Hardcore Superstar's Martin Embraces the U.S. Atmosphere and its Musical Roots

 Sticking together isn't easy. But for Hardcore Superstar, they have been at it, for nearly 20 years. In fact, they will be releasing a somewhat self-titled album "HCSS",  where they travel back in time, to where they discover who they were then and now. Bassist Martin Sandvik, discusses the span in their musical careers, their U.S. appearances, to how they discovered in what they truly wanted to do with music.

1. First off, who are you and what do you do in the band?

Martin: My name is Martin and I play bass and write a whole lot of songs as well.

2. Can you tell me the reason as to why you wanted to call the band Hardcore Superstar? Who is this Hardcore Superstar?

Martin: There really isn't any good story to it. We saw it in a lyric of some other Swedish band, I don't remember the name of the song but it says "I really, really, want to be a hardcore super star!" and we were like "yeah! That's a cool name for a band." That's what it is, and we talked about it, really wanting to be in it, for the music. It's like every band name, at the beginning or start it, some are really stupid sometimes.  But I think it works for us. At the beginning when we would play the small clubs here in Sweden, the crowd would be like "Hey, you're not hardcore! What the fuck is this!" So we heard that a lot. But now people know we're not a hardcore band, we're just us.

3. What bands have influenced your band and its sound?

Martin: I think, the earlier days Van Halen is a big inspiration for us, but Quiet Riot is a band we all really love and Motley Crue of course. Later stuff would be Guns n' Roses, growing up with the thrash metal acts like Anthrax, Slayer, at the beginning of the 80's and the newer wave, Iron Maidon, Judas Priest, Saxon, all those bands were heroes to us as well. So we have a big source of inspirations, being very wide, being music with attitude. I think the band I just told you about is the biggest inspiration, and Kiss of course, Gene Simmons, where I wouldn't be playing bass and it was because of him. He was the coolest person to me as a kid growing up. So those are the bands for us.

4. What lyrical theme do you guys use in your music and do you write your own songs?

Martin: Yeah, all of the songs, one of the songs was written with a friend, before this last album, the "Liberation" song on the second album, we wrote with a friend and on this last album, when we started playing together, myself, Adde the drummer of the band and Jocke the vocalist, we started playing back in 1994, in a band called Link. At that time we had another guitar player, this last album coming out, we wrote 3 songs with him as well, the songs we wrote twenty years ago, we never finished them but they are finished now. Lyric-wise it's pretty much, I have to say, we follow something or want to write about this but it's stories about our lives with things that have happen. We always talk in the tour bus, wanting to write about this or that but it's about everyday life of a rock n' roll band.

5. You decided to return to your roots, traveling back in time to create this new album, what made you want to take that approach?

Martin: As I mentioned, Adde, Jocke and I, had been in a band before we started Hardcore Superstar with this other guitar player, and there was this Hardcore Superstar fan who had sent me 3 old demo tapes from that time, when I had listened to them I was like "Oh shit! We have to get the people to listen to this someway, somehow". We wanted to do it in a more proper way because those tapes were recorded in the rehearsal room. We used a tape recorder at the time. But after listening we were all like "Shit this is good" when you play and write songs you want it to come from the heart and it's really hard to keep that drive going. We were struggling when trying to write songs before I was sent those demos. It was clear to me that this was how it was suppose to sound. You get all the energy from these young guys playing like for their whole lives almost. So that was how it got started, where we found the roots again, why aren't we doing this? With those demo tapes we knew why we were doing this. People misunderstood that, "You're going back to the Hardcore Superstar first release?" it's like "No this is previous before that, like 5 years back". This album is a bit different, it's almost like when you write it's important to develop to do what you want to do, you want to like it yourself otherwise it won't turn out any good. When we find out what we want to do with an album, we do it from start to finish, and write all the songs ourselves. We don't go to the publishing office and listen to songs, we don't do it that way. After we take our album to the record company for them to hear they are always scared afterwards.

6. Why did you want to go and self-titled this album, after yourselves?

Martin: It feels like a fresh start I would say. We have released so many albums before and already have the self-titled album. So we were like "what the fuck we going to name this one?" Why not "HCSS" that's almost like a self-titled. But it feels more like a fresh start, in sense, it sounds cliché but it feels and fits that way to us.

7. Did you get the album that you wanted or was there stuff that you wanted to do but didn't get too?

Martin: I'm the happiest kid in town I gota say. We recorded it in Gothenburg, Sweden, then when we brought it over to Pasadena, California to get mixed, it really got new life. All of the small little details that are so important, it felt like it was being mixed but like being produced as well. It's never been like this before. I am really satisfied with the results of the album and the mixing job and the songs are fantastic as well. It was given new life for the songs and the album and I am really happy with it. We played it for the touring crew, they loved it and wondered how we were going to do it live. It is different for Hardcore Superstar but we like it and are happy with how it turned out.

8. This album is also your tenth in your arrangement of releases, what comes to mind when you hear that, let alone that amount, ten albums?

Martin: It's a long time. If someone had told me this, when we had first the album in 1998, that you will be touring the world for the next 15 years, I would have been like "yeah right". I am living the dream, I gota say it. You spend your time, doing what you really love, traveling around the world it's fantastic. You should be humble to it, because it could end. But it's fantastic, if someone had told me that 15 years ago, I probably would have thought he was out of his mind or stupid. I couldn't do anything else, I don't know how to do anything else.

9. Did you ever see Hardcore Superstar to reach this point and time in your musical careers?

Martin: No, you don't think about it that way. When we released the second album we got really successful in Europe and did like 200 shows in 1 year. Then went right back into the studio then did like 200 more shows, then studio then touring again. After that, it was like "shit" and we weren't making any money either, everything was costing us. We were working our asses off and we weren't making any money, this was so strange and we were like "fuck this"! That was the only time I was like "this is a rough life to live" but you get back home, having some break time, then go and call the guys to get together to write some new songs. But you never think this is going to be the rest of my life but hopefully it will. We've been together for so long we're like a married couple, been playing since 1994 that nowadays we know each other pretty well.

10. It's been a decade, since you had been to the U.S., why such a long time to come over?

Martin: The first and second album "Bad Sneakers and a Piña Colada" were released in the states by Cult Records, nothing happened with them. Then we did a small tour, where we played CBGBs in New York, before it closed down, then played South By South West in Texas, and the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California and those went well, but not many people showed up. The record companies didn't want to release the records and didn't think the American audiences wanted this type of music. Until we got Nuclear Blast nothing happened much. We always thought we didn't have an audience in the U.S. At our recent show in Hollywood at the Whisky A Go Go, there was like 100 people outside who couldn't get in because it sold out. But with this new album it will be released in a better way by Sony. A compilation of the older material of the older albums will be released as well. Perhaps we will be spending a couple of months in the fall where we will be back in the U.S. if you want us to come.

11. What was your experience like being here in the U.S. compared to overseas?

Martin: After this time, playing at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, California, we were all like "We gota do it, we gota do a tour, I don't want to go home!" the audience really liked us and we felt really welcome. It was fantastic that night, I wouldn't say scared but it's been 10 years so we wondered how it would turn out. I want to do it again really soon. I want to go back soon!

12. You will be making rounds touring around Europe and the U.S. again, what can we expect to see from these showcases?

Martin: We always tend to change the songs much really. We haven't really talked much about it, since we haven't been to the U.S. so many times that the audience hasn't had the time to see us. We should put on our website's homepage or the Facebook page, where the fans can tell us what they want us to play and what they want to hear. We want to do a 21-song set list. You can choose the songs for us, that would be really cool. Our live shows, at least our shows should be a pre-party almost, a happy time, that you should feel good when you leave like a big party that's what we always deliver.

13. If you weren't aware your band, has been around for almost 20 years, do you plan on doing anything when that time comes to celebrate?

Martin: We have to do something big for it. There aren't many bands that stick together for that long. I actually wanted to do a live album and live DVD, do a big tour to follow it, we have to do something and have been talking about it. Something has to happen with it. Not all bands stay together for 20 years. That's important for us, I am sure we will come up with something BIG!

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