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Rocking Out with Diddi Kastenholt of Bai Bang

Rocking Out with Diddi Kastenholt of Bai Bang

Rocking Out with Diddi Kastenholt of Bai Bang

Bai Bang is a melodic rock / glam metal band from the wilds of Helsingborg, Sweden whose beginnings date back to the 80’s.  They’ve opened for the likes of Alice Cooper and Nazareth, headline all over Europe, and even made a trek to the iconic Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip for a very special show.  The band has just released a brand-new album entitled Sha Na Na Na via Pride & Joy Music, jam packed with dynamic anthems rock fans from all over the world will want to revisit time and again.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed founding member Diddi Kastenholt to find out more about this long running band, how his son became involved with the making of Sha Na Na Na, stories from the road with Nazareth and Alice Cooper, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

First of all, tell me about the creation of the new album Sha Na Na Na?
We started not directly after the last album.  We did tour a lot.  And then we had this little pause due to the pandemic and we had this coronavirus going on in Sweden.  So, we couldn’t actually be in the studio as much as I wanted.  But me and the producer, started to write songs.  I wrote a lot of songs.  As soon as we got the chance, we went into the studio.  And as usual, I’m always writing the hooks – I like to have a big hook – and if not, then I throw it away!  So, there were many songs that didn’t catch my attention to release it, because there was something missing.  But then I came up with a lot of songs. So, then the album finally got done.

Let’s talk about the very catchy title song Sha Na Na Na.  What was the influence behind the title track?
Actually, we went on a tour through Spain, and we were away for two weeks, I think.  And I came up with this Sha Na Na Na on the bus as we were touring around Spain.  And I recorded it directly on my mobile phone.  I always have ideas recorded directly on my phone, because you forget so easy.  And I had this girl that I was in some kind of love or fascination with – she always sang about something like “Sha Na Na Na Na” or something like.  So I continued with that phrase when I was sitting there for a couple of hours in the van on a tour in Spain.  And then suddenly I found the melody too, so I recorded it on my phone – and then I wrote the lyrics.  Many, many touring artists have experienced the same thing with a summer love tour.  So, it was something like that.

Who exactly is your Favorite Enemy?
My Favorite Enemy – true story – I always told me son when he was playing soccer or when he was playing handball – he had too much pressure on him – he was very good.  And I always told him you have to stop thinking about how you have to succeed, and you have to score, and you have to do this – because your favorite enemy is yourself.  So, it’s actually my son who wrote that title.  I was alone with him since he was 3 ½ years old and he actually came up with this – because I’ve always told him “You know, skip all this pressure on yourself” because he always wants everything to be perfect here and there – so don’t be your worst enemy yourself.  He actually wrote it.

He was born into rock and roll.  He was with me on the tour bus – he was always with me in the studio – he has been with me all the time and grew up with long hair and a leather jacket since he was three years old.  He’s a hard rocker.  And now he’s a top hundred house DJ in the world.  He’s touring all around the world doing lots of great songs – producing songs – writing songs.  He lived in Las Vegas for 5 ½ years – now he moved to Netherlands.

Not to forget, I always mixed an album together with a producer.  We always got good reviews and good credit for the sound.  But I said to myself, this time I need somebody else to do it.  And I wanted my son to do it, because he’s young – he’s got fresh ears and he’s got some new ideas.  So, he mixed the whole album.  When I compare it to my own mixes, this is “in your face.”  He is pushing everything to the front. You hear my vocals as much as you hear the guitars, the solos and everything.  So, he did a great job.  I’m so proud of it.

What is your songs name?
His name is Mick Kastenholt, but his artist name is KAAZE.  You can Google him.  He’s got millions and millions of streams.  He just got back from the Nations Tour – he was in Japan and Thailand, Bali, and India.

What made you decide to cover the Abba song Rock Me?
The story began – I know Frida from Abba.  On her birthday I wrote to her Happy Birthday.  And she wrote back to me “Diddi, Rock me.  Give me that kick, now rock me.  Show me that trick, now rock me.”  And I didn’t know what she meant.  What is this?  (Laughs) And then, I looked up what was Rock Me and figured out it’s a song from Abba. I listened to Abba – everybody from Sweden did.  I remember that song, but it wasn’t a big hit compared to the others.  So, we did a cover and we put the glam and hard rock into it.

And which song on the album is about your mother?  Has she heard it?
All Alone.  And no.  I will make sure that when the album is there, I will play it for her.  Perhaps she will not understand the lyrics because it’s in English – but I will tell her that I wrote a song about her and for her.

Let’s go way back in time.  What was it like opening for Nazareth.
That was my first major tour.  We toured almost a month with those I looked up to. I loved the songs from Razamanaz and all this.  And every night was so fun and so nice.  We were so proud.  We had our old tour bus with us, and we had parties on our bus.  It ended up with me and Darrell Sweet, the drummer – we shared hotel rooms together.  So, we were very close friends with them.  And as it is now – Darrell Sweet – he’s dead – and Manny Charlton – he left the band some years ago – he’s also dead.  And now Dan McCafferty died.  But Nazareth has still been touring with Pete Agnew, the bass player’s son on drums.  So, we met them a couple of years ago when we played in Switzerland, and they played – but that was when Dan McCafferty was with them.  They played in another location, so went up and saw them.  We’ve always had this good contact.

And I will tell you a story.  They invited me several times to go to Scotland – and I never did. And one day we were talking about kilts – the Scottish guys wear kilts.  And I said one day I would like to buy a kilt.  It would be so fun to have.  And they came and they played in Copenhagen – and Copenhagen is only an hour away from here in Denmark.  They asked me to come and watch and I said of course, I had already planned it.  “And come up to the hotel room – I have something for you.”  And I came up, and there was this big package there.  And I opened it, and it was a kilt.  Many, many years after our first tour, they gave me a kilt.  And it’s not only a kilt – Darrell Sweet, he is also related to the clan Stuart – and if there’s going to be a monarchy in Scotland, the family Stuart are those who are going to reign.  So, you can’t wear that kilt – if you’re not a family member or a family of honor or something like that.  And Darrell Sweet, he made me a family member of honor.  So, I’m allowed to wear their kilt and their sword on the side.  And every New Years Eve I wear that kilt in honor of the dead guys.

What was the experience like when you played out here at the Whisky on the Sunset Strip?
That was so nice, and we had a great audience – a big crowd.  And we also had a guest onstage – Rolan Bolan – Marc Bolan’s son.  We stayed at his house in Beverly Hills. So, we didn’t stay at a hotel. His mom Gloria Jones, she was my manager for many years, so I came to know Rolan as well.  He came up onstage and joined us and sang with us.

What was it like opening for the legendary Alice Cooper?
Oh, that was great! We played the big shows everywhere – and he had a big show every night.  We had lots of fun together with all the guys in the band – and he showed up sometimes too.  And I have to tell you a story about the shows with Alice Cooper.  First of all, he’s a golf freak.  He is very good at golf.  He plays a lot of golf, and he has a very low handicap.  I play golf too.  So, we got to talk, and he said do you have any sponsors or endorsements for your golf sticks?  I said no, and he gave me some names and after that I was sponsored by the same as Alice was.  So, I got the sticks I’ve had in Sweden for years from Calloway Clubs.

And we played 80 kilometers from where I live where my golf course is.  I decided me and Alice, let’s play golf together tomorrow. I fixed everything in my club -we had a tee time – there were some photographers who would take some pictures of us.  It was me and Alice and I think the drummer from Ratt who played with us.  And my tour manager went to Alice’s tour manager and said, “You know, Diddi and Alice are going to play golf tomorrow.”  And of course, his tour manager said, “No, they are not, because Alice is going to do some interviews.  So, he told Aliceyou are going to do an interview” – and Alice was so pissed. He told me later he sat the whole day at his hotel room waiting for a guy from a fanzine to phone him and ask him five questions when he could have been playing golf with me.

Thanks for sharing that!  And now the final question.  Do you have any messages for Bai Bang fans out here in the United States?
You ought to check this album Sha Na Na Na out.  We really hope to come and play in America again as soon as possible.  So come on, rock on, and rock it!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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