Stockholm's Shout Out Louds will be the first to tell you that they play music just because it's fun.
"We're just some friends who wanted to play some music together; we had no hopes or any goals to (make) it or become famous or anything like that," said drummer Eric (no one in the band gives a last name). "We just did it for fun, and other people liked it, and so we got a chance to record and release albums."
Started in 2001 by a group of old friends, Shout Out Louds (Adam does vocals; Bebban plays keyboards and does backup vocals; Paul plays bass, and Carl plays guitar) play an edgy version of '60s-influenced pop with keyboards, lots of shaking percussion and simple but catchy guitar melodies. Their first U.S.-released album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, is actually a compilation of some of their EPs and singles that have been released throughout Scandinavia. Another record called Howl Howl Gaff Gaff was released in Scandinavia in 2003, with a slightly different track listing.
Even though the band has been working with the same group of songs for a while now, the thing that keeps them going is the fun of playing their songs live, especially to people who might have never heard them before.
"(We're meeting) new fans from different areas, so that always gives us more energy to play," said Eric. "Of course, we've been playing them for a long time--some of the songs (were) actually kind of old even when we recorded them for the Swedish version of the album--so the songs we're writing now might not really sound the same, but we'll see when we record the new songs."
The band's name and projected image are deceptive. You'd think a band called Shout Out Louds from Sweden would be more concerned with creating the kind of dance rock that bands like Franz Ferdinand make--loud, rhythm-oriented, superhip and self-consciously retro. The Shout Out Louds' songs, though, are too sweet and un-self-conscious to be superhip, which makes them sound all the more honest. "Very Loud," the second song on Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, epitomizes this irony: The song starts out with country-style drums and a guitar melody, over a melodica sound that warms the song up into a wistful and romantic pop song, as Adam sings, "Little by little, you're gonna hear me cry, hear me cry why." The only loud things about the song are the distorted guitars on the chorus and the depth of emotion. The keyboard sounds on "The Comeback" are high-pitched and warm, and when the Beatles-style guitar solo kicks in after the incredibly catchy chorus, it's clear why this band continues to have so much fun gaining new fans. Their re-creation of a certain '60s-style pop sound (they even have the same sort of reverby fuzz to the recordings) is fun in its refusal to try and be anything but an excellent simulation. The fun is in the re-creation of the sound.
"Once you're on stage and people are there to see you play and stuff like that, that's a lot of energy, so that's made it fun," explained Eric. "I think that we're so happy to do this; we're just a bunch of friends who're going around the world having a lot of fun--maybe that helps us, makes us different. Some bands are people who didn't know each other from the beginning, who are musicians grouped together, and they weren't friends from the beginning. ... (We're) like a family traveling around."