Joakim "Jocke" Berg (vocals) from Hardcore Superstar
HARDCORE SUPERSTAR comes from Gothenburg. The band has been founded in 1997, so they can look back on almost two decades of making music. In those years they have experimented and reinvented themselves numerous times without losing the special something that makes their very own sound, a mixture of Sleaze and Rock. With this tour they don’t only prove once again their affinity for live performance but also give their fans a foretaste to their upcoming newest album which will be released in April. Prior to the show on 24th March in Mannheim, we had the chance to meet vocalist Jocke for an interview.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You and your band have been around for quite a long time now. So looking back, how has music culture changed, i.e. concerning concerts or touring? Have you noticed any changes?
Jocke: Yeah, it must be the record sales, they‘re going down. Because of the internet. But that’s why we tour so much, you know? We tour a lot to earn some money.
RoD: Which is not a bad thing for the fans.
Jocke: No. No, it isn’t. So that’s why we have to tour a lot. That’s the main thing that changed through the years because of the downloading and stuff.
RoD: And the concerts themselves?
Jocke: I think the concerts, they’re almost the same. Of course, sometimes it’s less people, sometimes it’s more people but they’re the same, I think.
RoD: How would you describe the sound of Hardcore Superstar to someone who has never heard a song of yours?
Jocke: Heavy, melodic, hard rock, sleazy... what more? I can go on forever. But it’s a good mix between Sleaze, Rock’n’Roll, Hard Rock. It’s hard, that one’s a tough question.
RoD: What’s your personal favourite HARDCORE SUPERSTAR song and why?
Jocke: I like ‘Run to your Mama’, actually. I like my vocals in that song. And I think everyone can relate to that song. Now that’s my favourite song. I would love to play it on stage with a big piano, by myself. But now I haven’t recorded when I sing to the piano...
RoD: That actually leads to the next question: What is something you would like to try music-wise but haven’t tried yet?
Jocke: That must be like Axl Rose with the piano, alone on stage... going up in the air... [gestures the movement]
RoD: So something dramatic?
RoD: And some big orchestra? Your voice would sound great with an orchestra.
Jocke: Would it be like a big horn section?
RoD: Yes, violins and horns...
Jocke: We have that on ‘Run to your Mama’.
RoD: I meant live. In a real big hall with nice acoustics.
Jocke: That would be really cool.
RoD: You should definitely do that one day.
Jocke: Yeah, but that costs money. I’ll think of it.
RoD: Concerning your new album: of all the songs, which took the longest to write and record?
Jocke: Actually there is none. It’s like every song was almost the same... this album was really easy to write, actually. We didn’t think about that at all, so there was no song that was taking more time than the other one. It was really easy this time, if I can say so.
RoD: So it didn’t take very long to do the whole thing?
Jocke: To do the recording? No, we went into the studio 21st of December and we were out of the studio 10th of January. And we did all the music live, so we got in and then we did the song, a little vocals, and then the backup vocals and then we were done. We’re professionals. (laughs)
RoD: And the album creation process, is it the same like i.e. on the ‘Dreaming in a Casket’ DVD? In Adde’s house, taking a long time, rehearsing...
Jocke: That one took longer to write down. This time around when we started up we had some riff at home and I was sitting there and Adde was at his place and Martin and Vic as well. Then we met together in the rehearsing room and jammed, like ‘This is not good. That’s better’, you know, like that. We just rehearsed and all of a sudden we had a song.
RoD: How often do you rehearse between album creations?
Jocke: Not when we are on tour. We are going home in four days and we’re going home to our families to be with them for five days and then we’re going to Finland, so in between that we are not gonna rehearse, I promise you that. It’s not that often anymore, actually.
RoD: So, like once a week or less?
Jocke: No, no. We only rehearse before the tour. Then we rehearse for three weeks, something like that. But in between we don’t rehearse. Like I said, we are professionals.
RoD: Of course, after such a long time you know your songs.
Jocke: Yeah. Of course, if we haven’t touched an instrument in three months and we have a show, we have to at least do three rehearsing sessions before we play that show. But it’s never three months between the shows for us, so it feels like it’s all the time. That’s why we don’t rehearse that much.
RoD: Concerning tours, we asked you this a few years ago, is it still the same? How do you stay fit? You said you go running every day – is it still running?
Jocke: Yeah. Really, yesterday I was out in Cologne and I got lost out running. I was like ‘No, where am I?’. I thought I was, you know... but I got lost. I had to ask people. I was running many kilometres yesterday. Too many. The others don’t do that. I worked out today as well, doing burpees and stuff. I have to do that because of my lungs and to keep my voice in shape. And I like it, it’s not like someone is forcing me.
RoD: And the others? Are they going out to run with you?
Jocke: Vic is running as well, but the other guys don’t run. Lazy motherfuckers. (laughs)
RoD: Back to the albums: Do you decide on the tone of an album, like is it gonna be a sad or a happy album, or does the music just come like that?
Jocke: We found these three old demo songs from back in ’94 that were too good to waste. So we took them back to us, rewrote them a bit, rearranged them a bit to fit today’s sound. And then we wrote new songs that fit with the three old songs. It’s those three songs that gave the album a start in the writing process. So that’s how it is. And the mood on the album is sometimes dark, very dark, but also very, well, happy. It’s like good and evil, black and white. And I like that kind of mood in it. If you listen to ‘Fly’, the long song... the song is almost eight minutes... it has very deep lyrics. It’s like when someone is unfaithful to you and it feels like someone is hitting you with a Doctor Marten boot in your head, mentally. That’s quite dark. But I mean we’re just humans who’ve been through everything. That’s also one of my favourite songs. We’re not playing it tonight but I would love to do that, now that we’re talking about it...
RoD: Is there any story to a song you’ve never finished? Maybe a song you started to write but stopped halfway through?
Jocke: Yes, I have a song called Youth is Gone. It’s about a girl. I had everything arranged. I had the lyrics done... but I couldn’t get the song to... I know what I wanted it to sound like but I couldn’t find the vibe to it. It is still around in my heart somewhere. That’s a song that I someday gonna take up and do it again. Maybe on a solo-album?
RoD: So you could consider making a solo-album someday?
Jocke: Not now, but maybe later on. But I don’t feel like that now. I have a few projects together with Martin, the bass-player. We write songs and stuff, but nothing serious. But you never know. Maybe sometime, someday.
RoD: And in HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, is it still Adde who does most of the writing?
Jocke: Yes, he is a very driven man, so he very often comes with the ideas and we work with them together.
RoD: Then just one more question, something light for the finish: If you could act in any show or movie at all, in what would you wish to star and whom would you play as character?
Jocke: There was someone who told me once when or if we were going to be like movie stars, the guy told me ‘You, Jocke, you would be Jackie Chan.’ Okay. ‘And Martin would be Morgan Freeman. And Adde would be David Hasselhoff.’ I don’t remember what Vic was supposed to be, but someone crazy as well. So Jackie Chan then.
RoD: Why not? Thank you for the interview!
Interview picture from Mannheim by Sandra Bentz, live pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)