The Sounds and their ardent connection to the gay community

Powered by attitude, ambition, and adrenaline, The Sounds have earned an ardent global fan base with their frenzied live performances, applying punk-like provocation to a euphoria-inducing combination of soaring melodies, staccato guitar riffs, bubbling synths, and boisterous beats. On their new album, Crossing the Rubicon, the band—comprised of vocalist Maja Ivarsson; guitarist Felix Rodriguez; bassist Johan Bengsston; keyboardist Jesper Anderberg; and drummer Fredrik Nilsson—apply cunning hooks to intoxicating insolence, simultaneously honoring and defying every rock cliché in the book. 

The Sounds

Crossing the Rubicon is set to build upon the success of their last album, Dying to Say This to You (2006), which reached the Top Ten in Sweden and #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. When touring to promote that album, the members found that their vision for the band was not necessarily in sync with that of their record label. Needing to play by their own rules, the band got themselves out of their worldwide record deal and took control of their musical destiny.

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Free to chart their own course, the Sounds formed their own label and used their own money to record what has became Crossing the Rubicon, despite the fact that offers were flying in from majors all over the world. “It feels good to have more control over our music and the direction we want the band to take,” says Jesper. The band has partnered with independent label Original Signal Recordings for the North American release.

Here, Ivarsson and Anderberg talk about their amazing journey from their hometown of Helsingborg, Sweden—where they performed their first gigs at school gym classes and pizza parlors—to their whirlwind tours of 25 countries where they’ve played literally hundreds of jam-packed shows.

Q: The songs on Crossing the Rubicon retain the kinetic fervor of your past work, but there is a sense of wistfulness to some of the lyrics.

Maja Ivarsson: We’ve been through a lot over the past couple of years. This has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for us since we first began. There’s been frustration and anxiety, but there have also been a lot of happy times. Some of the lyrics on this album are about looking back and seeing how time has passed—not with bitterness but with a bit of melancholy. We started this band when we were teenagers, and we were so naïve. It was all about playing music, drinking, hooking up, and a lot of teenage angst.

Q: Jesper, I know that you and Felix share the main songwriting duties for the band. Did you have an overriding artistic goal that you were trying to achieve when you were making the album?

Jesper Anderberg: We want people to remember this as a whole album, not a bunch of singles. We want it to relate to people’s lives today, but we also hope they’ll listen to it in the future as a way to remember what they were feeling now. It’s like the kind of feeling you get when you listen to an album that you loved in high school.

Q: You’ve toured extensively in the past, and your live shows are magnetic. It’s like there’s an electrical charge that runs between all of you. You seem really unified on stage.

MI: It’s never been like, “I’m the vocalist, and this is the backup band.” We depend on each other like a family. Sweden is a very socialized country, and we are brought up to believe that everyone is equally important. No one is better than anyone else.

JA: Playing live is our biggest inspiration. All the touring we’ve done has given us so much experience and so many stories to tell.

Q: You’ve built quite a fan base from all of your touring, particularly in Los Angeles. I read where you played a sold-out show to 4,000 people at the Palladium the last time you were in town.

JA: Yeah, we have quite a large fan base there. The song “Midnight Sun” expresses some of our feelings about Los Angeles. In Sweden, L.A.’s considered this really glamorous place. We have a great time there, and it’s become a second home to us.

Q: The band exudes a lot of sexual heat onstage. Do you get hit on by guys and girls when you’re on the road?

MI: All the time. That’s the way it’s been since day one. I think that it’s because the guys are very good looking, and I’m not too bad myself. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight—our fans mean everything to us. We’ve always had a lot of gay fans, which is a big honor for us. All of the bands that we liked when we were young had a lot of gay fans too. Plus, it’s a good sign if you’re picked up by a gay crowd because gay people tend to know about the latest music.

Q: Maja, you’ve talked about your bisexuality in the gay press, but I know you don’t like to make a big deal of it.

MI: It’s so easy to make that a subject rather than the music. It’s so easy to get stuck on other issues instead of focusing on the songs. We have a record coming out. Whether I’m dating a boy or a girl, it doesn’t really matter.

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THE SOUNDS on tour (North America):


20 Bakersfield, CA Rabobank Arena*
23 Phoenix, AZ Cricket Wireless Arena*
25 Salt Lake City, UT E Center*
26 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep

27 Denver, CO Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre*
28 Albuquerque, NM Journal Pavilion*
29 El Paso, TX Take II
30 Dallas, TX Center*
31 Spring, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion*


2 Tampa, FL Ford Amphitheatre*
3 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre*
4 Orlando, FL Club Firestone
5 Atlanta, GA Lakewood Amphitheatre*
6 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*
8 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion*
10 Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*
11 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center*
13 Burgettstown, PA Post-Gazette Pavilion*
14 Bristow, VA Nissan Pavilion*


19 Auburn, WA White River Amphitheatre*
21 Concord, CA Sleep Train Pavilion*
22 Los Angeles, CA Gibson Amphitheatre*
24 Wheatland, CA Sleep Train Pavilion*
25 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre*
27 Universal City, CA Gibson Amphitheatre*
28 Universal City, CA Gibson Amphitheatre*
31 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*


1 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*
2 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*
4 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre*

*supporting No Doubt