Rock Impressions


Reply Jan Eric Liljestrom

How did your last tour go? Are you satisfied?
We did two small tours in the end of 1999. Immediately after we'd completed our new studio-CD "From Within" we played in Italy (Mantova), Germany (Wurzburg, Stuttgard and Gera), France (Paris) and Belgium (Vinalmont). We hadn't been playing live for more than one year prior to these gigs and it was really nice to be back on the road. The number of attendences differed, but the Mantova-gig was one of the good ones with about 350 people in the audience.
In December we did our first gigs in South America and this was a big adventure. We did one gig in Argentina and two in Brazil. We had a lot of spare time between the gigs, so it was tour and vacation combined. We met some great people and the atmosphere was really nice. A trip that we will never forget.

Your sound is a mix between the rawness of the seventies and the aggressiveness of the today, which one do you prefer?
We are quite firmly rooted in the 70's tradition and we mostly listen to music from this period. But there is much great music being made today as well, and of course we are also influenced by contemporary acts. I for example really like Radiohead, Björk, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Motorpsycho, Massive Attack and Red Hot Chilipeppers.

You have been together since 1990, but you've recorded only three studio albums, last one after four years. Why so long? Will we have to wait that long also for the next release?
We are not professional musicians and as we get older it is quite natural that it gets more and more difficult to devote very much time to the music-making process. And as we work on a semi-professional level and also want to present the music to an audience there are a lot of other things that comes with the actual playing. We are performing, writing, arranging, producing, booking, promoting and distributing our work and it all takes time. We would have wanted to release more records, but as long as we are not making our living from the music this is about as much as we have time and energy for. Still, we hope that you won't have to wait for as long as four years for the next album.
I think that we did a mistake when we were working with "From Within". We stopped playing live and said that we would only concentrate on finishing the songs for the record. But as we didn't record any demos and didn't do any shows a lot of time went by with not much happening. In the end we decided to book the recording studio although we still didn't have all the songs ready, and when we had an actual deadline the last bits and pieces fell into place.

Was it hard to stay together as a band without recording a new album?
Not really. We had two live albums that came out in Japan and this took some of the pressure off us. Maybe this made us too lazy - I think that "From Within" would have been released sooner if the live albums wouldn't have been made.
But I would lie to you if I'd say that there were no pressures. There were times when we felt like we were stuck in a rut and nothing good came out of our efforts. Still, we ended up doing a record that all four of us are very happy with and hopefully it will be easier next time around.

Vemod can be described as a King Crimson tribute, Nucleus is more raw and aggressive, while From Within is dark and metallic, in your opinion what are the differences between your albums?
"Vemod" was the easiest album to make of the three. We were thrilled about playing this kind of music and the songs wrote themselves fairly easy. I have problems listening to the album today because we have developed a lot as players and singers since then, but I believe that the songs have stood the test of time well and we still play many of them live.
"Nucleus" was more of a struggle. It is the most avant-garde and complex of the three, and I don't really understand how we manage to do it. We did an 8-track demo with "Nucleus", "Book of Hours", "This Far From The Sky", "Here" and "In Freedom" at the same time as we recorded the bonus track for the Japanese "Vemod"-edition, an old song called "Sad Rain". The arrangements for the songs became quite altered during the demo-recording and then many things were once again re-arranged for the actual recording. We put down a lot of time and effort in the recording/production and in the end I think that the album was a success. But we have found that many of the songs from "Nucleus" are difficult to adapt to a live-setting. There are often so many parts in one song, so you find yourself brutally pulled from one part to another and it's difficult to get into the groove.
With "From Within" we wanted to get back to more naturally flowing pieces. You have to be in a special mood in order to enjoy "Nucleus", but I believe that "From Within" can work the other way. When you put the album on you get into a certain mood. "Nucleus" is very much in your face, while "From Within" is more evasive. We felt that it was important that you could here that there was a band playing and therefore we didn't do many overdubs. It is also the most groovy of our albums.

Which are the songs that characterize you best and why?
I think that the title track off the new album is a very typical Anekdoten-song. The parts with vocals are rather quiet and then there are heavier instrumental parts and a flowing middle section with sweeping mellotrons ("beduin boogie").

If i'm right Anna Sofi lead the band to make a big change, what can you tell me about this, what really happened?
Nicklas, Peter and I had been playing together for about a year, almost solely doing King Crimson-covers, when Anna Sofi asked if she could join the band in August 1991. As a quartet we sensed that our project had turned into a real band, and soon we had the core of the "Vemod"-album written ("Karelia", "The Old Man & The Sea", "Thoughts in Absence" and "The Flow").
I believe that there is a certain chemistry within the four of us. When people vote for us in music polls we are usually not in the individual polls (best instrumentalist- and singer-sections). We do better in the best band, best record or best live show categories, and this goes to prove my thesis that Anekdoten is greater than the sum of its parts.

Anglagard, Landberk, Glory, Flower Kings, Reingold, Can we call this a swedish prog scene or was it just a coincidence?
I am not familiar with Glory and Reingold, but a lot more familiar with the other bands you mention.
There is virtually nothing happening on the live front for progressive rock in Sweden today. We haven't played live in our own homecountry since September 1997, so in that sense we don't feel that we belong to a scene. There were things happening in the beginning of the nineties, also in Sweden. We were playing quite a lot, sometimes on our own, and sometimes with bands like Änglagård and Landberk. Back then I think that the bands influenced and inspired each other more than today, but as there has been less and less opportunities for live gigs for every year this feeling is somewhat lost. Still, the bands collaborate and in that sense you can say that we still belong to a scene.

People link you to King Crimson, do you like this or do you feel that holds the band back?
In 1993 we were surprised that so many of the reviewers of our first album thought we were Crimson-clones. I had been more worried that they would spot the references to Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator and Trettioåriga Kriget. "Nucleus" probably turned more extreme because we wanted to show that we had other influences as well.
It's nice if people can see beyond the Crimson influences, especially since we are not listening to a lot of King Crimson nowadays, but we are not really bothered about it anymore. I think that it should be evident to most people by now that there are parts of what is Anekdoten that has never been present in the sound of King Crimson (and of course vice versa).

Will you record again with Morte Macabre, i've heard about a new project? Do you have others side projects?
I am not in Morte Macabre, so I'm not really the one to ask, but I know that there has been some talk about a second album. There are a few nice soundtracks that were not featured on the first album ("The Devil In Miss Jones" being one), and I also think that they would like to develope the writing capabilities within the band more. Still, this is a side project and I believe that Landberk first and foremost want to come up with material for their fourth album.
The Anekdoten members have no other side projects at the moment.

Can you live from music or you have other jobs?
We earn some money on our music, but we need day-jobs to survive:
- Nicklas and Peter work in record shops
- Anna Sofi works with production and consulting, mainly as web-designer
- I work with system design and programming

How do you live the day-to-day reality outside the band?
When we are not recording or playing live we lead very normal lives (whatever that is).

Your lirics seems to be very dark. How did you write them?
The melody is always written before I start writing the lyrics. Sometimes I get an idea for the lyrics very soon after hearing the music and sometimes I have to live with the song for a while before I find the subject matter. I don't perceive my lyrics as being very dark, but as our music generally is in minor-key I feel that the lyrics someway has to go along with this vibe. I do find that there is a certain melancholy and grief connected with living and I think that music is a good way to approach these aspects of life. I am certain that music can have a therapeutic effect in that sense.

Have you got some ideas for the next album?
We haven't really started to think about the new album yet, but there are quite a lot of bits and pieces that is lying around in the vaults, so we are not really starting over from scratch. In fact we have played three songs live in the last few years that didn't make it on "From Within".

You have reached a huge status in the international prog scene, what does this means for you?
Thank you for your kind words, but I don't feel that we have a huge status. It do seem like we are one of the bigger acts within the comparatively small progrock-pond and this is flattering. One thing that is great is that we have fans all over the world and this has led to that we have been playing in 4 different continents although we have "only" sold about 40 000 albums worldwide. To be able to do these tours is a fantastic opportunity and inspires us a lot. We also seem to have quite loyal fans, which is nice, because if people keep buying our records it should indicate that there is a certain quality in what we are doing.


Line Up:
Nicklas Berg, chitarre, mellotron e voce
Jan Eric Liljestrom, basso e voce
Anna Sofi Dahlberg, violoncello, mellotron e voce
Peter Nordin, batteria e percussioni

Vemod, Virta 1993
Nucleus, Virta 1995
Live Ep, Arcàngelo 1997
Official Bootleg Live in Japan, doppio CD Arcàngelo 1998
From Within, Virta 1999

Reviews (in italian): From Within

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