As four Swedish bands --- Division of Laura Lee, the Hives, (International) Noise Conspiracy and Soundtrack of Our Lives --- all prepare to release albums within the next four months, at least one person involved isn't exactly pleased about the timing.
"I really hope it doesn't happen again," Division of Laura Lee singer/guitarist Per Stīlberg lamented, dismissing the notion of a second coming of the much-hyped "Swedish Invasion" of 2002 (see "Swede Devotion: Life After the Hives"). "It wasn't like the five or six bands all planned to take over the world."
Far from global domination, the simultaneous emergence of these loosely like-minded groups --- and the subsequent media pigeonholing --- did have its upside.
"In a way, it was good for us that somebody invented this 'Swedish Invasion' thing," Stīlberg said, "because it opened the eyes of a lot of people. I just hope now people will understand that we don't have anything in common with those bands, except that we're all from Sweden. You can compare us to Fugazi or My Bloody Valentine, but it's always weird when people compare us to the Hives. We don't have anything in common with them ... except maybe the accent."
The attention focused on DOLL and their debut full-length, Black City (see "Division Of Laura Lee: They Could Even Make Health Care Rock"), sparked much anticipation for its follow-up. Stīlberg said people, especially producers, were coming out of the woodwork hoping to be involved with Das Not Compute, due May 11, but the ethically punk quartet wouldn't be taken in by a lengthy résumé.
"In general, big-time people suck," Stīlberg said wryly. "We don't give a sh-- about what they've worked on before. We want to work with people we can trust, people who are our friends."
With Black City producers Don Alstherberg and Kalle Gustafsson, whom Stīlberg calls the fifth and sixth members of the group, DOLL buckled down for three months to record 19 songs, 11 of which eventually made the record. Where Black City's lyrics dealt with personal issues, such as disassociation ("Need to Get Some"), isolation ("Trapped In") and self-deprecation ("The Truth Is F---ed"), Das Not Compute is more concerned with society's ills.
"It's titled Das Not Compute in the sense that something's not working," Stīlberg said. "For some reason, we can't really write happy lyrics. They're more haunted this time. There's more paranoia. It's more political in a global way."
Musically, only a handful of new songs resemble Black City's ferocious guitar assaults. Stīlberg, guitarist David Ojala, drummer Hīkan Johansson, and bassist Jonas Gustavsson have moved from the garage to loftier realms on "Breathe Breathe," "To the Other Side" and the Spiritualized-esque "There's a Last Time for Everything," which feature reverb-laden, melodic vocals amid space-rock atmospheres. Stīlberg wasn't joking about the My Bloody Valentine comparisons --- there's even a dizzying song called "Loveless" (also the name of MBV's last album) --- and the distinct tempo and textural shifts on the single "Does Compute" prove that there's a lot more to DOLL than three chords and posturing.
"We've matured a bit, but I don't know if we wanted to," Stīlberg said. "When you're getting older you have a wider perspective. It's easy to think differently. On the new record, we're really about making songs, not just riffs. We don't want to be one of those cool-riff bands. We wanted to be able to compare ourselves to the Beach Boys and Fugazi. If you would have asked me that question 15 years ago, I would have said that I never even liked the Beach Boys."
DOLL's forthcoming tour with countrymen the Sounds probably won't help them shake the Swedish stigma Stīlberg is complaining about, but he is excited for his band's third tour of the U.S.
"We have the opportunity to speak out, to say something," he explained. "I think the rock genre is kind of boring these days. If it's going to rock, it has to be dangerous. It has to be truthful. And that's lacking in rock. There are too many sh---y bands ruling the radio and MTV, so we have to push ourselves and get out there."
Division of Laura Lee tour dates, according to Epitaph Records:
4/19 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
4/20 - Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
4/23 - Houston, TX @ Engine Room
4/24 - Austin, TX @ Emo's
4/25 - Dallas, TX @ Trees
4/26 - Lubbock, TX @ Tokyo Joe's
4/28 - El Paso, TX @ E-9
4/29 - Tucson, AZ @ City Limits
4/30 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Brick House
5/3 - San Diego, CA @ Soma
5/4 - Las Vegas, NV @ Huntridge Theatre
5/5 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
5/7 - Portland, OR @ Dante's
5/8 - Seattle, WA @ Studio 7
5/10 - Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
5/11 - Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
5/12 - West Hollywood, CA @ The Troubador