By Christine Beaderstadt
– The Capitol Hill Times -
A woman walks out of a side door on 10th Avenue in the heart of Capitol Hill. She wears booted black heels that match the black leather jacket hanging from her shoulders. A friend walks next her, dressed just as darkly as she. As she rounds a corner, she hears her name called out, halting her clipped walk. Her friend stands back patiently as she signs a fan’s autograph, waiting bemusedly as if this happens often. This woman apparently stands out, even when her dress mimics those Seattleites of the area. You’d stand out too if you were nearly six feet tall, with short choppy bleached locks and huge blue eyes.
Sharin Foo is part of the duo The Raveonettes, who performed at Neumos last Saturday night. Sune Rose Wagner, the duo’s other half, is the mastermind and primary songwriter for the band’s six albums.
The Danish group has left their homeland for America; Sharin stays on the west coast in LA, and Sune in New York. (He tried giving LA a go during the making of their latest record, Observator, but that didn’t go over so well).
For their previous album, 2011’s Raven in the Grave, Wagner wrote some of the songs on the piano, and transcribed the music to guitar. Instead of eliminating the piano all together as he had done before, Wagner left it in on Observator. “The sound of [the album] is more mild and mellow. But it’s still very distinct ‘Raveonettes,'” Foo said. “That element of piano with rock music sounded very exotic to me.”
The Raveonettes have struck a chord with a wide audience, bringing back the sound of 1970s post punk, commercial metal rock, just when American audiences were getting tired of being pummeled with bubble gum pop songs in the early 2000s. They’ve performed twice on the David Letterman Show, and have a third appearance set for October. “It’s that time again,” they wrote on their Facebook page.
The Raveonettes’ sound has ebbed and flowed with each album, beginning more commercially rock pop with their first full-length Chain Gang of Love (2003). In and Out of Control (2009) was just that, a bit in and out of control, as Wagner seemed to experiment and stretch the perimeters he and Foo initially laid out in their earlier work. “[That album was] a symptom of a time when we weren’t very in sync,” Foo said. And working together, obviously, is a constant process, one that the two have been hammering at for 12 years. The release of Observator earlier this month brings a new wave of change. “We manage to be very supportive of each other… but at the same time be very demanding of each other.”
“We have extremely different lifestyles,” she continues. “There’re a lot of things to figure out; I don’t want to tour and he wants to…” she trails off.
The two may have a lot to figure out personally, but musically their system seems to work. Wagner writes, presents his material, either conceptualized or in piece meal, to Foo, and the two craft a solid piece of work that will eventually become a song, and later, a record. “[Wagner] creates this immense… catalog of ideas that is everything from little riffs, melodies, drum beats,” Foo explained. “We… navigate together and I become the barometer… He can see the trees… [but not the forest, she says in her native Danish]. “He’s so immersed in something [he] can see what’s apparent. I’m good at coming in and saying that works, this doesn’t.”
The Raveonettes solve questions by doing, and with patience. “We’ve managed to let time show how to solve things,” Foo said thoughtfully. “In some ways we always come back around. Especially when we start doing things rather than talking about it. It seems to magically work itself out.”