The Raveonettes Interview
By Alexander Laurence
The Raveonettes have been one of favorite bands since they started four years
ago. They are mainly Sune Rose Wagner (guitar/vocals) and Sharin Foo
(guitar/vocals). They are from Denmark but have lived all over the world for the past
eight years. The first EP “Whip It On” (2002) was amazing and changed the
future of rock music. In 2002, The Raveonettes were one of the bands I saw often.
Very quickly they hooked up with producer Richard Gottehrer and made their
first proper album “Chain Gang Of Love” (2003). This album was everything you
could ask for. Many tours happened after this. The live shows got better. Sune
got involved with DJ nights in many cities around the world.
Then came time for their second album. This gave them a chance to work again
with Richard Gottehrer. They also worked with some of their heroes such as Moe
Tucker (Velvet Underground), Martin Rev (Suicide), and Ronnie Spector. This
ended up being the album “Pretty In Black” (2005). This album is already a
classic and is one of the best of the year. The Raveonettes, Sharin Foo and Sune
Rose Wagner, have slowly been building up a following with their vintage
American R&B, surf and rockabilly inflected music. They have toured heavily this
year. They are now the opening band for Depeche Mode on their sold out stadium
tour in November and December 2005. This is a massive break for the
Raveonettes. Their music will be exposed to its largest audience yet. I got to speak with
one half of the group, Sune Rose Wagner.
AL: You have some songs on the new album about America. Do you like to drive
around America on tour?
SUNE: I'VE BEEN TRAVELING IN THE UNITED STATES FOR ALMOST EIGHT YEARS. I
PREFER DRIVING IN A CAR RATHER THAN BEING ON A BUS.
AL: I have seen you play many times in the past three years in America. Do
you feel comfortable with all that touring?
SUNE: I'M NOT A BIG TOURING FAN. I PREFER STUDIO WORK.
AL: You have been on TV in America a lot. Do you see those TV shows back in
SUNE: YES. I LIVE IN NYC THOUGH BUT MY MOM TAPES THEM.
AL: You have a new member in the band. Sharin Foo has moved over to guitar.
Why all the changes?
SUNE: THERE HAVE BEEN EVEN MORE CHANGES. MANOJ IS NO LONGER WITH US. WE LIKE TO SHAKE THINGS UP A BIT. IT KEEPS US SANE.
AL: What sort of atmosphere did you need to write the new album?
SUNE: MY HOMETOWN IN DENMARK AND A REHEARSAL SPACE IN LONDON. I WROTE SOME TUNES IN NYACK, NY WHERE RICHARD LIVES AND I WROTE A SONG IN THE STUDIO. IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER JUST AS LONG AS I'M IN A ROOM BY MYSELF.
AL: It seems that you were into some Americana records on this new album?
SUNE: IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME FOR ME: BUDDY HOLLY, THE EVERLY BROTHERS, THE
COOKIES, SANTO & JOHNNY, ETC.
AL: Why do you think that people are obsessed with music from the 1980s? I
was there and was a teenager at the time and it wasn't so good. There were a few
good bands, but 90% was shit.
SUNE: IT'S ALL PART OF NOSTALGIA. I CRAVE THE 50'S AND 60'S AND SOME PEOPLE
LIKE THE 80'S. IT'S ALL THE SAME EXCEPT THE 80'S SEEMED A BIT GLOOMIER.
AL: How did this new album differ from the previous two?
SUNE: YOU TELL ME. (laughter)
AL: You had a different approach to songwriting on this record?
SUNE: NO, IT’S ALWAYS THE SAME. I WRITE A LOT OF SONGS AND PICK THE ONES WE LIKE.
AL: What was it like working with Richard Gottehrer?
SUNE: HE'S A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE AND WE HAVE LOTS OF FUN. HE'S A MUSIC
ENCYCLOPEDIA AND HAS MANY A GREAT STORIES TO TELL. WE LIKE THE SAME MUSIC AND RESPECT EACH OTHER.
AL: This time you decided to cover one of his songs. Does Richard think your
version is better?
SUNE: WE NEVER TALKED ABOUT IT. I PREFER THE ORIGINAL.
AL: I heard there is a lot of partying on the road for the Raveonettes. Are
you recovering from alcohol abuse and drug excess right now?
SUNE: SORT OF...
AL: What do you think of psychedelic drugs and how do they relate to
SUNE: I NEVER TRIED THEM...
AL: Who is that song "Little Animal" about?
SUNE: MY NEIGHBOR WHEN I LIVED ON SUQUAMISH ISLAND RIGHT OUTSIDE SEATTLE. SHE WAS VERY HOT AND I DIDN'T SPEAK TO ANYONE FOR FIVE MONTHS. SO IT'S A WISHING SONG I GUESS.
AL: Did you live in America when you were younger?
SUNE: I STARTED COMING HERE I 1994. I LIVED IN NYC, LA AND SEATTLE. I MOVED
BACK TO NYC A YEAR AGO.
AL: Since the Beat Generation influenced you, did you try your hand at poetry
SUNE: I USED TO WRITE A LOT OF POETRY BUT FOR SOME REASON I DON'T ANYMORE.
AL: I heard that you have been married a few times and have kids in different
parts of the world. What is up with that?
SUNE: I WISH...
AL: How does the songwriting process start for you?
SUNE: I THINK SONGS IN MY HEAD BEFORE I SIT DOWN. IT’S SORT OF LIKE MOZART.
NOT TOO BAD.
AL: Wow! Do you have any hobbies?
SUNE: PHOTOGRAPHY, GOING TO THE LIBRARY, MOVIES, FINE DINING AND WINE,
AL: What about your DJ nights? What do you play?
SUNE: OLD STUFF AND ELECTRONIC. SOMETIMES HIP HOP TOO IF PEOPLE ARE UP FOR THAT.
AL: You have done a few albums in "the key of B flat" or whatever. You have
dropped that restraint?
SUNE: YES, NEEDED TO MOVE ON.
AL: Who do you think are some good bands now?
SUNE: THE ARCADE FIRE, INTERPOL, PRIMAL SCREAM, BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, AND
AL: You have been hanging out with Anton Newcombe of BJM a lot. Is it like
Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac?
SUNE: I THINK IT'S CRAZIER. I HUNG OUT WITH HIM LAST NIGHT FOR
HALLOWEEN. CRAZY SHIT.
AL: Recently you played three nights at Spaceland in Los Angeles. This is a
small club. You could have played one or two nights at a much larger venue. Why
did you do this?
SUNE: WE LIKE THE SMALL CLUBS SOMETIMES AND THEN WE GET TO STAY IN THE SAME
PLACE FOR EXTRA DAYS.
AL: I watched you do a sound check in Los Angeles. It takes a long time to
get things ready because you have technology and everything. What exactly do you
SUNE: WE USED TO HAVE A PRO TOOLS RIG BUT NOWADAYS WE JUST TRAVEL WITH TWO
ALESIS HD24 HARD DISK RECORDERS.
AL: Thanks for talking with me and good luck with the new tour.