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GUNGFLY (SEPTEMBER 2020)


TYPE:
INTERVIEW
GENRE:
PROGRESSIVE ROCK

The hyperactive Rikard Sjöblom never stops! One year after our interview at the Crescendo festival, the Swedish musician gave us an appointment to talk about the release of his new album, "Alone Together".
DARIALYS - 11.09.2020 - 6 picture(s) - (0) comment(s)



 
Hello Rikard! I'm delighted to see you again! We met for an interview last year at the Crescendo festival in France, a few hours before you went on stage!

Rikard Sjöblom: That's right! I remember, it was very nice!


The setting is perfect to play there. What did you think of the concert, if you remember ?

Rikard: Yes, it was fun! It was quite hot I think! But it was a good concert, and you liked it?


Yes it was great, it was the first time I saw you. You told me during the interview that you were going to play a song by Beardfish (Rikard Sjöblom's former band that stopped in 2016, editor's note). You had played 'Ludvig & Sverker'. I was delighted because I love that song, it was a very nice surprise. And you played a very nice cover of Jacques Brel's 'Ne Me Quitte Pas'!

Rikard: That's cool, I'm glad you liked it!


So to get to the heart of the matter, first of all, how is it going for you in these complicated times?

Rikard: Personally, I'm fine! For some people, it's more complicated. I've stayed active by making a lot of recordings. No concerts are on the program, but I did some concerts in streaming. I recorded a lot instead.


Does it mean that you are already working on the successor of "Alone Together"?

Rikard: (Laughs) No, but I've been involved in different projects lately. We're trying to get back to some heavier music with some friends. It's not really a band as such at the moment, but it could become one! You never know.


You've always had several projects on the go and all of them are very interesting. I would be curious to hear that!

Rikard: We'll see! It's stoner rock!



Let's talk about this new album "Alone Together"! In 2017, you released the album "On Her Journey To The Sun" with many musicians. On "Friendship", you came back with a slightly smaller line-up, and on this new album, you are only 3 musicians with the brothers Petter and Rasmus Diamant. Why did you choose to work with a more concise line-up this time ?

Rikard : Well... I noticed quite early on while writing this album that the songs were quite personal. That's often the case, my lyrics are often personal, but when I started writing this album, I wondered if I was going to use the same number of musicians as in the past. I started recording the guitars and keyboards, it sounded very good. I didn't really need more people on the team this time. Gungfly is really a solo project and it always has been. The line-up is constantly changing. Petter and Rasmus have always been by my side, they're very close friends. Sometimes I even like to record the bass and drums myself (instead of them, so, editor's note).


And by the way, what's it like working with two brothers? I guess they have a lot of automatisms when they play together because they know each other very well, but I guess sometimes it's a bit tense, isn't it? (Laughs)

Rikard: (Laughs) Sometimes it can be a bit tense, but it's still less so than when they were younger! Today they are very close, they can talk to each other in all honesty without the other taking it badly. That's very good.


They have become wiser with time!

Rikard: That's it! You know, when you start having children and that kind of thing, you evolve!


In any case, this new album has a rather enigmatic title, I would say. I don't know if you've been following it, but Haken just released a new album called "Virus", and they announced it right in the middle of the lockdown. It was a perfect coincidence, but I wondered if naming your album "Alone Together" wasn't also a wink to the confinement? Because during that time, we were alone, we couldn't go out, we couldn't see our friends, our family, but at the same time, we were all together in the same boat. Is that the idea of the title, unless it has nothing to do with that?

Rikard: No, the title was found long before that actually. I started thinking about it last fall. In December, I worked very seriously on the album. The song 'Alone Together' was already written. I think I started writing it in January 2019! So it was a pretty old song. This title refers to social networks. Because of that, you can be very close to people all the time. You can grab your phone and start talking to your friend who is in France, Belgium or wherever. But you are alone at the same time. It's quite paradoxical. A lot of people post pictures online of their day as if they were doing incredible things, like pictures of those perfect families having picnics in the woods. When you see these pictures, you think: "I want to do that too! I never do anything! ». But maybe it was the first time this family had ever done that! I think that social networks can give a false image of people's lives, and that can make you feel lonely. And it can even make you feel lonely even though you're close to a lot of people!


And you can become jealous or envious of these people, when the content they share is not necessarily representative of reality, as you say. So it can skew relationships, because you can feel lonely, different, or even strange.

Rikard: Yes, that's the idea of this record. That's the idea behind the title of the album. But the song 'Alone Together' has nothing to do with the idea of the album ! (Laughs). It's about a mentally disturbed child who lives in a psychiatric center. So this title has several interpretations! (Laughs).


And that allows the listener to have different interpretations and to be free in his way of understanding the texts.

Rikard: I like that, personally. When I listen to music, I like to make my own interpretations. And sometimes I'm disappointed when the artist reveals what the piece is about!


"My interpretation was better! "(Laughs)

Rikard: Yes that's it! (Laughs).


 

This album is close to "Friendship" in terms of structure. There are 6 songs, 3 of which are 9 minutes or longer. What struck me again on this album is that each song has its own universe. You can find the catchy and cheerful song ('Happy Somewhere In Between'), the calmer song ('Clean As A Whistle'), the powerful song ('Alone Together'). Is it something conscious when you write an album, to want to produce a content that is balanced with a wide range of sounds?

Rikard: Well... I'd like to say yes! (Laughs). Actually, I like to write songs in many styles, and make it all coherent and make a nice package.


We were talking about the song 'Alone Together'. The beginning and the end of the song reminds me of Beardfish's 'Comfort Zone' in the mood. For me it's probably one of the main melodies of the album, it's very melancholic and really beautiful.

Rikard : Cool, thanks ! This melody is not the first thing I wrote for this song, actually. Basically, this song was supposed to be much longer. In its initial version, it was not far from 20 minutes! And then I took out about ten minutes of ideas because I thought it was detrimental to the clarity of the song. This melody you're talking about, it only came after about ten minutes in the song. And then I thought it might be better to start the song with that part instead.


And then the growl is back on this song, it's been a long time!

Rikard: Yes, a little bit! (Laughs). 


Do you plan to use it more often in the future? Maybe in this new stoner project you have ? Because I think I think you're really good at it, and it really gives the songs a plus.

Rikard : Thank you ! (Laughs). You never know! I always try to do what serves the song as best as I can. Sometimes I use the growl on stage when there's no growl on the album! This time, it seemed quite natural to me on this song!


There are some jazz vibes on the song 'Clean As A Whistle'. It fits very well with your style. Is it a style of music that you listen to ? And are there artists that you appreciate in this kind of music ?

Rikard : Sure! I listen to a lot of jazz, especially old bands. In the early 2000s, I listen to very good Swedish jazz like Esbjörn Svensson Trio. I don't know if you know them. Listen to them, they are very good. Unfortunately one of the three musicians died in 2008 or something, so they haven't done anything since then. It's a trio: piano, bass, drums, it's very good. And I listen to a lot of jazz from the 60s and 70s. There's a lot of jazz bands with almost progressive vibes in it. I also like leading figures like John Coltrane and all that.


There's something I find interesting in your music. Nowadays, a lot of prog bands are looking to expand their audience by making shorter songs with very catchy choruses. But you, on the contrary, you always liked to experiment and you never wrote such long songs: 'Friendship', 'If You Fall Pt.2', 'Traveller', 'On The Shoulders Of Giants' for example. You seem totally free in your approach, as if you really want to remain authentic and true to yourself?

Rikard: Thank you! (Laughs). Well... Sometimes I shoot myself a little bit in the foot anyway. Again, I think a song has to be long sometimes when it's necessary. I like to listen to these kinds of songs myself.


When you say that you sometimes shoot yourself in the foot, do you mean that you regret some choices in retrospect, that you sometimes made bad decisions?

Rikard: If I wanted to be "known", if I was looking for success maybe. I always wanted to play music that I liked myself.



Recently, you've gotten into the habit of putting bonus tracks on your latest albums. How do you proceed to know if a track is a bonus track or not ? Because for example, on "Friendship", there is a track called 'Slow Dancer', which is very direct and catchy. It could have been a very good single for the album, but you put it as a bonus! Is there a logic that you try to respect to know if a song is a bonus or not?

Rikard: (Thinking). I'm not sure of my answer. It's not my decision to have bonus tracks, to be totally honest with you. If it were up to me, I wouldn't do it. It's a request from the label (InsideOut, editor's note). They want bonus tracks. So I'm always trying to write songs that would have had their place on the standard version of the album, that deserve to be there. The idea wouldn't be to make a slightly bogus acoustic version for example. This time, the two bonus tracks would really have had their place on the standard version of the album. It's like an extension of the album if you want. But if I had put those songs in the standard version, they would have just been put elsewhere. I knew early on that I didn't want to make an album that was too long, though, because I tend to write quite long albums. I've often written 75-minute albums for Gungfly or even Beardfish. When I listen to music, I like an album to be 50 minutes at the most, because I think that's the length of time you maintain the same level of attention. Most people don't hold that long! (Laughs).


Yes, especially today! And besides, we see more and more bands releasing EPs instead of LPs. That would not astonish me that in a few years, the LPs have simply disappeared. Today, it's better for a band to release a 20 minutes EP every year, that way, it's always on promo, it always has a new content to put forward and we can't forget it. Everything is going so fast nowadays, there is a lot of musical content. In 4 seconds, a person has made an opinion on a music they listen to! So an album of 50 minutes, I think that's enough today indeed.

Rikard: Yes, I agree. I listen to a lot of music myself, especially on vinyl. When there's a 45 minutes album that you listen to and you like, you want to listen to it again.


Looking back, you have an impressive repertoire. Is there a Beardfish or Gungfly song that you prefer, or some of your favorites ?

Rikard : For Beardfish, it would surely be a song from the album "Destined Solitaire" because it's my favorite Beardfish album. I think at that time we were really tight. We rehearsed a lot and we played a lot. It was a very good time for the band. In terms of songs, I would say maybe 'Until You Comply'. I also love 'When The Rain Comes In'. But I don't think we ever played it on stage, or maybe only once. It's one of my favorites with the band. 'Abigail's Questions' too! We were really good at that time.


Despite the coronavirus, things seem to be starting to move. The artists are starting to give new tour dates. Do you have dates already planned for the end of 2020 or 2021?

Rikard: I don't think we will play in 2020 unfortunately. There are no dates scheduled at the moment, except in England, but it won't be until the fall of 2021! But I have plans to record with Big Big Train. I think we also have gigs planned with Big Big Big Train for the summer of 2021 as well.


By the way, these last few years, you played a number of concerts alone on stage. Is it a format you like? What do you prefer between the solo and group format?

Rikard: I like both! Both are very different. I followed The Flower Kings on a solo tour for example. Roine (Stolt, singer and guitarist of the band, editor's note) offered me to be their opening act. I thought it was a good idea! It's fun too! Maybe I still prefer to play with the band, but sometimes it's nice to be alone with an acoustic guitar and a piano, to play softer versions of my songs.

And it's nice for the fans who know your songs well, as a result! Anyway, I guess it's been a privilege for you to open for The Flower Kings, who are Swedish too, just like you! I don't know if you listened to their latest album, "Waiting For Miracles", I thought it was really excellent.

Rikard : Me too ! It's very good, yes!


Anyway, I wish you all the best for the coming months. I hope you'll have a good time with the musicians of all the projects you're involved in, and I hope to see you on stage again soon!


Rikard: Thank you very much, it was nice to see you again!


And maybe see you next year for a next interview!

Rikard : See you soon!



More informations on http://www.gungfly.net/
 
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DERNIERE CHRONIQUE
Alone Together (2020)
Rikard Sjöblom's fusion is still at work on "Alone Together", a record bursting with richness, ardor and melodies. Read all reviews regarding GUNGFLY
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