Jesper Anderberg is keeping busy back in Malmö, Sweden. Pandemic or not, he’s tending to a new arrival: his new baby, the second for The Sounds guitarist-keyboardist. Already on parental leave, Anderberg had time off during the beginning of this year, but was set to tour in April and May before COVID-19 shut everything down. It took seven years for The Sounds to finally release their sixth album Things We Do For Love, then just as it was ready, the global pandemic hit, postponing the band’s 2020 tour.
“It was kind of sad that when we finally got to release the album after seven years this happens,” says Anderberg. “It will happen. I can promise you that, but when I don’t know because of restrictions. I can’t really keep track of what’s going on because you have so many different states in the United States.”
So much has happened in the The Sounds world since 2013’s Weekend. A season of change, it was the beginning of new era in a sense since the Swedish new wave rockers flashed onto the scene with 2002 debut Living in America. Now, most of the band have started families. Singer Maja Ivarsson has a five-year-old son, and Anderberg is already on his second child—and even broke from songwriting to study computer engineering for three years.
Aside from releasing an under-the-radar EP in 2017, The Tales That We Tell, The Sounds have remained pretty hush since 2013’s Weekend. Anderberg initially starting writing some of the tracks with drummer Fredrik Blond back in 2016—some were already recorded but shaved from EP. Both started writing together on Weekend and Something to Die For (2011), but this time around, Things We Do For Love was more of team effort with some songs filtering through each member, including vocalist Maja Ivarsson, who hasn’t written much since 2006’s Dying to Say This to You, and bassist Johan Richter.
“After the EP, we just continued writing and some of the songs that didn’t fit on the EP were saved for this album that we knew eventually was going to come out,” says Anderberg. “That’s usually how we write. We try to find a common ground when it comes to what direction we want to go a song-wise, and when it comes to songwriting.”
Sometimes a new band, a song, or show is the inspiration behind The Sounds’ songs. “Even older bands still have great impact on my songwriting,” says Anderberg, who admits that Things We Do For Love’s “Dreaming of You” was inspired by Arcade Fire. ”I tend to listen to new music to find some sort of inspiration, because there’s always someone that’s gonna come up with some cool vibes that you want to take a look and think how you can evolve. At the same time we’re The Sounds, and we’re always going to sound like The Sounds.”
Unlike previous albums that were written within a set timeframe, Things We Do For Love was spread out over the years, and doesn’t have the same stream of thought, or theme, as Crossing the Rubicon (2009), says Anderberg, which was pulled together when the band took a DIY route and launched their own label, Arnioki Records. Mostly written by Anderberg and Blond more than seven years ago, most of Things We Do For Love are older tracks, but despite their age still encapsulate the je ne sais quoi of The Sounds’ ’80s-regressed sound that has been there since their inception in 1998.
“In the beginning, we were being more careful of changing our sound too much,” says Anderberg. “Now we have such a distinct sound, that even if we would write a super crazy song and, on paper it doesn’t sound anything like us, it will eventually sound like us when we record it together.”
It’s as if no time has passed on Things We Do for Love. The Sounds’ are as transparent as it gets from the dance-y pulse of “Safe and Sound”—the band recently orchestrated the track with their hometown Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra— through the more anthemic “Changes” in its proclamations of I don’t care if the sky is falling down / No one knows what that future holds for us… I don’t care that the world keeps turning now / I’m going through changes.
Charged and pulsating in synth beats throughout tracks like “Hollow” and “Dim the Lights,” the title track was an earlier test of sorts, an experiment in The Sounds communal writing. Once the blueprint of propulsive opener “Things We Do For Love” was in place, Blond tweaked the track, then guitarist Felix Rodriguez did some additional production on it. A team effort, indeed.
“It actually went through nearly all the members before it was finished, which was really cool for once,” says Anderberg. “That’s kind of rare where the whole idea and structure of the song is seven years old. Usually when we’re finished with an album, we’ve listened to it so many times over those months—writing, recording and mixing and mastering—that you just wanna let it go. Then it’s someone else’s problem.”
Once live, the album comes alive again, says Anderberg. “Sometimes it’s tough to play new songs when you just finished the album,” he says. “Then you start rehearsing and are like ‘fuck, why didn’t we record it like this.’ But we’re a live band, and we don’t see any problem with changing stuff up live when we feel like it. I don’t really like seeing bands that are too concentrated on sounding exactly like the album with all the backtracks and everything. We try to create a new experience with the songs that everybody has already heard.”
Things We Do for Love’s darker pop closer “Miami,” written by Blond, is partially inspired by an obscure end to a show The Sounds had in Miami a few years back.
“We were supposed to leave and we were at the bus and the club owner came out and knocked on our bus and was super angry for some reason,” says Anderberg. “We hadn’t done anything. He was just on a lot of drugs, and he was threatening our tour manager. We knew he had a gun and thought ‘this is going to end bad.’ We were sitting in the bus like scared chickens, but eventually two security guards from the club came and picked him up and took him away.”
Anderberg jokes, “And everyone in Sweden wants to go to Florida.”
Now a father of two, Anderberg says family life has impacted his writing and added some structure to his life. “All my friends laughed at me saying, ‘you’re going to have kids when you can’t really take care of itself,’’ says Anderberg. “I think it definitely helped me to become more of a structured person and especially when it comes to writing. Having children is an inspiration in itself. All of a sudden you can’t only think about yourself, and your career, or your wife. There are two more people in our lives that completely control the rhythm of the day and everything around it.”
More disciplined in writing, there’s no time to overthink things. “Since you only have a few hours every day, you can really can work because you have to pick up the kids from kindergarten, so you start to make the most of it [time], and that actually helps,” says Anderberg. “You don’t second guess yourself so much anymore, because you don’t have the time. You say, ‘hey, this song is done now, because I don’t have time to fuck around with it anymore.’ It’s like painting a picture when it’s done. It’s done. Move on.”
For a band known for singing in English instead of their native Swedish has come with its challenges, though Anderberg says their writing in English has improved over the years—Anderberg even studied Shakepeare prior to writing Something to Die For. It usually takes a few weeks to refine their English, so there’s some stumbling on words during early interviews. “It’s funny, because our manager calls us, and we haven’t been speaking to him for months, and he’s like, ‘damn your English really sucks. What’s going on?’” laughs Anderberg. “I had a podcast a few weeks ago. I wonder if he understood anything I said.”
Still, Anderberg is nothing but proud of where The Sounds are now, more than 20 years later, with Things We Do For Love.
When asked about the things he’s done for love, and if he’s done anything crazy, Anderberg pauses. It was nothing disproportionate to who he is, but when he met his wife, he flew her around the world to be with him on tour. “There were also romantic things, like surprises and stuff like that,” says Anderberg, “but nothing too creepy.”