The Austin Chronicle

Spotlight: Sahara Hotnights

Blender Bar, 1am

By Christopher Gray, March 14, 2003, Music

Sahara Hotnights plays blistering, down-and-dirty punk rock, but the four young Swedish maidens aren't above pampering themselves at SXSW this year.

"I'm looking forward to staying at the hotel with the pool on the roof," confesses drummer Josephine Forsman.

Sahara Hotnights were unknowns on these shores when they played SXSW 02, but they return this year surrounded by buzz thanks to Jennie Bomb, last year's stateside debut on Jetset. A denim-jacketed, gum-snapping, hair-flipping thrill ride, the album infuses the classic rocker-girl template of the Runaways with the fresh-faced exuberance of the Donnas.

Like their Converse-clad Bay Area counterparts, Sahara Hotnights have already been around a decade. Recreational opportunities were somewhat limited in the tiny northern village of Robertsfors (pop. 2,000), so the four classmates -- Forsman, bassist Johanna Asplund, guitarist Jennie Asplund, and vocalist/guitarist Maria Andersson -- rehearsed in their school's music room. At the time, rock & roll was still largely unfamiliar in such remote Scandinavian locales.

"Well, we had a death-metal band," says Forsman, "but that was it."

Plying a "more poppish" sound until they discovered Nirvana, Sahara debuted in 1997 with the Suits Anyone Fine EP. They solidified their rocking reputation in their native land on 1999's C'mon Let's Pretend, which was nominated for a pair of Swedish Grammys. By the time of Jennie Bomb's release, Sweden had become the improbable nexus of a European rock & roll resurgence, as groups like the Hives, the Sounds, and the Soundtrack of Our Lives were suddenly on the tongues of hipsters worldwide.

"Since we've got a lot of good live bands, I guess the Hives helped get people to notice us," agrees Forsman.

Back home in Stockholm, the newly famous local bands ("We're all a big family," swears the drummer) have been enjoying the Debaser club, which recently ended a live-music drought in the Swedish capital. There are other things to do there, right?

"We have a lot of water," offers Forsman, "so maybe a boat ride?"

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