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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Hellacopters Final Curtain Call

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The Hellacopters are throwing in the towel.

While the band has been fairly dormant since 2007, a recent MySpace post announced they would be playing their last shows ever this weekend.

Back in the late-'90s, when I was in the throes of being a music journalist, I was a serious Hellacopters fans. I spent many a year on a garage rock jag, diggin' most of the stuff that came out on labels like Crypt, Man's Ruin, and Estrus. I could get enough of bands like The Quadrajets, Fireballs Of Freedom, The New Bomb Turks and The Dwarves.

When I got my hands on Super Shitty To The Max I played the hell out of it.

At some point, the band embarked on a US tour with The Quadrajets and The Nomads (another great Swedish band) and I set up an interview with Nick Royale, singer and guitarist for The Hellacopters and wrote a preview piece for the local weekly to promote the show. I sort of hit it off with Nick and before the interview was over I had invited the band over to my place for a pre-show cookout but that was weeks away.

Fast forward to the day of the show.

I get a call from the club owner asking for directions to my house, that The Hellacopters wanted to take me up on my offer. I few minutes later a white van showed up driven by Dave Curran, the bassist from Unsane who was functioning as their tour manager. Beers were consumed, burgers eaten and cultural conversations ensued.

Hellacopters bassist Kenny Hakansson excused himself to use the bathroom.

When he came back he said something to Nick in Swedish then turned to me and asked about the room across from the bathroom that had a drum set and amps in it.

"Can we jam?" he asked.

"Sure," I said and went on to explain that's what the room was for but the concept of house party shows was foreign to them.

So Nick, lead guitarist Robert Fahlquist and drummer Robert Eriksson made their way to the room and rocked the fuck out. Nick, a left hander, played my bass upside down while the two Bobs went ape shit on their respective instruments.

My shitty Kramer guitar and Peavey amp never sounded so good; it's not the equipment folks, it's the musician that can turn lemons into lemonade.

The above picture is from that fateful day.

The Hellacopters would go on to be rock stars of the highest order in their country, put out several albums through Sub Pop and then Liquor & Poker before fading from my horizon. I had kids, lost my job and pretty much stopped writing about music for a half dozen years but I'd still break out The Hellacopters when occasion called for it.

I can't remember how or when it came up but at some point my oldest son asked me what was in his room before it became his room. I explained that we had called it the "rock room" because it stored the stereo, copious amounts of CDs and vinyl LPs and a selection of musical instruments.

And it was left at that for another 18 months until he started to show interest in music (Thin Lizzy and DEVO) and shortly thereafter began to pilfer records from my collection so he could establish his own music library. I brought up The Hellacopters story again only this time I dug through my photo archives and found some slides and a few color prints made from them.

Not having a fucking clue who The Hellacopters were, he was still impressed that a rock band had been in his room, so he took the photo and stuck it up on his wall.

And then The Hellacopters faded into the horizon once again.

Until last Christmas when we got PS2 from my sister-in-law.

And then he one day while playing a video game he heard a Hellacopters song on it and yelled for me.

"Dad! Dad! Listen, it's The Hellacopters!" he said excitedly.

Sure enough, "Bring It On Home" was blaring out of the television.

Oh, and he also eventually would unlock a Hellacopters song playing Guitar Hero.

So today, I raise a toast to a band who has made a lasting impact not just on me but also on my son, a generational double shot of rock 'n' roll.