To many, Sweden's division of Laura Lee are the new Hives. That is, except in their own country, where Division of Laura Lee are one of the few Scando-punk units with modish inclinations who haven't latched onto the popular garage rock trend. Sonically speaking, DOLL have always been more closely allied with their pals from International Noise Conspiracy, who came out of the same hardcore scene, although the influence of Drive Like Jehu and Pitchfork comes through strongly on their recent Black City (Epitaph) disc.
With the addition of a couple of horns and a weight-training regimen, they could easily evolve into a Swedish Rocket from the Crypt. It certainly beats being another Hives.
"Actually the response to our album has been a lot better in North America than here at home," says bassist/keyboardist Jonas Gustavsson from Vanersborg.
"In Sweden we're considered an underground alternative band because we're not one of the 600 groups trying to sound like the Hives. They're a good band, but I don' t like all the comparisons.
"We came out of a very strong hardcore scene in Vanersborg. It's a small town -- there's really only a Saab factory here -- but we had groups like Snapcase, Sick of It All and Earth Crisis playing regularly. That's what I grew up with. Well, that, and of course, the Ramones and Sex Pistols."
While it may not be immediately obvious from the thrashy DOLL sound, part of what initially drew the members together in 97 was a shared interest in 60s R&B. The emotional intensity of deep soul proved to be very appealing.
"It wasn't uncommon for us to put on something by Otis Redding right after Minor Threat, but that was typical of the whole hardcore scene in Sweden when we were getting the band together.
"People who were looking for something different started dressing up in suits and going to clubs to dance to old soul and funk music. I really liked the strong rhythms and heavy beats of the Motown and Stax stuff."
The group's name is actually a salute to soul diva Laura Lee, who got her start in gospel with the Meditation Singers alongside Della Reese, and later recorded sexy scorchers for Chess and Hot Wax before returning to the church. That's all news to the DOLL members.
"Actually I don't know anything about Laura Lee," Gustavsson sheepishly admits. "We got this soul compilation that had a song of hers on it, but I can't remember which one. The name Laura Lee sounded cool, so we thought if we put it together with "Division of,' it would make a good band name -- much better than Division of the Supremes."
And what does Laura Lee think of her namesake punk band from Sweden?
"We haven't heard anything from her yet. But if she decides to sue us, we might have to change our name to Division of Pamela Lee." firstname.lastname@example.org
DIVISION OF LAURA LEE with HAVEN at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Wednesday (October 9). $12. 416-870-8000.