Q&A with The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner 1

Even though Sune Rose Wagner has hundreds of finished and unfinished songs "lying around" his home studio in New York’s East Village, the prolific songwriter — one half of Danish duo The Raveonettes — finds it impossible to compose on the road. ("There’s people all over," he laments.) Wagner, along with bandmate Sharin Foo and touring drummer Leah Shapiro, have spent much of 2008 touring behind The Raveonettes’ latest release, “Lust Lust Lust,” and last month the rigorous schedule caught up with the band at Austin’s SXSW music festival. Suffering from burnout, The Raveonettes were forced to cancel one of the whopping 13 performances they had scheduled at SXSW and take a day off before embarking on the final leg of their spring U.S. tour. As their East Coast dates wound to a close in late March, Wagner spoke to Blast about his distaste for life on the road, as well as the band’s cross-country songwriting process and his impressions of America.

Do you think “Lust Lust Lust” is a departure from your previous work?
I don’t compare our albums. I don’t think of our style as being one fixed thing. It sounds a little different from some of the other stuff, but I think all our albums sound different.

Does the album have an overall theme, conceptually or musically?
It’s about the difficulties in maintaining relationships and making decisions in regard to relationships. The only thing I wanted was just, I wanted to have the album have sort of a surf feel to it because I like that. I added a lot of surf-y kind of guitar lines.

You’re based in New York, but Sharin lives in Los Angeles. How does that work as far as your songwriting goes?
I write all the songs and the songs I like, I send them over to Sharin and see if she likes them or not. And if she likes them, we’ll put them in a little folder that will go on the album. It’s very simple. It’s always been like that.

How many songs did you write for this album?
A hundred or so. I just like writing songs. I just write whenever I feel like it. Sometimes I’ll write three or four songs in a day and sometimes I won’t write anything in a month.

Raveonettes in Blast Magazine

Do you have any favorite tracks on the record?
I have none. I like them all.

Talk about your experience at SXSW and your canceled performance.
We did 12 shows down there and that was a lot. And before that we had just come from Europe on a long tour and just did a West Coast tour, went straight down and played SXSW and then we flew right back and started an East Coast tour in Minneapolis. So at that time I think we had done something like 25 shows in a row, and we just didn’t enjoy it anymore. We just took a day off.

Did you get a chance to see any of the other artists who were performing there?
I saw Thurston Moore. And I saw MGMT. I thought (the MGMT show) was brilliant. I thought it was really good. I really like them a lot. I think they’re really entertaining.

What were some of your favorite records from 2007?
I don’t have any from last year. I rarely buy new stuff. MGMT is probably one of the newer bands I have sort of listened to. I don’t really sit at home and listen to music. It’s very rare. If I do, I put on like a classical vinyl or something. I enjoy watching movies and reading books a lot more. I have thousands of movies at home.

What are some of your favorite movies?
Hitchcock movies and (films directed by) David Lynch.

How long have you lived in America, and how do you like living here?
Seven years. I like living in New York. I think New York is really different from other towns in America. That’s why I like it. It has a certain European feel to it that I find very attractive. There are a lot of different cultures and they all seem to mix really well. There’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s a great city to walk in. it’s a beautiful city. New York has everything. It’s one of my favorite towns.

Who are some of your major influences or sources of inspiration?
It’s hard to say what influences you. I think everything you hear must influence you in some way. (I gain inspiration) just through life experience, meeting people and walking around and enjoying life and not being on tour so much. There’s nothing more uninspiring than being on tour, because it’s just a bunch of shitty cold dressing rooms all over the world. So there’s really not much inspiring about that.

Your stage show is very simplistic — just two guitars and a guest drummer (Leah Shapiro) who plays a stand-up kit consisting of only a floor tom and a snare. Is that a reflection of your approach to music in general?
I like music that’s very minimal. That’s what we’ve always done. I’ve always recorded everything at home, and it’s just very simple and that’s the kind of music we really like. We have (had) two people in the band, we have (had) five people in the band. We change a lot. We change around. We don’t like to play the same all the time. We try to make it more entertaining for ourselves. This is the best tour we’ve ever done. We have a great album out and we’re selling out shows.

Do you notice any differences between touring in America and touring in Europe?
It’s pretty much the same. It’s all about traveling, a lot of down time and a lot of waiting around. The only difference is sometimes when you tour in Europe, you get to see some really nice cities like Paris and Rome and all that stuff, and then you actually want to go out and experience the town.

You’ve been quoted as saying “Lust Lust Lust” is your best work. How so?
That was probably a misquote because I never think any of our albums is our best work I really like them all equally as much because they’re very different. They’re all equally good.