Interview with lead singer Maria Anderson
by Alexander Laurence
Hotnights are four women in their early 20s who are from
a little northern town in Sweden. Out of boredom, they started
playing together in their pre-teens. When they were around
fifteen they played at a "Battle of Bands" contest.
The winner would get to record their own demo in a studio.
Sahara Hotnights won and their story begins here.
They recorded an EP titled "Suits Anyone Fine"
and became a big live favorite around Sweden. In 1998 they
had enough songs to start thinking about doing a proper
album. In late 1999 they released their debut album "C'Mon
Let's Pretend." It took the country by storm.
They kept touring and in the summer they got the award for
best live band by the biggest Swedish newspaper. They also
played to a full crowd at the Hultsfred Festival. They took
a year off and then recorded Jennie Bomb, their most
successful album yet. With an international interest in
Swedish bands like The Hives and International Noise Conspiracy,
Sahara Hotnights soon caught on outside of Sweden. Currently,
they are touring the USA for the first time. I met the lead
singer and guitarist, Maria Anderson (3rd from front), in
Hollywood recently. We talked about the band and we got
to hang out at Book Soup. Maria ended up buying Spin
and a book by JT Leroy. The band has a long two month tour
ahead. Did we mention they are really hot?
AL: How old were you
when you started the band?
Maria: We were eleven
or twelve. I don't know why we did. We weren't a manufactured
band. Nobody told us we should play. When we released our
first EP in 1997, we were like fifteen of sixteen at the
time. I don't know if people see us as kids or they see
us as a band. We thought we were a band like other bands.
We never thought about how young we were.
AL: Do you still play
stuff from the earlier EP and first record?
We don't play the EP, but we play three songs from the first
album. The first album has similar songs to the new one.
It's sounds different. Jennie Bomb is a better produced
album. It sounds like what we sound like as a live band.
AL: When do you know
it's time to go into the studio to make an album?
Maria: We always have
precisely enough songs to make an album when we go into
the studio. We take thirteen songs into the studio and hope
that they all turn out good. We use them all. Most bands
that I know go into the studio with forty songs. We only
write songs that would be good enough to be on an album.
AL: Who writes most
of the songs in your band?
Maria: Me and the drummer
Josephine write all the songs. We write all the music in
the band. I write all the lyrics. The other members help
us out with the songs. They come up with ideas all the time.
When we put the song together in the rehearsal space we
AL: The band The International
Noise Conspiracy is a band that foregrounds many intellectual
and political ideas. As a band do you also deal with politics
in any way?
Maria: I think that
we are a socialistic band. Being a socialist is just having
common sense. It's really sad when young people don't give
a shit. We just had an election in Sweden a few weeks ago.
It's really interesting. Thinking about all the different
parties is not so fun. There are other things about politics
than the separate parties. The historical aspects of politics
are more important too because it affects your daily life.
AL: Many people here
see Sweden as a sexually open place because people here
are made to feel bad about their sexually, so it's really
Maria: I know. I couldn't
live anywhere but Sweden because as you said it works so
good. The welfare system and all that. But at the same time
it's getting together with the European Union. There are
a lot of right wing politicians who are successful in Europe.
It feels that it can happen in Sweden. But now the right
wing party in Sweden did the worst in the recent elections
since the 1940s. That was a good thing.
AL: I read somewhere
that your band was described as "hardworking."
Maria: Well, we tour
a lot. We play about one hundred or more shows per year.
We will tour for one month and then we will take a month
off. We played the Reading and Leeds Festival this year.
We are going to play Japan next year.
AL: What do you think
of The Donnas?
Maria: We toured with
them in Europe two years ago. It was fun. I like them. They
are more like a concept than a band. They write about boys
and rock and roll. Rock music is about that stuff. I would
feel stupid myself only writing songs about that. But it's
very hard to be that simple. Most people try to develop
and expand. It's easy to compare us to The Donnas or The
Runaways because we are all girls. You don't know if they
compare us to The Runaways because they actually get the
same feeling with them as with us, or because they can't
think any further.
AL: Do you know much
about Rodney Bigenheimer or Kim Fowley?
Maria: I met Rodney
Bigenheimer. He was nice. I don't care about legends.
AL: What are your shows
Maria: We play songs
from both albums. We play to a very mixed audience. People
should have expectations when they come to see us.
AL: Do you see yourselves
as a live band?
Maria: I think that
every rock band sees themselves as a live band. That's what
you do, like we do, one hundred days a year or more you
are on tour. You go away for three or four weeks at a time.
It is honestly more fun to play live than to sit all day
in a recording studio. You feel smarter in the studio because
you can work on the songs. It feels good making the songs.
I don't know anything about computers or the recording process.
It's boring to talk about the technical things.
AL: The name of the
album is "Jennie Bomb." Is that a reference to
Maria: Yeah, it's our
tribute album to her. It's not a concept album at all. We
wrote all the songs in a very short time. It was like five
months. It was the same style as the previous album. But
on the previous album we had used songs that were five years
AL: How did you write
"On Top Of Your World?"
Maria: I wrote the
guitar riff and the chorus at home. In a rehearsal we came
up with a verse and the rest of the song.
AL: Do you read many
Maria: Yeah. We have
much time on tour. I read many biographies of other bands.
Right now I am reading a book about the Mafia and Italy.
It's about the 1980s.
AL: Do you watch many
Maria: We don't have
a VCR on the bus. I watch movies when I am at home. I like
a lot of films by Hitchcock. We saw Spiderman on the flight
over here. It was pretty good. I that film Amelie.
AL: Do you live with
Maria: No, we moved
out when we were seventeen. We all live in Stockholm actually.
When we get home, and when we have free time we just lay
around at home. Where we come from there is nothing to do
if you are a teenager.
AL: Are there many
bands in Stockholm?
Maria: Yeah. There
are not a lot of Swedish bands from Stockholm. Most bands
want to move there. It's the center. It's expensive but
everyone still insists on moving there. Most of the record
companies are there. We are on RCA Sweden.
AL: Who has the best
sense of humor in Sahara Hotnights?
Maria: Probably all
of us together. We are not funny individuals.
Who is the lazy member?
Maria: Jennie thinks
that sleep is the most important thing. On the weekends
you get really frustrated when you are on tour and you can't
get any sleep.
AL: Do you play any
Maria: We play a song
by Suzie Quatro. We play a song by The Undertones. The songlist
changes every night.
AL: What other bands
do you like?
Maria: I like Devo,
Magazine, The Go-Gos, and Johnny Cash.
AL: Do you have any
advice for young girls who may want to play music one day?
AL: What do you see
the band doing in ten years?
Maria: I don't know.
We hardly ever talk about the future because it would make
us nervous and depressed. I think that we should honestly
quit as a band before we get too old. You shouldn't be playing
rock music when you are over thirty. I don't want to. It
depends on when you started too.