Chrissie Hynde has served up her debut solo album this month and it couldn’t be further from her image in the iconic band of the 1970-1980, the Pretenders.
On Stockholm, her producer is Bjorn Yttling, formerly of Peter, Bjorn And John, best known for their whistling ditty Young Folks, soundtrack of the Homebase TV adverts.
“I didn’t know who he was,” says Hynde. “I’d flown to Stockholm to work with him three or four times before the penny dropped and I said, ‘Oh, you’re the guys from the Homebase ad’.”
Each of the songs on the album was co-written with Yttling, which was a new way of working for Hynde. Before sessions began, she had no idea whether they would even get on, let alone be able to write together. Her playful nature got the better of her, however, and before long, sensing they’d get along famously, she began testing him.
“These Swedes are stoic people,” she says. “I saw it as my duty to get a rise out of him.”
Hynde spotted Yttling’s tennis racket leaning up in the corner of the studio. “I’m a terrible name-dropper, but John McEnroe is a good friend so I told Bjorn and he was impressed. I thought, ‘Now I’ve got him’, so the next time Mac was in town doing something I had him on the phone, told him to come over. He was there within 40 minutes, and I got him to play on one of the songs. That was the first time Bjorn was in the palm of my hand.”
Hynde will perform songs from the resulting album at festivals in England this month. “I won’t be playing any of the old Pretenders songs,” she adds.
“I’d rather do something that feels right, right now. Playing old hits isn’t that much fun, unless you haven’t done anything for the last 35 years,” Hynde concludes. “For me, I’ve done a lot in the last 35 years, and having fun is every-thing.”