Second Sun discuss Swedish Prog, past and present - Interviews - Soundblab

Second Sun discuss Swedish Prog, past and present

by Bill Golembeski Rating: Release Date:
Second Sun discuss Swedish Prog, past and present
Second Sun discuss Swedish Prog, past and present

I was fortunate to review Second Sun’s album Eländes Elände. And the band were kind enough to answer my interview questions. This is a record that breathes new life in the prog/rock ethos of 1972, and it will warm the hearts of the fans of Argus era Wishbone Ash and early Uriah Heep.

Are you all from Stockholm, Sweden?

Hey! This is Jakob from Second Sun speaking. We all live in Stockholm, Marcus and Adam are from here, I am from a small town called Arvika close to the Norwegian border and David comes from Sandviken which is also a fairly small town.

All right, introduce the band and list each member’s favorite record. (And I’m not a Tribulation fan.)

Adam Lindmark / Drums / Eagles – Desperado; Marcus Hedman / Bass guitar & Vocals / Roky Erickson - Roky Erickson & the Aliens; David Grannas / Guitars & Vocals / Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind; Jakob Ljungberg / Vocals & Guitars / Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

(I understand, it doesn’t appeal to everyone. You should really give The Formulas of Death a spin though, it has a lot of prog elements in it, particularly some Swedish folk prog stuff inspired by Bo Hansson and such.)

You sing in Swedish. That’s different from The Flower Kings or another band I just reviewed called Wheel in the Sky (who are from Uppsala). Why is that important to you?

Wheel in the Sky are great, a truly magnificent album, their last one! When we started the band, the idea was to have lyrics in both Swedish and English, because I like to write in Swedish and the founding drummer Micael (of Lamagaia fame, grade A kraut/space rock - check it out!) wrote really cool lyrics in English. We parted ways for logistic reasons and the only song that has his lyrics that stood the test of time and made it to a professional recording is Autonomic Pilot, found on the 7” that Electric Assault recently released. Our only song to this date with English lyrics. The Swedish language is easier for me to express myself in. I know exactly what words mean and their nuances, that makes saying what I want to say easier. Plus, for some reason I can sing higher notes in Swedish, ha ha.

And the title (thanks to Google translation), means “Elandes Elk.” Explain that title. And, because I enjoy the written (and sung) word, could you give two or three lines from the record in their English equivalent that present the ethos of the band.

Eländes Elände means roughly Woed Misery, or something in the vicinity. It’s an old expression, I guess it is kind of theatrical. But we thought it was funny and fitting to match it with our kind of down to earth lyrical approach. From the first song: The world goes under if we continue / That’s the heart of the matter / Out of the way hippie scum / Here’s money to be made! Soon there’ll be no one left to blame / And it’s not that hard to see / Everything is only going one way and soon it won’t matter / whose fault anything is anymore.

My note: So much for Google Translation! But a nice bit of lyricism.

Is there a world tour? Can I see you guys in America?

We’d love to tour the world. Book us and we will come! Unfortunately, the starting cost for getting to (especially) the US is huge, so we’ll have to bide our time and make it financially work before we can come. But who knows, if we get a good festival gig or something that can finance a small tour of one of the coasts or something that would be lovely!

How do you fit into the history of Swedish prog, with such a history of bands like Samla Mannas Mannas, November, Kaipa, Flasket Brinner, Archimedes Badkar, and of course, Made in Sweden?

I don’t know if we do actually. We never listened extensively to that type of bands. November is kinda cool, a little too bluesy for my taste, but they rock from time to time! My favorite from the Swedish prog scene is Bo Hansson, his Lord of the Rings album and Attic Thoughts are two of the best albums ever made in Sweden or elsewhere! Sofia, the keyboard player that handles the organ and synthesizer on half the album is into a lot of cool Swedish prog and showed us some really good stuff, but I think I’m more into the British side of things. Check her bands out! Klotet, Gravmaskin and Contaminazione - fantastic instrumental prog!

My note: I’m really stupid for not mentioning the great Bo Hansson!

Does the Silence label still exist? (I buy anything on that label!)

I have no idea actually. Silence Studios was up and running a few years back and they released killer Swedish Pixies-rock band Bob Hund a while ago - other than that I don’t know.

Hopp/Fortvivlan was your first record. How have you made prog rock relevant? And what is your intended progression? Is there a third album in the works?

We don’t really have a thought-out progression arc. It feels now like we’re heading into a more guitar driven hard rocking direction. But we never know and now our spectrum for how the band sound is pretty wide, which makes for a bigger diversity of tunes, which is great! A third album is in the making. We’ll work more on it during the winter months!

How is the music composed?

Pretty standard I guess - someone has an idea or two, we meet up, learn the parts, rearrange it a couple of times and then it’s a song. We work a lot compression, quality over quantity so to speak. I write the lyrics, we figure out extra stuff (percussion, harmonies and so on) and then we record it.

How does Swedish prog rock differ from Italian, French, UK, or German varieties?

I guess some of it is very influenced by folk music, but that’s true for some UK prog too. I wouldn’t know actually, I haven’t gone in very much in depth on Italian or French prog.

Explain the name Second Sun. And what is the Swedish translation?

In Swedish it would be ’Andra Solen’, it comes from when we listened to a band called Moonstone Continuum and they spoke a lot of “first and second earth”. I mixed it up while talking to Micael and said “first and second sun”, and we thought it sounded pretty cool. It’s got a little sci-fi sound to it, which is nice

Now, I really hear the dual guitar work of Ted Turner and Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash. Do you know the classic album Argus? And am I wrong to suggest there is, like Wishbone (or Fairport), quite a bit of folk tradition in your music?

Yes, Argus is one of my/our favorites! You are absolutely not wrong, I love Fairport Convention and the folk tradition is very much present, Swedish and Irish folk music was a part of my upbringing! That was the idea from the beginning; Jethro Tull and Steeleye Span meets Hawkwind. Later we threw in some late 70’s Judas Priest in the mix too, but the main idea is still pretty much the same!

Name a few other influences.

Wolf People (without whom we probably wouldn’t exist), Camel, the soundtrack to Castlevania 1-3 on the NES, Eloy and Grails. We also take inspiration from things that does not sound like us. For example, I have been listening to Bathory’s masterpiece Twilight of the Gods a lot lately, but I don’t think that the next thing will sound like that. Would be kinda cool though, ha ha.

My Note: Wolf People are fantastic! And their fans will love this record.

Do I hear a Uriah Heep heavy guitar/keyboard interplay in your music, especially in a track like “Panikangestattatck”?

Sure! Uriah Heep is great, I like the mix of fantasy style stuff and more down to earth rocking, and the keyboard parts are great! I remember us talking about certain parts as ‘the Uriah Heep’ part, while working on the songs with Sofia!

Just an idea: I really like how the end of the album reprises the beginning. Any comment?

I always thought it would be cool to do that thing Wishbone Ash does on Pilgrimage with the song coming and going throughout the album. We were thinking of putting it as an outro and intro to each side but it felt a bit too much.

Why are there so many great bands in Sweden.? To just name a few: Agusa, The Amazing, Beardfish, Dungen, Moon Safari, Liquid Scarlet, Mats/Morgan, Anglagard, Ritual, Anekdoten, Simon Says, Witchcraft, and Landberk. This may be better than the prog heyday in the 70’s.

Wow, I haven’t heard half of those, so I’ll have to take your word for that, ha ha! We’ve always had a lot of money in the cultural sector. Free/cheap instrument lessons, cheap rehearsal spaces and lots of people involved in young people’s activities. Those things lets almost everyone have the chance to at least try music. Which is super important.

Let’s get personal about Swedish prog:

Rag I Ryggen is a fabulous record. Any thoughts?

I never listened much to it, but it’s cool. It’s got a punk edge that I really enjoy!

Fata Morgana by Ragnarok is a favorite album. Again, any thoughts?

I haven’t heard it, it. I love the first one, but I’ll have to track it down

Kebnekaise were a brilliant band. Their III, Ljus Fran Africa, and Elefanten are great records. Do you know this music?

Yes, Kebnekajse is great! I don’t like all of it but when they keep it dark and instrumental it’s beautiful.

And have you heard Kenny Hakansson’s Springlekar Och Ganglatar? That album feeds back into my head.

Haven’t heard it. One more to the list!!

My note: My knowledge of Swedish prog is, thank you, in great debt to 1980’s import companies called Breakthru and Wayside who kindly sent hard copy catalogs before the internet (oh my!) sort of defeated the point of those much-anticipated catalogs. Now I simply press ‘place order.’ But, trust me, those were the wonderful and long-ago days.

What other Swedish bands must the world hear?

Ok, cool! People need to listen to Klotet, Hällas, Laser, Twin Pigs, Night Viper, Bomber, CC Company and Vojd!

My note: Hallas is great! I reviewed their record for Soundblab sometime ago. And you have grown my list by a name or two.

So, finally, what advice do a few great Swedish musicians have for music lovers all over the world?

Work less on regular jobs, buy less shit, take the bus - money is worthless, time is all you have!

My note: You have simply surmised the central idea from many great novels.

Just another idea from a lover of Swedish music: really nice album guys!  

Thank you very much, take it easy! All the best! Jakob

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