The Raveonettes: The Sound Of Surfing In The Rain The Danish-born rock duo has settled in New York and Los Angeles, but its members say they still view America through the eyes of voyeurs. The band's new album is titled Observator.
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The Raveonettes: The Sound Of Surfing In The Rain

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The Raveonettes: The Sound Of Surfing In The Rain

The Raveonettes: The Sound Of Surfing In The Rain

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Sometimes, it takes a trip down the wrong road to get a band back on track. For more than a decade, The Raveonettes have made albums filled with fuzz guitar feedback and boy-girl tight harmonies that win critical acclaim and devoted fans.


WERTHEIMER: The group's latest album, "Observator," takes on a different sound and a different instrument. The Danish duo behind The Raveonettes are Sharin Foo, who sings and plays bass, and Sune Rose Wagner, who sings, plays guitar and writes the music. Sharin Foo joins us from NPR West. Sune Rose Wagner is at our New York studios. Welcome to you both.

SHARIN FOO: Thank you.


WERTHEIMER: So, let's start with the song that I'm guessing inspired the title of your album, "Observations."


WERTHEIMER: Now, that is a considerable departure from what you played on your earlier albums, isn't it, which is more like 1950s rock and roll, wall of sound, noisy guitars. This time, you have that piano.

WAGNER: I wrote pretty much all the songs on piano for this album. It felt kind of obvious almost to use the piano. It added a gloomy element to the songs. I thought it would be harder to incorporate piano into our music, but it actually turned out to be fairly simple. So it felt very natural.


WERTHEIMER: Now, on past albums, even the darkest lyrics come on in a sort of upbeat, sunny way because you're playing them with surfy sort of guitar and Everly Brothers harmonies. Why did you draw inspiration from mid-century America in that way?

FOO: I remember when Sune contacted me 12 years ago, whenever that was, we specifically talked about the Everly Brothers as an inspiration for the vocals. And right away, our voices sort of blended really well. It was a very natural sound that we created.


WERTHEIMER: Now, coming back to "Observator," this was supposed to be your Los Angeles album. Sharin, you live there.

FOO: I do.

WERTHEIMER: But Sune got sidetracked. What happened?

WAGNER: Yeah. Well, I came out there sort of looking for inspiration, I guess. To me, Los Angeles was always the end of the road. When I used to take road trips from New York to L.A., those were always the most nostalgic and saddest ones because I saw the sun drown in the horizon and I knew that that was where I was going. It was where the sun went down. And I have this weird love relationship with the city because I do think that there is a lot of beauty in it, and at the same time, I'm not really that comfortable with the city.

FOO: I was trying to tell Sune that Venice Beach is not really where you go find inspiration these days, in L.A.

WAGNER: No, it depends, like...

FOO: From someone living in L.A. But someone once told me that The Raveonettes sounds like someone surfing but it's raining, which I always thought was such a very accurate description. And I think that's the combination of Scandinavia and this kind of, like, voyeuristic approach to Americana, I think, so.

WERTHEIMER: To the New World.

FOO: Yeah.

WERTHEIMER: Is your music autobiographical, Sune?

WAGNER: Some of it is, yes. Well, I guess, most of it is. But I draw from other people's lives and experiences as well.

WERTHEIMER: You met a woman in New York who inspired the first single, which is...

FOO: "She Owns the Streets."

WERTHEIMER: Yeah, "She Owns the Streets." Now, how did that happen?

WAGNER: Well, I was at Madison Square Garden, and the intermission, people sort of, you know, they got to the bar and they go talk to their friends, whatever. So, there was this huge space in Madison Square Garden. And all of a sudden, in the middle of that space was this girl dancing just by herself. And it was just such a crazy sight. And then the guy I was with actually knew her. So, he introduced me to her. And her name is Lone. I met up with her a few days after that. We had lunch and she told me her story, how she got kicked out of all clubs in New York because of jealous girlfriends and the guys kind of like her. And there's no place for her to go and just dance. So, she took to the streets.


WAGNER: People would, when they see her out there, they think that she's on drugs. So, they call the police. She's been arrested many times. She's been in Bellevue, you know, psychiatric ward. Yeah, it's just kind of strange, you know. So, I thought she would make a great subject for a song.


WERTHEIMER: With the Los Angeles adventure that didn't work out quite the way you meant it to, my understanding is that there is one song, "Till the End," which survived the L.A. sessions, which were not particularly successful sessions. Is that right?

WAGNER: That's true. I was staying at a bed and breakfast place pretty much on the beach out there. And Sharin came over to listen to what ideas I had at that time, like a snippet of a song. The only song that I had actually written while I was there was "Till the End."


WERTHEIMER: So, something good came out of L.A. after all.

WAGNER: I'll say, yeah, sure.


WAGNER: Well, a lot of good stuff came out of it. You know, I mean, it was very important for the record that I went there. It was - in the moment, it wasn't very good but looking back on it, a lot of experiences and a lot of feelings and stuff came into the album. So, yeah, it was very important.

WERTHEIMER: "Observator" is the new album by The Raveonettes. It's out on Tuesday. The lead singers of the band are Sharin Foo, who joined us from NPR West, and Sune Rose Wagner, who joined us from New York City. Thanks to you both.

WAGNER: Thank you.

FOO: Thank you.


WERTHEIMER: You can hear tracks from "Observator" at This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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