LOVE IS ALL with Cause Co-Motion at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday (March 21). $10.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
As you're reading this, the buzz on Sweden's Love Is All at South By Southwest will be drowning out the chatter on every other band showcasing in Austin this weekend.
Since the tiny New York indie label What's Your Rupture? released Love Is All's righteously raging debut disc, Nine Times That Same Song, in January, the saxophone-stoked post-punk skronkers have racked up gushing band-to-watch features in the New York Times, SPIN, Vice and Under The Radar as well as scoring the cover of Fader's SXSW issue. That's a mighty impressive feat for a DIY band from Sweden still largely unknown in their own country.
"I'm not sure how many people know about us even in Gothenberg, where we live," says guitarist Nicholaus Sparding, who formed Love Is All with his Girlfrendo bandmates, singer Josephine Olausson and drummer Markus Gºrsch.
"Our CD was just released here 500 copies for all of Sweden. All of this media attention we've been getting recently has been amazing and quite unexpected."
There has been interest in Love Is All since the 2004 release of their explosive Make Out. Fall Out. Make Up., a 7-inch with a snazzy hand-screened sleeve that I was fortunate enough to grab in New York just days after it appeared. The current wave of hype can be traced back to a glowing Pitchfork review that ran in January before their disc hit the streets.
When a relatively unknown group gets an 8.7 on the Pitchfork site, trend-conscious editors at the big media outlets all want to have stories of their own to avoid getting scooped on the next big thing.
"That Pitchfork review has definitely had a big impact. It sped everything up. When I heard that we got a positive review from Pitchfork, I thought it was great but I didn't really understand what effect it might have. No one in the group did except Josephine. She works as a music journalist, so she realized immediately that it was huge.
"It's still hard for us to grasp everything that's happening. To go from nothing to suddenly doing interviews with journalists from all over the world is very strange."
The other person connected with Love Is All who fully understood the impact the Pitchfork rave would have on the group's future was their New York-based label boss, Kevin Pederson, who started his What's Your Rupture? operation for course credit while enrolled in liberal arts studies very liberal apparently at NYU.
His first release was a ripping record by the Ninjas fronted by fellow NYU student Eric Copeland, who would later form the Black Dice.
Getting a copy of the Love Is All disc to Pitchfork managing editor Scott Plagenhoef, who named Love Is All's Make Out. Fall Out. Make Up. his single of the year in the 2005 Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll, was the best move he's ever made.
"The initial prospects for the Love Is All debut disc weren't that great, to be honest," admits Pederson. "We were hoping to sell maybe 5,000 copies max. But since the Pitchfork review we've sold about 6,000 copies in the last three weeks, and the orders for more aren't slowing down.
"Before all this happened, we were looking forward to our trip to SXSW as kind of a vacation."
Needless to say, their plans of taking it easy in Austin have changed drastically. With Love Is All's rocketing media profile, serious record company sniffing is sure to follow.
"A number of labels in the UK have shown a lot of interest," says Sparding. "We haven't signed anything yet, so we'll see what happens at SXSW. We're scheduled to play five shows in two days and doing some other stuff, too. It's a very exciting time for us."