Just got off the phone with Adam Olenius, the lovably warbly lead singer of that excellent Swedish band the Shout Out Louds. We talked a lot of garbage you don’t want to know about (though perhaps you do), but mostly about his band’s very fine new album on Merge called Our Ill Wills, the follow-up to their debut disc Howl Howl Gaff Gaff that had all the critics baying at the moon and furiously checking their Microsoft Word thesauruses for new and better ways to describe the resplendently . . . no, the gloriously fresh way these stylish young Swedes dish out such fist-pumpingly... make that raw-powered classic pop deliciously dolloped in memorable melody and sweet but never saccharine sincerity!
The new album was not just produced but artfully crafted by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John, and it’s wonderful; every song’s a true big-beat beaut, it couldn’t have come at a better time, and the even better news is that the Shout Out Louds are bringing it all to vivid life live at the Detour Festival, so: Get there on time and have your faith in relevant and high-quality new music – and good hair – be renewed.
Now lend an ear as we discuss the loves, lives and musical intricacies of the Shout Out Louds…
LA WEEKLY: I was noticing that your second album, Our Ill Wills, came out three years after Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. Why so long? What’s been going on?ADAM: The album is different in the U.S. and Europe and Sweden -- it’s a kind of compilation, with different release dates. The debut came out in Sweden in 2003, and in North America in 2005.
We actually talked just today about how much we toured, and how much we should break. Back home we worked a lot. We toured up till last year, and then we went straight into the studio. We even had some time off, too, but especially when we were playing those songs for such a long time, we really had to start working. So that’s why we decided to record it at home, and try to have a normal 9 to 5 job, try to live a normal life for once…
L.A. WEEKLY: What’s the songwriting process like? Do you write when you’re out on the road?ADAM: I write down sketches and some words here and there, but I can’t really finish a song; I can’t really work on it too much. Strange how when you get home, when you get a week off and you’re back in your apartment, everything really comes like a wave. It’s like you collect ideas when you travel, it’s like buying souvenirs, you know?
There were actually a few songs already written before we went on the road, and I wrote a lot in 2006, when we had a little time off between tours. Actually, that’s when Bjorn started working with us, he came in quite early and offered to produce us, and then started to record demos in early 2006. So we had that year to really work on the songs.
L.A. WEEKLY: How much of the songwriting is done individually, how much is collaborative?
ADAM: It depends on the song. If it needs that collective kind of unity, if it needs to have the whole band from the beginning – there’s always an idea of something that I bring to the rest, and we start working from that. Sometimes it does need to stay with me for a little bit longer, so I’m sure that I want to do the song, so it doesn’t get too... have too many ideas.
We do talk, and then argue and arrange everything together, and everyone brings their own idea, and the others bring melodies to the songs as well. It’s important that it’s got the same feeling as the night or moment I write it, and then it comes out on the record. It’s kind of a fight to keep it all along and all the way through rehearsal and then to the studio then live. But it’s working so far.
Shout Out Louds "Please Please Please" L.A. WEEKLY: What does the album title Our Ill Wills refer to? Do I detect a theme of sorts here?
ADAM: It’s just about, well, how songwriting and lyrics and music -- I think at least good pop music today is just a sort of channel, a way to be honest and showing your inner side, let’s say. I’m really influenced by songwriters that are kind of cynical and mean, I guess. Also, the title refers to lots of secrets and things going on in private.
L.A. WEEKLY: A theme, Adam, a theme – we writers require them of our songwriters. Couldn’t we say this one’s roughly, er, well, the need for love, the search for it?