WITH RITUAL (italian version)
BY FREDRIK LINDQVIST
Giancarlo Bolther and Michele Maestrini
Nice to hear from you! We are very pleased to hear the good news regarding
the review of "Think Like A Mountain"! Thanks!
Here are the answers to your questions:
You are celebrating ten years of activity, can you tell us
about the story of the band?
Our singer/guitarist Patrik, our drummer Johan and myself
had actually been playing together since 1988 in a progressive rock
band called "Bröd" (the swedish word for "bread").
At the end of 1992 this band split up, but Johan, Patrik and myself,
the original trio, immediately started up a new band since we still
felt we had the same musical and creative ambitions.
Our keyboardplayer Jon Gamble joined us in February 1993 and so the
band RITUAL was formed. During -93, -94 and the beginning of -95 we
spent a lot of time in the rehearsal studio but we didn't perform
much live, mainly due to the fact that Patrik was occupied as a successful
musical artist here in Sweden. But we continued to write new material
and develop our own style. Early 1995 we got in contact with the French
record label Musea and in the summer that same year we recorded our
debut CD, which was very well received. To follow up the good respons
of the first album we toured quite extensively in Europe through-out
1996, playing for audiences in Italy, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Norway,
England and Sweden. In the autumn of 1996 we had already started to
work on new material for a second album and in 1997 we made a lot
of demo-versions of new songs, but the activity of the band was quite
low since all the members of the band were busy in outside projects.
Our frontman/singer Patrik Lundström actually won the Swedish
outtakes for the Eurovision Song Contest with the vocal pop trio Blond.
This and other facts limited the touring possibilities for the band.
Finally, in early 1998, we took our new material to the Rommarö
recording studio to begin work on the second album, which was eventually
named "Superb Birth". Superb Birth was released in the spring
of 2000. It had been decided that Ritual should try to release Superb
Birth on our own label, in other words that we should handle the distribution
ourselves. In retrospect this proved to be a bad move, since none
of us really had the time needed to run a small record company. Due
to this, and due to the fact that five years had past since the release
of our first album, the distribution failed and the album didn't get
the attention I think it deserved. However, Superb Birth got mostly
magnificent reviews in music magazines around the globe. We played
just a handfull of gigs in Europe following the release of Superb
Birth in 2000. But the creative spirit of the band was very high and
so we returned to the recording studio that very same year. Some two
years after these first recording sessions "Think Like A Mountain",
Ritual's third album, was released by Tempus Fugit. And that brings
us up to where we are today.
You have made only three albums, you're not a prolific band,
I see what you mean, three albums in ten years may seem a
bit thin. But most of us are not full time musicians; all of us except
Patrik, has other preoccupations beside music. We all have different
outside projects. Patrik and Johan also became fathers a few years
ago and parenthood naturally takes a lot of time. But actually, I
think we are a quite prolific or productive band in the sense that
we put a lot of energy, time and hard work into our music and our
recordings. I think productivity should be measured qualitatively
as well as quantitatively. And we actually do make a lot of music,
but a large part of it is not released on albums. Ritual is a band
who once in a while likes to induldge in different experimental musical
projects that may inspire and develope our music. For example, in
the summer of 2000 we recorded the band improvising. The music was
really interesting and it is now edited, mixed and mastered. But it
hasn't been released as an album yet. Such projects are good for the
band, it inspires and sheds new light on the music -- even if it is
never released on CD. We have a few such projects going on simultaneously,
beside the normal work of Ritual.
Was it hard to stay together as a band without recording a
No. I sincerely don't think we will ever stop playing together.
After ten years (and for som of us fifteen years!) we know we are
doing this for musical and social reasons. In these ten years we haven't
earned a penny as a band. Ritual costs considerably more than it pays,
economically. Still we have stayed togehter for all this time. We
simply like playing together and we like each others company. The
musical climate, perspectives and the inspiration in this band always
change and evolves, which keeps it continuously interesting and engaging.
How much time did you take to realize Think Like a Mountain?
About two and a half years. Most of the music on "Think"
was composed, arranged and recorded between the autumn of 2000 and
the autumn of 2002. The title song, which was made quite fast, is
the newest one, though it has elements in it which originates from
music improvised by me and Patrik twelve yars ago! We didn't record
all the songs in one continuous period. Quite the opposite actually.
As soon as we came up with a musical idea, an almost complete song
or a more sketchy idea, we went straight to the recording studio to
record it. It usually took about two days. Then we returned home to
continue writing. A month or two later, when we felt we had one or
two more songs ready, we went back to the studio to record them. This
was how the new album was made.
Would you like to tell us about the new songs?
The songs on "Think" are very varied. I think each
song is a world of its own. Each song has its own feeling to it, its
own mode of arrangement and sound, its own production and its own
atmosphere. We tried to achieve this quite consciously. For example,
we have "What are you waiting for" which to me is a typical
Ritual opening tune: very energetic and with a "electro-ethnic"
riff. We have "Explosive paste" which has some weird "rock
& roll" elements and a heavy drum beat. "Mother you've
been gone for much to long" is a quite extensive and atmospheric
piece with a quite elaborate production including a string orchestra
(violins, violas and celli). On the other hand we have the instrumental
"On" which is a very immediate and quite basic acoustic
tune with just guitar, bouzouki and percussion, recorded more or less
"live" in the studio. So it is a very varied album. A lot
of different moods.
There is a concept behind this new album?
Musically I think the variation can be seen as a kind of
concept. Lyrically there is certainly a theme uniting the songs but
this was not something we planned, it is just how it turned out. You
see, there is an ever present ecosophical lyrical theme in Rituals
music. The title of the new album, "Think Like A Mountain"
refers to this theme. It is ever present because it means a lot to
us. Most songs on this album (and indeed on all our albums!) in one
way or another express the need to identify with the natural environment
again, not only in order to reform and improve our very strained relationship
with the living planet, but because we also could benefit on a more
personal and "everyday" level, both physically and psychologically,
from realizing that we are not strangers set apart, that there is
substantially more to life than fame, fortune and human social affairs,
that life itself is considerably older than man and more remarkable
than anything man has ever invented or made up. Still, the history
of man is intimately interwoven with the wondrous history of the living
earth and all its manifestations. And we carry all this inside us
at every moment no matter how urbanized, alienated and detatched we
become. People are, of course, as much "nature" as the pikes
in the lake, the owls, the tiny plankton and phenomena like cloud
formation and thunderstorms. This may seem spaced out and "new
age" to some, but it is true regardless. With this perspective
life becomes less dreary, dull and monotonous and more fun, varied
and astounding. It can be quite a liberating feeling to let go of
the antropocentric world view. Maybe we all could benefit from learning
to "think like a mountain". To sum up: It's all about reconnecting
your thinking with the natural environment. To me restoring your bond
with the Earth is a great way of finding personal and communal wellness.
Where did you find the ispiration to write your music?
The inspiration comes from a lot of different places. Partly
it comes from experiencing nature and thinking about nature. Musically
it comes from everything you listen to. There is so much music in
this world! The inspiration to write music can come from a specific
sound from a specific instrument. Ultimately, who knows where the
need to play music comes from. It just seems to appear like magic.
I think it is a force of nature.
In the new album i've listened a lot of folk influences, can
you tell more about this interest in folk music?
I have been deeply interested in traditional music or folk
music since the mid-eighties. I have played Swedish folk music for
many years and I have studied etno-musicology. And I have always presented
interesting traditional music from around the world to the other guys
in the band, and they usually love it as well. Johan, the drummer,
is now also a folk musician, playing the Nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle),
which is a very unique traditional swedish instrument. But the folk
music element of Ritual is not specifically Swedish or Scandinavian.
It is more geographically undefined. Actually I think there are more
Arabian elements than Scandinavian in Ritual's music. In fact, one
of my favourite bands is a kurdish group from Iran called The Kamkars.
I strongly recommend their albums!
Your vocalist is singing also with Kaipa, another band who
mix prog and folk music, are you more than friends?
We have known or been acquainted with Roine Stolt for some
years, since we played some gigs with The Flower Kings in the past.
But we are not close friends. Hans Lundin of Kaipa called Patrik and
asked him if he wanted to sing on some tracks on their album and Patrik
agreed. Patrik's participation on the Kaipa album is a guest appearance,
he is not a full-time member.
There will be a new Kaipa album soon?
Yes! Patrik has been adding lead vocals on some new Kaipa
tracks. But at the moment he don't know when the new album will be
released. Probably later this year.
Which are the most important differences between your albums?
To me our new album (Think like a mountain) is a kind of
combination or a conclusion of the two previous ones. The first album
was very varied and playfull, with a youthful energy and a lot of
different arrangements and instrumentations. Superb Birth was perhaps
not as varied as the first album, but it was more focused on songs
and it has a slightly darker yet powerful energy, more raw energy.
I think the new album has the variation and playfulness of the first
album while it has the focus on songs and the powerful production
of Super Birth.
Which are the artists that influenced you best, if there are
There are so many. We listen to a lot of different music.
The musical starting point for everyone in Ritual was actually in
the heavy metal scene of the early eighties and we were all Iron Maiden
fans. When we started playing together as a group we all listened
to English bands and artists like Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Peter
Gabriel and Queen. We still enjoy listening to those bands. With King
Crimson it's a bit different, because they are still a fantastic band.
In fact, I think their last three albums are their best; they are
still renewing their music and their sound while being true to the
spirit of the band. I love their latest album "The Power To Believe".
We all have listened to Björk and U2 and we all enjoyed Radiohead's
"OK Computer" very much. There is so much good music in
We notice a lot of great groups from Sweden, only to name
but a few: Anglagard, Anekdoten, Flower Kings, Landberk, your country
seems to be very prolific for talented artists, do you think there
is a reason about that?
I really don't know. The thing is that none of these bands
are well know in Sweden. There is not a scene for progressive rock
in Sweden. The musical climate in Sweden is very commercialized and
trend aware. Most of the time when the press mentions progressive
rock it is usually in a negative context. So it's a bit of a mystery.
I think most of us have been more successful abroad than in our own
country. But still there is a lot of talent around, a lot of good
musicians. A part of the reason for this is that in Sweden there are
quite a lot of possibilities for kids to pick up an instrument and
begin to play music. At least that's how it was when we grew up. It
was part of the school system. Today I believe the political and economic
climate has changed and the possibilities are less.
What do you think about the new prog scene and how do you
see yourselves fitting into it?
Personally I don't listen very much to the neo-prog music
of today. And that goes for everybody in the band. Some of the neo-prog
music seems to be very formulaic or focused on the technical skills
of the individual musicians. In some ways it can become very conventional.
To me a lot of the true progression going on today in music occurs
outside the "prog scene". But the term "progressive"
is very vague and subjective. I don't really care if music is prog
or something else as long as it makes me feel good or curious or inspiring
in some way. But certainly, I think Ritual is a part of the "prog
scene"; in what way or how Ritual fit in is hard for me to say
because I'm too involved. I think different listeners have different
perspectives on this.
Do you think that the moment of grace that the prog and symphonic
scene are experiencing helped your band to emerge?
Certainly, because if there wasn't a prog scene I don't think
we would have had a forum for our music.
In this period prog metal is very popular, there are great
bands like Dream Theater, Simphony X, Flower Kings or Ayreon, do you
believe to be close in some ways to these artists or not?
In fact, I have never heard Simphony X or Ayreon! I have
heard Dream Theatre but it was not quite my cup of tea. Flower Kings
I have heard and seen live a couple of times but I have, once again,
never really got into this kind of music, even though I have all the
respect for these musicians. To me the good thing about the prog scene
is, and has always been, the great variation of bands and musics.
The bands are all very different: Dream Theatre, Landberk, Flower
Kings, Ritual - these are all very different bands musically, each
have their own sound and style. This diversity, to me, is the blessing
of progressive rock!
is the greatest challenge for your future?
First of all to follow up the respons for "Think like
a mountain", which hopefully means some more touring and playing
live, to meet our fans basically. It would be great to come back to
Italy! The next challenge is to write new music that feels exciting,
inspiring and important to us. It will not be a repetition of "Think",
but I believe Ritual's fans doesn't look for repetition. The world
is always changing and there is always music around so I don't think
it will be a problem!
Thank you very much for your interest!
Fredrik Lindqvist, Ritual
Patrik Lundstrom vc & gtr
Fredrik Lindqvist bs
Jon Gamble keys, synth & mellotron
Johan Nordgren drums & percussions
Ritual 1995 Musea
Super Birth 1999 Self
Think Like A Mountain 2003 Tempus Fugit
Live 2005 Tempus Fugit
Hemulic Voluntary Band 2007 Tempus Fugit
GB + MM
Review (in italian): Think Like a Mountain;
Ritual; Superb Birth;
The Hemulic Voluntary Band
Live Reportage (in italian)