In Words: Beardfish
|- Rikard Sjöblom
||- June 2007
||- Claudia Ehrhardt -
© InsideOut Music
Rikard Sjöblom - June 2007 (by email)
I never heard of Beardfish - and the cover artwork didn't tell much... So it was time to find out more and Rikard Sjöblom was so nice to answer a few questions by email.
Please tell us about the beginning of the band!
Beardfish was founded in 2001 by David Zackrisson and I (Rikard Sjöblom). We had a different drummer and bass player in those days. The drummer quit due to lack of interest in the music and the bass player simply didn't fit in so we sacked him. Luckily we found the drummer Magnus Östgren and he had an old friend named Robert Hansen who just happen to be one hell of a bassist. On the first album we also had a keyboardist / flutist named Stefan Aronsson (he also produced the first album) but he quit shortly after it was released. I then took over the keyboard duties and that's when we found our real 'sound' so to speak. I still play a lot of guitar though, mainly on the songs I've written ON guitar. We then recorded our second effort The Sane Day and it was a great process, we rented a cottage out in the woods outside of our hometown and stayed there for a week recording the basic tracks. Then I laid down the vocals at my flat, the album was mixed there as well. The album got great reviews and got us kind of an underground reputation in the progrock society. Then we got contacted by a bunch of labels and InsideOut was one of them so we decided to go with them for the release of Sleeping In Traffic...
Why do you chose the name Beardfish? Any specific reason why this deep-sea marine fish? And what does the name means to you?
It's just a stupid name we came up with during a brainstorming at a café. We thought we would change it, but then when we learned that there actually was a real beardfish swimming around out there we thought "what the hell..."
Your first release had a Swedish title. Did you also sing in Swedish at that time? Or were the lyrics in English?
Three of the songs featured Swedish lyrics and the rest were in English.
You sold your debut mainly on concerts, as I understood... How did you get the shows with bands like Paatos and Anekdoten? Did playing with these bands influenced you? And which bands influenced you to start Beardfish?
We never toured with these bands as some people seem to think, when they came through our city to play we opened for them, we've opened for Samla Mammas Manna (that was our first show ever actually, imagine the anxiety!) and Trettioåriga Kriget as well. I think Samla might have influenced us a bit in the way that they seem so relaxed on stage to do whatever comes to mind, but other than that, no, not in an obvious way at least. The music David and I talked about was mainly King Crimson and Gentle Giant at that time if you're talking about prog, but we also had a lean in towards Pearl Jam and Soundgarden / Chris Cornell (his awesome solo album Euphoria Morning that had just been released around that time) and more contemporary pop-rock.
You are obviously influenced by 70's rock. There are references to 70's (art) rock bands... to folk... also prog elements. What inspires you musically? What bands are you listening to?
Yeah, well it tends to be audible what one has listened to in the past when you make your own music. I grew up with mad nights in the countryside where drunken men were playing accordion and shouting out folk songs, so... But I mean, half of the bands that are mentioned as references in our reviews are stuff we've never listened to, so you'll be like "well shit, I better look them up so I don't steal anything from them, if we're so similar"! But YES, I've listened a lot to Zappa, Giant, Crimson, Genesis, Slapp Happy / Henry Cow, Beatles etc and since I'm the main songwriter it might shine through. Then there's also another side of bands like The Band, Little Feat, Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Charles Mingus and more jazzy stuff – as long as it's good and has soul.
Your second album was a double CD called The Sane Day. It seems very unusual to release a double CD and do this without a label. How come? Have you thought about re-releasing them, as they are sold-out already?
We simply had too many songs to put on one disc, couldn't come to a decision amongst ourselves which ones to let go and then decided to make a double CD. The Sane Day is not sold-out, it's available through InsideOut's webshop and various retailers. It's almost sold out though, he he! We're hoping that IO will want to re-relase them both, we'll just have to wait and see.
Your new album is called Sleeping In Traffic: Part One. This indicates that it will be continued. Usually you do this when you have a concept... Why this title? And is there a hidden concept?
It will be continued, there will be a part two. The only concept is that part one is like a day passing, beginning with the sun rising and ending with the sun setting. Part two will be the night portion of the 24 hour period. There's a suite planned for part 2 as well (already recorded).
Who had the idea for the artwork? And for putting the beardfish on a leash? Do you feel like being on a leash?
Do we feel like being on a leash? S&M? Nah, I don't think so, I can ask the others though, hahaha!!! There was no real idea when we talked with the woman who designed the Beardfish, Hanna Lindkvist, so she just made some sketches and we just loved them! These drawings were made in 2002 though so they're quite old, but we haven't had a fitting album to put them on until now. Notice how the man has his eyes closed, that's sleeping in traffic for you right there! Also there's the cool way in which she made them, crayons, graffite and all sorts of funny combinations. The sad look on the fish is also kind of beautiful.
Are any shows planned in 2007? Outside Sweden?
Yeah, there's one in September in Tilburg - Holland at Symforce. Then there's one in Belgium at the ProgResisté Convention a month later. We have some stuff planned.
As I understood your CDs been self-produced... Will you work in future with a producer? Are there any musicans / producers you would like to work with in future?
For now we have a very clear idea on how we want to sound and I think it's good: the whole DIY thing. When we've grinded through our catalogue of sounds one too many times we might have to let somebody else jump in and save the day. Beardfish is sort of a closed set, if we want to use any other musicians we'll contact them ourselves and let them guest star on the albums or at concerts.
Cheers – Rikard Sjöblom of Beardfish
And perhaps they come to Germany, too... one day. Meanwhile fans in Belgium and the Netherlands get the chance to see the Swedish live.