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Topic ClosedInterview with Rikard Sjöblom of Beardfish May5/08

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Interview with Rikard Sjöblom of Beardfish May5/08
    Posted: May 05 2008 at 19:37
I had the chance to talk to Rikard Sjöblom of Sweden’s own Beardfish regarding their newest album – Sleeping In Traffic Pt. 2

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PA: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for our website!

RS: No worries!

PA: So for those unfamiliar out there, how would you describe your music?


RS: Well, a lot of people call us prog rock, I don’t know, we’re definitely kind of labeled it. I guess prog rock is the common denominator, what do you say? (he laughs)

PA: Yeah, based on what I’ve heard it sounds pretty proggy! ( I laugh)


RS: Yeah, most people say that!

PA: Would you say that you were influenced by prog bands?


RS: Yeah, sort of. I was influenced by a lot of 60s and 70s bands like King Crimson and a lot of Frank Zappa’s stuff and that kind of things. But we’re into later stuff as well like Radiohead and Soundgarden. So yeah, basically all good music that we’ve listened to.

PA: Can you give us a quick run though of how you got here? Y’know, previous bands that you were in and how you met your current bandmates.

RS: Okay, yeah! Well, David and I we started the band together back in 2001, we were in high school together. That was when we started, and we had a different drummer and a different bass player back then. And pretty soon we realized that the drummer wasn’t that into what we were trying to do. Because we started out by playing stuff that was like King Crimson, and I don’t think he was very into it, and he quit. But I played with him in another band called Orca [interviewer’s aside – I think I heard that name right]. And the other guy, Magnus Östgren, the current drummer, he replaced him in 2002. And he had a friend, Robert Hansen, who later on started playing bass instead of the bass player we had back then.

That line-up has been consistent since then, but we had a keyboard player as well when we recorded our first album in 2003. He played on the album, but when we were about to release it he told us that he wanted to quit. He had some things… some other projects and he wasn’t that into the kind of music we were doing, so. So he quit. I think we’ve grown as a band because he didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse and stuff like that. And after that we started rehearsing our asses off! (he laughs) So we became a lot better.

Then we recorded the double CD, which was “The Sane Day” which was released in 2005, and a couple record labels got the rights for us – and one of them was InsideOut. And yeah, we signed to them and released “Sleeping In Traffic Part 1”. Since then we’ve been getting things together for part 2. So yeah! I think we’ve been moving in the right direction at least (we both laugh).

PA: I’ve been wondering, you’ve often been touted as having a very “retro” sound, is that planned or did it just kind of happen?

RS: From what I’ve understood… I think the thing is that we use a lot of retro sounds. When David and I play guitars we have sort of “fuzzy” guitars, even though they’re downright clean. And the keyboards are very often like Hammond Organs and those kinds of 60s – 70s instruments. So its mainly ‘cause of that, and maybe because of the actual songs.

There’s an equal amount of influences from the 60s and 70s scene, but there’s also a lot of the stuff that came later – like the bands I mentioned earlier… The grunge scene and the rest of the rock scene, you know.

But I owe a lot to, like, Frank Zappa and that might shine through in the song writing process, with me being the main composer in the band, so that’s probably one of the things.

I can understand why people think it sounds more Zappa or Crimson than people think that it sounds like Camel or stuff like that. Cause I’m not very into that.

PA: You seem to be very big believer in “Humor Belongs In Music”, eh?

RS: Yeah, I’m a big believer in that, absolutely. (He laughs) I think, “The funnier, the better,” you know?

PA: Can you tell me a bit about the song “South Of The Border”, speaking of which?


RS: Yeah, sure! “South of the Border,” that was… I had a rather “rocky” riff. I don’t know how to say it, but it’s basically a hard rock song, I think. And I don’t know if you’ve heard a song called “The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer” from “The Sane Day”?

PA: Yup, I have heard that one, yes.

RS: Oh, okay! ‘Cause that one also has a kind of humorous theme with the guy who… he just wants to meet babes! (He laughs) But he has a problem because he doesn’t know any cool stuff and so he tries to corroborate his ballroom dancing moves with more present day music, like, y’know, Hardcore – and stuff like that – and turns it into a success and gets the ladies!

“South Of The Border”, in my mind, is the main character from “Gooberville Ballroom Dancer”’s cousin, who’s called Garth, and hes one of those assholes you see in the bars, you know? He smacks the ladies’ ass and comes out with those great remarks like, “Hey baby, you want to get it on?” (We both laugh)

PA: I think I know too may of those people.


RS: Basically it turns out that he has this hostile… Y’know, the way he treats the ladies is because, downright, he is gay. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that… it’s just an observation, you know. (we both laugh). And I though – “Might as well turn that into a song,” so why not.

PA: So with all these stories, are these all things you’ve overheard in bars, or experiences that you or your band mates have had, or are they just things that you make up?

RS: Well, that song was downright fictional. There’s no truth behind it, except for… the common psychology of man, you know? We’ve all heard stories like that, the guys who treat women like sh*t and stuff like that. Basically they have repressed feeling that don’t come out. I think that’s the same with a lot of different things.

PA: You’ve produced your own records up to this point, will that change after spending some time with a major record label such as insideOut?

RS: We’ve talked about it many times, it would be fun to work with, like, a producer or something. The thing is that we have a very “work in” approach to recording. And we always try to record the basic tracks live… together. And we’re not that into over producing sound. Instead of recording a guitar lick and then trying to perfect it afterwards. If we want something overlayed on a guitar track or whatever we try to get that down right away. We just want to paint a better picture.

I don’t know if a producer would get in the way of something we’ve always done. It’s that outside force. On the other hand they could probably enhance it in another way

It’s a tough call. I don’t know! (He laughs)

PA: Recording your songs live, do you find that difficult? Not a lot of bands do that anymore.

RS: Well, I know a lot of bands – but I’m not naming any – who want to record mostly step by step. We do that as well, but if we have the opportunity we like to play it together because mostly we get a better groove, and it just feels better to play together.

We overdub stuff – most of the time it’s not a lot – on some songs there I play guitar as well as the keyboards, and for the songs that I play guitar we usually record it live with the guitars. Then I’ll add some keyboards afterwards.

It’s because of the lack of energy that comes when you’re in the studio. Which is the opposite of when you play live. When you play live there’s usually a lot more energy, even though we have no keyboards on those songs. The energy can be hard to transfer onto record and stuff like that sometimes, so…

Man, that’s a long answer! (we both laugh)

PA: That’s cool, that’s cool! So, in previous interviews you’ve said that you thought that Part Two was going to turn out darker than Part 1, did it turn out that way?

RS: Ummmm… I don’t know, what do you think?

PA: Well, based on what I’ve heard it still sounds pretty upbeat, but I guess I can hear that element moving in.

RS: Yeah… (We both laugh) I mean, I think there are some things that, in my opinion, are just darker. Some of the lyrics might be a little darker, stuff like that.  But there’s also the quirkiness, with like, “South of The Border” and “Cashflow” and those songs. Probably… (he laughs) not that much darker, but there might be some darker elements. Some parts of “Sleeping In Traffic,” the song, might be a little bit darker. Yeah, I don’t know! It’s hard! (we both laugh)

PA: You guys aren’t dark people.

RS: Nah, not really. (he laughs) not especially…. No.

PA: The title track of the pair, “Sleeping In Traffic” long 35 minute suite, did you have this planned, like “Oh yeah! We’re going to make this huge epic track”? Or did it just kind of happen?

RS: Well… the thing is that that song was actually written in 2002.

It was prior to Robert being in the band, and he was always with us. This is a little side story, by the way. He was always with us on the rehearsals because he was such a good friend with the drummer, Magnus. That’s actually how we decided that he should be the bass player, because he sat in on the rehearsals and he actually knew that song better than the current bass player who was with us at the time.

There was never an intention of making a 35-minute song. Yeah, now I’m back on track again (he laughs). But we only had the instrumental part in the beginning of that song. Then I sat at home and started adding more things to it, and it came up to the first part where there’s vocals. And I realized, “Man, this song is going to be long, ‘cause I don’t see an end to it! Y’know, these harmonizations these vocals are not going to end, they’re just going to build and build.” And it did!

Then we rehearsed it, and we do that with songs. It’s good to know when the song is finished – where it’s going to fit on an album. So it was “Sh*t man! 35 minutes! What’s going on?” (we both laugh) “we can’t fit that on an album!”.

We were going to record our first album back then and we just figured that this was not going to fit the first album because we had a lot of stuff already recorded. And so it took three albums before we decided to use it. When se signed to InsideOut we decided, “well why not go out there with a bang, and do two albums named after this song.”

So that’s what we did.

PA: Great! So I’m guessing you’re pretty happy with it after years of working on it.


RS: Yeah! We actually didn’t work a lot on it between 2002 and 2005 or something. We started playing it around live a little bit between 2005-2006, and when we played ProgDay in ’06 we played it there. And the crowd was very enthusiastic, they seemed to like it. That’s when we decided “we have to record it again!”, because we had a recording of it, but we weren’t satisfied. So we did in January of 2007, and then I wrote some more songs, and then we recorded again in December. The album was finished in December 2007.

PA: Based on “The Sane Day” and the “Sleeping In Traffic Pair” you guys really like to do concepts. What are you going to do now that Sleeping in Traffic is over? What can we expect from Beardfish in the future?

RS: Umm, I don’t actually know!

The thing is that there’s never been an intention of doing a concept album. Almost half of the songs are finished for an album like “The Sane Day” then I figure that there’s a lot of lyrics that could be intertwined and made into a more satisfying whole. That’s where I came up the concept thing, and where I wrote a little short story for “The Sane Day”.

And I’ve had people come up to me and say that they’ve found meaning in those songs… and that’s good for them (we both laugh). I don’t usually know what they’re talking about… but that’s the fun part about music! And I know I’m the same. If I listen to an old Zappa album like “The Grand Wazoo” where there’s such a concept, and I know that Zappa might not have all those ideas himself. It’s up to the listener most of the time.

And I’m not comparing myself to Frank Zappa! (He laughs) It’s always up to the listener.

PA: With the “Sleeping In Traffic,” speaking of concepts, what was the concept behind that one? Or was it another one that just kind of happened.

RS: Like I said, we knew that we had this big chunk of music, the 35-minute suite, and we wanted to name the two albums after that. And then I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if the first one could be the day… and the second one could be the night.” So it’s 24-hours in a person’s life… not to be intertwined with the songs and stuff like that, but it’s the same person in all the lyrics. And a lot of stuff happens with him or her… probably him… because it’s semi-autobiographical. (he laughs) Y’know, you get song lyrics from yourself.

So yeah, 24 hours, first part is the day, second part is the night. That’s it basically.

PA: Your debut album had a lot of Swedish in it. Do you plan on releasing anything in Swedish in the future?

RS: I have actually tried to write something in Swedish after that, but the thing is that I find it more difficult to write in my native language… that’s strange.

Those three songs that are in Swedish are probably the best songs I’ve written that are in Swedish. (he laughs) and I don’t think that I’ll be able to top them, so. I don’t know, I could be wrong and it could happen. If it happens it happens, but InsideOut might not like that because they’ve asked before, “maybe you should have translations of those songs.”

We’ll see. I don’t know. (we both laugh)

But yeah, when we wanted to re-release those two albums it never happened, and that’s why progress records re-released them.

PA: After finishing this new album are you happy to have it finished or would you rather be back in the studio?

RS: Actually we always want to be in the studio. We’re one of those bands who love to rehearse and love to record. So right now we’re rehearsing some new songs that are probably going to be on the next album. I don’t know when we’re going to record or anything, but it will probably happen sometime soon, I guess.

PA: Right on! You’ve been pretty prolific with releases since you started, eh?


RS: Uh, yeah! There’s been a couple (he laughs), 4 I guess now.

PA: I know you guys love recording in that cabin, oh and your rehearsal space too. Now that you’re on a big label do you think you’ll go back to these places or will you go into a big studio?

RS: We talk about possibilities because it would be kind of nice to have someone else take care of mic-ing, and everything… setting everything up. Then there’s also the “know how” factor – those people actually know what they’re doing. Over the years we’ve probably picked up some stuff and we’ve learned.

But if we go into a studio I’d like to go somewhere where there’s an old grey haired man who’s a professor of what he’s doing. But it would be nice to record with some guy, or girl, who’s a genius with what they’re doing.

PA: I’ve read in a previous interview that Beardfish was just a name that somebody spurted out and you just decided to use. What other names did you have in mind at the time?

RS: Oh man… let’s see…

PA: All those years ago…

RS: (he laughs) yeah… I don’t think I remember anything! The thing with “Beardfish” was that… I think it was the former bass player who just kind of started it out. And we thought, “aw, what is that? It’s a stupid name. We’ll keep it, but if something comes along…” but then it kind of stuck in people’s heads. And that’s the main reason to have a name, so why not.

Then we found out that there actually is a beardfish, it’s a deep sea fish that has, like a shogun mustache. You know, the long long moustache that runs down (he laughs) It’s actually pretty cool!

I don’t know if we had any other names, I guess I’ve forgotten them!

PA: I’ve gotta know, your album art is fascinating, who does it?
 
RS: Oh, you think? Thanks!

Well, part one of “Sleeping In Traffic”, that painting was made by… like long ago, in 2002, by David’s then girlfriend – he had a girlfriend named Hanna – We asked her “hey could you do something for us?” because we needed something for a demo or something. And she just painted this man who was walking a fish on a leash, and we thought that was really cool… but the we didn’t use it, I don’t know why… it’s very strange, but we got to use it on the first album for InsideOut. That was nice, anyways.

And you know the layout - That’s David’s department, he always does that. He actually studied some stuff, he’s educated in screen-printing, he was studying that for a couple of years, so. He knows what he’s doing with, like, photoshop and those kind of programs.

We just tell him “hey, we should have this,” and he takes it and goes off and does something.

PA: You guys are quite the sight to see live, are there any plans for a DVD in the near or far future?

RS: The thing is that we’ve played some shows, but there’s not a lot available yet because… how should I put this… we want to save the money because we have to pay for that stuff ourselves.

If we’re going to hire a camera team we should do it when we’ve been on the road for some time… and plan it for some cool venue.

PA: I’m coming to my last questions now… one of the would be – What’s the last CD you listened to?


RS: oh, the last CD I listened to was actually earlier today was with Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger… I think the CD’s called Trinity or something like that. It’s from the late 60s, probably 68 or 69. They play covers on it, I think they play ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ by The Band and “light my fire” by the Doors and stuff like that.

PA: Any final words for the fans and the readers and everyone out there?

RS: Well… no. It’s nice that we exist! (we both laugh) them too!

PA: Final thoughts on the new album?

RS: There’s something that I wrote in the liner notes in the booklet, we’re really satisfied with the album, and we feel it’s our best one yet. But maybe the songs are a bit trickier to get into at first. But if you give them a chance, they’ll grow on you, because they did on us. So… if you’re anything like us you’ll like them! (he laughs)

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Special thanks to Rikard for giving us this interviews, and best of luck to him and Beardfish in the future!

And another thanks to our leads at SPV/InsideOut for setting all this up.

Check out the band's mySpace page here - The new album will be out on May 20th, 2008. Check it out!

Edited by King By-Tor - May 06 2008 at 03:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2008 at 20:01
Cool, another great interview and I'm looking forward to their new album.
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2008 at 20:41
Good job KingByTor!  

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2008 at 21:01
damn... I had an interview with him two years ago... but was so drunk... I forgot to write anything down...  typical.

great interview...  love that group.  Count myself as one of their first fans in the states hahha.
I find your lack of Bassoon disturbing.....
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2008 at 03:57
Yeah - great band and excellent interview Thumbs%20Up

I'm looking forward to see them at the end of the month Smile

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2008 at 12:07
Interesting read and great interview. Will jump to the band's profile instantly Thumbs%20Up

Edited by LinusW - May 06 2008 at 12:07
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2008 at 22:21
Your a natural at this King By-Tor,so do you want to be behind or in front of the camera ? Now if you can get an interview with Anekdoten i swear i'll send you money.LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2008 at 12:06
Originally posted by sinkadotentree sinkadotentree wrote:

Your a natural at this King By-Tor,so do you want to be behind or in front of the camera ? Now if you can get an interview with Anekdoten i swear i'll send you money.LOL


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I'll pm you my banking details - at Friday this week I'll see them .... Wink

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2008 at 22:35
I envy you Rivertree over their in Europe,you guys get to see so many amazing bands all the time. Your avatar is pretty incredible too.
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