Beardfish "Something In The Water"

Interview by Dark Starr

 Never heard of Beardfish? No, it’s not some new type of creature living under the ocean. It’s a band from Sweden and they are far from a household name. Here’s what Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater had to say about them –

Sweden's Beardfish are my favorite "new" band with an "old" sound. Utilizing all of the classic styles and sounds of the original progessive rock bands of the 70's (mellotron, hammond organ, leslies, clean guitars, dry organic drums, etc.), these guys are making music for the folks who truly miss the classic bands that started this whole genre.

Well, you just can’t argue with an endorsement like that. I had the chance to chat with the guys about their musical history, tastes, etc. and here is that interview for WWC readers.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Can you catch your readers up on the history of the group?

Rikard Sjoblom: David and I started out in 2001 with a different drummer and bass player and played together for a while. We then met up with Magnus and soon he was the drummer of the band. He had a childhood friend named Robert who just happened to be an awesome bass player and so we sacked our bassist and Robert was aboard the ship! We recorded our first album with a guy named Stefan Aronsson and at this point he was also in the band, so on our first album (Från en plats du ej kan se...) we were a quintet. Before the album was released he quit the band though. After that we had a very creative period that ultimately resulted in a double cd in 2005 (The sane day). After that we did some concerts, among them ProgDay in North Carolina, one of the oldest running progressive rock festivals. InsideOut Music contacted us and wanted to release our forthcoming album so in early 2007 "Sleeping in traffic: Part One" was released. And now it's 2008 and Part Two is out!

WC: Where did the name come from and what does it mean?

RS: We brainstormed at a coffee house one late evening in the early days of the band and Gabriel Olsson (our first bass player) was the one who came up with Beardfish. We thought it was kind of stupid and would probably have changed it if we hadn't found out that there actually is an existing Beardfish plus the fact that people seem to remember it once they've heard it, and that's the most important part.

WC: It's always interesting to see what artists think about their music. How would you describe it?

RS: It's music, basically, with a twist. Sort of theatrical at times and with that comes humour.Sometimes it's dead serious and sometimes we just jam out!

WC: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?

RS: First of all, I would be a lot fatter than I already am, cause I would be sitting in front of a TV all day long, watching Simpsons re-runs. No, but seriously, I can't picture myself doing anything else. There's no good answer to that question other than that David would be a professional soccer player.

WC: Are there musicians you'd like to play with in the future?

RS: None that we can think of right now, we're quite content. But it's always nice to collaborate with new people.

WC: Who do you see as your musical influences?

RS: All good bands and artists that we hear, some more than others.

WC: If you could sit down to dinner with any three historical figures (living or dead) who would they be?

RS: Bill Hicks (stand up comedian, social satirist), Richard Manuel (lead vocalist and pianist of The Band), Salvador Dali (artist, painter, visionary)

WC: It seems progressive rock is huge in Sweden. Is it a huge scene?

RS: Not huge, but there's a lot of bands playing this kind of music. Swedish bands in general tend to get more credit outside of Sweden. There are some festivals and stuff, but there could be more.

WC: Why do you think the genre is so big there - is it something in the water?

RS: Maybe cocaine.

WC: I also notice there is a lot of retro music coming out of Sweden - besides just the prog rock - things that sound like hard rock or metal from the 1970's - do you think the reasons for that are the same as theprevalence of prog rock or different? Are you guys on a different calendar that puts us still in the 1970's?

RS: It's the circle, you know... There's new kids on the block, who've listened to their parents' records and try to do something own out of it, perhaps.. But seriously, we don't try to be retro, we just strive to do good music.

WC: Is the music scene in Sweden small enough that all the bands know each other - or is it something more spread out than that?

RS: From my own experience bands seem to get along fine when they meet, but it's somewhat a closed camp between them and when you're out playing a show or something at least we tend to hang out with each other in the band. Maybe that's just us, we usually have lots of fun together. I don't think everyone knows each other though...superficially perhaps.

WC: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?

RS: It can be good promotion, if the band itself is in charge of what's being downloaded, but right now it's just gone haywire because people are too cheap to buy the music they love and want to listen to. Ultimately, musicians aren't making any money from their recorded work and I'm guessing that concert ticket rates are gonna go sky high pretty soon. And playing shows has never been a profitable thing to do for upcoming bands because the venues don't want to pay unestablished bands and if you can't sell your recorded music either you don't make any money whatsoever and pretty soon you can't continue doing it. All this talk about CDs being too expensive is something I have never understood, to be honest. Cd's have basically had the same price since the early 90's - compare that to the price for a pair of jeans by a fashionable brand.

WC: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

RS: We have no problem with that.

WC: What's ahead for you?

RS: A tour through Europe in May together with The Tangent and Ritual, which is going to be great! During this tour we also release our new album, "Sleeping in traffic: Part Two"

WC: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

RS: The last CD I bought was John Mayer's "Continuum", it's pretty good, but mostly I've been listening to the song "Magic man" by Heart lately, ha ha! David has been listening a lot to Behemoth, the last record he bought was "The Kick Inside" by Kate Bush, on vinyl!

WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

RS: The band Kogo, who are friends of ours that we used to share a rehearsal studio with. They rock!

WC: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

RS: When producing our latest album, we recorded Magnus spanking Robert's bare ass for a fun sound effect! There's footage of it, but not many people have had the pleasure/discomfort (depending on your sexual preference) of seeing it.

WC: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?

RS: Buy our records, come to our shows, stay true to the scene!

Beardfish's MySpace Site