A look at the titles of the songs on the new Raveonettes album, In and Out of Control, reveals a rather grim selection of topics, among them suicide, addiction, and sexual assault. Why the apparent obsession with the dark side of human existence?
“I guess I just write about real life,” singer-guitarist Sune Rose Wagner says, reached just as he’s crossing the border between Ontario and Michigan. “I think it’s something that’s close to a lot of people. It certainly is for me. I just write about my acquaintances and my friends and family and stuff.”
That might sound like the recipe for a world-class drag, but the duo of Wagner and Sharin Foo has a fixation on bubble-gum hooks that shines through even the bleakest of themes. “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)”, for example, combines girl-group melodies and buzz-saw guitars with programmed beats, for a fuzz-pop number whose summer-sunshine feel belies its vengeful title.
“It’s a nice contrast in the music that I find appealing,” Wagner says. “Because sometimes things can get almost too dark or it can get too happy or whatever. I think it’s a nice little mixture in there, with some poppiness and a dose of real life. I think we’ve always been really attracted to that contrast.”
In and Out of Control was by necessity a quickly assembled collection. Wagner lives in New York City and Foo resides in Los Angeles, but the pair decamped to their native Denmark to make the record with Copenhagen-based producer Thomas Troelsen.
They wrote and recorded the whole thing in just six weeks. “That was an interesting way of doing it,” says Wagner, “to just be very spontaneous about it, and whip out songs really fast, and record them really fast, and just keep adding and adding and adding.”
He’s not kidding about that “adding and adding and adding” bit. He and Foo are the only two musicians who played on the album, but that doesn’t mean In and Out of Control is a stripped-down affair. “On each song there was, like, 20 different drum tracks and loads of guitars and synths and vocals, and just crazy layering stuff, like a big old production. That was a lot of fun.”
The fun continues on tour, with Wagner and Foo borrowing the rhythm section from Danish band Mellemblond to fill out the sound. The Raveonettes are booked to play at licensed venues in most cities, but Wagner encourages minors to get in touch with him through the group’s MySpace page and arrange a meet-and-greet.
“I just think it’s a shame, because we have a lot of underage fans who really want to hear us play, and it’s just impossible,” he says. “I would totally be very upset if I couldn’t go see my favourite band. So I think it’s something that everyone should do. It’s great to have these kids come out—sometimes they bring their parents and stuff, and we play four or five songs for them at sound check, and they go home very happy.”
See? Wagner really is a dedicated spreader of good cheer, even if he did write a song called “Oh, I Buried You Today”.
The Raveonettes play Venue next Thursday (November 5).