The Raveonettes Interview
The Raveonettes have recently issued their blisteringly great Raven in the Grave. While their previous endeavor, Lust Lust Lust, was a gritty look at (surprise!) Lust, Raven in the Grave examines love and death more closely. Sune Rose Wagner, the driving songwriting force behind the band, takes my questions here.
ELM: I read that you’re a fan of Nan Goldin’s photography, as am I. The picture she took of herself after having been beaten is one of the bravest acts on film, as far as I’m concerned. What are your favorite photographs of hers?
SRW: I love that one too. I like the one called Nan and Brian in bed from 1981. I read somewhere it’s posed but it’s incredibly powerful.
ELM: Were there visual artists who inspired these songs in particular?
SRW:Todd Hido, Ryan McGinley and Robert Frank.
ELM: On Raven in the Grave, I’m definitely reminded of 80′s goth. For example, “Recharge and Revolt” calls to mind the synth line in “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Is the similarity to early goth an intentional reference point, or do you even think it sounds like that?
SRW: I never thought about it actually. I would have loved to do the synth lines with a real orchestra but we can’t afford it so we have to do it on cheap synths which has a charming sound I guess.
ELM: On Lust Lust Lust, you tackled a lot of questions about sex and love in the bigger picture. What themes are there for you on Raven in the Grave?
SRW: Very simple, love & death and that’s it.
ELM: I read that the album title was a reference to the creative process. Can you tell me more about that?
SRW: Well, not exactly it’s more of a beginning. The raven is a symbol of death and we’re putting death to sleep to leave space for revolt and restlessness.
ELM:”War in Heaven” ends with a lot of dissonant noise. Does that symbolize anything?
SRW:There’s a certain chaotic madness which makes perfect sense to me, it’s a natural progression, something I don’t think about it just exists.
ELM: There are only nine songs on the album. Is there a reason it’s so short?
SRW: I enjoy shorter albums better.
ELM: Is there anything special you did during the recording or production
to give this album its distinct sound?
SRW: We recorded all the music in our own studio in NYC, which is probably why it sounds like it does. We have been purchasing great equipment for the studio for years and now we finally put everything to use.
ELM: Is there a song on this record that’s closer to you than the others?
SRW: Recharge & Revolt is very close cause it makes perfect sense to me and it was the easiest to write. It’s a very cool rebellious stomp.
ELM: The lyrics on the new record really interest me. A lot of them are the sort that, if you don’t mind my saying so, wouldn’t necessarily make the best poetry but really work in the context of the songs. How do lyrics fit into your whole songwriting process?
SRW: I understand what you’re saying. Poetry and song lyrics are two very different things and I would never claim to write poetry to any of our music. Lyrics are extremely important to me, without great words the song doesn’t work. It’s always a challenge putting words to music cause you need to have a certain flow but I enjoy that challenge.
ELM: Do you still write several songs a day?
SRW: Only when I have the time. I’ve written about 4 hours of music already for the next album and I feel incredibly inspired so I can’t wait to go back home to NYC and continue writing.
ELM: With your prolific output, how did you choose songs for this record?
SRW: It wasn’t too hard actually, the ones we decided on were simply the best:)
ELM: Who are your favorite writers?
SRW: Kerouac, Jean Genet, Vachel Lindsay, Emily Dickinson, Hart Crane, etc…
ELM: If you could raise everyone’s awareness of one cause, what would it be?
SRW: The atrocities in Chechnya.