Interviews by DPRP's Dave Baird & Ian Butler
When InsideOut announced that THE TANGENT, BEARDFISH & RITUAL would be touring together as a triple bill, two DPRP team members, Dave Baird and Ian Butler went along to one of the concerts on 24th May 2008 at Spirit of 66, Verviers, Belgium, to interview members of all three bands. As is always the case with this time of event, the best laid plans go awry and the interviews were conducted rather hastily undertaken around the band's performances. So here's the result of chatting informally to members of each band at different points during this special evening.
Interview with Ritual's Lead Singer & Guitarist, Patrik Lundström & Bass Player, Fredrik Lindqvist
DAVE: Ritual are quite a mature band now, you've been around quite a while ... OK you are not prolific with your albums but I don't think you've really got as big as you should be
IAN: What he saying is that we've been listening to progressive rock for a long time, since I was a little kid, and I know a lot of Scandinavian bands, even the lesser known ones like Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti, but I'd never heard of you guys until about four months ago and I don't know why, and that's really shocking
PATRIK: There are a lot of bands I think, and a lot of bands in Sweden for that matter, Sweden have been quite successful with the progressive rock thing, but we've had a rather crumbled past, a strange way through our career so far. In a way it wasn't until 2003 when we joined InsideOut, which wasn't InsideOut in the beginning it was Tempus Fugit with our old A&R guy Dirk Jacobs, but some months later when he started working for InsideOut and took his own label with him. So it wasn't really until then that things started to happen I would say. Of course the first album was on Musea, '95/'96, was the first round and then things were sort of happening to a certain degree but then after that we went into a sort of coma where we really didn't know what to do. We were not really enthusiastic about being really retro-prog, we had become tired of it in a way and wanted to do something more contemporary, darker...
DAVE: I would not call you retro at all
PATRIK: Not but you can definitely hear, the influence is quite obvious. It's nothing that we... we are much more comfortable with the fact... there was a time when we were discussing: "Is this progressive rock or not?" and even "What is progressive rock?"
DAVE: Seems to be a common discussion - for instance how can The Tangent be progressive when they sound like many bands that have come before them?
PATRIK: In the true linguistic sense of the word you're right, it's absolutely rubbish but it's a label these days
DAVE: And you can escape influences
PATRIK: Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that
FREDRIK: When you're younger, in a way you're more bitchy, if too many people tell you that you have the same influence then you're like, "Don't we have any identity?", but you grow up
IAN: Well you have to live with it
FREDRIK: Yeah and we're very confident these days with saying "We are a progressive rock band"
IAN: Even though I can identify certain bits I don't know anyone else who sounds just like you guys
IAN: Especially with your voice which is very distinctive, you can hear it's Ritual a mile-away
FREDRIK: Ah that's great, that's what we really want
DAVE: Even if you take for instance the track "The Hemulic Voluntary Band", OK, it's Gentle Giant
DAVE: But Shulman didn't sing like that, it's you, it's different
RITUAL: Yes be we're quite honest about it, it's as close to a tribute song that we could get
DAVE: But what a fucking great band to tribute
FREDRIK: Yeah, they were awesome
DAVE: In Sweden maybe the more folk influence you have is perhaps well known but in England we have a different style so you sound very original
FREDRIK: Yes, especially on "The Hemulic Voluntary Band" we have a bit more into the Scandinavian folk sound but we have previously listened a lot to the English and Irish folk music, especially from the '70's
DAVE: What Lindisfarne?
FREDRIK: No more like Steeleye Span, Richard Tompson
DAVE: Well you don't sound much like Steeleye Span that's for sure
FREDRIK: And Pentangle??
DAVE: Ah yes, Pentangle. Actually you've got two very distinctive aspects to your style and approach, you've got this rock feel, which to put in a box you could say was a bit like Led Zeppelin and then you've got this folky, Giantish approach, and they are really quite different. Your first album was really folky and "Think Like A Mountain" as well, but then "Superb Birth" is almost a straight rock album. Now you have come back with more of a folk album with some rock segments, why is that?
FREDRIK: Well we never make any plans, "let's make and album that sounds like this and has more of these ingredients", we just go with our instinct and let the inspiration guide us. This isn't something that we do for a living, it's pure inspiration and a project from the heart
DAVE: For the fun of it
FREDRIK: Yeah, it's a professional hobby. It's a hobby economically but the ambition is extremely professional
DAVE: Well you do actually come across as a very professional band, watching you live you are having a lot of fun and giving it everything but you're very serious about it too. It's a different approach say from Beardfish who are very young and have more of a "let's go crazy on stage" approach.
FREDRIK: It's so hard to draw the line between what is, and what is not serious. I think if you don't put a certain amount of seriousity (sic) into what you do then there's no point doing it, unless you're a circus or something like that. It has to have some sort of magic, that's why we do it. When you have one of those nights when you get that vibe, that's why we do it, there's just some kind of vibe in the air that is the magic of music
DAVE: How would you rate the show tonight by your standards?
PATRIK: For me it was really crap...
FREDRIK: You mean from the audience?
DAVE: No, from your perspective
PATRIK: I had a really hard time tonight because I really am getting tired of my voice, it's really shit right now. I appreciated that the gig as a whole went pretty well, the reception and the audience were really, really good. I love it when you see people singing along with the lyrics and when they respond to the new material. So the whole of the evening has been very, very nice.
DAVE: From the audience side, maybe you had problems with your voice but you looked like you were having a good time
PATRIK: Yes of course I was having a good time as well but for instance it makes such a big difference yesterday (???) we had a really good show, everything was just there, But that's always the case with a tour you can't have every night the same. Tonight was good though, quite a few people, up on the balcony as well which I don't think has been the case any time we have been here before
DAVE: I thought there'd be more actually because if you come for instance to see The Flower Kings it is fuller, I'll be honest with you
FREDRIK: Yeah but TFK really do have a live following...
DAVE: Sure but Jonas from TFK is also here
PATRIK: Yeah but you know, TFK, they pull a bigger crowd
DAVE: "The Hemulic Voluntary Band" has been out now for quite a white, what nine months?
PATRIK: Yeah it was September so about nine months, for us you it's still new!
|The Hemulic Voluntary Band
DAVE: Has it been well received overall?
PATRIK: Yes, it is our most successful album in terms of almost everything. In terms of sales, double, in terms of reception, very, very good. Most of all, the way the audience react to it is amazing. We're not talking about big figures here you understand but for us it is most definitely a step forward.
DAVE: Where do you see yourselves going now? Go with the flow or is there a plan?
PATRIK: We really have a combination. We will continue with the musical direction that we have for the moment with "The Hemulic Voluntary Band" because it feels very... fun!
Apart from that... well it's very hard to compare because when you make your first album everything is so new and incredible it's just wow. Apart from that I think it has been the most inspirational recording sessions we have had, both composing and recording sessions had some really magical moments where we just felt that we were really on the right track.
DAVE: I think that comes across on the album, it's very strong, there are no real weak points
PATRIK: Well we are really pleased with it. We can tell that the people that liked our first album, who have been our fan base not just accepted but really liked it
DAVE: Maybe the rock direction didn't go down so well?
PATRIK: Probably not
FREDRIK: I think it was something we just had to do basically
PATRIK: We couldn't stop it, it was something that was rolling on its own
DAVE: We spoke after the show with Adrien from XXX, he interviewed you earlier in the day. He's a metal lover and had never even heard your stuff before and we asked him if it was too acoustic for his taste but he said no, he loved it and would like to hear more acoustic from you.
IAN: It does actually make you a bit more unique because a lot of people are doing the electric stuff
FREDRIK: Well you have some bands purely electric, some just acoustic, we make it difficult on ourselves by doing both at the same time
PATRIK: It makes things a bit more complicated sometimes, for soundchecks and when you come to festivals and there's not enough time to setup. We are a bit of a pain in the arse, but that's how we are, we can't do anything about it, it's our thing and we like to have that diversity
DAVE: Well the sound was very, very good tonight
PATRIK: Ah, you have to tell our sound engineer because he was desperate about it
FREDRIK: He really did his job tonight, he's great, fantastic
DAVE: You even gave him a credit on your live album, the same guy
PATRIK: Yes and he has been recording all of our albums, co-producer and everything, a big part of the band
DAVE: The Tangent sounded a bit muddy as did Beardfish when Andy was playing with them but your sound was spot on
PATRIK: Good, I'll tell him
DAVE: Final question, and we ask this to all the Swedish bands, just what is it with all this great prog coming out of the country, any ideas?
FREDRIK: We often get asked that and the traditional answer is that we have a very good education system for musicians but you've heard that several times before
PATRIK: Then there's the climate of course, the dark long periods where there's nothing to do. I also think there's this connection with the English and American pop culture which Sweden has always been quite early to pick up on. We don't for instance dub the films but have subtitles so we learn English fast and progressive rock is an English tradition from the beginning. So we've picked up that line somewhere. Also, if you look at music in general, not just progressive rock, Sweden is the third biggest of exporter of music in the world after UK and America. It might have some, ok we are talking about commercial music, there might be some connections there, but it's very difficult to have a full answer.
FREDRIK: We have a tradition of popular music which really began with Abba
PATRIK: In our music of course you can hear a lot of influences coming from our folk culture but apart from that in Sweden the popular musical acts can really do the American and English style without interfering with the tradition of music - we are not very nationalistic, that may be a reason too how we can pick up on things easier
DAVE: No taboos then?
PATRIK: Yes, if it sounds English or American, who cares? That's not the case in Italy or France where it's totally different
DAVE: Sure, you'd better be singing chanson if you're from France or you're not going to go anywhere
PATRIK: Yeah, it's a totally different thing. The American tradition is very strong in Sweden, at the highest levels of musical education they teach the Afro-American musical vibe. I don't know how it is in other countries of Europe but that might be a difference as well.
DAVE: When I was at school we used to play the recorder, but that's what you play Frederick?
FREDRIK: Yes it's a recorder
DAVE: I guess there aren't many bass players out there playing a recorder and neither the...
FREDRIK: It's an Irish Bazouki
IAN: And the instrument Johan is playing?
FREDRIK: That's a keyed fiddle
DAVE: And not too many drummers playing those - that's a real nod back to Gentle Giant as well
PATRIK & FREDRIK: Indeed
DAVE: OK guys, I propose we stop there, thanks a lot for your time
PATRIK & FREDRIK: Thanks very much
Ritual Official Website
Ritual MySpace Page
DPRP Review of Ritual (1995/2004)
DPRP Review of Superb Birth (1999/2004)
DPRP Review of Think Like A Mountain (2003)
DPRP Review of The Hemulic Voluntary Band (2007)