It was 11 a.m. in Bellingham, Washington when I dialed up a Motel 6 to interview the Sahara Hotnights. They had one more hour to crash there, and then they’d be back on the road. Recently, these four vixens from Sweden have been making a splash at various industry music conferences around the country, including the CMJ Marathon in NYC last fall and the recent South By South West in Austin, Texas.
Touring to promote their second album, Jennie Bomb, the Hotnights are looking to hook Americans by the seams of their cigarette-leg jeans with a less-pop-more-punk brand of raw, all-girl rock. Once the language barrier was overcome, I got this band of catchness and catchiness to dish out on their musical past. Sorry guys, there were no skimpy pillow-fights during our conversation, but feel free to dream.
Q: What makes four girls in Sweden start a band? I’ve been there. It’s not that boring.
SAH: You haven’t been to where we’re from. We hung out a lot about 10 years ago and lived close to each other. We had a music school and everyone played an instrument and we just started a band.
Q: So many Swedish bands have been infiltrating the American music scene (the Hives, International Noise Conspiracy) in the past couple of years. Are you hoping to ride on their coattails, or do you think you have something fresh to offer the kids?
SAH: Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of great bands coming out. But I think people can tell if there’s a good band or not and I think the Swedish hype has helped us out a little bit but we also have an original sound. I think that’s why we’ve done so well in America.
Q: I saw you guys at CMJ with the Flaming Sideburns. Rumor was that one of you was dating Pelle from the Hives. Is it true?
SAH: Yes, that’s true. Maria (vocals/guitar) is actually dating him. They’re still together, very happily…
Q: So, with your singer in a relationship with a handsome rock ‘n’ roll star, is it possible to play rock and become moms with a family?
SAH: We try to not think about having families now. I think we’re all on the same page that this is something we want to do now and wait for later to have families. I think it’s too hard to do both. It’s possible, but you have to reach a certain level to be able to both.
Q: What do you say to guys who think that broads can’t rock?
SAH: We don’t say much. We just play, that usually works.
Q: Your first album, C’mon Let’s Pretend, won you two Swedish Grammys. You were all what, 18? How did that feel?
SAH: We just got a very good start with that album in Sweden and it became a success and we didn’t really expect it. It’s a great album and it’s going to be re-released on JetSet here in the States sometime soon. It’s important to know that it’s not a new album. A lot of reviewers have gotten a hold of it and say that it’s new. But its not! It’s very old.
Q: Name three bands or singers that have had the greatest influence on your music.
SAH: Nirvana, PJ Harvey, and old, old Michael Jackson. Like, when we started years ago he was the man.
Q: Some people have called you a tougher, Swedish version of the Donnas. How do you feel about that?
SAH: That’s just laziness comparing us to another girl band. We don’t sound like the Donnas, we love them, but that’s like comparing us to a band that’s much more of a [party band]than we are. I can’t see the comparison. I don’t think we sound like them.
Q: What’s the biggest obstacle you feel your band has to overcome?
SAH: Well, for obvious reasons definitely it’s people comparing us to every girl band out there. We have to play a lot to make people understand that we’re not just like every other girl band. We’re not just some party band. We can’t just go the easy way. It’s going to be a hard job to show people that we’re different. But that’s why we’re on tour promoting our music. I think we convince them once they’ve seen us live.
Q: How can you tell if a guy wants to talk music or just wants to get in your pants?
SAH: You can easily tell if there is a guy who hasn’t seen us. That’s usually the huge difference that gives the dirty ones away. But for a guy who has been watching our shows, we don’t have a problem with guys wanting to get in our pants – if they like our music.
Q: Iggy Pop or David Bowie: Why?
SAH: I would say Iggy Pop, he’s still cool. I saw him last year…he’s good.
Q: Do you want your rock ‘n’ roll mixed up with politics?
SAH: I think the two definitely can go together. I think if you have an opportunity to say something to a lot of people you should if you want to. I mean I totally understand and I like what the Donnas and Datsuns are doing with a non political statement…But I don’t want to say that it should be one way or another. Maria writes a lot of personal lyrics and they can be political or about anything. It’s just a different way of doing it. Neither way is right or wrong.
Q: In 20 years, how do you want the Sahara Hotnights to be remembered?
SAH: Maybe we’ll be together. I think it would be awesome to be the band that inspires a lot of other bands.
For more info, visit www.saharahotnights.com and www.jetsetrecords.com.
Jackie Weisbein can be reached at HurricaneJackie@aol.com.