This ended up being the last feature article I did for the AU Review. No bad blood there at all – Larry is a genuine product, and one of the best dudes in the industry. Built up a site out of essentially nothing and gave so many great writers and photographers a leg up when few other places would – myself included. Was very happy to write for this site for the four years that I did. I also think this was a pretty decent one to go out on – Adam is very polite (he’s Swedish, of course he is) and gave a great insight into what I feel were a very underrated band in their time.
– DJY, October 2014
The Shout Out Louds are keeping a deep, dark secret amongst their ranks. Around the mid-2000s, the band rode a wave of European indie rock bands roaring through a renaissance of cool; with soundtrack features, hit singles and world tours for all. While many bands from that period essentially burnt out, splitting with major labels and disbanding, Shout Out Louds just kept working away. They kept the exact same line-up, they never had any major public spats, they released consistently good records (including this year’s Optica) and they never compromised for anyone or anything. The facts don’t lie, and when they’re presented to the band’s lead singer, Adam Olenius, he’s simply asked one question: What’s their secret?
“I don’t really even know if there is one,” he laughs. “We were friends before we even started making albums. That was the main thing – we came together because we were friends. It’s hard to let go of something when you have such a strong, deep connection with your bandmates. Even though we’ve always been touring and still have people coming to see us all around the world, maybe the fact we didn’t really explode in the way that some of the other bands did… maybe it helped us stay hungry and want to stay creative. We’re still good friends, y’know? We still feel as though we have records to make and things to achieve.”
Optica is the band’s fourth album, which comes three years after its predecessor, Work. It was released in the first quarter of the year, and has already received some of the most glowing reviews of the band’s career. It’s a lush, intimate and engaging pop record, which sees the group – Olenius, keyboardist/vocalist Bebban Stenborg, guitarist Carl von Arbin, drummer Eric Edman and bassist Ted Malmros – expanding their palette and bringing some new, interesting sounds to the table. Although Adam still takes the central role of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary lyricist/songwriter, he definitely feels as though the collective energy and force of the group is what makes the album so worthwhile.
“We were always so stuck in our own roles,” he says. “We had our own little bubble going for awhile. I have to say, though, on this record, everyone has been so much more involved. We produced this one ourselves, and it made us… I dunno, a little more passionate about being in a band. The attitude of this record is pretty strong, I feel. A lot of the songs were written in the studio, which is a little unusual in our group. Normally, I have a pretty solid idea of what I want out of the song, but going into the studio there were a lot of little fragments of ideas. I’d show them to the others, and we’d play around with them accordingly. This was the first time we didn’t go into our rehearsal space with this ideas as – like I said – we didn’t want to get stuck in our own roles again.”
“Every album we’ve done since our debut is a reaction to the album prior to it, he continues. “The Work album, which came out three years ago, was created very traditionally. We rehearsed the songs for about six or seven months, and then we went to the studio for two months – then, it was done. This time, we more or less did it the other way around. Who knows, next time might end up being completely different!” Adam points to one of the album’s highlights, “Blue Eyes,” as a song which sparked the creative process.
“The original version of that song was a fast track – it had a bit of a Sonic Youth feel to it!” he recalls. “We felt that it couldn’t really go anywhere, but we still wanted to do something with it. When we started playing it again in the studio, we started trying it out on different instruments and taking it down a step. We found that the groove sounds like a private jet landing at an airport! When that song came together, we really knew that we could create something unique with only a few elements. Even though it sounds very different to the other tracks, it really set the scene for the creative process.”
2013 has already seen the band touring extensively in support of Optica, which leads to a line of questioning regarding their return to Australia. Olenius has fond memories of the band’s previous tour, which took in the 2010 and 2011 new year period, including a spot at the sadly now-defunct Peats Ridge festival. “That place was like in the middle of the forest!” he exclaims. “It felt like we were playing in medieval times or something, that was a truly magical little spot.” As for when we can expect the band to come and play Optica for us in Australia again? “We’re going to try for a similar timeframe as last time around, so either very late this year or very early next year is the plan. It might be part of a festival, it might not. All we know is that we’re definitely looking forward to visiting you guys as soon as possible. We’ve always had a great relationship with you guys.” Ahh, those Swedes – always so charming!