We got to talk to Felix Rodriguez from Sweeden's The Sounds. The Sounds are a Swedish Indie Rock band. Formed in Helsingborg in 1999, the group's musical style has been compared to New Wave acts such as Blondie, The Cars, the Epoxies and Missing Persons. Michelle Pelissero was able to chat with Felix, and capture some captivating photos of the live show at Granada.
How did you start as a group? How did you decide to get into music?
I've been into the music since I was four, since day one. We always had a lot of instruments, my dad, mom and brother played. I play guitar now in the band, but I used to play drums with him. How we started a band was, it was in 1998 it was me and Johan the bass player, we have been friends since we were 10 playing random sports. We got bored of that. We lived in a small city in Sweden, so there's not much to do. So we started to be more interested in music. He played in another band, then we started to hang out together and just started talking about starting a band. So we did, and we knew the drummer from his neighbor and Maja was in the same art class as me.
Did everyone have the same musical interests?
We all come from a different world, Maja was more into Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, stuff like that. I was more into other poppier stuff, hip-hop and electronica. We always blended everything I guess.
Where did the album title "Something To Die For" come from?
That comes from, I think not our mentality but the way we live. For us, that's a strong title with a positive meaning. For us we've always believed in what we've done and never let anyone tell us what we can or can't achieve. Nowadays I think it's important for people to actually believe in themselves and try to do something positive. That's the only thing we've been doing for 13 years. I wouldn't kill myself if we couldn't play, that's not what we mean. It means that if you believe in something you should show that to the world. So that's what that title represents.
Is there a meaning behind the "Dance with the Devil" music video?
That was the director's fault, it was his idea. We wanted to do something a little bit different than just a regular music video. Sometimes when you see a video there's a story that maybe doesn't really represent what the message is, I guess in this one we just wanted to do a different video. I don't think it's a hidden message with a girl in a gas mask and guns. It was like we're going to have dancers with guns and this girl's going to try and save you. Yea that sounds odd.
I read that you guys started releasing your albums on your own indie label. Why did you start doing that and what were the hardships and successes you saw from doing that?
I think that we needed to be more independent than we were before. We just wanted to cut away at all the middle hands, we didn't really need them because we've been building our career through fans by word of mouth. It's the fans that have been building our career it's not the record label. How it is nowadays, it's tougher and tougher for bands with all the deals that record labels give new bands. And our band just felt like we wanted to do everything ourselves. So we do everything ourselves now. Every album we do, we record ourselves and obviously pay for it, and you know just do whatever we do if someone out there likes it we can have a joint venture. This is our album, this is our record label, we can basically just do what the fuck we want. And we don't really care if radio plays us or not, because they've never played us before.
How did you select support for tours, like the Limousines?
We always pick support acts. I remember this tour I was talking to our manager and he was like â€˜we have different bands that might be good for you to bring on tour' and we got on youtube and watched some videos and listened to songs. They're great, they are actually better live than they are on YouTube. So we brought them on the tour and everyone is really happy, and Kids at the Bar as well. They play cool music, they DJ really awesome. It's a good vibe in the room that builds up a better crowd for us when we walk out.
What are your goals for this band?
To still have fun. Just have fun and do what we're here to do. Trying to have a healthy relationship, you know of what we built together and we're really a happy family now. Even thought the business is going down, our fans, we won't let them down. It's still fun to do.
Do you have any funny tour stories from this tour or others?
I remember one time, it was a long time ago 2004 maybe, we had a pretty fucked up tour manager. Back then we didn't really know much about touring or the world. We just lived in the moment. We had this unhealthy tour manager that was supplying us with...well we were in Brooklyn and there was a shootout. Someone got stabbed. There were a bunch of gangbangers walking around shooting people. The tour manager he was pretty fucked up so he has this Samurai sword in his bunk. So he jumps out of the bed and just runs out of the bus in his underwear and t-shirt and says "I'm a master swordsman" and he tried to fight them with his sword. We were like "holy fuck". Nothing happened to him but it's a funny story now.
The first time you guys came to the US was it hard to transition?
The first time we got here, it's such a big country, I think we first played the bigger cities like New York. The first time we came here we came through a funded trip from the government. It was called Expo Music Sweden. Every year they brought over maybe five bands to the states and we were one of those five bands. The huge difference from that was when you actually tour the whole country. When you're criss crossing up and down, because this country is like many countries. One state from another can be such a big difference. We didn't really know what to expect, but we started to get a buzz really quick. Actually we got a record deal before we came over here. It was the guitar player from Smashing Pumpkins, he heard about us and we met him in Sweden. He brought us here and helped us start to tour, but everything was just a good experience. To come to the States as a Swedish band, I think I can speak for every artist that's something you want to do. This is the biggest nation in the world. Rock and Roll was invented here, you know. So we had high hopes, we didn't really know what to expect but we got a little buzz and just kept coming back. I think why we made it here, and we're still here is because we saw and understood in the early days if you want to make it here you have to be devoted. You know play a venue that holds 50 people, then the next time 100 people and move on up. So that's what we did.
Do you do most of the writing or is it a collaborative effort?
On the first album it was more of a band rehearsing together in a small room, you know just playing instruments and coming up with ideas. Then we translated that into more writing in front of computers, programming and sitting more and writing instead of just being the band together. Since we are always on tour doing like 200 days a year you can't really hang out together. Trying to create stuff, that doesn't work. So now we sit more in front of computers. Now it's mostly me and Jasper that write the music and lyrics and then you know everyone always has an opinion, but it's us that write it. We don't jam. I mean, we jam but in a different way. Nowadays a computer is an instrument
How often are you guys in the studio?
I'm there as often as I want. We have computers and keyboards so we can write on the road but it's fun when you're in your own studio and have all your own equipment. In Sweden. We record in our own studio. On the last album we flew over a sound engineer to help us out, because sometimes you get blind. Sometimes it's good.