The Sounds front woman Maja Ivarsson never used to put much layer in Murphy’s team. But the last worrying year of the pandemic has taught her something else. Earlier, her Swedish outfit had announced a spring release of her sixth album “Things We Do For Love” – a good return to the Blondie retro energy from her hit 2002 debut “Living In America” - than lockdown pushed it deep into the summer schedule, cancels a world tour in the process. The most the Helsingborg-born rocker could do to support it was to perform a livestreamed concert and then take an eerie record company trip to Stockholm with his 6-year-old son Dante to market it in what had become a virtual ghost town; they had a huge train car all to themselves and the whole floor of their hotel as well. When The Sounds finally managed to arrange a “Things We Do” USA tour that hits The City this weekend, Ivarsson was prepared for almost any snafu. A good thing, she says, calling from her tour bus on her way from Chicago to a gig in Denver, “Because it’s been an absolute nightmare just to come here!”
For any other European band considering an American hunt, how many obstacles did you have to jump?
Oh my God. It has been so complicated, just arranged all things, like the double shots of vaccine, and then I had to renew my passport, and I had to return to Stockholm to get a working visa, but the embassy was closed. And I had to get my vaccination certificate approved, and then another COVID test … because now you always have to have everything double-checked, then triple-checked, with all your documents signed. But then with the embassy closing down and not responding, I only got my work visa two days before I had to go to the US – it was just insane. In addition, I also left my son behind, and I have never been without him for so long in my life. So there was a lot of stress here. But the rewards have just been incredible, just playing the programs we’ve played so far. In New York, I actually started crying on stage, because it was just amazing to see the audience and feel all the love. I think the audience is as excited as we are.
Your problems did not end when you came here?
We played DC, and we were going to Cleveland, but the tour bus broke down in the middle of the highway, so we could not go to Cleveland. But first we had a flat tire, then there was something wrong with the brakes and then something else. In fact, everything that could go wrong went wrong until we got stuck on the 885 highway with smoke coming out of the engine and all those heavy trucks zooming past. So then we had to go in a small van for 10 hours to get to Chicago to play two shows, including one at midnight. And I’m a little too old for midnight shows with sleep – I’ve done that many times before, but I’m not 25 anymore. I’m almost 42 now, which’s a different story.
Last year, you claimed that Sweden was an intelligent social democracy, and natives did not need a mandate to do the right thing. And of course, your current vaccination rate is 70%, with the country resuming life before the pandemic now.
I think that in Sweden in general right now everyone is really afraid of the delta version of the virus, and that is what I am afraid of as well. But I can see that the public here in the states – even if they are vaccinated and we are vaccinated – still wear masks indoors. But I am really proud to be a Swedish citizen; I think we did a good job. And we’re about to get a new prime minister – the last one was fired – so I’m really hoping for a female prime minister. I think it is embarrassing that a country like Sweden has never had it.
You worked on a new Sounds song last year called “Words Don’t Always Come Out Right.”
Hmmm. Yes, I have written so many songs. And I started writing songs in Swedish, and now I have stopped maybe 20 or 30 for a solo project in Swedish. And that does not change my song, but I am from the south, in Skåne, and our southern accents in Swedish are a very distinct dialect – the accent is so thick and distinct that I can sound exotic, even in my home country!
IF YOU GO
The Sounds, Starbenders
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., SF
When: 21.00 Friday
Tickets: $ 27.50
Contact: (415) 885-0750, gamh.com