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PROMOTING PROBLEMS

Here we go again. I asked to interview the singer for The Sounds, because I dig this little-known, neo-new wave band from Sweden. And tonight at the Hard Rock, they’re opening for No Doubt and Panic at the Disco.

But the singer for The Sounds, Maja Ivarsson, bailed on my first interview scheduled with her (early last week) and then she bailed on my rescheduled interview with her (last Friday, my deadline).

Here’s the thing. Maja reportedly once said she wants to be the best vocalist of the century. She’s not that yet. But if she wants to promote the band beyond opening-band status (while pushing their third album in six years, "Crossing the Rubicon"), maybe she should mind her commitments.

This reminds me of another prima donna. In 2002, a band absolutely no one ever had heard of was coming to Vegas to open for the Liars and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I loved this band’s only disc at the time, a five-song EP.

So I asked to interview the singer, Karen O, of this band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I was told by O’s publicist that Karen O didn’t do interviews — but I could interview the guitarist.

In other words, Paul McCartney, Prince, David Bowie and hundreds of other stars have taken time out of their schedules to give me interviews. But Karen O thought she was bigger than the Beatle et al. Good for her.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs went on to make a nice little career for themselves. I saw them in Chicago a few years ago, and they S.U.C.K.E.D. I’m not just saying that because of the interview thing. They truly blew.

Anyway, so I get on the phone last Friday, ready to interview Maja, the singer for The Sounds, and I’m told by her publicist she doesn’t want to do the interview after all — even though The Sounds approached me, not the other way around.

I was told that, instead, I could talk to the bassist.

So now I’m interviewing the bassist for a band no one has heard of, other than me and music snobs. Grrreeeaaat.

Fortunately, the bassist, Johan Bengtsson, was really nice and tried awkwardly to cover for Maja:

"She’s actually busy right now, doing, I’m not (sure). Sorry. But if you want to talk to me, it’s cool."

The problem: I had spent many hours preparing interview topics for the singer. So I had to ask him things such as the following.

Question: The band’s Web site says a contest winner will get outfitted by Maja for the Vegas show. What kind of outfit will that lucky fan end up wearing?

Bengtsson: "I don’t know. Maybe, like, I don’t know. Like, uh. (Expletive), I don’t know. That’s a Maja question."

Bengtsson did have this one good story. A few years ago, the band was flying from New York to Las Vegas, which was a layover for their next flight to Los Angeles.

And lightning hit their plane en route to Vegas.

"It was super scary," Bengtsson says. "I was sleeping. You know how you have the tray table down? I had a drink right there in front of me. And I woke up.

"You know the feeling when you’re free-falling? I see my drink free-floating in the air in front of me," he says, "because we lost altitude.

"So it was sitting there in front of my face, and it crashed down in front of me," he says. "I was, like, ‘What the (expletive) is going on?!’

"For a split second, you’re, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re gonna crash.’ And everyone’s screaming."

The pilot said something along the lines of, don’t worry, it was just a thunderstorm.

"The plane bounced back and got air under its wings and kept on flying. It was just that one second. But we walked off the plane saying, ‘Oh (expletive).’ "

Then, they landed in Vegas, and during their layover, another band member played slots in the airport and won about $2,000.

"I was, like, ‘OK, we didn’t die. We won some money. So that’s good.’ "

Bengtsson also says, "Come down to the show. It’s gonna be a blast."

I’m sure it could be. The Sounds put on energetic performances. You should go if you’re into the band or neo-new wave. I think I’ll pass. Bengtsson was great. The publicist was great. But Maja Ivarsson can start looking somewhere else for press.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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