As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, vocalist Maja Ivarsson of Swedish indie rock group The Sounds is continuing on with everyday life as normally as ever before—for the most part.
“Sweden’s a bit different, I think,” Ivarsson said in a recent call. “We don’t have a total lockdown and people are moving around quite freely. But you know, we do the whole social distance thing, and people don’t shake hands, you don’t hug people and you don’t see your mom and stuff like that. We’ll see how it goes. It’s crazy days.”
Like many acts, The Sounds postponed their tour plans in 2020, which was scheduled for April and May. Ivarsson said the band has visited the U.S. on at least 17 tours over the years, so the postponement has thrown quite a heartbreaking punch.
“We haven’t been in the States for two-and-a-half years, and it’s always been such a loyal fan base for us; it’s becoming home for us,” Ivarsson said. “We never know if these venues are still going to be open when we come back. So there are a lot of different levels in this whole tragedy.”
Maja Ivarsson said she and the bandmates continue to meet in the studio every day to write new songs—sans keyboardist Jesper Anderberg, a new dad who’s taken on new responsibilities—which aligns with the pandemic timing quite perfectly. She, drummer Fredrik Blond, guitarist Felix Rodriguez and bassist Johan Richter continue to keep the ball rolling.
“We don’t stay away from each other because of this virus,” Ivarsson said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had this much time in between shows since we started over 20 years ago. It’s a bit odd.”
All the extra time has allowed Ivarsson to write more than a dozen new songs, which she hopes will lead to another new album in the near future. But for now, The Sounds will continue to put emphasis on and promote their new album, Things We Do For Love; the band’s first in seven years. The band leader compares the band’s albums to having a half dozen children.
“When your first album gets released, it’s almost like having your first child,” she said. “Everything is new; you don’t know what to expect. You have no idea what’s coming and you’re so excited, and kind of scared and frightened and happy at the same time. And as I would imagine, if I had six children, by the sixth child I probably know what’s coming. [But] I’m happy and will always love them equally.”
More than anything, she looks forward to getting back out on tour.
The Sounds performed the album during a live-streamed concert, kicking up a full-production performance at a club in the their hometown of Malmö. While introducing singles off Things We Do For Love, The Sounds also brought back fan favorites, giving fans a sense of normalcy during a stressful time.
But even though the band went through the usual motions of performing a live show, the atmosphere was distinctly odd without an audience, Ivarsson said.
“I live off of the energy between the audience and myself. That is what I do best,” she said. “I did try to remember that a lot of people were watching. It was totally different, but at the same time, strangely enough, it was the same thing because we played the same songs, and we had the same energy as we [normally] do.”
Ivarsson said she put more of her voice into the songwriting on the new album, which, thematically, looks at her past, “destructive” ways. She said she’s become more grounded and balanced since then.
“[It was] just craziness—fast living and crazy days and good fun and partying. I remember the sense of being free, and also very vulnerable and passionate and strong, just because you’re down on your knees and will almost not make it,” she said. “Today, I can write about those years instead of being in it. It’s a good source of inspiration for me to write about.”
Now she lives with her 5-year-old son, who still is able to attend preschool amid the pandemic.
“I think, in a way, (children) cope with it better than we do because they don’t really know what’s going on,” Ivarsson said. “He totally knows something is going on, but I don’t think he knows exactly what it is, which is good, I guess.”
Now, Ivarsson she’s looking to the days The Sounds get on the road and play in front of people.
“Whenever this will pass, we promise to bring back the party,” she said.
Follow writer Amelia Parreira at Twitter.com/AmeliaParreira.