(with Sharin Foo)
March 2003


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Chris McKay: Why did The Raveonettes leave Denmark for London?


Sharin Foo: We relocated to London, but we spend a lot of time in the States. (We left) because it really wasn’t too inspiring to live in Copenhagen or in Denmark at this point. It’s a little more vibrant in London and hanging out in the States as well.


CM: What are the pros and cons of being in America now?


SF: It’s good for the musical career, you know? Also, it’s exciting for us. I really love that the country’s so big because I come from a really, really small country. I really like the decadence. There’s a lot of kooks over here. People are pretty crazy.


CM: How do you mean (laughs)?


SF: In Denmark we are very, how do you say it? Everybody’s so well educated and everything’s just so straight and nice, you know? It’s that thing that’s so great about the U.S. It’s not nice. It’s so ugly and greasy (laughs). Then again, it’s the whole vitality of the big cities like New York and L.A. Also, we like a lot of music that came from here and the literature. We’re fascinated by it so we like to visit it, but we wouldn’t want to be living in the States.


CM: So why wouldn’t you want to live here?


SF: It’s really the way that the society is. There are so many second rate citizens and the whole politics of the States…I don’t agree with that.


CM: Do you have any specific views on the current situation with Iraq as a non-U.S. citizen who spends a lot of time here?


SF: I really prefer not to talk about these things. I’m completely embarrassed about my own country and the government’s support of Bush’s…aggressive politics. I think it’s very embarrassing for us who are a really socialistic and democratic country. Actually, with The Raveonettes, we try to be an escape from the realities of the real world.


CM: I can see that. Well, you’ve heard everyone else posturing and deciding what you do. What do you think The Raveonettes sound like?


SF: Like nothing else. It’s really a quite hypnotizing wall of sound of the new generation, I think. There’s a lot of distortion and then there’s a lot of sweetness and melody with really good songs and music. It’s that whole tension between…how do you say it? It’s like you have this whole noisy thing going on with the really mellow double vocals on the top. We kind of like the differences in the music.


CM: What’s more important to The Raveonettes mix, the melody or the dissonance?


SF: I think the most important thing over all is that we basically write good songs with good lyrics. We’ve succeeded in creating our own sound.


CM: So why do you limit your writing and recording so much? (No hi-hat or cymbals, all songs in B minor, no more than 3 chords per song, no more than 3 minutes)


SF: Actually it came about because Sune was traveling around the States in ’99. He kind of got fed up with living in L.A. for quite a while. He was really tired of the whole music scene in L.A. and New York. He went out and listened to a lot of bands and I think he just had a reaction to that whole sound at that time. He wanted to just be really simplistic again and go back to basics in a way. At first it was a reaction and it wasn’t like he sat down and wrote down all of these rules. It kind of became apparent to him a while after he had been writing all of these songs. He was like, “Wow, I’m writing in the same key and they all have the same chords.” He just really wanted the simplicity. It was a reaction towards over produced, pathetic music (laughs) and pretentious maybe. Then it became like a game for us. When we started recording it was like, “Hey, let’s do it different. Let’s try and not do the typical thing. Let’s try to not have a hi-hat.” Then it was just a really interesting thing during that creative process of making the album. We had to find sounds from something else. We had to find that high-end sound from other things. So we have a lot of percussion and metal banging a lot of times. That’s why I think that even though it’s recorded in such a simple way, it has this huge sound to it that gives it that “wall of sound” sound. Though it’s totally different from the way that Phil Spector would make a wall of sound with tons of musicians and three drummers…this is like really basic. There’s like some sampled drums, two guitars and a bass. So it’s really simple, but it has that full sound.


CM: And of course when things are that stripped down, you can’t hide. If the song’s not there, you have nothing.


SF: (laughs) Oh, yes. We draw back from the great songs of Buddy Holly.


CM: Are you more inspired by the earliest rock as opposed to what’s gone on in the past 20 years or so?


SF: Yeah, I would say so. I would say that we are more inspired by the ‘50s and the early ‘60s…like the Brill Building, The Marvelettes, The Ronettes and that whole scene and that kind of writing.


CM: But you can also hear inspiration from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. There’s more than a little Sonic Youth in there.


SF: Yeah and then there’s stuff like Velvet Underground and The B-52’s. I think the vocals are very Everly Brothers.


CM: In my opinion, that’s actually the biggest part of your sound. That’s what makes you stand apart from all of those other so-called “garage bands” out there right now. How do you feel about being lumped in with all of those other acts?


SF: I don’t care about it. I don’t think we fit. I don’t think they sound anything like us, but I guess it gave us help because there was a whole awareness of the revitalization of rock and roll. I think we’ll stand out.


CM: Are you prepared for the whole hype monster that’s about to catch up with you?


SF: Everybody always says, “be careful,” but we can’t really control it. So we just try to stay focused on music and concentrate on that. We’ve just recorded our next album and we’re so happy with it.


CM: It’s done?


SF: Yeah, it’s coming out sometime in the late summer.


CM: Cool. So what goals do you have beyond that for the rest of the year?


SF: Well, the rest of the year is pretty much a lot of touring. There’s a lot of back and forth between Europe and the States. There seems to be a lot of demand right now so it’s a balancing thing.


CM: Have you had anytime lately to just go out and be yourself?


SF: I haven’t really had time. It’s just hard sometimes because the days are somehow not yours, but I’m not complaining. We try to enjoy it. It’s really great to be in the States. It’s a great experience. We get to see so many small towns. It’s pretty exciting for me, actually. There are a lot of characters.


CM: There are definitely a lot of characters here…for better or for worse!


SF: We were just in Florida. It was bizarre. There’s a whole vibe down there. There’s a lot of old ladies. There’s not a lot of authenticity. In some way, it’s very creepy (laughs). It was scary, but all of the people we talked to down there were so friendly. So do you like the album?


CM: Way to switch it up! Now the interviewer is the interviewee! I really, really do like Whip It On. In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of what’s marketed as “garage music” but I didn’t hear your stuff that way. I think The Raveonettes are different. There’s no time killing, no buildup. You just get in and out. That’s what struck me. I believe that’s because of the influence of the music from the late ‘50s to the mid-‘60s which I also love.


SF: Yeah, exactly. Thank you. There’s also a tendency with a lot of those garage bands to be pure retro and that gets a bit boring.


CM: Right and a lot of it seems the other bands rely too heavily on fashion over the music.


SF: Yeah.


CM: So what’s different about The Raveonettes live vs. the recordings?


SF: It actually sounds very much like the album. We play along with the tracks from the album so it’s very strict in that way. Then we have a drummer with us and that adds a little more…and we have another guitarist. Maybe you can tell me (how it’s different after the show)! I’ll see you there! (laughs)

 (Chris McKay/