an interview with guitarist Felix Rodriguez
To promote their sophomore release, Dying To Say This To You, Sweden’s The Sounds are embarking on their first ever headlining North American tour. About a month ago I got to chat with guitarist Felix Rodriguez about the joys of touring, ’80s music, and Mark Wahlberg.
Hey Felix… So where are you calling me from?
I’m in Oslo, Norway right now.
Oh yeah. And you have a show?
Yeah, we have a show a little bit later tonight.
Excellent. Well, I’m calling you from Orlando…
I saw you guys play here, about 2 years ago, when you opened for the Strokes.
Yeah, yeah. I remember that show!
It was awesome! I’ve been anxiously waiting for you to come back.
Now we’re coming back, and I think this time we’re coming to the same venue.
Was the Strokes tour fun for you?
It was an amazing tour — we had a lot of fun doing that tour, and we learned a lot. The Strokes is an awesome band so we were happy to get on tour with them
How did that tour compare to your experience on the Warped Tour?
The Warped Tour is like 100 bands, that I don’t know too much about, and some bands that I’ve never even heard. And you know you travel with 100 bands, and you play around 1 or 2 in the afternoon…
Your first album came out in 2003, why has it taken 3 years for the follow-up?
All this time we’ve been touring… We didn’t have time to write on tour because we have to focus, ya know, to write an album we have to just sit down and focus on one thing at a time.
That makes sense.
Yeah. So we stopped touring after… we’ve been like touring for 3 years in a row with the Living In America album, and we stopped the tour right after the Warped Tour. Then we had a break for 2 months, to hang out with family, and then after that we wrote the album. We started to write the album one year ago. To write the new album, it went really quick. It took, like five months at most. But we’ve been collecting ideas, and experience through the last few years so then we collected that.
My favorite song on the new record is “Tony The Beat” and I noticed that not only does it have your signature ’80s new wave vibe to it, but also a more modern indie electronic type of feel. Have your personal music tastes changed in the last few years, and is this a transitional song?
Well, we get really inspired by people we meet and bands that we tour with, so of course there happens a change. We’ve been touring a lot in the States, meeting a lot of people there, so we had a lot of influence by American bands. But to go back to “Tony the Beat,” that song was actually one of the few songs that was very inspired by the ’80s. Cause when we wrote that song I wanted it to have like a vibe… or the idea I had was more RUN DMC type of ’80s.
So what bands did you like in the ’80s?
I didn’t listen to Ultravox, cause I was maybe too young in the ’80s, but they’re an awesome band.
What’s the music scene in Sweden like? What music is popular?
You guys, in the States, on MTV have lots of hip hop and R&B. We also have that, but we also are getting more bands playing here. On the charts we have the Swedish version of American Idol, and bands like us, and also the rap and R&B from the States.
How do American audiences differ from other audiences around the world?
American crowds are really open-minded. We’ve been playing a lot of shows as the support act, and the people are still supportive. In Europe it’s more laid back, for the support bands there may not be a lot of people [watching]. So I think Americans are more open minded when to comes to seeing a new band.
I think you’re gonna be surprised, when you come back for your headlining tour, at how large your fan base is because of the people who discovered you on the Strokes tour, or the Warped Tour.
That would be awesome!
What do you do to entertain yourself on the road?
Even when you’re bored you can have a good time. We’d hang out with the other bands, watch movies on the road, go out…
What’s your favorite road movie?
Every tour bus I’ve been in, there’s always the movie Rockstar.
The one with Mark Wahlberg?
Yeah, it’s always there! Doesn’t matter if you’re in an American tour bus, or Swedish. It always shows up somewhere on the bus, because it’s such a cliche, cheesy movie but really entertaining… And, of course, Spinal Tap. That’s the shit! Every band has experienced some kind of Spinal Tap moment.
Well, thank you! have a good show tonight, in Norway!
Thanks, and I’ll see you in Orlando.
The Sounds: www.the-sounds.com