Raveonettes: Thrasher

Note: This article appeared in Thrasher  magazine, #337, September 2008. That means this is Thrasher‘s property. I’ve posted it here to share and so I can reference it in its digital form (this article only ran print).

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WHAT WE HAVE here is a pop band from Denmark. Have you heard of that place? You probably remember that line about “Something rotting in the state …” from Hamlet. Maybe you thought of Rune Glifberg. Top points if you knew it was a country in Northern Europe–in Scandinavia, at that. I’d say you did pretty well. But then again, I’m not Sune Rose Wagner. See, Sune and bandmate Sharin Foo’s latest album, Lust Lust Lust (Vice Records), had just come out, and I was pretty excited to do this interview. On previous work, the Raveonettes had polished a neo-rockabilly vibe that I always described as the requiems devils would sing as they personally drag you to hell. This time around on Lust, though, the duo traded the heaviness for layers of synthy harmony; something like My Bloody Valentine meshed with Brian Wilson’s stuff–if only he’d ever let all his fucked-up madness bleed through. But back to Denmark. My dad’s from there and we have tons of Scando family, so I assumed interviewing Sune would be like talking with a distant cousin. Know what? It kinda was. On the phone Sune was smart, in a scrappy way. And while he did make me feel like the stupid American, I didn’t take it personally. See, this is what happens when the citizens of a country most Americans can’t place on the map speak English so well that we mistake them for Brits: They. Talk. Shit.

–Peter Madsen

According to my cousin Jesper (an excellent source), Freetown Christiania is a neighborhood in Copenhagen that hippies took over in the ’70s as if they were the mafia, and turned it into a self-governing commune. Do you ever go there?

Well, it’s not so free anymore. The cops came in and threw out all the pushers. It was the number one tourist attraction in Denmark. The hash was concentrated in one part of the city; it was very controlled. After the police tore down Pusher Street, the trade spread out all over the city, and gangs started competing for the market. The police fucked it up bad.

Did you used to go there a lot?

Yeah, I used to live right across from it. There were always lots of good bands playing. Good food, too.

Is it like a ghost town now?

I don’t know. I haven’t lived in Denmark for seven years.

You guys have socialized everything. But taxes are high, like 60 percent.

Yeah, taxes are very high, but the good thing that comes with that is that we have free health care and college education. It’s really impossible to be homeless in Denmark. If you don’t have a home, the government will give you one. If you don’t have any money, the government will give you money. It’s a very safe place to be.

At Skagen, on the northern tip of Denmark, the Baltic and the Atlantic collide! Did you watch the waves crash into each other?

Yeah, I saw it.

What are some annoying preconceived notions American’s have about Denmark?

A lot of people think Denmark is Dutch or that it’s the capital of Sweden. I don’t care. It’s not my ignorance; it’s theirs.

I once saw 10-year-olds at the amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, pumping Kroners into a crane machine where the prize was packs of Prince Cigarettes. Do kids start smoking young?

Yes, it’s a very liberal country. We’re not so governed by rules. We’re more dependent on parents raising children to know the difference between right and wrong.

Denmark has the third highest level of agnostics and atheists in the world–one out of five. What do you think explains this?

We don’t need religion or preconceived gods to lead our lives. We’re a very smart people. We don’t really need a historical figure to tell us how to live our lives.

So I assume you fall into the agnostic category.

I’m not a religious man, but I do find religion fascinating.

Lars Ulrich is from Denmark. Do you guys rap in Danish?

I never met him. I have my usual friends back home. That’s really about it.

Do you know about Rune Glifberg? He’s a Danish skater.

I know of him, but I’ve never met him.

Which Danish beer is most like Pabst Blue Ribbon or Hamm’s?

I don’t know if there’s any crappy Danish beer. We have mostly Carlsberg and Tuborg.

Oh, come on. There’s got to be some raven piss swill.

We don’t produce shitty stuff. We like quality things. It’s not a consumer country like America, where you have to make a zillion different beers so people can afford them.

Well, then, if Denmark doesn’t make shitty beer, we can probably agree that Sweden does. Have you ever tried Northern Gold?

I’m sure they do. Danes don’t make shitty beer because we have better taste.

You Danes don’t seem to care much about other people.

On the contrary–we’re very smart people, and we are very concerned with others. We tend not to care what others think about us.

Don’t get me wrong, my Danish cousins are brilliant. I have one cousin, Pierre, who’s spoken French, Danish, Swedish, and English since he was like 10.

We Danes like to travel, we like other cultures; we know a lot of languages. I mean, only 10 percent of the American people have passports, which means millions have never left their own country, let alone their own state. That’s travesty.

How many languages do you speak?

Three: Danish, English, and German.

And, least importantly, have you ever skated?

I used to. I skated street, but it was many years ago, back when Powell Peralta, Natas Kaupas, and Tommy Guerrero were big.

I saw Tommy Guerrero skate down the street just the other day.

That’s rad.

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