» Jocke Berg - Hardcore Superstar
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Interview conducted July 28 2022
Interview published September 17 2022

"We have talked about writing a book, actually."

Metal Covenant talked to Hardcore Superstar vocalist Jocke Berg at Skogsröjet festival.

Band lineup:
Jocke Berg, vocals
Adde Andreasson, drums
Martin Sandvik, bass
Vic Zino, guitar

Tobbe: In your opinion, in what way does your new record fit in the overall Hardcore Superstar discography? [Abrakadabra, out March 25th.]

Jocke: I think, and we all do, because we have talked about this a lot, that this might be because of that Johan Reivén from LOK, who produced our black record, the self titled record, Hardcore Superstar, produced Abrakadabra as well.

Like, if you listen to the black record first, and then to Abrakadabra, it's like Abrakadabra could be the follow-up to the black record. It's, you know, a good continuation. That's exactly how I feel, and so do the boys in the band. And the reception for it has been exactly like that from the fans too, and I think that's great.

It's a little bit rougher than it's predecessor You Can't Kill My Rock 'N Roll, because that one was pretty slick, although a bit rough. Well, it's still Hardcore Superstar, but yet a slicker Hardcore Superstar, and now with Abrakadabra we're back more to the gritty and dirty stuff, you know.

Tobbe: When I listen to it, it personally feels like it kind of has a little bit of everything from the band's entire career.

Jocke: Yes, exactly. And it's funny that you say so, because, just like you say, it's kind of an anthem over our career in a way. You're definitely right about that.

Tobbe: Catch Me If You Can was the first single, and it's probably the fastest track on the album. How come that song was the first single? To me, it doesn't really represent the album in a way.

Jocke: The thing is, people always expect, like, "A new single is out. This must be a hit.". And maybe this song isn't an obvious hit, but more of a rocket. We were thinking, like, "We released a slick record, which we are very proud of, You Can't Kill My Rock 'N Roll, but now we need to blast it away in the beginning and pave the way for the rest of the songs.".

So, that's why. And that's not the greatest song on the record. Absolutely not. I love the song, but it's not the greatest song. But it was a great song to fire it up in the beginning.

Tobbe: When Hardcore Superstar releases a record, the fans never know if it will be a soft record, or kind of a retro record, or maybe a heavy record. Is it hard to make up your mind?

Jocke: To some extent that has been Hardcore Superstar's trademark through our entire career, that we kind of don't really care. We write and make what we wanna do. We have never followed any rules, and we will never follow any rules.

And I think that, although it's our weakness, it's our strength as well, to never accept that someone else tells you how you should fit in. We're on the opposite side from the bullies, so to speak. We stand on the side of the weak.

Tobbe: As you just told me, you went back to an old producer. Is it hard to make up your mind about that as well? Because you sometimes produce the albums yourselves too.

Jocke: Well, I guess we are kind of messy. I agree. But it was Adde's idea. He was, like, "You know, maybe we should call Johan. He produced the black record. Everybody liked that one, the audience, the press, everybody.". So Adde called Johan, and Johan is pretty fiery, like, "Well, send that damn thing to me then, and I'll listen to it! - Okay! I'll produce it!". So he dug it. He's like "Now we do this my way! And nobody else's way!".

Tobbe: But economically seen, it has to be an advantage to do it yourselves.

Jocke: Oh, yes. But it's pretty nice to have… Let me put it like this: We're a band that's pretty difficult to produce, because there are 4 extremely strong wills, who know what we want, and also not what we want. If someone is gonna come in and try to dictate and rule us, it's Johan Reivén, because no one dares to oppose him. He's hard as a rock.

We have a 5th member in Hardcore Superstar, whose name is Olof Lindgren. He writes a whole lot of lyrics, and a lot of music as well. He's my song producer, so to speak. So I told Johan, "Don't come in while I'm laying down the vocals. If you do that, I'll kill you." and he got going immediately, "Come on! Try it! I'll be there to bother you, fucker.".

But I love Johan. But he's one of the few people that is able to produce us. Like I said, we're a band that's pretty difficult to produce, and that's probably why we have a few times done it ourselves.

Tobbe: Abrakadabra was done probably about a year before it was out, and if keeping that in mind, have you already started thinking about another record?

Jocke: Yes, we have 7 new songs.

Tobbe: Well, that's more than half a record. Any release date yet?

Jocke: We will have a new single out in December.

Tobbe: And then the album will be out around next spring, I guess.

Jocke: Well, maybe. And maybe we'll put out another single. We like to release many singles. I think it's a good way to keep the flame alive a bit. When we grew up, when a band released a new record, it was one single, or maybe two singles, and then the record was out. And then you had to wait for, like, 3 years.

But now you extend the lifetime of a record by releasing 4-5 singles during maybe 8 months, and then the record comes out. So, it won't take such a long time before the next one is out, and you keep writing songs during that time as well, you know.

Tobbe: Just like with most bands, the fans tend to focus on a couple of old records, and for Hardcore Superstar, especially the black one, which was very popular. Is this something that might be hard to handle when you start working on a new record? Like, "Oh, these records are so strong. What are we gonna do?". You know, because you always want to improve, right?

Jocke: Yes, you do. We released the HCSS record, and people kind of divided into two sides. 50 percent were like, "Oh, this is crap!" and 50 percent were like, "Great!". There was pretty much nothing in between, but it was either crap or great. I love that record. It has that kind of fuzz; it has a bit of the '70s. It's a pretty broad record, but perhaps not a Hardcore Superstar record.

Maybe that's a record that splits us apart a little bit, like, "Maybe we shouldn't make a record like this again.". But I mean, we have The Cemetery on that record, which is totally amazing. And we have Off With Their Heads, totally amazing. Maybe it's because I personally like, you know, old Whitesnake, and '70s Deep Purple.

Tobbe: If you look back at it now. Was it the right decision to put out a record like that, which was pretty different from what you had done in the last, like, 15 years?

Jocke: Yes, I think it was a good interruption, I would say. It was unnecessary necessary, so to speak. [Laughs].

Tobbe: As you said, you guys didn't fully agree on its direction, and I mean, how the hell do you record an album if you don't fully agree on the material?

Jocke: Well, you know, that's the strength of our band. We decide, and then we focus, and do our best. What's great is that no one in this band does anything half-assed. That's the thing. I mean, every show it's like: someone might be hung-over, someone might be just fed up with everything, someone doesn't wanna be here, or whatever, but then 2 hours before showtime everyone goes into full focus.

Every show we do, we go out like that's the last show we'll ever do. I mean, I'm 48, "Oops! I made a stage dive. Well, I'll suffer from that tomorrow. Okay, I finish a song by jumping off the drum riser. Oops! 6 feet above the floor. Well, I'll suffer from that tomorrow. I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago. And I hurt my foot.". You do everything for the show, you know.

Tobbe: Next year marks the 25th anniversary of your first record, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll. Have you guys considered going out and do something special for that record? Even though it's not your most popular record.

Jocke: It's Only Rock 'N' Roll... It was released on October 4th, '98. Well, we haven't thought about it. But you bring forth an idea right now. I was actually in London a couple of years ago and I went into a second hand record store. It's really difficult to get your hands on that record. And, you know what? It was £75.

But, back to your question. You know, sure, it's the first record, but it's not the first one with Adde, so I guess it's more likely that we do something with Bad Sneakers And A Piña Colada [Out in 2000].

Tobbe: Or maybe you could do a 20-year anniversary for the black one. But maybe you feel like you've done that record enough, you know. You still play quite a few songs off it live though.

Jocke: Well, maybe. That's in 2025. Well, I guess that's more likely.

Tobbe: About these 25 years. Have you been thinking about making some kind of documentary that covers this journey?

Jocke: We have talked about writing a book, actually. But we don't have anything confirmed yet. But we have talked about making something. And we have a lot of recorded video material and stuff like that. But, yes, absolutely, we have talked about it.

Tobbe: The lineup of the band has been the same since '08 when Vic stepped in. It's 14 years now. Adde came in in '99 when you kind of restarted the band. I mean, you had some internal problems 16 or 17 years ago, but how are you able to keep together nowadays and pull the band forward or at least sideways, despite those internal problems before and when having those strong individual wills?

Jocke: I mean, today we are more like brothers, you know. We're a family. I mean, everyone knows when someone is happy, moody, grumpy, and then you leave that person be, or encourage him. You know, we know each other so well, so it becomes like a second family.

Tobbe: So the demands are still there, but you have more understanding for each other?

Jocke: We know our positions. That's how I would like to put it. Adde is the main songwriter in the band. He wants to write the songs, and then we let him write the songs. Like, "Okay, write everything then. It's still Hardcore Superstar.".

And he's extremely good with what he does. You know, with many bands it's like, "I want my song on the record! My song is gonna be on the record!". But we split equally, 25 percent each. You know, I do most of the interviews, for example.

Tobbe: Regardless of how much you write, like lyrics, or at least help out with lyrics, I would say that a Hardcore Superstar without you would be absolutely impossible. Usually I'm not so opposed to singer changes, but without your stage persona and everything, it just wouldn't work, in my opinion.

Jocke: Well, thank you very much. But what's funny is that I'm just being myself. It's not something I just make up. I go out and say what's in here [Points to his chest] and then it comes out here [Points to his mouth]. I don't have a script, but everything comes from the heart.

I was asked a question once, "Have you been taking dance lessons?" and I answered, "Do you really think I did that?". He said, "You know, your moves and so." and I said, "Well, those are just spasm.".

But everything that happens up here [Points to his head] comes from here [Points to his chest]. It's my body that tells me what to do. I don't want to brag now, but you're not the first one telling me this, and I'm very proud of hearing that, because that means that I have done something right. That's the way I have to look at it. I think it has to do with that I'm not a rock star, and I'm always myself.

There are many singers that go on stage and are rock stars, and then walk off stage and they are still rock stars. I'm not that kind of guy. The way I am on stage, I am here too. You and I could just as well have been standing on the stage now.

Tobbe: Are you someone who is so engulfed in what you do on stage, so you even forget a lot of what you've done?

Jocke: Oh yeah, oh yeah. [Laughs] Sometimes when we're bored on the road, we do things like: Martin says, "Okay, today everyone will get to be a character.". Like Adde gets to be Keith Moon from The Who, which is no problem, because he kind of is Keith Moon.

And one time, in a time when we opened up the shows with Moonshine, he came to me, "Jocke! You must stand still during the entire first song.". It worked for about 30 seconds before that role was over. But, you know, I don't know what it is, but it's up there on stage I belong.

You know, like I said, I'm 48 years old now. And when we were young and we saw someone who was 48 it was, like, "Next stop, the funeral home. Buy a coffin now.". But today, I mean, I even outdo 20-year-olds, you know. But that's because I have such an extreme… Well, there is something wrong. But such energy, you know.

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