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Imperial State Electric

I was really surprised when I heard that original Nihilist and Entombed drummer Nicke Andersson is guitarist and singer of punk´n´rollers Imperial State Electric. He already did that with The Hellacopters, but I didn´t know, haha! I didn´t even know his new band. Andreas Gey, a comrade from Crossfire Metal Webzine from Germany, wanted to be on the guest list in Bochum, but couldn´t do it without an interview. And because his English is so bad, I joined him. It was really cool! We were led into the biggest backstage room I´ve ever seen in my life, and both bands offered us food and drinks from their catering because there was enough to eat and drink for a whole festival, haha! In between we did this funny interview and joined their cool rock show later on. It was a really coo evening! Let’s see what Nicke Andersson has to say.

Door: Daniel Müller | Archiveer onder punk / hardcore

Hi Nicke! Let´s start at the beginning: When and how did it all start with Imperial State Electric?
I think it started like about five days after we played the last show with The Hellacopters in 2008. And it took about five days before I realized that I want to play. I didn´t stop to take a break. Already before that I thought about working on some songs because I got a studio and started to learn how that works. I had started that. I got like a cover band together which was supposed to be with Thomas. We had a club night once a month for a fan club where we played our favorite songs from the 70´s, like Alice Cooper, Sex Pistols, Cheap Trick and stuff like that which then eventually this is the same powers that worked on the first Imperial State Electric album. They played on one song, I think, on that album. We evolved to write a song together and they got released. These were the first guys I asked to play those songs.

What´s the meaning of the band name? Is there a certain meaning behind it? Or should it just sound cool?
Oh, I think it sounds pretty cool! But it´s just a band name, you know? I thought it sounded epic and funny and I like the word “electric”. I play electric guitars. So it´s like an empire of electric guitars where I rule the world. I decide how to play the electric guitar. You cannot have seven strings on an electric guitar! You can only have six!

Please give us a short overview of your album releases!
What do you mean? Oh fuck! I don´t have that in my head. The first one came out in 2010. It was called ‘Imperial State Electric’ because it was the first album. I did that mostly myself and I had a few songs and some others thought that they were boring. So I recorded them myself. But I won´t do that again. There is no one to tell you it sucks or it´s good, you know? So the next album, ‘Pop War’, came out one year after or two. I don´t know. You must Wikipedia that, haha! It´s your question, not mine! We did that more as a band. The difference between that album and the first one is that we put this one out as the first proper band effort. Then we put out ‘Reptile Brain Music’ which was the third one, I guess, you know? I don´t know what to say. The main difference there is that there were different songs on it than on the one before with the same band. There has always been a difference between all the records. The fourth album was ‘Honk machine’. Maybe the biggest difference there was that I didn´t mix it. We had an outside person mixing called Stefan Boerman who also had worked with The Hellacopters before. We mixed a Bullet album together too. So he mixed that. And I really like having someone else to mix the album sound. The latest album, ‘All Through The Night’, we had another guy to mix it called Frans Hägglund. That would be the main difference there, I think, apart from the songs. There are totally different songs on it.

Which bands are your main influences?
There´s very many bands. Everything I listen to is an influence. I would say even crap is an influence because I can say I can do better than that if there´s something I don´t like! So anything! I mean, I grew up with Kiss and then after Kiss it was Sex Pistols and The Ramones, punk rock. I got into faster punk rock, like GBH, The Exploited and Discharge which led me to hardcore, thrash metal and death metal. And also gone back. That´s like a short version of my life.

I´ve got another question too: My comrade Andreas Gey wrote a review of your last album for Crossfire Metal Webzine from Germany and put it into his top 10 of 2016. And when he heard the album he also thought of Smokie because of some slow and harmonic parts. Is that right?
Well, I think the best way to answer this is that what people hear is more a reflection on their record collection than maybe mine. One time I had someone, a Hellacopters fan, who said that one song sounded like Red Hot Chili Peppers. I almost killed that person because I hate them, haha! For me they are the worst band ever placed on Earth! But that means it was supposed to his record collection, not mine! But then again: I like Smokey way more than Red Hot Chili Peppers! I actually have two Smokie albums! My friends listen to Smokie! They have some good songs, but I wouldn´t say that were a huge influence. But it´s true!

What are your lyrics about? Is there a certain message you want to spread to the listeners? Or is it just about clichés?
That depends on what you think is a cliché! Sex, drugs and rock & roll? I haven´t written one single song about sex! Yeah, one, but it was more ironic, a fun thing. I can´t do that like other people! I haven´t written a song about drinking; maybe on the first Hellacopters album I might have mentioned ‘having a drink or two’ in my lyrics. Cliché depends on how you look at it. Well, a lot of people drink, a lot of people have sex, a lot of people take drugs. Does that mean that it´s a cliché? I guess it depends on how you write about it. Well, I sing ‘Oh, baby!’ a lot of times. That´s a kind of cliché, I guess, because it´s been used. But that´s something I like. But I would rather call it classic, not a cliché. But that´s not really up to me. I spend a lot of time on my lyrics. I think if the lyrics are okay, it makes the song even better. And I can´t say that I write about the same thing all the time. It´s more about personal experiences. A lot of times I can write about someone else, but then I realize that they are also about me because I think people are different, but not that different. And I think that´s interesting!

I read somewhere that you write all songs alone. So are Imperial State Electric just a solo project of yours or a real band in your opinion?
Someone needs to write the songs. And Dolph and Tobias write songs too. The difference is when they wrote only one song I have written twenty. I just write more frequently. Also quite a few times Dolph has written lyrics for my songs I´ve done musically. I do most of the songwriting, but the other guys help up. So we´re definitely a real band!

In Imperial State Electric (and earlier in The Hellacopters) you took over guitars and vocals. But you are also the drummer of Entombed. So do you see yourself as a singer, guitarist or drummer actually?
If I had to choose one of these, it would probably be drums actually because I think that´s what I´m better at. I´m pretty good at faking playing rock and roll guitar, haha!

I only knew you as Entombed drummer. So when did you learn to play guitar at all?
You mean when I learned to fake guitar? Haha!

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Was it much later?
Yes! I was always interested in making songs. You can´t really make songs on the drums! There´s no melody. That was more to have something to play too. So that came later, yes!

Let´s come to your past now a little bit: Why did The Hellacopters split up in 2008. What were the reasons? What went wrong?
I can´t really say that anything went wrong. We were together for fourteen years. I would see it the other way: How was it so good for so many years? I mean, how many bands are together for fourteen years? You start at a certain age, you grow older, you drift apart, you have different opinions about things, why you do it etc. There was no specific reason. But I think it was time to quit. And I still don´t regret that. But I think it´s great now! Now we play reunion shows. We get paid with lots of money, haha!

In 2014, Entombed split up in two parts. Now there are Entombed and Entombed A.D. Do you know about the reasons?
Yes, but it´s really boring. I don´t want to talk about it.

Really? Also for Entombed fans?
What do you want to know? Well, I mean there´s a thing between Alex Hellid and the A.D. guys, of course. That´s how it started. And I got involved because I didn´t think it was fair that L.G., the singer, who never wrote one word for lyrics or music and never even bought a microphone, should have the name Entombed. Simple. So I got together with Ulf and Alex and we did a reunion of what we think is Entombed. We did that. And it was really fucking awesome! I enjoyed that a lot! So we will probably do something more.

Have you heard the two Entombed A.D. albums ‘Back To The Front’ (2014) and ‘Dead Dawn’ (2016) yet? And what do you think of them?
Yes, I heard it. I sounds pretty good! It doesn´t really sound like Entombed to me because for me it needs Ulf on guitar. But that´s just my opinion. And also you have to remember that I started Nihilist and Entombed.

The last Entombed album, ‘Serpent Saints - The Ten Amendments’, was released in 2007; long ago! I heard you will continue with Entombed now. Is that true?
We will probably do more stuff. We haven´t really.

Are there already plans for a new album?
Who knows?

And what would it sound like after the split from all the ex-members?
If there is a new album, of course, it´s gonna be amazing! Otherwise we wouldn´t put it out!

What would it sound like? More like the first two albums or more like the later stuff? Do you have an idea?
Nobody knows yet. But it will be good if there is one!

Today there are many bands that copy the old style of Nihilist/Entombed, like Lifeless and Revel In Flesh from Germany, Entrapment from The Netherlands or Profanal from Italy.
Really? I don´t know. I haven´t heard it.

Is that something that makes you proud? Or do you think it´s ridiculous when young bands only dig in the past?
I´m an old guy playing old stuff. No, people can do what they want to do. And I guess it´s flattering! For me, that´s a compliment if people like your band! So I can´t say anything bad!

You also play in another death metal band called Death Breath. Where exactly are the main differences between Entombed and Death Breath in your opinion, both musically and lyrically?
Well, not very often, but yes. Yeah, there are some similarities, but there are also differences, of course.

Or is the only difference that you just play another instrument there, like bass guitar?
No, I play drums there. But I play guitar and bass there too, haha! I think the point with Death Breath is that it´s maybe simpler, more ´old school´ if that´s the word; more like the very early formation of the genre death metal. It´s more about Repulsion and Master etc.

Is it true that you also play in a soul band called The Solution? Do you also like soul music or is it just an experiment for you to improve as a musician?
Yes, we did two albums! I couldn´t play anything I don´t listen to! I listen to soul music a lot!

Is it important for you that all your bands sound different? Or did that happen accidently?
I don´t think about it that much. I also think sometimes you need to keep things separate. I don´t think it sounds good to put an Entombed part and a soul part together. In Imperial State Electric maybe it´s a little wider. The frame work is a little bigger than in the other bands which I like too. But I think the whole point is when it feels good, it is good! And if there´s one more person than yourself to like it, then it´s good!

When you look back: Is there an album you like most or least?
I don´t know. I don´t think about it too much. I think my favorite Hellacopters album is ‘By The Grace Of God’. And with Entombed, I don´t know. There´s always something about your first album because it´s the first one. But I can´t really say.

Is it like with children? No matter what, you must love them all?
Haha! Not at all! Although I heard people say that! They´re not like children; not at all! I have a child, so I should know! No, it´s always a snapshot of the band at that time. I can´t say that´s bad. It´s just like how it is. Sometimes I think it could have sounded different maybe. Like for example: If the second album, ‘Clandestine’, had the same sound of the fourth album, ‘To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth’, but with the same songs, I think that would have been a much better album. But you can´t change that anyway. That´s the point.

What are your future plans with Imperial State Electric?
Well, the finishing of that tour will be in Berlin tomorrow and Copenhagen on Saturday. And then we will write some more songs. Well, I always write songs. We already have a few. Then we go to Greece and play some festivals, hopefully put out a live album; something like that. And I will do some Hellacopters shows this summer too. It´s a reunion thing. We did two shows last year and that was fun! So we´ll do some more. But Imperial State Electric is my main thing at the moment. But who knows? I have a lot of ideas.

Okay, Nicke! Thanx for your time! Do you have some final words for your German and Dutch fans?
Never give up to rock and roll because rock and roll will never let you down, haha!

This article was written by Daniel Müller from Headbangers Zine

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