Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes doesn’t go out on the big town that much. And when he does, it’s probably just to get some groceries at a bodega near his apartment in the East Village, but generally, as he says, it’s to walk. He really digs walking. Ditto for the symphony.

In the four-and-a-half years since the Danish transplant landed on our shores to take up full-time residency, it’s hard to believe he isn’t as much a hipster scene fixture as his band’s music is. It must be the drunken cacophony that bedevils his chosen nabe, or perhaps growing tired of the same old story that plays out in every bar with a painfully hip jukebox at 2 a.m. Whatever his private reason for being slightly reclusive may be, one thing’s for sure, the Raveonettes’ latest delicious slice of fuzz and skuzz, Lust, Lust, Lust, wouldn’t have been possible if he didn’t allow for time alone with his thoughts, and dealing with what might have been a painful breakup that found Wagner asking some essential Mars and Venus-type questions.

So, I’m thinking we’re gonna talk dirty, like drunken trysts in the infamous phone booth at Lakeside Lounge with a velvety stranger dirty; he wants to talk about the biological limitations on man’s ability to be fully monogamous.

“What I tried to describe on this album were questions about relationships. Basically, [are] a man and a woman meant to find each other and be together for the rest of their lives, and how do you know if you’re with the right one?” he says. “And will you ever find out, and will there always be doubts? Man by nature is a very lustful being, and I think it’s in our nature to lust, and to always seek what we don’t know, and seek the unknown and always be intrigued by what goes on behind closed doors. I think we’re a very curious race, and I think it’s a huge issue.”

And just what is lust to the handsome songwriter with a delicate native lilt?

“Well, it’s a little bit of everything. Initially people always think of it in a sexual way, but I think it’s a lot more than that. Once you get into the issue of lust, there’s a lot of unanswered questions that pop up every once in awhile and I think it has to do with lusting for anything, really. Being sex, or drugs, or just some bad vice that you have, or even good things, you know? I think it’s a pretty big subject, actually.”

Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this earnest introspection about the many layers of lust, ripe with mentions of man’s need to spread his seed, we find ourselves talking about something prurient, finally, and wind up laughing about the “Ugly Naked Guy” character popularized by Friends, as a sidebar. We explore the lusty aspect of voyeurism, especially in a city like New York, where we know everything about our neighbors just sitting in our living rooms, and then move on to the genius of binoculars. Engaging in some salaciously light peeping can lead to obsession, or the thrill of being caught, which leads me to ask Wagner if lust gets him into trouble.

“It depends on what kind of trouble it gets me in! I’m not an unfaithful guy if I have girlfriends, if we’re talking about lust like that, but when I’m in my single periods, I do seem to embrace lust a lot, and it’s never really gotten me into really serious trouble,” he muses. “I think it more of a personal level, where you sometimes regret a lot of things you do. But with lust also comes the alcohol, or the drugs, or a lot of other vices that follow along. One thing leads to another, so it’s just a lot of bad stuff, I guess.”

Luckily, recording Lust, Lust, Lust was not as complicated as its subject matter, although the prolific Wagner did have to put aside 100 songs for a later time once he and band mate Sharin Foo realized a sea change was needed for the celebrated duo’s third full-length record. Something other than more of the same — the “same” that leads to endless articles about the Raves’ affection for (or, cynically, imitation of) Jesus and Mary Chain, the Shangri-Las, the Angels and Ronnie Spector.

“Once we hit upon that one song – it’s the song, ‘Lust,’ off of the album – that was the first one written, and I really liked it, and I thought it had an interesting sound, and I thought that could be a cool way for us to go,” he recalls. “It was all written within a few weeks after that. Everything lyrically and musically was dead on. It was just what was happening in my life at the time, and was just very natural for me to write about.”

Lust, Lust, Lust was recorded and self-produced at Wagner’s apartment, naturally, because the regimented life by the studio clock is not conducive to his creative approach, and then there’s that whole homebody thing he considers to be “good stuff!”

“I tend to find that if I do stuff on my own time, then there’s less pressure and it comes very natural to me. And also, I like to be in an environment where I feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable at home because this is where I have all my movies, and books and records, and my own bed. It just feels natural to me to write here.”

With song titles like “Expelled from Love” and “Sad Transmission,” Lust, Lust, Lust bravely delves into personal and hormone-soaked experiences from Wagner’s life, in a markedly emotional (“Expelled from Love”), blurry (“Aly Walk with Me”), lusciously, noisy purple haze (“Blush,” “Hallucinations” and “Lust”) that is a welcome departure from previous adventures with “Ghost Riders” and a “Seductress of Bums.”

“I think it was something [we] had talked about for awhile. All the albums have been really personal, but sort of disguised. I’ve always disguised myself in various characters, and so I think there was a bit of a demand for me to make a record that was sort of in your face, personal. Sharin and I were both pretty keen on that, and it was just very, very easy to do.”

One tune in particular, “Blush” is a knockout; a dense, passionate, and nearly mournful tryst of electro-fuzz made flesh, that elicited more philosophical Mars and Venus-esque meditations from Wagner.

“It’s about one night stands, but not so much in a sexual way. There [are] certain one night stands, too, with a lot of emotion. But then you find out that it’s not for you, and it makes you kind of sad, because sometimes you really want to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and you do everything you can to do it, and you get very close to it sometimes, and you can feel it, but it’s not really there. And maybe your persona is not meant to even fulfill it. Maybe you’re more of a person to say, ‘Maybe I really like this, but maybe there’s someone better out there for me.’ Maybe this is not it, maybe if I meet someone tonight, maybe that’ll be the one. It’ll always be about the difficulty of making decisions and standing by them that [can be] really a bummer sometimes.”

That a tune about one night stands might feel maudlin in some sense is no surprise to longtime fans of the Raveonettes, and according to Wagner, this is on purpose. And plus, where’s the fun, or even the risk in playing it safe? Where’s the intrigue in having the verse-chorus-verse formula directly emulate the tone in the music behind it?

“I think my music has always been about opposites. Either the music is really pretty, and then the lyrics are kind of evil and dark, or vice versa, because I don’t…if you make everything evil, or everything nice, then it doesn’t become that interesting because you don’t have any friction in there. It’s to draw people in, so to speak. You can draw people in by a sweet little lullaby, but then when people are drawn in there, they can’t escape because all of the sudden you’re in some evil place.”

Just like a relationship. However, at some point, you have to trust, trust, trust.

–Carrie Alison, Live photo by Tear-n Tan

  1. [...] The raveonettes lust like candy Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes doesnâ

  2. [...] check out our February 2008 cover story with Sune Rose Wagner, “Lust Like Candy,” right here. Share This [...]

  3. [...] In and Out of Control is out October 6th on VICE Records, and available for pre-order now at iTunes. Be sure to catch the Raves at one of the stops below on their upcoming North American tour. While you’re at it, check out our February 2008 feature interview with Wagner, “Lust Like Candy,” right here. [...]