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Sounds’ Maja Ivarsson reinvigorated by motherhood

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Sweden’s pop-punky The Sounds play the Regency Ballroom this week. (Courtesy photo)
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Sounds frontwoman Maja Ivarsson apologizes when she phones from her native Sweden at just after midnight, Pacific time.

“I know it’s an awkward hour, but I couldn’t make this interview work any other way than when my son is at preschool,” says the singer, who appears with her band at the Regency Ballroom this week.

“I’m a single mom, and it’s wonderful, and dad is this guy I’ve known for 10 years (producer Ben Fee), and he’s just awesome,” she says, adding, “So everything has changed.”

The mother of 2-year-old Dante, Ivarsson, 38, hardly can comprehend the transition.

A few years ago, the openly bisexual singer was dating a woman, and living the rock and roll lifestyle she’d fallen into with The Sounds’ hit pop-punk debut in 2002, “Living in America.”

She admits she was an unlikely candidate for parenthood.

“I think everybody else had this idea of, ‘Her having a kid? How is that going to work out?’” she says. “I straightened up incredibly fast. I adapted to motherhood like I’d never done anything else, and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” says Ivarsson, whose ex-girlfriend is now Dante’s godmother.

Her son has inspired her work, too, in the lyrics of an upcoming song called “Change,” and in the EP “The Tales That We Tell,” which hearkens back to the Blondie-reminiscent spirit of “Living” (and the album’s title track’s eerily prescient, now sing-along line, “We’re not living in America/ But we’re not sorry”).

“Our keyboard player has a kid now, too,” Ivarsson says. “And the songs on this EP are so old — we’re working on some new stuff now that is so much better than anything we’ve ever done.”

Her son has taught the former free spirit both patience and a rigorous efficiency.

While he’s in preschool, she handles phone appointments, then heads to the studio for writing-recording sessions.

“I’m there by 10 or 11, and then I work all the way through until I have to pick him up,” she says. “So I’m still basically myself, but I’m just way more at peace with everything now.”

Ivarsson, who’s bringing Dante on some select Sounds dates, admits she got fed up with the repetitive compose-record-tour cycle three years ago: “I was just not feeling excited about anything anymore, and I thought, ‘Well, a change would be nice. And then this big change happened, and now I feel passionate about music again. And suddenly it’s more fun to go on tour!”

IF YOU GO
The Sounds
Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 9
Tickets: $25 to $30
Contact: (415) 673-5716, www.axs.com

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