“All In” with Hysterica: An interview with Sweden’s Metal Warriors!
Beware the Metal War! The Swedish Metal Warriors, Hysterica, are back and ready to retake the world by storm! After two stunning albums and seven years of bringing their powerful brand of Heavy Metal to the world, the group disappeared from the spotlight in late 2102 which led many fans to worry that they had left us for good. But never fear, the metal ladies are back with a stunning new EP and new touring plans later this year. We were fortunate to catch up with Anni DeVil and Bitchie Blackwhore this spring to discuss several topics including their past, recent hiatus, the new album, touring plans and other metal mayhem. Here is how it went:
This is Joe Prostredny with Afternoiz and I’m here with Anni DeVil and Bitchie Blackwhore, the vocalist and guitarist of one of the best heavy metal bands on the planet: Hysterica! They’ve got a brand new album due to be released soon and we’re all very excited about it. So let’s hear what they have to say. Good evening ladies! How are you both doing tonight?
Anni: We’re great.
Bitchie: We’re good. How are you Anni, you were out last night? Anni was out partying last night!
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today! So Bitchie, I would assume your name is a bit of a tribute to Ritchie Blackmore, the guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame?
Bitchie: Well, when I was searching for a name Bitchie seemed like the perfect name for me, then it became Bitchie Blackwhore (laughs)… And, yes… I love Ritchie Blackmore.
And, Anni, is yours just a way of channeling some underworld mischief, or is there more of a story to your stage name?
Anni: No, it was one of the first names that I just came up with when I joined the band. I don’t know, I thought it suited the rest of the other stage names. And I was of course thinking about the character from the Disney movie, Cruella Deville (laughs). So I thought it was, uh, yeah.
You don’t make fur coats out of dogs do you?
Anni: Eh, no (laughs). I promise you that.
Ok, good! (Laughs) So, if I have my dates correct Bitchie, it has been 10 years since you founded Hysterica. Congratulations on your first decade!
Bitchie: Yeah, thank you!
When Hysterica first formed, it was made up of six musicians who all happened to be female. Was your goal in the beginning to have an all female lineup, or did it just sort of happen that way?
Bitchie: No, it was just supposed to be a female metal band, from the start.
That’s kind of a brave move. It’s no secret that the music industry has always treated women in rock and metal a bit unfairly. So many people have been of the opinion that rock is a man’s world and women have had to work even harder to achieve the success and recognition they deserve. It’s certainly not as bad as it was, 20 or even 10 years ago, but it still exists, unfortunately. How much of that have you run into over the years, and how have you dealt with it?
Bitchie: There is a lot of prejudice about [women] doing rock n roll. In Sweden they call every band that are female… they call them girl bands and I don’t think that is justice because we play a lot of different music. And it’s still like that after forty years. So I don’t think [it matters] that we are girls. If you ask a male band why they are just male… You don’t ask that, do you?
No, and it’s part of why it’s unfair because it should be all about the music and unfortunately the industry still doesn’t make it all about the music.
Bitchie: I’ve played a lot with men… I play a lot of blues and it’s just men… and I can tell you that if you are in a girl band you have more fun. That’s for sure. (laughs).
(laughs) Well, that’s a good thing!
Bitchie: (laughs) If a man come in the band, we don’t have so much fun. Maybe as a chauffeur or [porter] … (laughs).
Yeah, get a guy to carry your luggage or your instruments or something….
Bitchie: Oh we have a lot of fun, we are all friends, we meet in our spare time too… so we have a lot of fun, that’s it. We talk continuously. So, we meet even outside the band… and that’s because we really love each other!
Anni, you joined in 2008 when the bands original singer Sinderella (Liv of Sister Sin) was unable to perform with the band at the Sweden Rock festival due to schedule conflicts, correct?
Anni: Uh, yeah that is correct. Yeah.
And you joined the band and had only 2 weeks to prepare?
Anni: Yeah, that’s true (laughs).
That’s quite impressive. I’ve seen videos of that show, you were awesome! You looked like you’d been doing it all your life!
Anni: (laughs) Thank you! Yeah, it was crazy. I [always sang] in my spare time, but only at home. I’d always wanted to join a metal band because that’s what I’ve always listened to… to rock music and heavy metal and that kind of stuff. So I knew about Hysterica, and one of my friends gave me the self-confidence to put up an ad on a musician’s site here in Sweden. So I went looking for a band. And then a couple of days later, Bitchie called me. And at first she didn’t say what band she was playing with, so after we had spoken for a while and we had a really good time and got along really well, she said: “Yeah, you might have heard about us, our band is called “Hysterica”. And I just freaked out, after having finished the call.
You’d heard of them before?
Anni: Yeah, I had listened to their music before. I hadn’t seen them play live but I knew about them and had visited their MySpace site a lot because I thought they were so cool and really great musicians with great songs. So I got to do an audition the [day after] I had spoken to Bitchie… so yeah, I just thought… I’ve got nothing to lose (laughs).
Well it worked out really well.
Anni: Yeah. (laughing)
2009 marked the release of your first full length album, “MetalWar”. It was an impressive debut, and it got a lot of critical acclaim. The band even won the Best Newcomer Award at the Swedish Metal Awards that year!
That’s an impressive feat considering Sweden probably births more metal bands per year than most other countries combined!
Why do so many metal bands come from Scandinavia? Lack of sunlight in the winter put you guys in a dark mood, or is it something else, or….?
Anni: (laughs) Well, I heard that, one theory is that we’ve got a lot of songs that that we sing from when we’re children in church. We sing a lot of different melodies from when we were really young. That might influence our music writing. But many Swedish bands are good at writing great melodies.
So you play metal music at church?
Anni & Bitchie: (laughing).
I’m gonna come to your church. That’s really cool! (laughs)
Anni: Yeah, really good melodies, yeah. But why we’ve got a lot of metal bands, I don’t know why, actually.
Well, we really like it, so we’re not complaining. Things seemed to be going really well for the band after “MetalWar” was released. You were touring throughout Scandinavia and Europe. Your fan base was growing. There was even talk of a South American tour. You added a keyboardist, Mary Death. And then, in March of 2012, you released your second album, “The Art of Metal”. And the name of that album didn’t lie, the album was a work of art. I thought it was the best Heavy Metal album of the year.
Anni: Oh, thank you!
We all thought it would be a big year for Hysterica. There was a release party and then, there was… silence, there was no tour, then your website and FB became inactive. What happened? What was going on there?
Bitchie: You mean when we did the break?
Anni: Yeah, why we did the break, yeah.Yeah, why was there a break there?
Bitchie: Yeah, it was, the keyboardist, she decided to go… Mary Death… she jumped off the band. We had a lot of gigs that we had to cancel. So we were in shock really, so, just fade out. We just had a lot in that album… “The Art of Metal”… we really gave it all to the album, and we’re like the air is coming out of our bodies (laughs). When she jumped off, we just took a break… and said to each other, we’re gonna start again at some time but take it easy. And that’s what happened.
So her leaving was unexpected?
Anni: Yeah, it was really unexpected. It was a really hard time during the recording session and everything. It was a great time of course as well, but we had so much to do. And we just kind of lost our energy for the music, and lost the fun in the music and that’s the most important thing. We were exhausted after the release party, and then Mary Death jumped off and we just didn’t know what to do, and so yeah, we had a break for more than two years. And we, the four of us, we met and just played songs and had parties, barbecue parties, and began to find the fun, the core of Hysterica again. And, then we started to write new music and find a new direction in our music development. And now we are in a completely different place and we just, we love to play these new songs and we just want to go out and play as many… as much as possible. So yeah, we’re gonna write new music as well because we’re only releasing an EP with five songs so we’re continuing writing new songs.
So there’s more to come after this new EP then?
Anni: Yeah, absolutely.
Bitchie: I have to add a thing about what happened. Because when you have the album… the new album with the synthesizer… we have to find a new synthesizer girl to replace [Mary Death]. And we have no more synthesizer. (Laughs) So we couldn’t go out and play our new songs without a synthesizer and everything, so that’s also part of it.
So that’s going back to why you didn’t tour much after “The Art of Metal”, because the songs are very keyboard heavy and you no longer had a keyboardist?
Bitchie: [The live show] wouldn’t sound like the album… and we don’t play with backtracks… so far.
There has been some shifting personnel over the band’s career, but you’ve had what seems to be a very stable core of four members for a lot of years now. Bitchie, you and the band’s drummer, Hell’n have been there since the beginning. Your bass player, Satanica, joined early on and Anni, you’re now with the band for 7 years.
You did have another keyboardist in the beginning, Electra. But you did go several years without one until Mary Death joined. Your website currently says TBA (too be announced) under keyboards. Are you searching for another keyboardist at this point?
Anni: No, no we’re not. [We’re not saying] that we’ll never have a keyboard player, we’ll see in the future if we want to have one in the band again. At the moment, we’re not searching… but, we’ll see… (laughs). Maybe another guitarist, that’s more of something that we’d consider. And we were even considering that before… even when we had a keyboard player. So, yeah, we’ll see. (laughs)
So, you’ve had two guitarists in the past, Rockzilla way back in the beginning, and then Jessica for a little while. Did Jessica have a stage name, if she did I never knew it? But you had her after “MetalWar”.
Bitchie: [Jessica] was a guest player on the tour. We asked her if she wanted to join the band but she want to play more her style… so she didn’t want to join us [after the tour].
But are you actively looking for second guitarist or is this something you’re just kicking around?
So, the big news… Fans rejoiced late last year when we finally heard the announcement that Hysterica was back with a new recording contract and a new album in the works! How did that come about and what can fans expect from this new EP that’s coming out?
Bitchie: It’s very, very inspiring. I will say, we made this album in really short time. And we met a lot, of course, and we wrote it together, and it really works out to play together in rehearsal too, to make it sound good live, that’s very important. I think the songs are growing… every time, growing more and more so I love it.
So this one is five songs? One of them has been released already, it’s acoustic, correct?
Anni: Yeah. Yes.
The rest of the album is…?
Anni: They sound more like our previous songs.
Anni: So don’t you worry (laughs).
Ok, no, I’m not worried at all. The new album release is soon, correct?
Anni: Yeah, the 24th of April, so just in a couple of weeks.
Is there gonna be a hard CD or is it going to be digital only?
Anni: No, it’s gonna be a CD and, uh…
Anni: Vinyl, yeah.Awesome! I love vinyl! Will you be touring following the release? I thought I saw some European dates in the fall?
Anni: Yeah. We’re gonna tour in Holland and Belgium, Germany… those are the countries that are confirmed so far. Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it.
Well, so are we!
Bitchie: We really want to come to the states, can you fix it? (laughs).
Can I fix it? (laughs) Well maybe, I do have a friend that’s a music promoter. She’s not a huge one… she usually books shows for like 200 people. I don’t know if you want to come all the way over here for that. But… if she gets bigger… actually, 3 years ago, I was bugging her to get your guys over here, but she just isn’t booking big enough shows to make that happen… yet… She actually is a big fan of Hysterica, she knows who you are.
Bitchie: She has to listen to our new EP.
Her name is Bobbie Dickerson, and she promotes a music festival called Flight of the Valkyries, which is all female fronted metal.
Anni: Oh, Ok! That’s awesome!
We kind of hope it’s gonna grow into the US version of the Metal Female Voices Fest. It’s not quite that big yet… the last one which was in January I think drew about 200 people. So… It’s small, but we hope it grows. So we would definitely love to have you over here at some point. But I guess in the near future, you’re gonna make me come over there aren’t you?
Anni: Yeah (laughs).
Yeah, I really wanted to go to your album release back in 2012, but I couldn’t make it happen. I was so depressed when things got quiet, it’s like, oh my gosh, did they break up, am I never gonna get to see them, did I miss my chance?
Anni and Bitchie (laughing)
I have a lot of friends in Holland, so I don’t know if I can make it work, but I’m actually looking at those dates in October, visit some friends, so I don’t know, I’ll see, I’d love to do it.
Bitchie: That would be great!
Anni: Yeah, that would be awesome!
I’ve always wanted to go to the Sweden Rock Festival, too. I always look at the lineup over there and go, “gosh, why don’t I live in Sweden” (laughs)? I have friends in Sweden, in Västerås (pronounced “Westeros”)…
Anni: Yeah, like in Game of Thrones (laughs).
Yes, yes. Exactly! And we sometimes meet in Europe and things like that. I’ve never been to Sweden though, I’ve never been within your borders.
Bitchie: You have to come here in the summer, it’s really nice. In the winter, you shouldn’t come in the winter (laughs).
No, I’ll bring a flashlight if I do (laughs).
Anni and Bitchie: (laughing)
Bitchie: In the summer, it’s lovely… the sun is shining.
Yeah, well my friends are always bugging me to come, so I gotta do it at some point.
Bitchie: If you come to our country, you will never return [to the US]. (laughs).
(laughing) Ok, I’m sure! I might want to next morning, when I’ve got a headache from having too much fun the night before…
Bitchie: We’ll have fun and sing… like we do in church sometimes… I’m just kidding with you (laughs).
Well, you can come play in our church. I’ll let you come.
Bitchie: You’ll have to come [for the European tour] in October then.
Well, I’ll check my schedule, but I’m really going to try! What’s it like on tour with you guys? You guys sound like you have a lot of fun.
Anni: Yeah, it’s the best thing there is. We’re laughing all the time. And on the last tour we had… it’s a long time ago now… when we were in Holland, in 2010, I think it was, and, yeah, I couldn’t sleep at night because I was just thinking about all these fun things that happened… I was laughing myself to sleep. They were really the best memories of my life.
Any favorite or funny memories you’d like to share with us?
Bitchie: Yeah, I have a really good memory. We have a really big fan, he’s called… his name is Death.
His name is what? Death?
Bitchie. Death, Die, you know, Death. He’s our biggest fan. He had a tattoo on his whole back of “Metalwar”.. of our first album (laughs).
Oh! The logo from “Metal War” is on his back?
Bitchie: Yeah, the tattoo all over his back. And when he showed us, he took off his t-shirt and showed us, and we were like in shock, like “What did you do? You’re crazy!” (Laughs)
(laughing) It helps to have crazy fans, it keeps it interesting.
Anni: Yeah, for sure. (Laughs)
Well, ladies. Thank you again for putting up with our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans before we leave you?
Bitchie: I want to say that we really want to come to US, because I’ve just been in New York and I want to see more. (Laughs)
It’s a big place and we’d really love to have you over here. I’m sure your European fans are looking forward to your tour in the fall!
Bitchie: Where do you live?
I live in Maryland, which is about a 30 minute drive from Washington, DC and about a 25 minute drive from Baltimore. About a four hour train trip to New York. Yeah, we’d love to have you guys over.
Anni: It would be a dream come true.
I’ll keep bugging my music promoter friend!
Bitchie: We have to push for… to inspire girls to play rock n roll and metal! Every girl band that are really good I love, because they inspire young girls to start playing because that’s more fun… Maybe girls are too coward or… I don’t know why they don’t play more. I love when girls play rock n roll.
Yeah! So do I! And the more good music the better. The more people playing, the better.
Anni: Yes, definitely.
Bitchie: Yes. And it’s more fun, I don’t know understand why more don’t start…
Well thank you again very much guys, we really appreciate it, we appreciate your time.
Anni: Thank you so much for having us!
Bitchie: Thank you for contacting us!
Yeah, I would have done it sooner but I didn’t start working for the magazine until 2013 and that’s when you were in your kind of inactive phase so, the minute I heard a new album was coming out I was like oh…, that would be a great time to interview them. So I’m really glad you accepted. Tack så mycket!! Stay metal guys!
Anni: Stay metal! (laughs)