Sweden is a land of mystery and intrigue to many of us living on this side of the world. It's a land shrouded in intrigue and has most recently been vehemently successful in spitting out talented and unique artists - everyone from Refused and the (International) Noise Conspiracy) to In Flames, Kent, Millencolin and the Hellacopters. The list goes on and on....
Current darlings and rock gods Division of Laura Lee also hail from this enigmatic country and are on the verge of dropping their sophomore release for Burning Heart/Epitaph Das Not Compute. It's a whirlwind of emotions and sounds this time around, bouncing from dark brooding new wave gloom into thick, Sonic Youth-influenced guitars. Their sound is that of a roller-coaster constantly plunging and climbing, keeping those that go for the ride from maintaining any sort of balance or calm. It's mind numbing while you're in the middle of it, but at the end you have this giant grin across your face.
Recently, while traversing through the metal capital of the world, Gothenburg, Sweden, guitarist and singer Per Stalberg took some time to discuss their new record, their amazing homeland, and what's in the future for Division of Laura Lee. Most notably he came up with several theories as to why Sweden is this mecca for underground musical talent. "It's easy to get together, that's where it starts," he quickly pointed out. But he also spoke about Sweden as this incredibly dark country--literally. "The inspiration is the darkness. During eight months of the year it's dark all the time and all we have to do is buy records and play music." It seems that during the autumn and spring the days last about three hours, leaving incredibly long periods of darkness. This could easily be a reason for DOLL's often moody and introspective lyrics.
Besides their homeland, the members of DOLL bring varying musical backgrounds into the fold to create this pleasurable mix of big rock sounds and melancholy spirit. "I'd say the only thing we really had in common were bands like Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Drive Like Jehu," explains Per. "My roots are in the shoegazing movement of bands like Ride, Jesus and the Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine," which explains a lot of the mid-to-late '80s style rock sounds heard in DOLL's music. Per continues, "We're all from the hardcore/punk rock scene and that's where the heaviness comes from." The varying musical influences on all four members allows DOLL to not focus on any one style. While each song is uniquely their own, rarely do two songs sound alike. It's a testament to a group talented enough to pull off a feat so difficult without making it sound fake or phony.
The differences between their previous effort Black City (another ode to their homeland) and Das Not Compute is vast. The latest album is a bombastic sound shop, shining as bright as the brightest star in the darkest night. It's a much more full, rich sound this time around and it was definitely done on purpose. "That was the goal when we got in there" said Per. "Black City we wanted to be naked, but we wanted the new record to be bigger sounding." Although a lot of the changes come in the thickness and clarity of the guitar tones, Per is quick to point out, "Actually it was mostly in the drums. Maybe we used more compressors, or more of the studio this time--we used everything we had!"
And along with this new, enormous sound comes better songwriting. "Endless Factories" is a standout track and drives the point home that this is no ordinary band. It's a perfect blend of Interpol, My Bloody Valentine and BRMC with out any intentions of being any of the above. Stalberg, who wrote the song, agreed that it was one of his favorites as well. "I loved that melody and it kind of got better and better all the time. It definitely has some feeling to it." He described it as a song about going to work every day from 8-4 and how "I'm not made to do that." He concluded by saying, "The whole song is a chorus. I was definitely not trying to make a hit."
If there would be a theme to Division of Laura Lee it would be to keep it real. Posturing and posing is about as far as you're going to get from these Swedish heavyweights. Per states, "We want to be a really honest band, to speak out, and have a good time." Simple enough, but with the glut of rock 'n' roll wannabes, he has some strong opinions about those stomping on the good name of the music they love. "One of the biggest goals we have is to destroy the myths of rock and roll. We want to be different." He is quick to exclaim, "I hate when bands want to just talk about sex, drugs and rock n' roll--who the fuck cares?" But before you label this band as a bunch of crybabies who just want to rock and stare at their shoes, Stalberg has more words for DOLL. "We want to be a dangerous band. We don't want to talk about skateboards and spring break!"
Despite the darkness and the rage, Division of Laura Lee are an intelligent rock band with a purpose. Per's claim that "We're going to conquer America!," though juvenile sounding, is much more deliberate and focused than that of your average band of youngsters. Through all of the competition and lack of sunlight in their home country they have created a sound that is all about consistency and meaning. And as the city turns to black, you can rest assured Division of Laura Lee will still be there keeping the rock banner held high.