Today (22 July), The Raveonettes have not only announced details of their seventh studio album Pe’Ahi, but the Danish duo have released it too. To accompany its sudden appearance the band’s Sune Rose Wagner has written this exclusive commentary to the record for Q.
Following my father’s sudden death on Christmas Eve 2013, I set out to create a very different Raveonettes album. I wanted to immerse myself in the surf history of Southern California, where both Sharin and I reside, and incorporate various elements from this specific culture into each song both lyrically and musically. This album is a huge leap forward both sonically and musically for us. We incorporated new ideas into each song such as choirs, harps, digital bit crushing, rhythmic changes, unconventional song structures, different ways of singing, staccato, machine gun guitar picking, a somewhat schizophrenic universe.
A very important element to this album is how each song consists of many different parts, not your usual verse chorus verse, etc. It’s a very significant and surprising feature. We made a conscious decision to not have any ballads on this album, we wanted it to roar like Pe’ahi. This album would only have been possible to make on the West Coast. Sun, surf, the Pacific, vast spaces yet a sense of isolation. No distractions. Twelve hour working days for four months straight.
Sune Rose Wagner@Sunerosewagner
(/peɪˈɑːhiː/ pay-AH-hee; Hawaiian: [peˈʔɐhi])
A place on the north shore of the island of Maui in the US state of Hawaii. It has lent its name to a big wave surfing break, also known as Jaws. During off season the spot is taken over by meth fuelled crazies and people are advised to not venture out there. In February of 2014, 27 year-old pregnant Carly Scott was murdered there.
The songs begins by retelling the horrific story of a near-drowning surfing incident I had in Hawaii six years ago and how sometimes young lives have to take risks in order to exist. This song starts out the same way as The Doors debut album. The Doors are the ultimate West Coast band and an endless source of inspiration so it’s only fitting we started off Pe’Ahi by paying tribute to them. We tried to pack a lot of musical elements into this short song. There are elements of recurring musical ideas which are featured throughout the album such as exciting breakbeats, rhythmic changes, surprising song structure, fuzz, staccato guitar picking and layered vocals.
It’s about a sister who desperately tries to peel away from her mother’s cruel experiences but finds herself reluctantly ending-up in the same situations. A fresh take on a common 60s chord progression backed by a very old skool hip hop beat. There’s a choir and a harp, things we’ve never worked with before. The crazed-out guitar solo was only made possible because a string broke. These spontaneous elements are golden.
Killer In The Streets
It’s easy to be deceived by beauty and mystique. The alluring girl who pisses me off, I always forgive. I’m forever caught in her cunningness and savage innocence. Our take on Sly & The Family Stone. A hypnotic groove which builds to a climax and then dissolves until there are only drums and vocals left.
Wake Me Up
The cheating partner is forever doomed and desperately tries to figure out if his father’s abandonment and infidelity is the cause of his actions, a repeating hell. We hired acclaimed film composer Joe Trapanese to tie all the different sections together with strings. Rhythmic changes to the beat is key to this song and adds to the tension.
An ode to the genius of children and the innovative surfers and skaters of yesteryear, children who changed the world through passion and creativity not money. We wanted to make this as epic as anything we’ve ever done. A huge choir, tons of guitars and layered vocals. The breakdown interlude is meant to resemble the golden days at Pacific Ocean Park. A nautical themed amusement park which crumbled in 1967 and became a favorite spot amongst local surfers, gangs and drugged-out youths.
A Hell Below
A riotous declaration against infidelity and all its inflicted pain and suffering, humorously set within the comforting structures of a harmless pop song. Everything on this song is completely fuzzed out but not in a retro, vintage way. Digital degradation is key here, it’s about using computers in interesting ways not possible in the analogue world. Contrary to popular belief, all our albums have been made on computers without any amps or real drums. We’re the exact opposite of all our analogue-loving peers.
The Rains Of May
A song for the heartbroken who never prevailed but always looked for times past and always sought nostalgia in the most darkened of settings. This tunes goes through so many different sections which is a new approach to us. It’s very West Coast. Again we have multiple different beats introduced to each new section.
An important song to write following my father’s alcohol induced death on Christmas Eve last year. Alcohol, infidelity, abandonment are all part of my story about him and yes, I actually walked in on my dad having sex with a redhead in my parent’s bedroom. I was ten years-old. Aggressive and groovy is what we strived for here. Bit crushed guitars and heavily distorted synth basses are key elements to the theme of this song. The noise is necessary to emphasize the serious nature of the lyrics, it’s not a gimmick.
When Night Is Almost Done
Always wanted to honor this genius poet: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). No drums! The challenge was to make an explosive song without the aid of a thundering beat. I love the way the song evolves into a very beautiful ending. A sweet lullaby.
A somewhat morose farewell to my father leaving me pondering what I inherited from his behaviors and can I escape it? A big rock song. The perfect closer to the album. The second part of the song is very chaotic and dark which was extremely necessary in the context of the harsh and accusing words.
For more head to Theraveonettes.com