Unfortunately, when I reached The Raveonette’s Sune Rose Wagner for a phone interview yesterday, the circumstances were a little different than I’d expected. Wagner, singer, guitarist and in no uncertain terms, leader of the band, had just chosen to cancel the evening’s scheduled show at the Magic Stick. Road weariness looming heavily in his voice, I couldn’t help but sympathize, even if he does get to play rock ‘n’ roll for a living.
Wagner explained that the band has played 25 shows straight, lamenting, “We haven’t had one single day off since I don’t know when.” Reasoning that it was in the best interest of the tour as a whole, he said it was the only choice.
“It was either cancel one show, or possibly just play shit shows for the rest of the tour,” Wagner said. “The point is to put on a really good show, and if we feel we can’t do that then there’s really no point for us in playing.”
Frustrated with a grueling promotion schedule, Wagner was still kind enough to talk at length about the band and their new album Lust Lust Lust, as well as reveal some of his personal influences and songwriting process.
The Raveonettes’s latest album resurrects the reverb-soaked guitar squall from earlier albums but the reasons for the shift seemed a bit foggy. Wagner’s articulation was nearly as enigmatic as the record itself. He described the conception of the disc as “more chaotic . more raw” than previous efforts, saying the sound “sort of just happened by chance” – which is more a reflection of his life and mood than the product of a specific plan. His direction for the album collided with the writing of quasi-title-track “Lust,” after which he decided to just “build from there.”
Lust heralds comparison to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but Wagner, though calling Psychocandy a “great album,” doesn’t consider them a substantial influence. Instead, he pointed to Sonic Youth, The Ramones and various girl groups, as well as The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Richie Vallens as his chief sources of inspiration. However, he quickly admitted that music hasn’t been his primary inspiration.
“I’m much more influenced by movies and books,” Wagner said.
But Wagner isn’t interested in the pulpier grind despite his penchant for more retro, independent-looking album covers.
“I don’t like B-movies at all,” Wagner said. “That’s why they’re called B-movies: ’cause they’re terrible.”
It was difficult to argue with his rationale, especially when he listed his favorite filmmakers as “Hitchcock,” “Tim Burton” and “David Lynch.” The man clearly knows his stuff. Though he confessed after some prodding, B-movies were good for their graphic and shocking artwork, but not much else.
He eagerly explained that he considers his songwriting to have a very cinematic quality, and that he writes with “images in his head,” with music and lyrics coming to him simultaneously and inseparably.
After some guitar talk (he has no intention of ever abandoning his Jazzmasters or Fender Twin amps – “it’s always been like that,” he said), I figured it was time to let him rest his fatigue-plagued voice. He had no rescheduling plans, but when I suggested the Blind Pig for the future, he seemed all for it.