Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: January 2011
Brian Rademacher: Hello John and welcome to RockEyez.
John Hermansen: Hey there Brian and thank you so much.
Brian Rademacher: Let’s start off with your days with GREYHATE. Can you tell me anything about that band and did you release any material?
John Hermansen: Ha -ha, hell that´s a long time ago but I´m still proud of the things we did… well most of it anyway. The band was basically me on vocals / guitars, my one-year-younger brother Hans Hermansen on guitars, former MM member Marcus Jäderholm on bass and a crazy Muther Fucker on drums named Mattias Åström. We played together for many years and the band was actually named STAIGER (after a German clock brand I think) in the beginning. Under that name we won a Swedish competition in 1993 I think and 1st prize was to record a cd with 5 songs. We did so and after almost a year we got that cd delivered home, 500 copies in boxes and not put together, so we worked a few nights on getting that shit together, but that was not the worst part, the worst part was that it sounded like crap since the sound engineer didn´t do his job at all and on top of that the color of the cd was PINK! Can you believe the horror when I opened up the boxes and that pink color met my eyes? It was supposed to be dark blood color!
A few years after that we changed the name from STAIGER (since it sucks) to GREYHATE, which we thought sounded far cooler. We then recorded an album named GREYHATE in a friends studio in Enköping. It turned out really cool and we had some radio airtime with that one. We spray painted the cover ourselves so it would look silver metallic, then we put on silver stickers with the title on it, really cool I promise you and it´s a rarity these days!
Brian Rademacher: Were you in any other bands before GREYHATE?
John Hermansen: As I mentioned above we started STAIGER which became GREYHATE later on. I had a side project with my friend Nils Bielfeld (who recorded GREYHATE) which basically was to make a KISS cover cd of not the ordinary KISS songs. We released it in 1995 and the track list was, "Hotter than Hell", "All Hell´s Breaking Loose", "Shock Me", "I Want You", "War Machine", "Not For The Innocent". We are both singers so we took turns in singing lead on 3 songs each. I played all the guitars, solos and bass and he played the drums. We actually sold that one in Sweden, Japan and England I think.
Brian Rademacher: Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
John Hermansen: I was born here outside Enköping where I live today but we moved quite up to the north of Norway; outside of Tromsö which is really up north, believe me. My father comes from there and we lived there until I was six years old and my brother five. We then moved back to Enköping and I´ve been here since then. I was a quite shy kid through school but I had to fight a lot with some of the older kids who in their turn got bullied by kids in their own age. I guess they needed someone smaller to pick on but they didn´t know how strong a Norwegian Viking kid can be! I got my confidence from playing music which I started with at age 13; my brother took lessons and showed me how to play the guitar. It didn´t take long until we started a band and made our first song. The only problem we had was that we didn´t have a singer and no one of us sure as hell would sing. But finally I put the vocals on the first song and believe me I fucking hated it, I hated my voice and I couldn´t keep a note. However that changed through the years and these day I see myself as a singer and not the Yngwie Malmsteen shredding guitar player I wanted to be.
Brian Rademacher: Do you remember your first concert and did it have any kind of impact on you?
John Hermansen: Well, I think my first big concert was seeing EUROPE (sorry) live after their breakthrough with "Final Countdown". It really didn’t have much impact on me since I was more into bands like KISS, IRON MAIDEN, MÖTLEY CRÜE, ACCEPT, DIO, etc. What did have a big impact on me was hearing DIO´s "Holy Diver" for the first time, WOW… That album is still in my top 5… forever.
Brian Rademacher: Tell me about your High School Days?
John Hermansen: It was great actually, I had good friends and we never did anything good in school. We just hung out checking out girls and talking music. I had a really great teacher who loved music and he really liked my songs so I could basically do whatever I wanted, he even fixed up a few shows for us in his hometown.
Brian Rademacher: Back to music, now in 2002 you started a band called NOSEDIVE and your debut release was called "Grandiosity"? NOSEDIVE eventually changed its name to MOTHER MISERY why the change?
John Hermansen: Well basically because we never liked the name "NOSEDIVE" and thought that it pretty much sucked but we never could come up with a better one either until the day Thomas and me finally sat down at his place, then it only took about five minutes until we had the new name "MOTHER MISERY". We combined the name of a song (which never got released) "Mother" and the original name of the opening track for "Grandiosity" which was "My Misery" (later changed to "My Enemy").
Brian Rademacher: Your 2007 release "All Eyes On You" received top ratings and reviews in magazines and media outlets such as Rock Hard, Metal Hammer and Sweden Rock. What do you feel you did different than the past release?
John Hermansen: We had worked our way through Europe by touring a lot and all this with the great help of our brother Jochen Böllath of Daredevil Records (Germany) who believed in the band and it´s potential since day one and the release of "Grandiosity", we then had a base to work from with "All Eyes On You" and we really worked hard on getting that album out to the media and fans and it was a success for us.
Brian Rademacher: In late 2010 the new MOTHER MISERY release "Standing Alone" came out. And what a great CD it is. Do you feel this is the CD that will make MOTHER MISERY well known?
John Hermansen: YES! We really believe in this one, it has everything we wanted for it… great songs and a good balance together with awesome recording and mixing by Pelle Saether. We are really happy with the clean but still a bit dirty sound; I like it to be a bit raw.
Brian Rademacher: Tell us what it’s like touring?
John Hermansen: It can really be heaven or hell or even heaven and hell!
It depends on the conditions but I can say for sure that it´s becoming better and better for every tour. We started out driving around in a tight car going to small places and sleeping on floors and now we fly down for weekend shows or go by tour bus if it’s a longer tour, also we get hotel rooms instead of dirty floors! But hey we would never have it undone, it´s a lesson well learned and an adventure we didn´t want to miss.
Brian Rademacher: You have any horror stories about being on the road?
John Hermansen: We have a few actually. The first that comes to mind is a trip we did to the middle of Germany in maybe in 2008, we had a Chevy van which was great with a cool V8 under the hood. After the last show on the tour we got up early to head on home which was about 1500km. It started out fine but after a few hours I got woken up by a strange sound and we got to discover that the gearbox was fucked up. The car wouldn’t run anymore. We pulled over and went to the nearest place that sold beer and ordered in, just to ease the worry and figure out what the hell to do. After some checking we noticed that it was possible to drive in 2nd gear and so we did. The car could go for maximum 50km/h and believe me that is not fun on the Autobahn, especially at night! It took us 2 days to get back home at that speed… never again!
Brian Rademacher: Does MOTHER MISERY have a tour rider?
John Hermansen: Yeah, lot´s of BOOZE!
We are not that picky but we always get good stuff, sandwiches, beer, Jägermeister, Whisky, candy, naked girls (he he). Stuff like that.
Brian Rademacher: I read reviews that your vocals are comparable to Chris Cornell how do you feel about that?
John Hermansen: Well for me it´s an honor as he is a really great singer and I love his work. I haven´t studied him or tried to learn how to sing like him it´s just how it is. Of course It can get a bit much sometimes when everyone writes about it.
Brian Rademacher: Your past two releases were on a different label and now with "Standing Alone" you went with Transubstans Records. What made you sign with them?
John Hermansen: We had several offers actually and before this we were in an 8-month long negotiation which cost a lot of money and ended in nothing because the contract sucked. With Transubstans, we found really cool guys who let us do pretty much as we want with our music and they don´t rip us off.
Brian Rademacher: How are the women on the road?
John Hermansen: Really, really crazy… no that’s a lie. We have met some weirdoes who come backstage with soap bubbles and shit and act strange and drink our booze but most of the times it´s just hanging out with other bands or ourselves.
Brian Rademacher: Sweden seems to be the mecca for great bands; yet many are not known in the U.S. Why don’t more Swedish bands come to the U.S.?
John Hermansen: I don´t know, I think it´s because of the distance and also there´s a much bigger market there and it’s harder to get access. We would really like to go there and I hope we will. I think MOTHER MISERY would fit well in that market and maybe even stick out a bit.
Brian Rademacher: What do you feel is the biggest highlight in your music career so far?
John Hermansen: I think I´m in it right now actually! It’s going so great with the new album and we have so much fun ahead in 2011.
Brian Rademacher: Tell me three things that people might not know about you?
John Hermansen: What the hell… ehhhh…
1. I hate spiders… all sizes.
2. I am really worse than a girl when it comes to packing my suitcase. Everything has its place. 3. I am pretty good at arm wrestling.
Brian Rademacher: What are the future plans for the band?
John Hermansen: To get as big as possible and earn millions, also to play as much as possible and in as many places as we can and all over the world!
Brian Rademacher: John it’s been great and the new release "Standing Alone" kicks ass. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
John Hermansen: Thank you Brian, it was my pleasure. You had really great and original questions. So, to all the people reading this, buy the album, I think you won´t be disappointed and come check us out when we are in a town near you. We´d love to meet you guys. MOTHER MISERY will be heard through 2011 and beyond.