Gothenburg, Sweden has a lot more to offer than just melodic Death Metal. If you like some dirty Rock’n’Roll in the vein of the classic MOTÖRHEAD Bronze years era, mixed with some good old Punk vibes, WARHAWK is definitely a band you should pay attention to. The band released two excellent full length albums so far, “Pray For War” in 2022 and “Dambuster” in 2023, and both really kick serious ass! We wanted to find out more and contacted vocalist Robert Hansson for the following interview…

Hey Rob, how are you doing? Hope all is well. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Before we come to WARHAWK, I’d like to talk a little bit about your musical past… I noticed that you have been the bass player in BESTIAL MOCKERY before, so when did you join them, how long have you been in the band and what actually lead to the band’s split-up?
“Cheers! Thanks for the interest! I started bending strings in BESTIAL MOCKERY in 1999 if my memory serves me right. We did our last two gigs in 2012, one in the states at Martyrdoom and one here in Sweden with the mighty VOLCANO. It’s a wonder the band stayed together as long as it did: mental illness, violence, drugs and rampant amounts of alcohol usually comes to an abrupt end.”

When did you decide to switch from bass to vocals? I mean, when and how did you find out that you could pull that off as well? Did you have any experiences in that direction already from other bands or was it a difficult task for you in the beginning?
“I have played both bass and guitar in lots of different bands since the early ’90s. The band I put the most energy into is RAWHIDE, that project started in 2000. In RAWHIDE I play guitar and do the vocals. It felt naked in the beginning to have no instrument in WARHAWK, nothing to hide behind, but you get used to it. You can connect differently with the audience and be a better frontman without having your hands full!”

Ok, now please introduce WARHAWK a little bit to our readers… when and how did you all hook up, who founded the band and what have the other members all been doing prior to WARHAWK? Did WARHAWK already exist when you joined them?
“Erik and I are long time friends from the old days. Erik, Matte and Pär have played together in a Punk band called STRUL. Somewhere around 2019 / 2020, they did three Rock’n’Roll tunes for fun and asked if I wanted to do vocals. When they sent me the songs I couldn’t say no! The mix of TANK, GIRLSCHOOL and MOTÖRHEAD was perfect. Other bands they have been involved in are MOTORBREATH, ANATOMI 71 and STYGGELSE.”

Who came up with the bandname WARHAWK, what inspired it and are you aware of the fact that there are three other bands out there, using the same name as well, that are even around a lot longer already than you are? Have you already heard from any of them because of this?
“Erik came up with the name, I guess it’s just a cool name without any deeper meaning. I bet there’s a bunch of bands with the same name out there, but I haven’t seen or heard any of the others. If they have a problem with us using the name, we’re always ready for a backyard brawl!”

It’s pretty obvious that your music is heavily influenced by the “Bronze years” era of MOTÖRHEAD, so was that the goal right from the start or did you just write your own music and then people came up to you and said “Hey, that sounds a lot like old MOTÖRHEAD…”?
“MOTÖRHEAD is and will always be an inspiration. It’s hard to play Rock’n’Roll on a Marshall amp and sing with a hoarse voice without being compared to MOTÖRHEAD. When I first got the songs sent to me, my first thought was “these boys have been listening to a lot of TANK”.”

Did you ever play any MOTÖRHEAD cover songs or maybe even started out as a full MOTÖRHEAD cover band in the beginning? Or was the goal with WARHAWK more in the vein of the German band WARHAMMER, who did write their own songs, but when it comes to the songwriting style, the lyrics, the artwork and the overall sound / production, it always had to be as close to HELLHAMMER as possible?
“We never played any MOTÖRHEAD covers, the only covers we’ve played are ‘Lovesong’ by THE DAMNED and ‘Torsten Hällde Brännvin I Ett Glas Åt Karin Söder’ by Eddie Meduza. Our goal is to play music we like, make songs we would listen to ourselves. If it sounds like MOTÖRHEAD, GIRLSCHOOL, TANK or JUDAS PRIEST, it really doesn’t matter as long as it sounds good.”

Before your debut full length “Pray For War” came out, you had already released ‘Devil’s Dust’, ‘Pray For War’ and ‘Fool Me Twice’ digitally several months prior to its release in April 2022. Are those tracks demo versions or were they all just teasers from the album?
“We released a 7″ on Devil’s Grip Records. It was two songs from our first demo and two songs from a live session at Studio Berserk.”

Did you self-finance the recordings of “Pray For War” and then you shopped it around for a record deal by posting those songs? Did you get any feedback on them other than from Headsplit Records?
“Every recording we’ve done is self-financed. Both our full length albums have been released on vinyl by Cimex Records. Both Cimex, Iron Fist and Headsplit Records have helped out a lot and spread our stuff well.”

What can you tell us about Cimex Records, how do they fit into the picture? From what I found out they released the vinyl and digital versions of your albums, so is Headsplit Records only releasing CDs and cassette tapes?
“Yes that’s right! Headsplit released the “Pray For War” cassette / CD and Iron Fist released the “Dambuster” cassette / CD. For all of us, ANTI-CIMEX have been an important band, so to have Charlie supporting and releasing our music is fucking fantastic!”

Please tell us a bit more about the “Live At Studio Berserk” recording… The four songs are listed on Metal Archives as a digital live album, but I noticed that it’s actually a video recording, live in the studio (or rehearsal place), isn’t it?
“It was a fun idea from Studio Berserk, it’s from his studio in Göteborg. Definitely a studio worth looking up if you have the time. We went there and recorded 4 songs live, it only took a few hours and a good friend (Josefine JoJo Larsson) handled the video camera like a real pro. The result was great; he really understood the raw, dirty sound we were after.”

Have you already played any real live shows with WARHAWK when “Pray For War” came out? And are there any plans to do that now since you already released a second album?
“I think we’ve done around twenty shows so far. Unfortunately in 2023 Erik, our bass player, had some problems with his hand so we had to cancel a bunch of shows. Now we are back on track and have some shows coming up. Right now we have three shows in Sweden and in November we’re going to Italy.”

Talking about your second album… It seems to me that “Dambuster” musically turned out a lot more original than “Pray For War”. Of course the core of the songs still has the typical MOTÖRHEAD vibes, but this time you also hear gang shouts in the choruses of some of the songs, the album opener ‘Bomb Raid’ even features a piano (great idea, by the way!) and you also added a bit more good old kick ass Punk Rock to the songwriting. Who was the driving force for all this or did it just happen quite naturally while you wrote the new material?
“I try to stay out of the process when it comes to creating new songs. I always have too many opinions, and those three have been playing together so long the result is always how I like it anyway. I also think it’s awesome to just get the songs sent to me and write lyrics about the first feeling I get when I hear them.”

Have you also been influenced by the old Belgian band KILLER maybe? The shouted chorus of ‘Bomb Raid’ reminded me a bit on the title track of their third album “Shockwaves”… Which bands have influenced you in general, apart from MOTÖRHEAD? Do you also draw influences from any old Punk bands?
“Never heard of the band KILLER, I’ll definitely check them out! The old Punk scene is a big influence for all of us (ANTI-CIMEX for instance), but we enjoy everything from Chuck Berry to NIFELHEIM; good music is good music regardless of labels.”

Tell us a bit more about the co-operation with Mattias Andersson, who played the piano on ‘Bomb Raid’. How did you get together with him and how did the idea for his contribution come alive?
“Me and Mattias grew up together! When we were kids, we used to watch old Bruce Lee movies and run through the forests dressed up as ninjas. We made throwing stars, nunchakus and bows. If you’ve created something like that together as eight-year-olds, then you get to collaborate with Rock’n’Roll thirty-five years later. He’s crazy musical and understood what we wanted immediately. We just sent him the song and got it back a day or two later.”

I was suprised that the track ‘Hawk Of War’ isn’t written by you guys, so please tell us a bit more about that.
“Well we made the song, it’s the lyrics that were not written by us. We found a poem that we liked a lot, tried to locate the writer but never found them. We think it was written by someone on death row.”

With ‘Bad News’ you already used an outside track on your debut album… What can you tell us about that?
“The music in ‘Bad News’ is from their previous band MOTORBREATH, I just wrote lyrics to it.”

When I listen to both of your albums and especially Pär’s guitar work, it’s more obvious to me than ever before how important the guitar playing of Fast Eddie Clarke was in MOTÖRHEAD… Of course the band’s main trademark has always been Lemmy’s voice and bass playing, but if you would erase Pär’s guitar tracks from your recordings and replace it with a different guitarist, I think the whole MOTÖRHEAD vibe would pretty much be gone. Do you agree with that? Would you also say that Fast Eddie’s contribution to MOTÖRHEAD is highly underrated?
“Fast Eddie Clark is the most important member of MOTÖRHEAD for me. The combination of Lemmy, Philthy and Eddie is pure magic! To work with someone that can play on that level is a dream come true. Pär is a riffmaster and everything he touches turns to gold.”

Lemmy’s lyrics have always been praised by a lot of people and he did a great job with them without a doubt, so did that put some kind of pressure on you personally somehow? Have you been influenced by his way of writing in any way or do you just write what might fit a particular WARHAWK song?
“I agree that Lemmy is a master lyricist. It doesn’t put any pressure on me, Lemmy did his thing and so do I. I just go with what comes to mind first when I hear the music.”

Some artwork pieces that you’re using for WARHAWK were created by Rok of SADISTIK EXEKUTION from Australia. How did you come about? Have you been in touch with him during your BESTIAL MOCKERY times already?
“Rok reached out to us and told us he loved our music. He asked if he could make something for us which is a huge honor! He did one illustration for each album. We had never spoken before, but his music has always been a constant in my life.”

For “Dambuster” a third company got involved with your releases, the Swedish label Iron Fist Productions, who released it on CD and cassette tape this time… How did you get together with Tomas and what happened to Headsplit Records? Weren’t they interested in releasing the album anymore?
“We wanted to work with different people. Headsplit has always been a huge support and we would love to work with them again someday. Tomas reached out with good timing and working with him has gone smoothly, plus it’s nice to work with someone a stone’s throw away.”

Ok Rob, I think I already asked you enough questions by now and you probably have better things to do in your life, so we should come to an end now. Thanks again for taking the time and all the best for you and the other guys. Here’s the final and not so serious question: if one of the WARHAWK members would quit the band one day, what would be more important for his replacement, his musical skills or a mustache?
“Mustache. I just want to give a quick shout out to a few people that haven’t been mentioned but have been a big part of WARHAWK’s journey – Frida for making the first WARHAWK artwork ever (7”), Laney Oleniczak for all the hours put into helping me with artwork for the albums, shirts, layouts and proofreading interviews, Lauren Gornik for the cover of “Dambuster”, and a lot of love to Oskar Karlsson of Element Studio for his magic in recording us, and of course big thanks to you and Voices From The Darkside for the interest and support!”,

Frank Stöver

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