Throughout the past 10 years, Stockholm Sweden's Shout Out Louds have steadily matured into one of today's most dependable indie-pop outfits. Each of their four albums has shown progression from the early aughts' experimental party in Howl Howl Gaff Gaff to the sincerity of Our Ill Wills. Their latest (fourth) record, Optica clearly presents us with a seasoned Shout Out Louds who are truly satisfied with the music they're making, as well as with the lives they're living - a sentimentality seldom emitted by pop musicians.
We recently caught up with Shout Out Louds' guitarist and frontmand Adam Olenius who discussed the lengthy, relaxing journey of writing/recording Optica, how after 10 years his band has managed to stick together and remain relevant, and his view on the current state of pop music.
It seems that you release an album every three years. Is there a benefit to this time lapse?
Maybe it made us stay "alive,"you know? Still being a band in order to enjoy this. We're lucky that we could tour the world and see the US, Europe, Australia, and South America, and that stuff takes up time. We're quite slow when we record and during breaks some us would live abroad for a couple months in different locations. We try to take care of our personal lives. But in a couple of months we're thinking of starting a studio gig, handling some production ourselves, in a small space so under those conditions we'll move faster.
I read that you spent a year and a half recording Optica. Is this longer or shorter than your previous albums?
It's longer. For our last album we rehearsed about a month in Stockholm, then we got focused and recorded for like three or four weeks, and we recorded in a different way. We took five or six weeks altogether to record and we also wrote a lot more songs before that. For Optica, we wrote a lot of songs in the studio; we decided to spend a lot of time recording at least tiny numbers in Stockholm. Our song engineer and co-producer weren't always around, so we'd have to wait for them, which was kind of a nice thing because we'd have more time to think of other songs and do other stuff.
You guys worked with a string composer on Optica. What did the record's music gain from this?
Well, we wanted a really "lush"song on this record. So we met this guy and we told him and his strings to be a part of everything, rather than being in the background. We told him, make beats that sound like Disney on drugs; play horns that sound like a car chase, instead of being just a comfort in the back.
Sweden seems to have a pretty tight grip on indie pop. Is there something in the water in Sweden?
[Laughs] I think we just have a tradition of really good music that helps a lot of bands too. I think since the 50s and 60s we've been very picky at collecting good music; it's a tradition we have that's very involved in society.
So far you've shared two singles of the record: "Blue Ice"and "Walking in Your Footsteps."Are there any more that we can expect before the album is released?
I think so! We have so many different labels. Some in Europe may want to use one song, and some in America may want to do another, so we just told them they could do whatever they want to do [Laughs]. I like that, you know? I like when more than one single gets released because sometimes you get stuck with only one song representing you.
Can you tell be about the idea of releasing the "Blue Ice" single on ice?
Well, we have a couple of friends who work at a company that does this crazy stuff. Together we sort of just came up with the idea of something melting away metaphorically - healing or something, or the melting away of faith and devotion, love, etc. We called up some experts in Stockholm, you know, chemists and people like that; experts who could help create this.
You guys have been around for around 10 years now, what's your secret formula for staying relevant?
I think, as I mentioned before, it's really about taking time off and exploring other things and traveling - trying not to get stuck in the "wheel," if you know what I mean. We're all friends. We were friends before the releases of our albums and we try not to destroy our friendships over the band. We also just try to take things one step at a time, you know? Focus on the touring, then focus on the playing.
Being around for ten years, it'd seem like a lot happened in pop music. How would you comment on the current state of the genre?
I really like how the genres have begun to collide, and looking at some of the current pop artists of today, especially in the US, you can tell that a lot of globalization has occurred, which is sometimes good and sometime bad. I think we've stayed relatively domestic and sometimes I wish we had globalized, but at the same time I kinda like it. And we still get to see the world; I think it's all very exciting.
Optica is out tomorrow (2/26). Pre-order it here.