Since their formation in 1994, Stockholm’s The Hellacopters have run a stylistic rock gauntlet from early days of garage-punk drawing from the likes of The MC5 and Motorhead to their recently more accessible mix of classic rock and power pop. In the process, they have become one of Scandinavia’s most prolific and noteworthy rock bands of all time.
Led by former Entombed/Nihilist drummer Nicke Andersson on guitars and vocals, The Hellacopters also feature bassist Kenny Håkansson, drummer Robert Eriksson, pianist Boba Fett (Anders Lindstrom) and guitarist Robert “Strings” Dahlqvist.
On October 25 and 26, The Hellacopters played the last four shows of their career, and since we missed our plane to Sweden, we had to be content with sifting through our record collections and coming up with ten of our favorite Hellacopters songs, listed here in chronological order:
*US labels/release dates used except where noted
1. “Killing Allan”- single (Psychout, SE, 1995)
The Hellacopters first single was released on a limited addition 7″. Thankfully the band later included the overdriven, grity punk rock track on rarities collection, Cream of the Crap, Volume 1 (Gearhead, 2002).
2. “(Gotta Get Some Action) Now!” – Super Shitty to the Max (Mans Ruin, 1998)
The Hellacopters mind-blowing first album was recorded in Stockholm with Thomas Skogsberg in a mere 26 hours. Leading the onslaught of high-octane rock, “(Gotta Get Some Action) Now!” is an unrestrained call to (what else?) action.
3. “Tab”– Super Shitty to The Max (Mans Ruin, 1998)
Creeping, heavy psych-riffs and writhing guitar solos flavor the band’s ode to a certain hallucinogen. Andersson’s anguished howls cap off the track as he demands, “My minds ghouls wanna get fed!”
4. “Disappointment Blues”– Disappointment Blues EP (White Jazz, SE, 1998)
The bluesy, hip-shaking title track on this import only EP was reminiscent of rock stalwarts like Sonics Rendezvous Band and Radio Birdman (the EP also features a cover of Birdman’s “455 SD”).
5. “Soulseller”– Paying The Dues (Sub Pop 1999 *though released in the states after Grande Rock, this is technically their second album)
Dueling guitar solos and Boba Fett’s prominent Fender Rhodes highlight this speedy song, showcasing the band’s increasingly tighter musicianship and songwriting technique. This was the last album with original guitarist Dregen, who left to pursue his previous band, sleaze-rockers The Backyard Babies.
6. “The Electric Index Eel”– Grande Rock (Sub Pop, 1999)
Grande Rock, the first album featuring Robert “Strings” Dahlqvist, marked a new era that saw The Hellacopters began embracing more of a 70s rock sound versus their earlier punk and Detroit garage leanings. The opening riff of “The Electric Index Eel” perfectly illustrates this sonic crossroad.
7. “Crimson Ballroom”– (Gearhead, September, 1999, also included on Cream of the Crap Vol. 1)
Recorded by and featuring guest performances by Turbonegro axeman Euroboy and Anders Moller (Gluecifer) in Oslo, Norway, “Crimson Ballroom” was originalliy released as a limited edition split single with Rocket From The Crypt was originally exclusive with the purchase of issue #10 of Gearhead Magazine.
8. “Hopeless Case of a Kid in Denial”– High Visibility (Gearhead, 2002)
Standing out as one of Andersson’s strongest vocal performances to date, the tune’s arena-quality rock is a playful contrast to self-deprecating yet anthemic lyrics detailing the narrator’s numerous insecurites and pretensions.
9. “It’s Good But it Just Ain’t Right” – By The Grace of God (Liquor and Poker, 2004)
Although the squeaky clean production of this album was worrisome, lest The Hellacopters turn up on a television “Monster Ballads” compilation, with it’s swaggering beat “It’s Good…” proved that the Hellacopters hadn’t lost their edge.
10. TBD (2009)
Nicke Andersson has comfirmed in a recent interview with Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that they will be releasing a double-disc of live material in the future. As anyone who has ever witnessed them in action will tell you, live Hellacopters equals good Hellacopters. Stay tuned!
The Hellacopters: www.hellacopters.com