Under the hot sun in Mexico I found myself with the proponents of a unique Swedish brand of prog: Änglagård. The outdoor portion of day one at Baja Prog had just closed and the band was nice enough to chat for a few minutes and share their thoughts with us at Proguluator. Apart from being thrilled by their unbelievable live performance the following day, I found myself thoroughly impressed with the friendly and kind nature of the band. Both on and off stage this is a band with some serious chemistry. Keep your eyes peeled; whether or not your an Änglagård fan already, I’m confident that they’re going to continue to deliver jaw dropping albums in the future just as they have done up until now.
Matt: Well, here we have Johan, Anna, Tord and Erik with us. The first question I have for you guys is, obviously there’s a few new band members; we have Erik [on drums] and then Linus on keyboards. How did the audition process go? Did you guys all know each other beforehand? How did you guys end up choosing Erik and Linus?
Anna: Well, actually Erik and I, we work at the same music school. We’re both teachers, so I knew him already. And I knew he played prog before, with the Flower Kings, so I asked him. I gave him our DVD and asked, “Can you play this?” And he said, “No problem.”
Erik: [-laughs-] Actually, the evening before we were going to meet she sent over an mp3 file. Said “Maybe we can check this out.” “Ok.” So I just listened to it, wrote some out, and the next morning we played one of the songs.
Johan: Yeah, I remember it,
Anna: What song was it?
Johan: “Längtans Klocka.” The new one.
Anna: Yeah. He didn’t practice or anything, he just listened at home, wrote some out, tried the next day and it was perfect. He got the job.
Matt: Very nice! Excellent, excellent. And how did Linus come about in the band?
Erik: We were talking about how we needed a keyboard player as well, and I directly thought of Linus, because Linus and I played in another band actually, Brighteye Brison, since a few years back. So I just recommended that we would try Linus out and I think he’s perfect.
Matt: Very nice. So my next question takes us back a long time ago. Something that immediately caught my attention when I first started listening to Änglagård was that at such a young age you had so many Mellotrons on stage at the same time. I mean, when the band first started in 1992 we had half he band members under 20 years old, and how many Mellotrons on stage, two or three?
Anna: Three, I think.
Matt: Which is not something you see all the time. So my question is, how did such young people come across so many Mellotrons?
Johan: [-laughs-] We have nice friends. You know?
Matt: So it was people that you knew that you acquired it from?
Anna: [-points at Johan-] But you bought one.
Johan: Yeah, I bought one, in Sweden, so we had one, in the back.
Tord: And we were friends with Anekdoten and also another guy. In Sweden there’s a lot of guys that have Mellotrons, so we just asked them to use them.
Matt: [..] Very good. Now, Markus Resch, was he servicing [your] Mellotrons at the time?
Tord: Yeah, he came when you [–points at Johann-] bought yours in the spring of 92.
Johan: Yeah, before we went into the studio for Hybris. I think our first meeting with Markus was on [_____], it was a little place, and he said, “Yeah, I can help you service your pedals.” All right! You can? Great!
Matt: So, the next question also takes us back a little bit, [about] your relationship with Greg Walker. […] he told me that in the early days of the band he was a big contact for you guys coming into the US. Could you tell us a little bit about how you met Greg and how things developed from there?
Anna: I think we have him to thank for much, that we are here today is thanks to him.
Tord: We sent him a demo of four songs, because we knew that he had released some prog music. Actually I think he missed it that time, because he never contacted us. But then we kept recording and we released an album in 93 and…
Johan: And then Greg called you [–points to Tord-] in the night, literally, in the middle of the night, he called Tord. [-imitating Greg being excited-] “Hey, this is Greg!”
Tord: [-imitating Greg-] “Can you come to US of A?”
Tord: “Of course, no problem. We’ll be there.”
Matt: Very nice, yeah, I see he’s putting you guys back to work at his booth :)
Johan: Nah, it’s nothing.
Matt: I’m glad to see that you guys still keep in close contact. So let’s talk for a little bit about the latest album […] All of our staff loved it, the voters loved it, and that’s really exciting for us […]. [What] I wanted to ask [was], how was the songwriting a little bit different this time than it was the first time around? I know I’ve seen in other interviews that I’ve read that there was a similar vibe, trying to recreate a sound that still sounds like Änglagård; but how was writing a little bit different this time?
Anna: I don’t know, it’s always been a little bit the same when we write, we’re just a little bit older and we are not very much wiser. [–laughs-] We still argue a lot when we write music. We haven’t been rehearsing the music when we compose. We composed it first. And after that we brought in the drums. So everything was ready, and then [we] brought in the drums and did some final arranging.
Johan: We had recorded really good takes before we went into rehearsal with drums… we already had all the channels.
Anna: Yeah, we had a quite clear vision of how we wanted it to sound. We tried out a lot of sounds beforehand.
Matt: So when you guys are writing and thinking of how to develop the melodies and the themes in the song, what do you do to try to set yourselves apart from other bands? Obviously you have your past and your history, but what do you try to do [so it’s] distinctively “Änglagård sounding?”
Anna: We don’t try to do it, it just happens. Actually, I thought it was going to be a little bit different from the earlier albums but ….
Johan: I think the new album is a new sound, but of course you can hear it’s Änglagård. We don’t try like, “Oh now we need to add a part that sounds Änglagård;” it just happens.
Matt: So what can we expect from the future? Obviously, Erik, you’re new to the band. What’s your role in contributing to the future?
Erik: Well, right now we’re playing the old songs but in a kind of new way I think, for some parts of the songs, and also some kind of improvisational parts a bit more, I guess, and I’m looking forward to record[ing] something in the future. It’d be really nice. Because I think this band has a real killer setup; it’d be great to go into the studio and record.
Anna: We have already started to do some new material and Erik’s very involved in the composing process. He’s really great. [Johan and Tord chime in, in approval]
Matt: Very good to hear. So, last question [is] for Tord. It’s great to have you back in the band. Could you tell a little about how you feel being back in the band? How are things?
Tord: It’s very nice. I don’t know what to say but, I think we have tried to get together for many years without success. I think some of us have longed for this situation… and [to] be more ourselves without so much pressure, so this time, yeah, it’s really nice.