Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden with a population of 485,000 but it’s mostly known for its bursting hellacious death metal scene. Bands such as At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, The Haunted, In Flames, Soilwork, and Arch Enemy have all arisen from the industrial city mostly inspired by the downtrodden routine of the blue collared lifestyle. Josephine Olausson, lead singer of Gothenburg’s Love Is All, is explaining this to me and this is pretty amusing because a) Josephine’s band name has the word “love” in it (unattached to a destructive adjective like “burning” or “dying”) and b) her band couldn’t be any further from being death metal. In fact, Love Is All captures the gleeful sound of naïve adolescence (even though the respective band members are in their thirties); their songs are imperfect, carefree, hyperactive and there’s nary a mention of Satan in the liner notes.

In 2004, three musicians, Nicholaus Sparding (vocals, guitar), Markus Gorsch (drums), and Josephine (vocals, keyboards) formed Love Is All after their previous band Girlfriendo disbanded. The trio then recruited Johan Lindwall on bass and Fredrik Eriksson on saxophone and began recording a number of singles. Eventually, the group compiled those singles, in addition to a couple of re-recorded versions, and released their debut record Nine Times That Same Song, which, contrary to what the title suggests, is not one song repeated nine times but rather, ten completely different tunes. “I thought it would be a funny name for a record,” Josephine says in her adorable accent, for a lack of a better term, “and I was, in a sense, preemptively dismissing our songs before the critics could.” It may sound unusual for a musician to be so concerned with music criticism but then again, it’s also completely refreshing. For every rocker that claims he or she doesn’t care about what anyone says (by the way, they’re lying), Josephine is disarmingly insecure. But the reason why the thirty-one year-old singer is regularly self-conscious of the critical reaction is because Josephine is also a freelance music journalist. “I still don’t think of myself as a musician. It’s embarrassing to say that. And being a freelance journalist is not something I’m proud of—I’ve interviewed Destiny’s Child.”
Beyonce, I ask?
“No, the very boring one. I think her name is Michelle.”

“I was expecting everyone to hate this record,” Josephine continues. “I am so surprised about the way people received it. In a way, the songs are annoying. I can see how someone has had a bad day and they put on our record after getting it in the mail, I can imagine them thinking, My God, what an annoying record.”

Nine Times… is anything but an annoying record. In fact, it’s one of the strongest debuts this year. The thirty-one minutes of deceivingly euphoric and innocent-sounding rock is rather danceable and jubilant pop-punk complete with standard lyrical fare like decapitation, stalking, and keeping ex-lovers stored in the freezer. The spunky, squawking female vocals juxtaposed with the sweet background harmonious provided by the male counterparts create an unusual role reversal. A friend once noted that the switching of vocal duties could almost stand as a criticism on society’s designation of gender and sexuality. Females don’t always have to sound pretty and men don’t always have to sound strong. “Well, I’m not sure if we had that in mind when we recorded the songs,” Josephine laughs, “but in retrospect, I will gladly embrace that theory.”

Despite their attempt to escape the confines of Gothenburg culture, the band prefers to stay firmly entrenched in their hometown as much as possible. They currently tour for only eight days at a time, mostly because they don’t like to be away from family members for long. Indeed, Love is All.


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