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Arts and Entertainment

Shout Out Louds @ El Rey Theatre 05/21/10

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The curtains pulled back and emerging from a cloud of bright orange smoke, the Shout Out Louds bounced joyfully onto the stage at the El Rey Theatre in front of a sold out crowd. They had every reason to be exuberant. It's been seven years since their debut disk, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, came out in the US and after being dropped by EMI and reborn on Merge Records, this band is finally hitting their stride.

The band performed in front of an enormous black and red drawing of a man clearly influenced by Picasso. His wobbly face made a perfect backdrop for the Shout Out Louds because they make delightful pop music that is a bit off. Things that sound great, but make you feel a tad askew and uncertain. Or more succinctly, pop with surprising edges that make you want to listen to it again or exclaim "I didn't know they were going to do that." We caught up with lead singer, Adam Olenius after the show to talk about their latest album, Walls. Here is some of what was said.

When did you first pick up an instrument?
It was probably a recorder in school. In Sweden when you're eight or seven you're taught to play the recorder. After that I played the piano for a year, but I had the most evil teacher. If you made a mistake she would hit your fingers with a ruler. It was terrible.

That's horrible. I heard you wrote this last album mostly in Melbourne. Why were you there?
I was living with my girlfriend who was studying there. It's a great city for music and culture. Writing this album was a bit more relaxed this time, more stripped down than the other one. It was the first time that I wrote songs and then emailed them to the rest of the band.

Was that difficult?

Yeah, it was a little nerve wracking waiting for the emails to come back, but there was a certain freedom not just from writing by myself, but also being so far away from home. However, the album didn't really come together until we were all in one room. The sound really forms when we're all together.

Why did you choose Seattle to record this album?

Well, the producer Phil Ek who works out of Seattle and we really wanted to work with him. We were thinking about studios in France and Italy, but they were too expensive. Phil has this really nice studio in an old barn in the middle of nowhere. It was a really great space. We really wanted to get out of Stockholm.

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Why do you sing only in English and not Swedish?
It just came out that way. When we formed the band, we knew that we wanted to get out of Sweden and come over here and the UK. We were also influenced heavily not by Swedish music, but by Motown and Chicago and Queen and Led Zeppelin, who all sang in English. Even as a kid, I would write songs in this nonsense language that sounded like English. I mean, I've written a Swedish, but they're scary. It's much easier to hide behind your second language. I know our English lyrics sound naive sometimes, but I kind of like that.

Why did you name this album Work?
For many reasons, but mostly because every record is a piece of work. You shut yourself off from all your friends and family and create this thing. It's a very romantic word. It's like "This is what we do and we're really, really proud of it." We have the best job in the world.

According to your MySpace you've got 10 record labels. How the heck do you keep them all organized? And do you really need that many?
(laughs) I don't know! We used to just have EMI and Capitol worldwide, but then they dropped us and Merge picked us up straight away. We really like that label. I think we just decided that we would find labels to work with locally. One label for each country. Some of the ones on MySpace don't exist anymore. They got bought out or dissolved or something, so we really only have four different labels right now.

That's still has to be really confusing.
Yeah, our manager hates it. He really hates it, but we want to work with people who really want to release our album and are not just releasing it because they have to or because the head office said so.

That makes sense. Do you still get nervous before a record comes out?
I do, yeah. The two weeks before it comes out I have a really hard time sleeping. I try not to read the reviews though. It's more important to go out on the road and focus on playing live. This tour that we're on right now has been the best so far.

That's really great! What's the worst show you've ever done?
We had a show in Minneapolis that went really, really wrong. All of us had too much to drink beforehand, I think we forgot we had a show. Everything went wrong. The monitor guy was sleeping, so we couldn't hear anything on stage. The sound guy erased all of the settings that we had done during the sound check, so everything sounded weird. And for some reason we were playing everything half as slowly as we should have been. All though I think by the end of the set we had gotten it together. It wasn't good though.

That does sound bad. Okay final question, If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Wouldn't it be cool if you could buy record and walk into the record cover when you started listening to the album? Like some sort of virtual reality simulator? It would be awesome! I really want to be inside a Sly and the Family Stone album cover.

That would be rad! But what if it's super scary like a Slayer album? Wouldn't that be dangerous?
No, no! It would be great. I mean it would be scary, but nothing bad would happen to you once you're inside.

That does sound like a pretty cool idea. Thank you so much for talking with us!

Thank you!