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Steve: Why did Dregen leave the Hellacopters?

Kenny: We called him up. Everyone knew that somewhere along the line a Decision had to be made, and we sort of knew Dregen had to choose Backyard Babies because that's been his band for years. In the end we had to cancel a lot of shows. Shows that we booked that canceled then booked them again and then we had to cancel. We lost heaps of money and heaps of confidence from the people that we work with. So in the end we had to call Dregen up and go "now's the time to make the choice."

It was hard for him at the time, but everyone knew what his choice was going to be. It's sad that the choice wasn't made earlier--for both bands' sake. Things happened for both bands at the same time, same speed, but pretty much in different directions. It was bound to happen.

Craig: Are you still on good terms with him?

Kenny: Oh yeah! The Backyard Babies are pretty much on the road as much as we are, so we're rarely home at the same time. But at our last Stockholm show he hung out with us. We used to share a rehearsal room with them up until just three months ago.

[ dregen, robert, kenny, nicke back in earlier days ]

Craig: How is Robert, your latest guitarist, working out?

Kenny: Good! Better and better.

Craig: You've gone through a few over the past year.

Kenny: Oh... I just, I just realized that during the past year we've had like four of them! But the first guitar player that we had who came on after Dregen was just a friend, Danny, from another band that helped us out. We sort of asked him if he wanted to go to Japan and Australia with us, and of course he said, "Yeah, okay. I'll help you guys out." Heh... He was a good friend that gave us a hand at the right moment.

Craig: How did the Hellacopters come together?

Kenny: The idea was born here in the States, actually, on an Entombed tour. Dregen roadied for Nicke. Our drummer, Robert, roadied on the first tour, and I roadied for the first tour of Entombed in the States. Dregen and Nicke sort of started brainstorming. When they got back home I had just returned to Stockholm, and Robert had just moved down, so it was just a question of being in the right spot at the same time.

Craig: Do you have anything going outside the Hellacopters or is it a full time band for you?

Kenny: Me personally, no. Robert has a band called the Sewergrooves. And after these last three shows he's hooking up with his other bandmates to do eight more shows with the Fireballs of Freedom and Zen Guerilla.

[ robert the new guitarist - photo by jeff greenwood ]
photo by jeff greenwood

Peter: I'd like to hear about the band that Nicke has with Tony Slug and Scott Morgan.

Kenny: Oh yeah!

Peter: What's the name of the band?

Kenny: I can't recall right now. Sounds something like the Hydroponics...a really good name like that. [nicke's side band is called the hydromatics. --ed.] It basically was Tony Slug that wanted to record. First it was Tony and his tech, and then Nicke sort of got invited to do something with them, and then Scott was invited. The tech left because of other commitments, and there now is a Dutch bass player...some friend of Tony's or something. [theo brouwer from the nitwitz. --ed.]

Peter: So Nicke plays drums in that band?

Kenny: Yeah, and some guitar.

Craig: Are you looking forward to playing Garage Shock with so many of your contemporaries?

Kenny: Yeah, it's gonna be grand...gonna be good! I'm so stoked to be able to play with the Flaming Sideburns here, 'cause they were the first people to bring us over to Finland and stuff, and we played with them the first time they were in Stockholm. We consider them to be a brother band of ours. We haven't been able to play with them for a long while, so we get to meet and play in Bellingham together.

[ robert giving it his all - photo by peter markham ]
photo by peter markham

Craig: Who have been some of the influences and sounds that have been an inspiration to you and the band?

Kenny: The easiest way to put it would be like...everything from the '20s Delta Blues, to '30s-'40s hillbilly and some country stuff, to the '50s when the whole rock 'n' roll thing started happenin', when the blues got electrified in Chicago and stuff. And then the '60s garage psychedelic thing that happened. The '70s...everything from southern boogie rock in the early '70s to the punk rock thing that happened, to the early '80s American punk rock, Black Flag, Bad Brains and similar sorts of stuff, up to the '90s with the New Bomb Turks, Quadrajets, and the Powder Monkeys and the Asteroids from Australia. That pretty much covers the spectrum of influence.

Craig: That's pretty much music.

Kenny: Heh heh. Yeah, everything is in there. I'd even fit in some of the harder edge free form jazz music. Not in the songs, but the intensity is the same with us. You could take one of Pharaoh Sanders' '73 or '74 albums and compare that to the first Bad Brains seven inch. When they both peak it's the same level of intensity.

Peter: I think I can hear a little Rolling Stones in the new album.

Kenny: A little bit? Ha! "Woo woo!" I'm glad you heard the Stones and not Kiss. We hooked up with this old hippie Swedish producer who's recorded everything from Swedish folk to Hendrix sounding bands. The reason we chose him was to get an early '70s sound. We brought heaps of records, like Grand Funk Railroad records for the drum sound and a couple of Kiss records for the guitar sound. He was like, "Okay, I think this was the way they did it," and he started duct taping microphones to the walls and stuff. Most producers, they push a button and go, "Yeah, this is the sound." This producer would stash the amps down the hall, put a rock on top of them...stuff like that. "Yeah, I think this is the way they did it!" Real handicraft work.

[ peter markham and craig young after a long night w/ the hellacopters - photo by jeff greenwood ]
photo by jeff greenwood

Craig: Kick drum in the fireplace...

Kenny: Yeah! Heh heh...

Steve: How long did it take to record the album with him hiding amps and taping mics to the walls?

Kenny: We took three weeks off to do it. Usually we have only a few days and we're stuck in some basement in Stockholm. Record for twelve hours, hit the bar for four hours, try to sleep some and start all over again. But this time we headed out to the woods. I believe in the late '60s there was a small tribe of Stockholm hippies who took a bus and left for the countryside. They spent three months driving around until they found a good old school house out in the woods, near the Norwegian border, and sort of established a small commune there and started a studio. Now they're a pretty well established indie label in Sweden, and are responsible for Swedish progressive music, which is not like the German progressive music.

So we were up in this cabin for three weeks. There was no one to talk to.

Steve: Did you bring enough beer?

Kenny: You had to drive for four hours to this hardware store and there you ordered the booze. It took like three days for it to arrive!

[ the new album, grande rock ]

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