There may not be something rotten in Denmark, but there must be something strange in the air when it comes to their cultural relationship with America. At least it seems that way when you look at some of the country’s most interesting exports. Just last month, Toronto was treated to a screening of Lars Von Trier’s new film, Dogville, and a concert in support of The Raveonettes’ new album, Chain Gang Of Love. Both were about America.
Although The Raveonettes have admitted to being influenced by Von Trier’s Dogma 95 films, their opinions on The States couldn’t be more different. Dogville focuses on the flimmaker’s angry diatribe against a country he’s never visited, whereas Raveonette Sune Rose Wagnerwrote a large portion of their debut EP Whip It On when living in the U.S. Chain Gang Of Love continues their ode to Americana.
“Our music is so much about American nostalgia,” says vocalist/bass player Sharin Foo. “Buddy Holly and the girl groups of the early ‘60s and there’s all that music in there. Even our cover has the reference to the Wild Bunch.”
The Raveonettes’ perspective on the U.S. makes for interesting results to unique insights. So how does a Dane in America feel the country lives up to its image?
“Well, American is such a big country,” says Wagner. “It’s completely different. It depends on where you go. Certain cities you adjust to immediately and think that they’re wonderful and some places you find fascinating because of other reasons.
“People have this tendency to think that if you go down south, they’re all racist, they’re going to beat you up, they hate people with long hair, blah, blah, blah. And I’m sure it’s like that in a lot of places, but there’s a lot of places like that in San Francisco, and probably here, too. When I went down south, I thought it was a very pleasant place to be. People were extremely hospitable and very nice.”
“It varies so much,” Foo agrees. “I really love it and hate it at the same time.”
“It’s one of those countries where, if you have money, you can have a really good time,” Wagner agrees. “And people without money, they struggle, because their security system is fucked and all kinds of reasons. It’s a little sad, but then again, it’s like that in a lot of other countries. You can see that in England, too. It depends on where you go, what you experience, who you hang out with.”
And sometimes the people you hang out with can weigh in with their own opinions on the matter.
“There was this German guy who said, ‘You’re like these ghosts surfing on a rainy day in California.'” recalls Foo. “I kind of like that picture, especially the ‘rainy day in California’ part, because that never happens.”
It’s an interesting image, if a little odd. Maybe there’s something strange in the air in Germany, too.