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Going Solo: Dregen, The Hellacopters And The New Randy Rhoads

Friday, 18 October 2013 Written by Gemma-Louise Johnson

Dregen has had quite a career. As well as being a founding member of both Backyard Babies and the Hellacopters, the Swedish guitar hero has lent his skills to projects as diverse as Infinite Mass and Supershit666, as well as turning out as part of Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s touring and recording band.

It’s been a busy year for the guitarist, having written his autobiography, released his self-titled solo debut and contributed to Monroe’s ‘Horns And Halos’. The rollercoaster Dregen has been riding is non-stop, so what’s it like to be the man in demand?

“Well, I mean, I am so happy with it, and I want to do it again,” he said. “I also became a dad at the same time, so it’s been a pretty hectic year, but a fantastic one, so I couldn’t ask for more, really.”

The solo bug took its time to bite, and even now Dregen can’t quite sever ties with his status as band member extraordinaire. But, with his solo bow having proved a hit with fans and critics alike, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it looks good on him.

“I guess I shouldn’t really say this with my solo album on release, but I have always enjoyed being in bands – I mean, I think I am very much a band member,” he said. “But I suppose the desire to do something on your own terms comes with age. I’ve been in bands for 25 years, so right now was the time to do this – I’m confident enough, and I’m experienced enough. You know, I’m just really happy right now. I’ve turned 40 and released my own solo album. I mean, if I had done this when I was 25, it would not have been the same result, I think.”

Having recently announced his absence from Monroe’s UK tour this December, Dregen admits that conflicting schedules eventually caught up with him. He’ll land for a trio of dates in support of his own record and, despite the wrench of leaving the ‘Horns And Halos’ album behind for now, believes that he’s made the right decision.

“Of course it was a hard decision, because Michael’s whole band is amazing,” he said. “The last two records he’s made are just too good not to tour, but at the same time, I just had to do it. When I’m 60, I can’t be asking myself why I didn’t tour my solo album. I'm sure the Michael Monroe tour is going to be great with or without me, anyway, and I'm sure my solo tour is going to be great, too.”

December’s tour will serve as double-header of sorts, with Imperial State Electric, Dregen’s former Hellacopters buddy Nicke Andersson’s current outfit, also on the bill. When asked which cohorts he’ll be taking out on the road with him, his response is a modest, but mighty interesting, one.

“Well, I’m not bringing any celebrities, so to say,” he said. “There is a guy called Richard on drums, who no-one will have heard of before, but he is an amazing drummer. Then I have an equally amazing bass player called Maarten, and he is not a well-known guy either, and then I have found a youngster, a new and brilliant guitarist. He is only 23 and I think I have the new Randy Rhoads.”

The December shows will be the first time Andersson and Dregen have been on the road together in a long time. “I can’t really put my finger on what is happening when we play together, but there is definitely something going on,” he said. “He is playing some drums and bass on my solo album, and we have written a couple of songs together as well. Its great fun to be working with him again.”

It was 1997 when Dregen left the Hellacopters, in the wake of the release of their second album, ‘Payin’ The Dues’. But does part of him ever get the urge to reunite with his former bandmates on a more permanent basis?

“Well, it would be possible, I guess, it was an amazing band,” he said. “There are so many bands doing reunions right now, and you go there and you get disappointed, you know, but on the other hand, if one band could pull it off, then I think the Hellacopters could, because the four original members are pretty much the same kinda guys we were back in 1995. At least when it comes to mindset, we are. We have never ever talked about it, but that would be fun.”

Having worked with a plethora of artists over the last 25 years, from Steve Conte (ex-New York Dolls) and Ginger Wildheart, to Titiyo (half-sister to Neneh Cherry) and Monroe, Andersson is still the one man that Dregen turns to for inspiration.

“Well, I gotta say, when I did the solo album, the first guy I called was Nicke Andersson from the Hellacopters,” he said. “I mean, he is probably the most important guy in my career. I started out as a drum tech for him, when he was in a band called Entombed, and from that we formed the Hellacopters, and we have been close friends ever since. So yeah, Nicke Andersson.”

So, can fans look forward to any surprises during the live shows in December? “I don’t want to lie, something is going to happen, that’s a promise!” he teased. “I’m pretty sure that a few golden but rusty rock songs are going to be played.”

Dregen UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Sun December 1st 2013 - GLASGOW Cathouse
Mon December 2nd 2013 - LONDON Borderline
Tue December 3rd 2013 - BRISTOL Fleece

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