We had the opportunity to interview two members from the Hellacopters, Robert (guitar) and Boba (keyboards), before their show 16.11 2002 in Pakkahuone, Tampere Finland.
AOR-E: The new album ( "By the Grace of God") seems to be a bit more melodic than your previous ones. Was that intentional?
R: This is a standard question that everybody asks and the standard answer is no.
R: If you listen to every record from the first to this one there is a change between every record, it’s quite natural. We don’t think: ”Oh we’re going to do a soft album.” or more melodic one. We’ve always been melodic but we have less disturbance than on the other ones and we play better too.
AOR-E: So you’re not a commercial band?
R: No. We always do what we intend to do, nobody can tell us what kind of music should the next album consist.We want to play new songs and develope our music and ourselves.
AOR-E: It doesn’t matter that you are signed under Universal?
R: No, because we have a special contract.
AOR-E: Because you are a special band! Where do you get your ideas on your new songs?
R: Well Nicke is the main songwriter, he is very influenced on things he doesn’t like, for example when he hears bad music it makes him write a new good song.
AOR-E: How is the actual process when you get a new song from Nicke?
R: We make demos and play the song to each others and pick the songs from there.
AOR-E: Nicke isn’t telling you how you should play?
R: Yes he is… No, we talk together and suggest our own ideas and from that point…
AOR-E: Do you have a clear idea what kind of album you’re going to make when you go to the studio?
R: We just write the songs and go to the studio and it just like comes together. You are not able to see where you are going to . But this time we had more clear idea what we wanted to do since we had made the songs in advance. Anyways it was hard at the end because we had to choose the songs and you know it was a lot of discussion before these songs ended up to the album.
AOR-E: How many songs did you write for this album?
R: We had about 35 songs before we went to the studios, but we recorded 20 songs.
AOR-E: Are you going to use the remaining songs in your next album or are you going to make a B-side?
R: Maybe we are going to do B-sides of them…
R: We are going to keep them for a while and see if they are going to end up on the next album or somewhere else…
AOR-E: Who chose the songs to the album?
R: We did with our producers.
AOR-E: Did you have a specific criteria?
R: We had to decide what kind of album we wanted to do. If we wanted to do more faster album or… But these seemed to be the best solutions because we loved all the songs.
AOR-E: If you compare your recording sessions: the first and this one, how did it differ? Because I’ve heard that the first album took only 26 hours?
R: A lot! The first album was played live. The songs were not really done in advance we just like had to put them together like day before, at the rehearsal state and then we just tried them out in the studio. But this time we were really prepared. Most of the songs were done in advance. And the arrangements…
AOR-E: How long did it take for you to make this album then?
R: Fifteen weeks and two weeks in the studio.
AOR-E: Again really fast?
R: When we are in the studio we work a lot! We are not lazy, we stay up all night if we have to get something done.
AOR-E: Do you have your own studio?
R: No, we use the Abba’s studio.
AOR-E: Apart from doing six(6) studio albums you have tons of other stuff out ( B-sides, co-projects..) What’s the story behind that?
R: Well we ask our friends to come out and play something with us.But right now there isn’t anything going on. My other band is touring in England with Hanoi Rocks.
AOR-E: What do you think about Hanoi Rocks?
R: I grew up listening to the them.
AOR-E: Do you have any other idols?
R: No I don’t have any idols, not after I met Gene Simmons! Nothing can compite with that! Kiss was my ’The Band’ when I was growing up.
R: Yeah, mine too. And still is one of the best! I mean the Kiss from 1973-80, they were the best!
AOR-E: You have a reputation of being a great live band. What do you think has made you so good?
R: We play all the time.
R: Yeah we pretty much tour all the time.
AOR-E: You like to be on a tour?
R: I think it’s that when you are able to be on a tour, to play music and the hole stuff that we do, that you have to be honest to yourself, you know, you have to be true to the music you play because if you don’t at the end it feels like you are cheating yourself. And then of course it’s really important to be able to tour all around the world. If you are just stuck in Scandinavia one gets bored after a while. You have to see places, you have to tour differently, you don’t want to tour on a bus all the time. It’s just the variety of things that makes it possible to tour a lot. Sometimes we play in a smaller places like Boise, Idaho, where 150 people had bought the ticket ..
R: And only 50 arrived!
R: And to compare that with warming up Kiss and Black Sabbath, or the outdoor festivals! You just have to do everything!
R: because when the summer comes you are really fed up in doing club shows, so it’s great to go out to the festivals.
AOR-E: Robert how long have you played in the band?
R: I’ve been four years in January.
R: Time flies!
AOR-E: How did you end up in The Hellacopters?
R: I forced myself in!!
R: Well this guitar issue was really mines and Nickes problem. We had to find a player who would fit into the band. First we had a friend of ours to play for couple of months, then we went to the studio and we didn’t have a guitarist at that time so we ( me & Nicke) played the guitars. The guy who helped us did another tour with us after the recordings. Then we found a guitar player that we tried but he was just on one tour. And during that time one American guy wanted to play with us and Nicke was really convinced that we should use him. But then I met Strings (Robert, guitarist) in a bar where he worked and he was very, very certain almost demanding that he should get the position! And it was actually Robert (drummer) who said that we shouldn’t use the american and then Nicke said let’s try Strings. And he had six months of trial time to see how many mistakes he makes and to see how he fits in.
AOR-E: What about the rest of you?
R: We are old friends. Nicke and Kenny (bass) grew up together and Robert (drummer) knew Nicke since his days in Entombed because he was on the crew. Then Jay was also an old friend and I met them in the studio where Entombed was recording.
AOR-E: Where do you go after Finland?
R: To home. We have a week off and then couple more weeks in Europe.
AOR-E: What will happen after this European tour?
R: We tour until Christmas and after that I don’t know… We have couple of shows in England. We really don’t know.
AOR-E: So the new year comes with new plans! What would you like to do?
R: Tour in Tokio.
R: I would like to go tour Australia and Japan, but it’s not up to us really…
AOR-E: Final question for your Finnish fans! Helsinki is mentioned in ”it’s good but it just ain’t right!” Do you have special ties to Finland?
R: Yes we have special relationship with Finnish Flaming Sideburnes and the Thee Ultra Bimbos. We’ve had some funny party nights in Helsinki with them.
R: But that song is more about this guy who wants to see the world and he wants to go everywhere, but he ends up in a ferry to Helsinki and that’s the as far as he gets…
& photos by Ira Weltzien and Pekka Taipalinen