Interview conducted April 10 2015
Interview published April 18 2015
Hardcore Superstar has been on the
road for a month to promote its new album HCSS, which releases on April
22nd. One stop was at the venue Klubben in Stockholm and Metal Covenant
took the opportunity to meet up with lead vocalist Jocke Berg
to find out what the guys in the band really had in mind when they decided
to put an older vibe to the record.
Tobbe: You've now been on tour for a month.
How did it feel to be able to present your new album a little bit?
Jocke: It felt good. We were gonna do the whole
platter at first, but we actually chose to only do 4 songs. If we had
done 10 new songs straight, people would have wondered what the hell
was going on. We spread them out in the set just fine and I asked the
crowd if they wanted to hear a new song. Usually they said "Yes".
It would have been tough if they had say "No".
Tobbe: A tour right before the album release
is rather bold.
Jocke: Yes, it's a little bold, but we saw it
a little bit as a promotion thing and a chance for the fans to hear
the songs before it releases. We also brought records with us of course,
so that people would be able to purchase it.
Sometimes it's hard to take the songs in at first glance.
Jocke: Yes, I know. You can buy an album and
you don't really dig it until like the 7th time and then you realize
it's actually good shit.
Tobbe: I will return to this soon, but let's
continue on touring a little more. You have announced some festival gigs
this summer, but what happens this fall?
Jocke: The plans are that we're going to Japan
and then there's another European tour. I don't know if it will be a
longer European tour that we will split up into 2 legs. This is what
I know at this point.
Tobbe: Okay. Your new record is about to
be released and when I listen to it, it shows obvious signs of old Hardcore
Superstar. It sounds like you have brought in influences of other bands
too, but maybe you have just brought in your own old influences?
Jocke: We found an old demo with 3 songs. It
was Fly, Glue and Growing Old. We felt that those songs were too good
to throw away. We rewrote and rearranged them a little bit and that
triggered the whole songwriting process, so we were helped by finding
those songs. It wasn't like the well was dry, but I think that we're
such good musicians and songwriters that we don't have to make the same
platter every time. I mean, I still sing the songs, so it will still
sound like Hardcore Superstar, you know.
Tobbe: Personally, in the beginning, I had
a hard time to take the record in. It felt weird and the songs seemed
odd. Did you sometimes feel that it was time for a change?
Jocke: Well, I don't know if we really talked
about it. It kind of just took that direction and that way. But I think
it's both healthy for us as a band, songwriters and musicians and it's
equally healthy for our fans who get something new, but still it's Hardcore
Tobbe: I think the album is really diverse.
Jocke: Yes, it is.
Tobbe: Was it something you thought of?
Jocke: Well, it just turned out that way, I
think. We weren't trying to make a Pink Floyd album or something, but
if you listen to the song Fly; it's kind of our Pink Floyd song, I usually
Tobbe: Absolutely. It's undeniably a special
Jocke: It's kind of psychedelic and a little
schizo, you know, and I like that. If you look at it song-wise, it's
very slow and easy, then it bursts out, and then back, then it bursts
out. And in the end it has that outro wail and it's almost kind of like
Ronnie James Dio vocals, you know. I like that song and we played it
in London and people just stood there and looked puzzled, but in a positive
way. They just stood there and listened, you know. It has a kind of
Tobbe: I think it's the record's best song
actually. Maybe it's that kind of song that comes out better on a record
than live? At the same time I believe that it will go down well if you
play it somewhere in the middle of a set, since your sets are very energetic.
Jocke: Yes, 8 minutes of peace and quiet.
You personally run around the stage a lot and you're not 20 anymore.
Jocke: No, 41 in a couple of days.
Tobbe: Oh, congratulations. Anyway, where
do you get all your energy from? There aren't so many singers that move
this much during a set.
Jocke: Okay, I admit that it becomes tougher
when you get older, and it hurts more the next day. I have 3 kids now
and I don't have that much time for workouts anymore, but I try to run
at least 15 kilometers (~10 miles) every week, but I used to run 50
kilometers (~30 miles) a week. It shows when you get older and I can
feel my love handles and I don't like that. I try to workout and do
sit-ups, you know. I try to stay in reasonable shape and not drink too
much. I mean, I'm like every other old man, I like beer. But I remember
when we first started and I was hammered every night, but there's no
way you can do that anymore. Not a chance. You woke up every morning
and were ready to go again.
Tobbe: If we go back to the record again.
Its cover; what about it? It's quite different from all your other albums.
Jocke: We tried to make it more skateboard oriented,
since I and Adde [Andreasson, drums] have skated some. In fact he was
a really awesome skateboarder. We tried to make it into a concept, you
know, that you might, if you think that the cover is really cool, make
a tattoo of. We will also sell skateboards in our webshop.
Tobbe: I think that the album is more glammy
and therefore lacks a bit of the intensity you've had during the last
decade. It's kinder really.
Jocke: Yes, I agree. We have the song Don't
Mean Shit which is a little tougher, but I agree, it's a little kinder.
But I understand what you mean. I also like, like on Dreamin' In A Casket
for example, you know, the thrashier guitars and such stuff. But that's
what's great; if we do a record like we did now, we can go back and
make a customary record later. You know, to break the pattern, because
it gets really undistinguished otherwise, like "Okay, Hardcore
Superstar has released a new album and it sounds exactly the same as
Tobbe: Are people honest and tell you that
you've made 4 similar albums in a row? Although I personally think that
they aren't that similar to each other.
Jocke: Each album is quite different than the
next one, even if they resemble each other. Now we have come to a platter
which is a turnabout almost, but nobody has put it that way. I read
a review of the album though; "What have you done? It was good
as it was.".
Tobbe: I feel a little that way too. I will
review the album and maybe I won't give it a top rating. I have probably
listened to the album 20 times and there are some good stuff on it, but
at first I didn't like it at all, so do you think that your fans will
have the needed patience?
Jocke: Our fans can really give us a hard time
on social networks. When we released Touch The Sky as a single, it was
comments like "What the fuck!" and "What are you doing?"
and so on. With this record, I have noticed with the singles and by
those who have bought the album on the tour, there's no one that likes
it a bit. It's like you like it a lot or not at all. Something like
You will have the same fans still of course. I don't think that they will
abandon you because of
Jocke: I really hope not. It would be sad. "Thank
you and good night. This was my last interview. I quit!". [Laughs]
Tobbe: Right. About quitting. Let's go back
to before your black album [The self titled 2005 release]. You had some
thoughts about disbanding and how serious were those thoughts when you
now look back at it?
Jocke: From my side it was really serious. I
felt that I was so sick of all the shit. We had toured, rehearsed, recorded
and blah, blah, blah constantly for 6 years. I felt that we really didn't
get that real break. Nothing really happened, you know. On the first
3 records we were kind of searching for the Hardcore Superstar sound,
which we then found when we decided to keep going with the black album.
The formula, you know. We see that record as kind of original Hardcore
Superstar. What we did earlier was more a search for our sound.
Tobbe: Don't you think it's a little tough
sometimes to always be associated with that record? I mean, the record
is awesome and a lot of people think so too, but you know, too associated?
You have also played it live in its entirety.
Jocke: Yes, we did it on Sweden Rock [Festival].
But to answer your question; No, because we're so proud of that record,
you know. Someone wrote that it was a masterpiece and I can definitely
buy that, if someone wants to write that, you know.
Tobbe: I really don't know what makes it
so great. It's not especially varied, but you just made great songs all
throughout the record, you know.
Jocke: It's a little uncompromising. We just
went for it. You just count the album in, and then it's over, you know.
Tobbe: By the way, do you see HCSS as your
9th or 10th album?
Jocke: If I count It's Only Rock 'N' Roll, you
Tobbe: Yes, does it still count? [Bad Sneakers
And A Piña Colada was the band's first international release and
it includes many re-recorded versions off the debut It's Only Rock 'N'
Jocke: Well, I guess it does. A funny thing with
that record is; I was in London a couple of years ago and I was in a
used-CD store and I found that record for 63 £ and I was like
"What idiot buys this one for 63 £", you know. I went
back another time and then it was gone, so obviously someone had bought
it, or maybe they had put in on sale?
Tobbe: Back to the new album again. Were
there any moments during the recordings that you found a little tougher,
or did everything went smoothly, with all experience you've got?
Jocke: I have small children at home and I'm
sick again. I'm having a cold again. It never ends, and I'm the vocalist
and I have to lay down vocals on the platter, so we had to proceed carefully,
you know. It's sounds good as hell anyway. I love my kids above anything
else, but it's hard when they are that age, 7 months and 3,5 years.
It just flows out of their eyes and noses all the time and they constantly
put their hands in my face. I go "Daddy's a singer. You can't put
your hands in my face right now.".
Tobbe: So how do you personally think that
your voice has developed during the 17 years that you've released albums?
Jocke: I think it has become better. I try to
nurture my voice, like with my exercise for example. I also warm up
my voice at around 45-50 minutes before the gig. Start nice and easy,
and on my computer I have a black guy who's fantastic and I do lots
of stuff. I sound weird, but it actually helps and it's really good.
At yesterday's gig I really had to fight hard to make things good. You
know, I'm a little spoiled with having such a range in my voice and
can kind of do everything, but when you get sick, you're not that big
and cocky anymore. But I personally think that I have developed in the
right direction song-wise.
You mentioned your family, so how do you guys combine your family lives
with the band nowadays? You're not a huge band, but you're definitely
not some fucking small band that does like one gig a month either.
Jocke: You know, we've sort of had this for a
living since 2006 and then I work as a painter occasionally and my boss
is a great guy. And you can actually combine this with your family and
my partner is fantastic. She does a fantastic job with our kids at home
and I try to show her appreciation as much as I can, but she knows that
we're doing this because it's our job. A lot of guys that return home
from a tour are really tired and want to rest when they come home, but
you can't do that when you have a family. The first thing I did when
I recently returned from Europe was to clean our entire house. I was
picked up at Landvetter airport [outside Gothenburg] at 8.30 a.m., went
home and had breakfast, then cleaned the house and this week I built
a sandbox for the kids.
Tobbe: So outside the music you're just
like everybody else
So how much time do you work as a painter?
Jocke: You know what; I haven't worked since
the end of January and it will actually be nice to go back to work.
You know, the social life, like this, we just sit and talk shit during
breaks, and then you go out and do your job.
Tobbe: I guess you're mostly one of the
Jocke: Not really, actually. You know, when
I come to a construction site, a lot of people want to talk. We have
actually gotten a few jobs because I sing in Hardcore Superstar. It's
all connected in some way. Usually we listen to radio when we work and
when they play Hardcore Superstar I just sit down for a while and the
other guys go "What are you doing" and I just say "Give
me a reason to why I should double my salary?".
Tobbe: Right. That's a good one. When talking
money. How much more would you have made if it wasn't for illegal downloading?
Jocke: Oh, my God. Much, much, much more.
Tobbe: You started around the time when
downloading just barely had begun.
Jocke: Look at Bad Sneakers. It sold gold at
40000 copies and today gold is 10000.
Tobbe: So what do you guys do to expand
your popularity outside Sweden? I know that you have gotten recognition
abroad as well, but anyway.
Jocke: Yes, it goes pretty well in the rest
of Europe too, but we try to use the social networks. You know, facebook
and Instagram. And then interviews, you know this thing, and we also
try to do great records as well.
The competition is killing nowadays. You know, there are bands everywhere,
so what do you guys believe that you can offer that other bands can't?
Jocke: I think we're a better live band than
many other bands. We create a sort of joy and we let the fans be part
of the show. I think that's really important. A lot of bands just go
up there and do their jobs and then they just walk off stage. It might
work for certain bands, but I don't think that's fun at all. It's kind
of easy-going when we're on stage and we don't present the songs in
a cool way and we high-five the crowd. It's kind of relaxed and it's
because of the crowd we are here.
Tobbe: In a party band like Hardcore Superstar,
who is the best beer drinker?
Jocke: Well, I think Adde is the best beer drinker.
Tobbe: How do you look at the band's future?
Like in 5 years.
Jocke: In 5 years I'll be 46
Oh, what happened?
Anyway, if we play our cards right, we will keep doing this. We still
continue to grow, at least a little. If we continue the way we do now,
we will do this for at least 5 years more. It would have been cool to
go on stage on my 50th birthday.
Tobbe: It won't be a problem. Just go for
it. So which is the album's best track, besides Fly?
Jocke: I like The Ocean, but I'm the only one
Tobbe: I agree with your band mates, because
I think that one is one of the weakest.
Jocke: I really like that one. I really have
a weak spot for that song.
Tobbe: But isn't music great? Everyone likes
of the gig the same night
See also: review
of the album HCSS