fun. I think the major difference is that we’re just a better band now!”
The Sounds hit Seattle for the first time in TWO YEARS on May 6 at El Corazon. Two years ago they had one of the best live performances The Wig’s ever reported on, so we’ll be expecting to see you all in attendance!
The Venue: El Corazon
The Support: Morningwood, Action Action
The Date: May 6
The Time: 9:30pm doors, 10pm show
The Price: $15