Sounds like attitude

Swedish electro punk pop band back with second, darker album


Almost two years ago, on a sweaty Monday afternoon in late July, a crush of teenagers trampled toward one of the Warped Tour's main stages. The Sounds, a Swedish electro punk pop outfit, were about to rail Kansas' Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

Singer Maja Ivarsson strutted and spat, flicked a lit cigarette into the crowd and declared herself "the teacher." The four other band members behind her followed through with a 30-minute sonic smack of keyboard- and guitar-driven rock 'n' roll.

The kids were jolted. A lot of them had come to hear whiny pop-punk bands like New Found Glory and Simple Plan. Slap!

When the Sounds play the 9:30 Club on Monday, they'll bring a new album with fresh songs but the same attitude.

"Our band maybe didn't fit in on the Warped Tour, but in a way we really stood out, which was really good for us," said guitarist Felix Rodriguez. "Maybe the kids weren't ready, but I think it's cool when people don't know what to expect - maybe haven't ever heard of us - and we show up and do our thing. It's a good thing."

The concert in Kansas was the band's last stop before a five-month breather. Then, early last year, they started writing songs for a new record. They had toured for years on Living in America, their debut album, and wanted more material for their fans, Rodriguez said. They gave themselves only four months to compose the second LP - a fraction of the year-and-a-half needed to write Living in America.

"You have your whole life to write the first album," Rodriguez said. "The second album, you don't have that much time."

Rodriguez said the Sounds collaborate on most songs. Someone might take the lead here and there, but everyone writes and comes up with ideas, he said. Most band members play a variety of instruments,which makes it easier.

"Some songs we write together; some songs someone comes up with a hook or a line," Rodriguez said. "Everyone is involved. Everything is allowed."

The result, Dying to Say This to You, dropped last month. It's deeper and darker than Living in America, though Rodriguez said that wasn't their goal. Years of touring toughened them up, and the new sound just kind of came out.

"I think on the first album we were a little bit more naive," he said. "We were like teenagers, like 18-19 writing, going out and partying and having a good time."

But the live show was always as intense, he said. The fans are energetic, and the band whips them into a frenzy.

"We love to be up on stage," Rodriguez said. "We love to perform and give 100 percent. We can't help it - it's just how it is. When we go up there together, we have something, like a chemistry - I can't explain it, but we explode up on stage."

The Sounds play an early show at the 9:30 Club on Monday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The club is at 815 V St. N.W. in Washington. Tickets are $19.50. For more information, call 202-393-0930 or visit

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