We met Jokke Pettersson, one of the two guitar players in Marie’s band during the current tour, in Växjö some hours before the show. As we’ve always tried with other band members and Rox&Co related musicians, we wanted to know more about Jokke and his career and his multiple bands. Enjoy!
Judith: Thank you for your time for this interview. We would like to get to know you a bit better, so to start with, could you tell us how you got into music?
Jokke: Sure! I started playing drums when I was 7 years old. My father borrowed an old drum kit from a friend and just asked me if I wanted to try. It was kind of easy for me to learn some easy grooves and I thought it was fun to play right away. I think it is very important with music, you have to think it’s fun from the beginning, if it feels too difficult you will just quit sooner or later.
So I tried that and I liked it but since I’ve always been kind of a song writer, I wanted to express melodies and that’s hard on a drum kit. I taught a friend to play drums instead and I borrowed an old electric guitar and an old amp from a friend. I only used borrowed stuff in the beginning haha! We started to practice in my bedroom the two of us, he just played drums and I learnt some riffs. It was much fun, one of the best moments ever. We did that for about three years, it was an amazing time.
So I got started with electric guitar when I was 10 or 11, but I wasn’t serious about it until I was about 13. Then I started to practice seriously on the guitar, took some lessons and started my first band.
What were your favourite bands and your inspiration when you started?
I was a hard-core metal fan back then. I still am but in a different way, I love all kinds of music today. Back then I was really into Nirvana, Green Day, Metallica, Pantera, all that crazy stuff. I really loved the volume, the energy and the guitars.
Later, I got into progressive rock, bands like Dream Theater. I really wanted to push myself and I really wanted to find harder music to learn. This kind of music is harder to play and it meant I had to practice a lot more to make it sound like something.
I checked some YouTube videos before the interview and listened to some tracks by Karavan. They feel more like rock-blues to me. How did you get into this style?
Yes, when I started at the Swedish high school I went to a music school and started to listen to other music like jazz and blues, R’n’B and all that. So I kept on working on that.
I mentioned Karavan before, but you are also member of a band called Kayser. The two bands sound very different… Can you tell us about them?
Kayser is a trash-metal band that plays groovy American influenced trash like some of the bands that I listened to when I grew up. We just released an album with Kayser. A few years ago we did a few tours with that band and we have released two albums before this one. That’s been kind of my baby for many years. We put it on ice for a few years and now we are back. It feels amazing!
Karavan is me and some friends having a band, we are also working very hard with it releasing albums and touring with different artists. I sing in that band but sometimes we bring over artists from the United States to play with us. We toured with Hunter Perrin, who was the guitar player for John Fogerty for many years, he also has his own music, so we toured Scandinavia with him two times. And last November (2013) we toured with Camaron Ochs, a country artist from Nashville, so we played some country. Hunter Perrin is more rock’n’roll. Karavan’s own music is a kind of blues rock, Rolling Stones influenced.
Are you the songwriter in both bands?
We all write the songs, in both bands. It’s just the classic band where everybody comes up with demos, ideas and composes or writes music and lyrics.
We are currently writing songs for a new album with Karavan. I am doing that in between this tour on the days off and then I am in the studio recording.
It sounds like a lot of music going on at the moment!
Yes indeed! Also because like I said Kayser just released our new album a few weeks ago. And the tour with Marie. It’s been a very busy month. It just feels great, I am very greatful for that.
I read reviews about Kayser’s latest album “Read your enemy” (on Spotify) and they are all very positive.
Yes, it’s been great to get this response. Of course, you sort of know that you’ve done something good, because you believe in yourself and what you’ve done, but we didn’t expect these reviews and feedback. We simply had no expectations, all these reviews are amazing. We feel like “Yes! We made it!”
Are you planning to tour with any of the bands?
We are planning a tour with Hunter in July in Scandinavia, perhaps some shows in Germany. We are also planning a tour with Camaron Ochs again around August. Two months of touring in Summer, and then maybe we are going to tour with Camaron in the United States, it’s not set yet, we are still working on it. And then we plan a tour with Kayser in September.
It looks like a busy schedule in the future too!
Yes, it’s going to be interesting! Three or four months of touring with 3 different bands. Very exciting! I am really looking forward to it!
When you talk about a tour with Kayser, do you mean in Scandinavia or also in Europe? I saw that you did some gigs in Germany some years ago...
Yes, with Kayser we will hopefully set up a tour in Europe. Our audience is mainly in Europe, specially countries like Germany and Belgium. On May 24th we are actually going to Athens for a show! Maybe US in the future but it’s a bigger project.
You are actually working in 3 projects (Kayser, Karavan, Marie’s tour) in parallel. How do you combine them and manage not to get confused?
That’s been a bit of my life for the past 10 years or so, lots of things going on with different bands. That’s keeping me busy, it feels just great.
I think if you have a good planning everything works out. Of course, it could come a time when everything just collides with each other, just thinking of it makes me stressed, but I will keep on doing this for as long as possible.
Of course, music-wise Karavan, Kayser or this tour are very different. I also realised that you use totally different guitars on this tour and with Kayser, for example. But what do you think is the biggest difference audience-wise?
There’s such a different emotional experience. There is a special energy when playing metal music live, fans are dedicated almost in a brutal way, and by that I mean also that fans are sometimes beating each other while we are rocking with our metal music. Metal fans are crazy, haha!
Marie’s fans are very humble, they listen to the music and just have a good time. That makes it a great experience to play in this tour. It’s great to see people loving her songs.
So let’s stay with Marie’s tour. How did Marie ask you to join the tour and what was your reaction?
Well, we talk sometimes on the phone. So she called me and asked “Do you wanna go on tour?” I was like “Oh yes! I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life!” I love Marie’s solo stuff, I’ve been listening to these songs since I was a kid.
You mention that you’ve known Marie’s songs all your life, but how did you prepare for this tour?
They sent us a list of about 20-30 songs that Marie wanted to play or felt like playing, so I focused on those. The day before the first rehearsal a few more songs came in with the request to try those out too, so I just learnt to the songs.
Somewhere in my head I knew the songs because I’ve been listening to them my whole life, but it’s a different when you have to play them. I wrote down some notes and practiced a little bit every day just to be ready. Listened a lot!
What were your expectations for this tour?
I tried not to have any expectations because it’s more exciting if you don’t. I new it was going to be a great time.
I’ve known Marie my whole life, and I’ve known Micke for many years. I had met Christoffer and Pelle before and I knew they are amazing people. Marie trusts them very much as musicians and as people, so I knew it would be great. I had never met Surjo before but he turned out to be a great guy and a fantastic bassplayer!
It’s really been super great so far! I am really happy, it’s an amazing band, everybody is very nice and we are having a good time. And we sound very good together…
Yes you do! And you and Chris on guitars sound terrific.
Yes! We are very different guitar players, but when you mix that its really fantastic. It feels great.
Speaking about guitars. How many do you have?
I have about 10. As far as the economy allows it haha. I don’t buy guitars for fun though, only if I want to have a special sound then I buy a specific guitar, so I use all my guitars in my projects. I have some V-guitars that I use with Kayser, with Marie I use my Fender guitars because the sound works very well with Marie’s songs, and then I have two acoustic guitars. I have everything I need to be able to work with my bands, that’s the most important for me.
Coming back to the tour. We have seen the first three concerts and then the concert in Malmö yesterday and we were like “wow! What happened to the band?” It feels like you all found your place and interact a lot more. What can you tell about this?
Yes, absolutely. It’s funny because after most of the concerts we are like “this was probably the best gig” and then next evening “this was probably the best gig” haha! The first show was very special for everybody; we were all very focused and nervous in a different kind of way for the premiere show. And then show after show you start to move around a bit more, you feel more comfortable, that is something that happens naturally, it’s nothing you talk about, it just happens because we are playing a lot together. It feels very very good.
The tour started in Helsingborg, which is also your hometown. Did that one concert feel extra special?
Ah! That was a very nervous moment for me. Everybody was there, the whole family, our relatives from Denmark, people that I hadn’t met for many years, lots of friends. Plus it was the first show! Now I am a bit more relaxed but I still get a bit nervous before the show starts, I think this is important, that turns into adrenaline in the end.
Did Marie have any influence in your liking music and wanting to be a musician?
Absolutely. We talked a lot about music when I grew up. I saw Roxette live back in 91-92, we travelled to watch them play with my family, I was 6-7 years old. I saw them on TV, so she inspired me. I wanted to be like her so I worked as hard as I could to get here. She’s very much of an inspiration for me. And also as a person she is very special. Humble, generous, sweet, nice, she’s amazing!
And now touring together is just amazing. We have lots of fun together; it’s great in every way. It’s hard to express in a different way, it’s awesome!
You mentioned that you bring in artists from the United States to play with your band Karavan, and you are now touring with Marie. Are there any other bands or musicians you’d like to play with?
Tricky question! I’d really love to play with the Allman Brothers Band, John Fogerty, Pantera! Haha! I like so many bands so it’s hard to choose.
And last but not least, what are your plans for the next years?
Besides the tours that I mentioned I will just keep on working very hard with my bands. That’s the plan for the next years! Music 100%.
After thanking him for his time, Jokke rushes to have dinner the band and crew and then to deliver one of the best concerts of the tour so far!