Joakim "Jocke" Berg (vocals) from Hardcore Superstar
With the first half of the co-headlining tour with rock legend MICHAEL MONROE already being over, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR’s Jocke Berg once again took his time for a cosy Q&A session with us in the nightliner. The combo of him and us being an old hat already, we were greeted with a warm ”Oh hey, it’s you again! When was the last time we met? What do you want to drink?”, and in the end we got the nicest compliment ever - but read yourselves!
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: HCSS has been a major band in Sweden for years now – do you feel you have changed the Swedish rock scene or Swedish pop culture in general? By influencing younger bands, for example.
Jocke Berg [JB]: If you listen to the new album, it sounds more diverse than the previous ones and that’s a change. But I don’t think that we changed as a band, I mean, we got these three demo songs from a fan in London that were too good to waste. We re-wrote and re-arranged them to fit Hardcore Superstar today - they were so good that we couldn’t just waste them. And then we started to write the new album around those songs and it turned out to be a little darker than the previous HARDCORE SUPERSTAR albums. Because when people talk about Hardcore Superstar, they think about party and having a good time, you know? But on this album it’s different. For example ‘Fly’, our former guitar player back in ’94 wrote that song about his dad, he’s found his dad dead in the hallway. It’s quite dark for a Hardcore Superstar song. But we already wrote like ten new songs for the new album and it’s gonna be more party in those songs.
RoD: But when you compare the Swedish music scene how it is right now to back when you started, do you think that you as a band had an impact on how the scene is right now?
JB: Yes, we had. We invented the genre of Street Metal. That was us, we invented that, and there are so many young bands today who want to be a part of that. And that’s good, it’s always something to put on your checklist, you know. We inspire the people and that’s good. I want to inspire people and I get inspired by other people, and that’s the, what do you call that... revolution, you know. So many bands have come up to me telling me ”Ah, we’re so inspired by you guys, you’re fucking awesome!” and I’m always like, ”Thank you, thank you, thank you!” So, yeah, you can say that we’ve changed the scene, because we, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, can write whatever we want and it’s still gonna be HARDCORE SUPERSTAR. That’s the good thing with us, we don’t have to stick to just Glam or just Sleaze. As you know, we can combine Sleaze Metal, Thrash, Glam... we can do whatever we want! We’re like Superman!
RoD: Hardcore Superman.
JB: (laughs) Yeah!
RoD: Back in 2000 you did a cover of Hanoi Rock’s ‘Don’t you ever leave me’ for the Japanese version of ‘Bad Sneakers and a Piña Colada‘ in 2000.
JB: Yeah! I listened to that song yesterday actually!
RoD: Concerning that, how come you chose this song back then and since you are on tour with Michael Monroe now, has he ever heard it and maybe said something about it?
JB: Yeah he has heard it and he likes it! And we also did a duet, me and Michael; we did an ALICE COOPER song called ‘A long way to go’, that’s from, I don’t know, maybe ’72, ’71. And Michael played it for his band and they were like ”Oh yeah!” and they wanted to do it on stage with us, but we don’t know when - but we’re gonna do it on this tour, on some show.
RoD: The next one is a bit of a NitroDive-question, because when we were in Gothenburg this summer to meet them, the guys told us the story about Adde shitting in their salad in Lichtenfels in March.
JB: Oh... yes... (laughs)
RoD: We also know about their revenge on you, which is like, super disgusting... and we wanted to hear your version of this story.
JB: Well, it’s the truth! Adde pooped in their salad and put it on plates, that’s all.
RoD: Yeah... Robert showed us a photo. It was... very nice.
JB: (laughs) Well, yeah... that’s how we roll. (everyone laughs)
RoD: Is there one of your own songs that describes each of you as a person? Could be because of the title, the feeling, the music, lyrics or anything.
JB: A song for each member? Okay. Uhm... I think one song is like, from the ‘Dreaming In A Casket’ album, ‘Wake Up Dead In A Garbage Can’, that’s one of my favourites and that’s how I feel sometimes. Not lyric-wise, but the energy in this song is like woaaah! And that’s me, because I’m very often like this. Right now I’m calm, but I’m not that person. I’m really energetic, you know. And, uhm... Martin... maybe... a slow one. Yeah, I think, ‘Fly’ actually - not because of the dark lyrics, but I think that’s Martin, you know... I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like Martin. And Adde is... he’s more like ‘Medicate Me’. He likes to drink beer, so that’s more like him. And Vic... this is hard. Vic has also a lot of energy in him... hm, a song... ‘Last Call For Alcohol’. Cause, he’s not that drunk so often, but when he is he’s like, woaaaah, all over the place. So that’s a good song for him, ‘Last Call For Alcohol’.
RoD: If you had to go to jail for whatever reason, who of the band would last longest, and why?
JB: (thinks for a few seconds) I think I would last longest. The other guys wouldn’t say that, but, I have a thing for angry people. I can get them to calm down. Not with words, it’s just by... being myself. That’s something I discovered over the years. I don’t like fights when people are angry and stuff, I tend to lure them into being not angry anymore, someway. A lot of people are angry in prison, so, yeah! I think I would do best.
RoD: What are your favourite misheard lyrics?
JB: [We Don’t Celebrate] Sundays. There’s no religion in my house, there’s no thick-headed people in my house.
RoD: (laugh) We had this question some years ago and you explained it to us because we actually misunderstood that one.
JB: Yeah! Because it’s something to misunderstand! I’m saying ”thick people”, but it’s not the right lyric at all, it’s ”thick-headed”, but I couldn’t get that in the melody. I remember it being a shame when you told me that and I was like ”No, no, it’s not like that!”, it’s ”thick-headed”, like stupid people. No religion, no stupid people. Maybe I should’ve better been singing that. (laughs)
RoD: What was the most embarrassing bet you‘ve ever lost?
JB: Embarrassing bet... I think it was against my four year old son, actually. We were on vacation in Turkey, me and my family, and we were in this like, water rollercoaster, you know? And it was really big, and I asked Vegas, ”You don’t wanna go up there, no no no no no, you don’t want that.” And Tess, my wife, said, ”Yeah, dare him!” I’m gonna go, but, I mean, he’s four years old! So he said ”Daddy? You don’t believe me?” - ”No, I don’t believe you.” - ”Okay, if I do it-” And he’s four years old, smart guy! ”If I do it, I get the biggest ice cream!” I think it did cost like 20 Euros! And we went up and I thought, when he sees it, the height, he won’t do that. But he was like ”Okay Dad, I’ll sit in your lap!”, and I thought, ”Oh man, he’s gonna do that!” - and we did it. And of course I had to buy him that ice cream, 20 Euros.
RoD: Very smart boy!
JB: Yeah. And very stupid Dad. (laughs)
RoD: HARDCORE SUPERSTAR suddenly became a boy band and of course you gotta do a choreography like the 90’s boy bands, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync... Would it fail or would you nail it?
JB: (laughs) We would fail horribly. He’s laughing. (points at Yair Gadon from Chase The Ace who’s with us in the bus)
Yair Gadon [Chase The Ace]: No, I think you’d be great.
JB: (laughs) No... no.
YG: I can see Martin, I mean... he probably got some cool moves.
JB: (still laughing) Yeah, the big bear.
RoD: What‘s the first thing coming to your mind when you think of your band mates?
JB: Brothers. That’s it.
RoD: What do you have absolutely no talent for?
JB: (laughs) I think it’s better if you call my wife? Uhm... no talent... do you see the smoke coming up now, I’m thinking! There’s many things of course! (laughs) Uhm. I got no talent on, you know... fuck! I gotta find a good one. Oh, well, this is about my family again, but it’s like, I always think that I’m ahead of my wife, but she’s a woman. She’s always like ten steps ahead of me. So it’s always like that, ”Couldn’t you see that coming?”, and I’m like ”No, I couldn’t! I thought I could, but...” She’s already ten steps ahead. But I got no talent in fixing things at home, planning things and stuff. And she got so tired of that that she made a schedule, for every family member. We are three children and two grown-ups, and she made a schedule. Mine is in pink, I don’t know why, but... (laughs) And it’s like, ‘Daddy’s on tour, Daddy’s home’... ”You think you can read this?”, and I’m like, ”Yeah, I think...” And hers schedule is like, wooosh: (gestures a long schedule) I’m trying to be a good Dad though, but that’s the thing I’m not so talented in.
RoD: Did you ever have an embarrassing moment on stage?
JB: Yeah, I remember once there was a girl who showed her tits, and, you know, of course as a man you look like this (stares), but all of a sudden I got embarrassed! Because she was so close, and I was like ”Oh, man!”... I couldn’t sing and I had to stand like this! (turns away and laughs then) We’re all family men you know, I wouldn’t cheat on my wife, I love her with all my heart, and it’s so strange because I’m used to my wife’s tits. (laughs) So it’s like, you get confused. ”Why do you do that?!” (laughs)
RoD: You probably have inside jokes as a band. Can you tell us one?
JB: Inside jokes... not an inside joke, but when Martin, our bass player, is getting really drunk, he tends to fall asleep everywhere. (laughs) Have you seen it, Yair?
YG: I even have a photo of it.
JB: Yeah... don’t show it. (laughs) Under the tables and stuff, and once I heard a sound like an elk on the bus. Like, baaaaaah, 11:30 in the morning, I was going to get up, 11:30, and go out for a jog, and I got so afraid, because, who the fuck let an elk on the bus?! And it was him. So he’s like... that’s a talent I think. (laughs)
RoD: And a last one: is there any ritual before the gig you can absolutely not go without?
JB: Yes. I have my two hours ritual. I start when I get changed into my stage clothes and do my eyeliner and stuff, and then I have my formation pipe, blowing water to get massages for the vocal chords. Because if you speak, your vocal chords go like this (gestures small waves), and when you blow in this water - the pipe has to be two centimetres under the surface - your vocal chords go like this (gestures big waves), like fishes. So it massages the vocal chords. It was a opera singer who invented this in Finland actually, and I went to this doctor in Sweden who showed me this. It’s a glass pipe that is thicker for men and smaller for girls, and I do this like, once when I arrive at the venue and then during the first part of the ritual. Then I have like fifty minutes vocal warm up and then lip relaxing for about half an hour, then I put my in-ears in and stuff... it’s very calm, but two hours, I need them. Tonight we’ll start at 11, so I’m gonna start at nine, which will be in... two hours and 18 minutes. (laughs) Every day the same, I have do that, because I also get mentally prepared when I do that.
RoD: Thank you for the interview!
JB: No, no, thank you! You always have unusual questions, that makes it really interesting, I really like that.
RoD: Well, we like to get creative with our questions to keep it interesting, even after years of meeting.
JB: And you’re very good at that!