SAHARA HOTNIGHTS with the Mooney Suzuki at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday (October 15). $8.50. 416-532-1598.
From the outside, seething Swedish garage-punk foursome Sahara Hotnights might look like 2002's answer to the Runaways: a quartet of black-eyelinered, leather-jacketed barely 20-something chicks spitting out snotty lyrics over thrashy guitars and dripping with attitude.Their new album, just out on Jetset Records, is even called Jennie Bomb, a sly nod to the Runaways' breakout single, Cherry Bomb, you might assume.
You'd be wrong.
Number one, the album title's got nothing to do with those sneering 70s rocker babes. (It's a teasing tribute to the Saharas' guitarist, Jennie Asplund.)
Number two, although they deserve props for launching Joan Jett's career, the Runaways were less a real band than the cleverly planned construction of a market-savvy Svengali. They didn't know how to play their instruments.
Sahara Hotnights, however, is the real deal. The kick-ass clique of Asplund, her bass-playing sister Johanna, drummer Josephine Forsman and guitarist-vocalist Maria Andersson started playing together 10 years ago -- before they started menstruating -- as dissatisfied teens in a tiny Scandinavian town of 2,000.
"We dressed like Kurt Cobain and wanted to sound like Nirvana, and everyone thought we were weird," admits Forsman, on the line from a greasy Motel 6 in Wyoming.
"It was boring in our village. We didn't have any record stores and we didn't get a lot of musical influences. But I guess that was kind of positive, too, because we created our own sound. Of course, there was never much to do. There was a death metal band, we had a group of old men playing rock music, but that was pretty much it."
These days they've exchanged grungy Cobainish mopiness for gritty garage bluster. From its blisteringly fierce guitar-hook-driven lead track, Alright Alright (Here's My Fist Where's The Fight), Jennie Bomb situates Sahara Hotnights smack dab in the middle of the much-hyped Swede-rock explosion spearheaded by folks like the Hives and Division of Laura Lee.
Forsman says the buzz is great, but the rest of the world's just discovering what she and her bandmates have known for years -- Sweden's a rock 'n' roll paradise. While it might seem a bit odd that so many Scandinavian bands belt out English lyrics, she claims it's only natural, considering that they grew up on a steady diet of imported American rock like Blondie and the Ramones. Besides, she laughs, English "sounds cooler."
It also broadens their appeal. With two Swedish Grammys under their belts for their first full-length album, C'mon Let's Pretend, Sahara Hotnights are breaking into the rest of Europe and North America, finding kindred spirits in current tourmates the Mooney Suzuki and our own rock phenoms Danko Jones, whom they joined on a European tour back in May.
"Oh, they're great!" Forsman gushes. "It was a good combination, like it is now with the Mooneys. We've been lucky to tour with some great bands. It's cool that people don't keep trying to only group us with other girl bands."
Forsman says they're loving fans in the States, especially after cynical British audiences seemed less eager to embrace a band of balls-out ladies. She does wonder whether their gender has impeded their chances for mega-success on the level of the Hives.
And speaking of the Hives, isn't there a connection between the Saharas and that of-the-moment Swedish It Band?
"Yeah, our singer is dating the singer of the Hives. It's been a while now. They're very much in love. It's nice, isn't it?"
Adorable. No Svengali could scheme up something that email@example.com