Interview with Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds

Moving from Living In America to “dying” as they do on their second disc Dying To Say This To You (Scratchie/New Line), The Sounds sound as if they are finally ready to assert their own identity.

With charismatic bisexual lead singer Maja Ivarsson at the helm, they are a band with a mission on “Song With A Mission,” and The Sounds give the impression of having fun throughout, which in turn makes the listening experience more enjoyable. That spirit carries over on “Tony The Beat,” “24 Hours,” “Painted By Numbers,” “Ego,” and “Hurt You.” Even a piano ballad such as “Night After Night,” which shows another side to the band, doesn’t really alter the mood much.

As good as the disc is, The Sounds’ live show is that much better. After touring the States during the spring months, The Sounds return this summer as part of the Warped Tour. spoke with Maja shortly before the beginning of the latest leg of their tour. The song “Rock’N Roll,” from the Living In America CD makes reference to Bryan Ferry and the Roxy Music song “Love Is The Drug.”
Maja Ivarsson:
Man, you are the first guy ever to notice that!

AE: No way!
(laughs) Yeah, man (laughs). You noticed that? I love you for that!

AE: Would you consider Roxy Music to be an influence on The Sounds?
Absolutely! Me, personally, absolutely. I think Bryan Ferry is a great songwriter and performer and everything. Those lyrics, from “Love Is Threw Drug,” absolutely blew my mind when I was a kid. During those days, everything was about grunge. But when I heard that song, I was like, “F— this whole grunge, Pearl Jam, whatever is going on right now, because this is music.” For me, it was. That was a great song for that time.

AE: There are some other obvious influences, such as Blondie and Missing Persons, but who else would you site as influences on The Sounds?
The funniest thing about The Sounds is that we are influenced by everything, even really cheesy music. For instance, we love “Toxic” by Britney Spears. I think it’s an excellent song. I don’t think you should be narrow-minded about music or anything in life. I could be listening to Slipknot and the next song might be Britney Spears and then Depeche Mode after that.

I think everybody is open-hearted to every kind of music. I know that Jesper, in the band, is really into Neil Young and Tom Petty, and a little country music. I’m a big fan of the electronic bands. You just pick up stuff from everywhere. From a death metal band or a country song, whatever it is.

AE: So you’re like a sponge.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. When we write music, we used to say, everything is allowed. If you want to add a saxophone to this song, and it sounds good, go for it.

AE: The Sounds just wrapped up a tour of the States in support of the new album Dying To Say This To You. From your perspective, was the new material well-received by your fans?
Oh, man, it’s been so well-received. I knew that our album was out on the internet like four months before it was released. Even at our early shows, in Sweden, before the album was out, I could see that people in the audience were already singing along with the new songs. I prefer the audiences in the States, actually. I’m not kissing anybody’s ass or anything. They’re more loose and ready to make a little bit of a fool of themselves.

I make a fool out of myself all the time on-stage and I want the audience to feel like it’s OK. You can jump up and down and scream and sing. It’s cool and I like it. In Sweden they’re a little bit more stiff. I think the new songs make the old songs even better now. I don’t like playing “Living In America”; it’s not my favorite song to sing, it’s not that much fun. But when you put it in the set with eight new songs, it’s a bloody good song to fit in there. It makes the audience go crazy.

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