Blonde ambitious

The Sounds lead singer Maja Ivarsson (sort of) swears off women and focuses on music greatness

thesounds3_bandphoto-4

SOUNDS OFF | Singer Maja Ivarsson doesn’t mind Blondie comparisons, but the guys — not so much.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Maja (pronounced like Maya) Ivarsson has mentioned time and again that she will “never date another girl.” This isn’t breaking news, but the media is overly fascinated with The Sounds singer’s bisexuality, though she never uses the term. Ivarsson is passionate about love but without mincing words, her one and only same-sex relationship was downright hard.

“There was a lot of bad stuff, just like in any relationship,” Ivarsson says. “I think for a lot of lesbian couples, you end up turning into friends. And there were issues of cheating, but it was a great relationship. We didn’t have sex. I don’t blame her. It sucks.”

Ivarsson wasn’t interested in women before, but the chemistry was there and she admits to having some bi-curiosity. But now, she swears to never be with a woman again… though she’ll never say never.

“I love boys, too,” she snickers. “But who knows? I’m getting old! I’m 32 and I want to have a baby.”

All this comes from one of the more dynamic singers on the scene, who wants The Sounds to be the biggest band in the world. Following up their fourth album release this year, the band is on its North American leg of the tour supporting Something To Die For; it comes to the Granada Theater on Thursday. Ivarsson doesn’t need to reconcile the conflict of fame and family. She’s figuring it out as the band rolls along.

“We definitely deserve to be a bigger band but I’m also very proud and very humbled,” she says. “We are quite happy with what we’ve accomplished, but our main goal is to get as big as possible.”

It’s been a slow ride, but promising. While well received, their 2002 debut album Living in America suffered an identity crisis. Radio stations didn’t what to do with this post-punk pop dance music conglomeration.

“I think since Day One, we were ahead of our time, mixing these electronic elements and rock,” she says. “But the industry wondered what we were. Later, The Killers and MGMT broke out. We know for sure they were influenced by us and that’s a compliment.”

Appearances on the Warped Tour increased exposure, and celebrities like Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl hyped them up. Even Geico picked up one of their songs, “Hurt You,” for a commercial. They are straddling the line right now between blowing up and indie cred.

But Ivarsson might be the one responsible for the success of the band. As the single blond female  in front of a group of men, it’s apparent where the focus is. Think Courtney Love and Hole, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, and ultimately, Deborah Harry and Blondie. The last being a popular comparison.

“The guys don’t like that so much, but I don’t mind,” she laughs. “I think Debbie Harry is one of the cooler chicks out there. I was 13 when I discovered Blondie and I just thought this is the way it should be: looking fab and kicking ass. I never liked the strung out or slutty singers.”

Otherwise, Ivarsson does her own thing. She won’t read reviews unless someone shares a more glowing one with her. But don’t confuse that for ego. It’s all part of a plan.

“During our first record, there were some good things written about me, but also some mean things, and I’m a very emotional person,” she says. “Some people only have bad shit to say and I just stopped reading reviews. The more I read about myself from other people, I think it censors me. I may think I shouldn’t do whatever, but I wanna be as authentic as possible.”

There’s no doubt of that onstage. As the frontwoman, Ivarsson is legend and should go down as one of the greats. The Sounds pump up their live show into frenzy and almost strive to mesh the audience in with the band. For her, it’s another day at work.

“I don’t know what else I could do,” she says. “I don’t know any other way to do it. Being onstage is where I belong and I love getting the audience involved and on stage. We’re here to have a fucking dance party!”

Which is the next option if worldwide domination isn’t theirs yet.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

H4PJ calls on Dallas City Council to support LGBT-inclusive bullying policy for DISD

The Rev. Michael Piazza

The Rev. Michael Piazza, executive director of Hope for Peace and Justice, is slated to address the Dallas City Council this morning and ask the council to pass a resolution encouraging the Dallas Independent School District “to do everything in their power to prevent bullying,” according to David Plunkett, a spokesman for H4PJ.

In the wake of last month’s gay teen suicide crisis, H4PJ has been circulating a petition, which has more than 1,000 signatures, calling for DISD to adopt fully inclusive anti-bullying guidelines that provide specific protections for LGBT students. DISD’s board of trustees is  considering a new anti-bullying policy, but as currently written, the proposed policy doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity. DISD trustee Lew Blackburn told Dallas Voice this week he plans to introduce a substitute policy that does include sexual orientation and gender identity. Blackburn, along with LGBT advocates, have urged people in the community to contact the other trustees and urge them to support Blackburn’s proposal. DISD’s new anti-bullying policy could be up for a final vote as early as next week.

Courtesy of Plunkett, here’s the text of Piazza’s remarks:

I am here to present a petition signed by 1,000 people requesting that the Dallas City Council pass a resolution encouraging the Dallas Independent School District to do everything in their power to prevent the bullying that has led to far too many suicides of young people. Just down I-45, 13-year-old Asher Brown took his life in September. Then, earlier this month, just north on I-35 in Norman, Oklahoma, 19-year-old Zach Herrington took his life following a toxic debate at a city council meeting.  We are asking you to encourage DISD to ensure the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

I could speak to you today as someone who was a pastor in this city for 22 years at the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender church. I could speak to you as the President of Hope for Peace & Justice whose petitions I present. However, I’d like to use my two minutes to appeal to you as a parent. I have two teenage girls. One is a junior at the School for the Talented and Gifted, and the other is a senior at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

My partner and I might have sent our daughters to private schools, but it was very important to us that they attend public schools where most of the children in this city receive their education. It hasn’t always been easy for them.

My oldest daughter was in Harry Stone Middle School when the state of Texas passed a constitutional amendment that denied marriage equality to her parents. Next month my partner and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. So, you can imagine my daughter’s surprise when her language arts teacher told her students, during class, to be sure their parents voted in favor of the constitutional amendment because, and I quote, “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Fortunately, my daughter was secure enough to raise her hand and ask, “Excuse me Mrs. Smith, but then who did create Adam and Steve?”

Her teacher said, “I guess you must know some of those people,” to which Jerica replied, “Only just about everyone in my life who loves me.”

Jerica knew how to handle herself, but imagine for just a moment if you had been a small boy struggling with your sexuality and heard that teacher’s words. Imagine if you had been a child who had been abused at home and so filled with rage that you were looking for someone to bully. That DISD teacher, at one of our best magnet schools, just gave you all the justification you needed.

As a father, I beg you. Make a statement that this is not who we are in Dallas and that we know our children are not our own, but they are ALL — gay, lesbian, transgender or heterosexual — children of God. Thank you .

—  John Wright