Swedish new wavers The Sounds work harder than a three-legged Shire horse. Last year they performed more than 200 gigs across Europe and the USA, taking on support slots with emo favourites Panic! At The Disco, Angels and Airwaves and Shiny Toy Guns. We hope they remembered to pack some eyeliner! DS caught up with bassist Johan Bengtsson and drummer Fredrik Nilsson to discuss their new single, life on tour and the number one success of their peroxide blonde countrywoman.
How would you describe your new single 'Painted By Numbers'?
Johan: "It's an upbeat pop song with great melodies. Just a great pop song."
What are you influenced by?
Fredrik: "We have so many - we all have different influences."
Johan: "Well, when it comes to writing, it's a long process of collecting ideas and experiences - that's pretty much what we do when we're touring. We write about people we meet and things we see. And we're affected by the different bands we tour with - it has en effect on our playing style. We take all this with us when we start writing."
Fredrik: "Yeah, a festival like this is great for getting new influences. We can see other bands - see what works for them in their live sets and see what works for them production-wise."
So you're all involved in the songwriting process?
Fredrik: "Absolutely. Very much so. All our ideas are considered."
You've trekked across the States on the Warped Tour a couple of times. Have you been influenced by all the emo bands on that tour?
Fredrik: "Yes, we did, but I don't think we really have a noticeable emo influence. Every band we tour with rubs off on us."
How did you find it on the Warped Tour?
Johan: "It's so hard! Well, you know, I'm kind of pale, so I'm not that good with extreme heat. Five weeks of touring in that heat was really hard!"
Fredrik: "But it's great to meet all the fans on that tour. It's great to connect with those fans, because those fans will come along again next time you come to their city."
Johan: "Every band plays half an hour - no matter if you're the biggest band on the tour, or the smallest, s***tiest band on the tour. Every morning there's a lottery on the two main stages, which determines which slot you're going to get. It's a good thing because the fans don't know when their favourite band's going to play. They show up early and end up watching everyone."
Fredrik: "It's kinda crazy. Sometimes you get woken up and told: 'You're on in an hour. You've got the first slot today!' It's fun. But you play, like, eight days in a row, and then you get a day off, which starts to get to you after a while."
Johan: "It's really hectic and intense."
Is it more important for The Sounds to be cool or catchy?
Fredrik: "That's something we don't really think about. We just do what comes naturally, without considering whether it might be cool or catchy. We just do what's best for the song."
As a band of blokes with a glamorous blonde frontwoman, do you get sick of Blondie comparisons?
Fredrik: "Well, the first hundred times, we didn't mind..."
Johan: "It's really lazy because the music is not similar. OK, there's a female lead singer and we have catchy pop songs - which they had, as well - but there aren't any other similarities. It's more of a visual thing than a musical thing, I think. It just gets very boring for us."
You've already had a fair few hits in Sweden, but how important is international success to you?
Fredrik: "Very important."
Johan: "International success is more important than domestic success. What we really like to do is touring, but because Sweden is such a small country, we can't tour that much. It's not that possible."
Fredrik: "In three months you've played every s**thole in the country. I don't wanna work like that."
Johan: "It would be really boring - you'd be playing the same places all the time."
How does the Swedish music scene differ from the UK scene?
Johan: "I don't think the press hypes the Swedish bands as much as the British press hypes bands over here. If you read NME or Q, they're just filled with information about British bands. They're always trying to convey that British bands are the best. It's not like that in Sweden - people in the press think that American bands are much cooler."
Your countrywoman Robyn was number one over here recently. How do you feel about that?
Johan: "I really like her - the album's really good."
Fredrik: "No comment."
You're not a Robyn fan?
Johan: "I mean, Swedish success opens success for us abroad, so it's a good thing. If it creates a little Swede hype for us, it's a good thing. But, really, we don't label ourselves as a Swedish band. We've spent so much time touring abroad that we don't think of ourselves that way. We look at the bigger picture."
'Painted By Numbers' is out now.
^^ the new single. I would've preferred "Ego" or "Hurt You" tbh.