It’s Friday morning and I am clambering out of bed at some ungodly hour (7am is early ok) with zero coffee in the house, to Zoom with ridiculously attractive European rock star and vocalist Jocke Berggren of Hardcore Superstar, ahead of the band’s Australian tour firing away next week. After politely informing him that he is the first adult male to see my fresh out of bed make-up free face in a very long time (smooth) we got talking about cuddling koalas, keeping his health in check while being a rock n roll party animal, his family and his days touring with Motorhead.
It’s been a big year for the self-proclaimed “Street Metal” outfit with the release of their twelfth studio album ABRAKADABRA in March. Now the pandemic bubble has finally burst, these guys are pumped and ready to bring the party back to Australia.
Jocke- “Australia is always nice to visit, I mean it’s like… I think this is the fourth time coming down under, the first time was 2008 I think, yeah I mean it’s gonna be awesome, the weather is better than here…”
Bec- “yeah I’m not going to comment on that right now because we are getting some kind of overhang from winter in Adelaide, it’s really cold”
Jocke- “How cold is it?”
Bec- “um well today it’s not too bad, it’s about seventeen degrees Celsius, but we have just had torrential rains, flooding, sideways wind… it’s been quite unseasonable but hopefully it improves for you when you get here”
Jocke- “Here is only six degrees Celsius”
Bec- “oh wow yeah that’s cold. What do you like to do when you’re here? Is there any kind of touristy things you like to do like patting Koalas?
Jocke- (laughs) “The last time we were there we went to Sydney Zoo and we didn’t get to hug any koalas but we hugged a giant snake instead”
Bec- “oh fantastic”
Jocke -“yeah, so we got a special guided tour with some of the caretakers and that was awesome and we went to see the kangaroos, but I really wanna hug a koala….”
Bec- “yeah, I feel like that’s sort of a rite of passage, when you come to Australia you have to hug a koala”
Jocke- “yeah so maybe this time”
Bec- “They’re not as nice as what you think though they can be quite scary if you annoy them… and they cling so you have to let them climb on and off you- just some tips there, for when you do hug a koala”
Jocke- “oh ok (laughs)
Bec- “So you’re touring with your new album Abrakadabra that came out in March, which I’ve read a lot of reviews on, and everyone is saying that you guys just get better and better with every album, and you’ve been doing it for 25 years now.
How do you keep it fresh?”
Jocke- “I think it’s because we are so full of energy and love for music. When we started out, the first 3 albums we did, the record company told us how we were supposed to sound but it wasn’t until we released our self-titled album back in 2005, we decided before we started to write songs for that album, no we’re not going to listen to any record company anymore, we are going to do songs that we like, that we get off to you know? Because if you do that, the audience will… see how happy and how much we want to play the songs live and you can hear it on the album that we love it.
So we kept doing that through the years and we still had that ‘sparkle’ that makes us do that, so I think that’s why we… (thoughtful pause) I say we are like fine wine, you know? We are getting better every year”
Bec- “Awesome, and you guys wrote this recent album obviously in lockdown, you were kind of doing it more remotely and apart from each other, do you think that has kind of influenced the final product?”
Jocke- “yeah of course, it’s so weird this time because we had, like you and me now, we had zoomy things and when we met up 8 months later to rehearse, we were standing in a big room like five metres from each other, so fucking weird. I mean, it’s like COVID19 you can’t get it if I’m standing five metres from you it’s so fucked up.
I remember we did a show in 2021 in the fall and they all just had to sit down. So I asked one security guard “do you mean if they sit down, you can’t get infected by COVID19?…. but if they stand up, it’s deadly” it’s so fucking weird, so they went around the security guards and they’re like ‘you have to sit down, you have to sit down’ So as the evening goes on, people got more drunk and they were standing up and the guards gave up, they just went away”
Bec-“Yeah there was a lot of that here too and a lot of shows that they didn’t end up going ahead with because it’s like try and keep a bunch of drunk metalheads seated the whole time, it’s not going to happen. It’s been a very bizarre few years and now it’s like it never even happened, like we have gone back to normal, we don’t have any restrictions anymore. It’s very strange but it’s good that we get our gigs back and when you guys come you will see it will feel like it never happened”
Jocke- “Nothing happened!” (laughs)
Bec- “yep it was all just a bad dream”
Jocke- “ what about the ‘COVID pass’?”
Bec- “I’m not sure about travel, I just know that here last month they’ve taken away the last of the restrictions which was if you have COVID you have to isolate for a week”
Jocke- “It’s like a flu”
Bec-“Yeah it’s basically like a flu exactly, that’s how they’re treating it and we have had a lot of international shows this year, and a lot coming from Europe now.
With touring, you’ve been pretty much touring your entire career, I mean you guys don’t seem to have stopped, which I guess can be quite an intense lifestyle, you know drinking, partying, playing shows every night, how do you balance that out when you’re at home like do you do a yoga about it, are you on a juice cleanse right now in preparation? Do you guys have to balance that lifestyle out or do you just go full Lemmy?
Jocke-“No, I run a lot, I run at least thirty kilometres a week, and I work out a lot. Actually, I’ll show you I hurt my foot (pulls camera to his right foot which is bright blue and purple)
Bec-“that looks so painful, how did you do that?”
Jocke- “I was out running with my wife, we were out running and I- how you say… (makes crunching noises) I flipped my foot on a stone- it hurt like hell”
Bec-“I bet! So have you been able to run on it since or are you just taking it easy?”
Jocke- “I have this sock on (compression sock) so I’m resting so it’s only push ups and stuff now”
Bec-“Fair enough! So in terms of before your tour is there any kind of preparation, or do you have any pre show rituals that you have to do before you get on stage?”
Jocke- “yes yes very important, very important. Two hours before every show, I do my eyeliner and when I do that, I go in like a stage mood… my wife says when [she] is with us and our kids, she says like ‘ok, Dad is not here anymore’ so they go away. Then I go into a mood and I’ve done my eyeliner and I put my stage clothes on and then I just like… it’s so weird because I get so focused on what I’m supposed to do in two hours… and then I do like a vocal warm up slowly, and then we, me and the guys in the band do like, you know singing choruses and stuff just to harmonise for everything just to get focused.
So before the show we always want to be alone you know? The four of us, so yeah… I mean you have to, I have other colleagues in the business who just go up and do it… I can’t do that. I have to focus because it takes a lot of energy because I’m not the guy who stands still on stage, I’m all over the place so I need to get focused and prepared in my head.
Bec- “yep, so in the zone. That’s really interesting. How old are your kids?”
Jocke- “I got four kids, 3, 8, 11 and 18”
Jocke- “yep. It’s so funny because I’m only 25!”
Bec- “yes! Of course (laughs) me too!”
Jocke- (points to his head) “In here” (laughs)
Bec- “Absolutely! That’s two very polar lives you’ve got going on there, the young family and the crazy international rockstar touring the world. Do they come on tour at all?”
Jocke-“No not on tour but if we play here in Sweden they come to a few shows”
Bec- “Fantastic, and what do they think of it? do they actually like your music are they into it?”
Jocke- “Yeah! My 8 year old daughter she’s playing the clarinet, so we jam here yeah so that’s cool. I remember once we played in Gothenberg, it was like three thousand people in the audience and we had played two songs, she went out on the left side of the stage and just sat down, and I was like walking towards her and asking ‘what do you want?’ [she said] ‘I wanna go home Dad!’
So I told the audience ‘Do you think I’m gonna go home? Do you want me to go home?’ [audience yells] ‘NOOOOO!’, she was like ‘I wanna go home NOW’
Yeah. That’s kids.”
Bec- “Yeah wow, that’s great. I hope that when they grow up, well it would be interesting to see how many stories they have about their dad.
Speaking of stories, sometimes I get a little lost for questions, particularly if I’m starstruck so I generally ask friends that are fans and I’m like ‘If you could sit down with Jocke what would you ask him’ and overwhelmingly I get ‘can you please get a Lemmy story (laughs) from when he toured with Motorhead’
Jocke- “oh yeah I got a lot of Lemmy stories, once was when I woke up in a tour bus and my tour manager told me that ‘Motorhead’s tour manager is downstairs he wants to talk to you’ I went downstairs and he said ‘Lemmy wants to meet you’ ok… so I was so hungover and I went with him to Lemmy’s bus, knocked on the door and he was like (in his best Lemmy impersonation) “Hi Jocke! Do you want something to drink?” and I was like (makes quiet gag noise) ‘…yeah… thank you?’ so he poured me a beer glass with like 70% whiskey and 30% coke and I was like sipping on that, and I emptied that, and I was back in business.
So we are sitting there talking and he showed me his records, country records… imagine Lemmy singing country records… it sounded awful! But I just told him ‘this is awesome, this is awesome’
I got more and more drunk so the last thing I remember was that I was carried out of the bus and it was only 1 o’clock in the day… I got a lot of memories with him but yeah he was a real gentleman.
I remember once when we played in LA, California and we went to Rainbow Bar and Grill and there he was, he was sitting playing PACMAN and I went up to him and said ‘Hi Lem’ and I hadn’t seen him for five years, so he just turned around (again in his Lemmy voice) ‘Hi Jocke, do you want something to drink?’ (laughs) so he poured me a Jack and Coke”
Bec- “and I imagine when you got carried out of that bus at 1 o’clock that he was still standing, still going” (laughs)
Jocke- “yep” (laughs)
Bec- “When do you fly here? Do you have a couple days before you start playing?”
Jocke- “yeah, we have two days before we start, so we fly on the 11th and we land on the 12th at 3 o’clock in the afternoon then we have the day off, all evening and the day after that and then we play on the 14th”
Bec- “yep, which is a Monday night”
Jocke- “yeah… I hope there is gonna be people there”
Bec- “I dare say so, we are getting back into the school nights now, we’re not mucking around we are straight back into it.. nature is healing!“
Interview By Bec Scheucher
Catch Hardcore Superstar on the following dates, tickets from Silverback Touring…