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24 Jul 2017

Imperial State Electric

A few hours before the first ever show of Imperial State Electric in Athens RockpagesTV camera sneaks in Kyttaro to talk with this huge figure of rock’n’roll that managed to keep it’s banner high through the tough ‘90s and spread it like wildfire across Europe. Our talk begins with “All Through The Night”, the band’s recent release and extends throughout Nicke’s career with Hellacopters, The Solution, his influences, etc. Interview: Yiannis Dolas Your latest release is “All Through The Night”, can you tell us a bit about the album?

Nicke Andersson: Ahh, what do you wanna know? Hahaha! First of all, I read in another interview where you said that whatever you listen to inspires you…

Nicke Andersson: Yeah… So, what was it that you were listening in particular when you were writing the album?

Nicke Andersson: I can’t really say, ‘cause when I write songs I don’t write songs for a specific album. I write songs all the time. Some songs on this album is probably… I don’t know! Probably 5 years old… one is a month old, before we recorded it. So there is no specific inspiration, it’s just everything I listen. For me there is no specific genre. Music in general gives me inspiration. Even bad music. Even bad music?

Nicke Andersson: Yeah! Because, then we argue a lot… it’s everything you know… from early Delta blues, I like r’n’b, I like ‘60s soul music, hard rock, heavy rock, punk rock. Everything with electric guitars really…

ImperialStateElectric16 Some might be surprised that you started from a much heavier band and then you developed something not as heavy as Entombed. Can you tell us how you come up with this?

Nicke Andersson: Well… my start in music was getting into KISS. That was when I realized I liked music… or loved music! That was when I was about 7 I think. So, after that I had a pretty heavy period of everything KISS, then I got into punk rock with the Sex Pistols, the Ramones… then gradually into faster punk rock like G.B.H., Exploited, Discharge, then I met my friend Fred Estby when I was 13-14, he was into Metallica. So, from G.B.H., Exploited Venom are not very far… and then Metallica and then from that faster music. It didn’t matter if it was punk or metal. So, what I am doing now is going back to what I was listening from the ‘60s and the ‘70s. If I loved one kind of music one time, I will always love it. Imperial State Electric started off as a project? Because in the beginning you were playing almost everything on your own… how did you form a band?

Nicke Andersson: Well, in the beginning I didn’t know what to do, except I wanted to record songs. So, I got a studio and then I was trying to learn… so, that’s the first Imperial State Electric album, but I think between the start and the end of the recording of the album I realized that I don’t like doing this on my own. It’s no fun. So, I got these guys on board. I like bands more than solo projects. Any plans for the next Imperial State Electric album?

Nicke Andersson: Oh, yeah! We’ve got tons of songs… I write all the time. I probably have a library of songs and that’s what we usually do before making an album. We go through these songs together and see what Dolf and Tobias has written too and then we say “oh, let’s record these songs”. So, we could go record something tomorrow, but I am busy with the Hellacopters this summer and other things… I’ve joined a band called Lucifer, where I play drums, we are recording the second album there and there is more stuff. I think we are recording the next Imperial State Electric album later this year and maybe it comes out in the spring next year, I hope! Do you think that “All Through The Night” could be your best album so far?

Nicke Andersson: I don’t know. It’s not really for me to say… I like it! But, then again I think a lot of people in bands, when they are really in the album, they record it and write it, whatever, then when it’s done it’s kind of done. So, my mind is already on the next. And maybe it’s too early to say if it’s the best one. It’s easier for me to say what’s my favourite Hellacopters album is, ‘cause it’s been many years.

ImperialStateElectric09 Would you say that your best album is ahead of you, or behind you?

Nicke Andersson: Hopefully it’s ahead of me!!! Otherwise, why am I doing this? I wish for that. What about the Hellacopters that you mentioned, which one is your favourite album?

Nicke Andersson: For me it’s “By The Grace Of God”. Can’t really say why, I just think that I like the sound of it, I think it’s cool. I don’t mind the other albums either, but I think there was something special there. Now with the Hellacopters you will be doing some more shows this summer. Is there a chance that you guys work on another album, or is it just a live thing?

Nicke Andersson: We kind of take it one step at a time and from experience I learned never to say never. When I stopped I said “we are never going to do a reunion” and we did and we are doing more shows this summer. So, who knows? I know the other guys want to record a new album, but since I am the main songwriter is kind of up to me and I can’t force this type of writing. If I don’t feel it… I can’t sit down and tell myself to write a Hellacopters song. If it happens, it happens. I will see… we might do it, we might not do it. The ‘60s-‘70s revival movement is pretty big in Scandinavia, do you think that there is a reason for that? Why this specific sound is really attractive?

Nicke Andersson: I am not really sure what the revival is. I don’t know what kind of bands you are referring to… For example Graveyard…

Nicke Andersson: Well, I don’t think we sound like Graveyard. I didn’t say that you sound like Graveyard, but the revival kind of thing…

Nicke Andersson: I can only speak for myself… I’ve heard the tag “retro” a lot… and I don’t like it. I call it “timeless”, because rock’n’roll specifically… the best stuff comes from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I am sorry, but that’s how it is. Part of it has to do with the recorded sounds, which I think are far superior than modern sounds. It’s a matter of taste, but I think it sounds better. And maybe these guys think that too. I like when a drum sound sounds like drums and nothing else. I don’t know why, and why particular in Sweden, or Scandinavia, I don’t know. Maybe we’ve got better taste, but that depends on who you ask.

ImperialStateElectric12 You personally were also involved in projects like the Hydromatics and then the two albums you made with the Solution. Can you tell us a few words about this? How you met with Scott Morgan and how these two collaborations happen?

Nicke Andersson: Well, first of all it started with me hearing the Sonic Rendez-Vous song “City Slang” (1978), which I still think it’s the best single ever made. That became kind of the blueprint for a lot of stuff we did the Hellacopters, there is almost theft going on there… and I think the first time the Hellacopters went to Holland we met with this guy Tony Slug from the Nitwitz and he was a big Sonic Rendez-Vous fan too and he had a lot of bootlegs I’ve never heard and became friends, talked a lot about that and then one or two years after that we went to New York for the first time with the Hellacopters. We went there to play a couple of shows and record for Sub Pop Records and somehow word got around and a mutual friend of Tony got really into the Sonic Rendez-Vous band and Scott Morgan was in New York at that time and he came over in the studio and he played guitar and sung a duet with me on a song called “Downright Blues”. It wasn’t long after that that we got the Hydromatics together, which was great. And then after that we talked a lot and with Scott’s musical background coming from Detroit that’s how the Solution came about. Is there any plans for something new?

Nicke Andersson: I’d love to, but there is a lot of logistics involved and getting twelve people to rehearse and record, fly Scott in from Detroit. It took a lot of energy and money. I’d love to but I don’t have the funds to be honest. Again, I’d day “never say never”. I also read somewhere that you don’t usually write your songs in the studio, but in the kitchen, or the living room, how does this happen?

Nicke Andersson: Everytime I’ve got a moment and there is a guitar lying around in the house. I just pick up a guitar, strum it, hum it and when usually something is coming I just record it with my smart phone, or voice memo. Then, I listen back to it and if it’s good, if I think it’s good I make a demo, so that the other guys can hear it. That’s basically it. If you did a self-assesment of your life so far, would you say that you have regrets, or you made some mistakes that you’d like to go back in time and make right, or do something different?

Nicke Andersson: Everybody makes mistakes, that’s part of being a human being. Then again… regrets? It depends on how you look at it. You can’t take much back, can you? I could have done a lot of things different, but there is no point in thinking about it. What are your biggest influences in music, and have you ever met them? And if you did, did they live up to your expectations, or not?

Nicke Andersson: Like I said I’ve been influenced by a lot of people, but the first band that got me into music was KISS and with the Hellacopters we supported them, we actually supported them with the Imperial State Electric too. Yes, I met them, but then again it was just a handshake and I don’t think we do have a lot in common. Also, expectations… I try not to have any. I’d like to chat with Paul Stanley some time about song writing, but I don’t think I have a lot to talk about with Gene Simmons. But, then again, who knows? Actually, Gene Simmons said quite recently that “rock is dead” and Peter Criss said the same thing in an interview a few days ago, so maybe you do have some things in common, since you’ve released and album called “Rock’n’Roll Is Dead”.

Nicke Andersson: Well, that’s what it is, isn’t it? It seems dead, but it’s us and all these other bands who are trying to keep it alive. There is always going to be people into rock’n’roll, so in that sense it’s not dead. But, it has seen better days. Maybe, it’s just ill. Rock’n’Roll’s got a cold!


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