I'd like to thank Mattias Olsson who was so kind to answer my questions in detail.
Let's start in the past, ten years ago you've released your first album "Hybris". When you were recording it, were you aware that it would set lasting standards in the stagnating progrock scene?
I don't we think we had any preconceptions of what we were up to. The writing and recording of "Hybris" was at least at the start a very positive and uplifting thing. Everyone was in good spirits and I think we all were kind of surprised that we were actually recording an album. It all went very fast. Both Johan and Tord were very involved in the whole grand scheme of things. Getting a hold of record labels, finding Studio Largen etc.
So when it came to the music we were doing it very much for ourselves. We decided very early on that we wanted to be a progrock band. Not a prog band with leanings toward pop or fusion or anything, just straightup Scandinavian progrock band. I think it helped having a very naïve and open-minded approach to it but a the same time being very focused. Sounds like a contradiction but it worked for us.
Who came up with the bandname?
I think it was Tord. His story was that his grandmother as a young girl had a box with paperdoll pictures of Angels and she called the box Änglagård. A farm of Angels.
How did you proceed recording the complex and demanding Änglagård-tunes? Did you use a click-track? Or did you just record the basic tracks together?
For one thing we had rehearsed a lot and we had played a couple of shows which helped. We didn't use any clicktracks and very little if any editing. I know there is one cut on "Epilog" but otherwise it is straight takes all the way through. We were very adamant about wanting it to sound as if we had played a 13 minute song all the way through. Looking back on it now it could have been recorded so much easier, but at the time that was how we wanted to do it.
When it came to click tracks we felt that if the song speed slows up or slows down there must be reason so let it be there. That is the way the music sounds.
Whose cat is Johan holding on the picture in the "Hybris"-inlay?
It is Tord's Mothers cat. Can't remember the name of it. Later on they had ferrets which could have been a interesting photo shoot.
The "Epilog"-credits say that you began the recordings in Herman Palmsalen one day before you actually entered Studio Largen. What kind of place is that and what did you record there?
When I was younger I played in a lot of symphony orchestra, brass bands etc. and on Ekerö there is a concert hall where all of this orchestras rehearsed and played concerts. So I was able to get into that room and use the grand piano and the orchestral percussion.
With Änglagård we recorded the piano, acoustic guitar parts there and some Mellotron with the room ambience.
I have used the room and instruments there to record with Reminder and Geller as well.
Was it Tord's decision to abandon the singer-spot on "Epilog" or did the rest of the group made him quit singing?
It all just developed naturally. Tord got some criticism for his vocals and occasionally the lyrics were pretty personal or just straight out odd. Also as Tord backed down from the bands rehearsals for Epilog it kind of just happened. Also we didn't really want to pin the music down with words. At the end it felt like it spoke for itself.
Personally, I find the disharmonic ending part of "Höstsejd" pretty annoying. Were you trying to play as disjunctive as possible or is there actually some kind of theme in it?
On Epilog everything was very open and we tried just about everything. The end section was a more tonal (?) adaptation of a Duke Ellington brass phrase that we played around with. A lot of the arrangements were done by intuition and personal taste more than anything else. We liked the end bit.
It is always about balance in a composition how you space yourself and how you use the dynamics.
The layout of both albums features pictures of forests and lakes, and the songtitles and lyrics actually contain all seasons. Did you consciously try to translate Sweden's nature into your music, or was it all about scales and music theory?
I think it was something that we just grew into more and more. From the start it was mostly Tord and Johan but at the end we were all pretty much into the imagery. Also the music is very romantic and almost folkloric at times so it just seemed more fitting to have a picture of a still forest than a airbrushed model riding a oversized piece of lipstick, but hey we might be making a new album.
In Sweden all of the four seasons are very different from each other which affects you a lot. If it has been pitch black for three months you tend to view the sun a bit differently.
These days Änglagård's studio albums are very hard to find, despite the re-release of "Hybris" in 2000. Do you have any plans to make them available again, now that the band is together again?
We are talking about setting up some kind of service eventually with Exergy Music so that the albums are available. We need to set up a contact net again to find suitable distributors etc. But hopefully sometime this autumn.
Were there any attempts to continue the band with new musicians when the band was breaking apart in 1994?
No, we were all pretty fed up with the whole thing. Also we had been through a really odd musical career with the progfests, Mexican tours etc., so I think we felt that it would have been strange someone from the outside. Our own Swedish Trevor Rabin perhaps. A very scary thought indeed.
Thomas Johnson and you eventually played in the Swedish version of "Jesus Christ Superstar". Was this first and foremost a job, or did you have a relationship with the musical?
I think mostly it was something to do. We also did some rearrangements and put together and interweaved our own ideas and adaptations of it so it was fun.
You both joined Reminder later on. Did you ever jam some old Änglagård-stuff when the rest of the band was absent?
I think there were some moments but I think it more was like a general understanding of being in certain situations together again. Me and Thomas have spent many many gruelling hours in rehearsal spaces and studios around Stockholm.
Let's skip to the present, Änglagård are rehearsing again. Did you have to relearn the old songs first?
The old material isn't really a problem so we are mostly fiddling with some new material just to see where it is all leading. It feels really good to be working on new material and I think we are all trying to get to know each other again both on a social level and musically.
What does the new Material sound like?
The fun thing is that it is unmistakable Änglagård. It is very dynamic and moving. The first song we have been working on is a song with the working title of Solaris. We have been working with maybe 25-40 different themes and we are now trying to piece together a rough arrangement. The old instruments are all around so it sounds like it used to. So Vintage keyboard freaks out there can rest. There will probably loads of Mellotrons, Orchestrons and Stylophones on the final thing... and distorted bass of course.
Who had the initial idea to reunite the band, and how did the others react?
I think we have all thought about but we were getting offers that we needed to respond to. I brought it to the table at Jonas' house last October.
Do you think the band is more mature now, personally as well as musically?
No probably not. The interesting thing is that it was almost on the day ten years ago "Hybris" was finished and going back into the rehearsal room it is also interesting to see how little has changed. I think our listening preferences has changed and that we are maybe a bit more open for new suggestions. Maybe we are also a bit more articulate about what we want to do.
Åsa Eklund performed some vocals on "Epilog". Is there a chance that she will join you in case you're recording a new album?
If we feel like it would be the thing to do we would ask her but it is far too early to talk about a " final " recording of the material. I think we all like the idea of using vocal textures in a more instrumental setting but probably without words.
On the latest Pineforest Crunch-album, "Panamarenko", you've started merging the songwriting and the recording process. Are you going to adapt this procedure with Änglagård, now that you own your own studio?
We have already been recording snippets of stuff and fooled around with it so it is very possible that recording on a early stage will be part of the process. One of the big advantages in a prog setting is that a lot of the time people are very busy playing there instruments so it can be hard to see the big picture or maybe doing some self editing.
Once you've mentioned that sometimes you also play music to old Silent Movies. Could you see Änglagård doing a movie score in the future, if there was a suitable film? After all, I'm still of the opinion that your music would have fit the recent "Lord of the Rings"-films perfectly.
Maybe, if the right movie came along. I feel that when you work with film the music always has to add to the experience but not cloud it or get in the way so that it becomes probably more textural and for lack of a better word ambient. But the band has always been doing variations on themes, so it wouldn't be too far off.
The highlights in your personal career have been many. You've headlined the L.A.-Progfest with Änglagård long before you were even allowed to drink alcohol in the US, then you've got a gold-record and you've also played at the Roskilde festival with Pineforest Crunch, and lately one of your Geller-songs was used for an episode of "Dawson's Creek". What would you consider your greatest professional thrill?
It is all different. I very seldom think about what I have done previously and I tend to forget a lot of stuff so I don't know. The switch from just playing to getting into producing and recording has definitely changed my outlook on things and also given me loads of new ideas of how to approach my own music and drumming. I'd have to say that that is one of my biggest thrills. It is always great when people react to what you do but if I am working with a band on a song or a section of music and it all suddenly gels for them musically or productionwise, that still makes my day. It is always the small things, details.
What are you doing, when you're not playing, producing or just listening to music? Any hobbies or is music all there is in your life?
That sounds really sad but this is what I do. I record and produce bands. Now that I have finally gotten my computer up and running again I'll be checking out a lot of new bands on the Internet and will be getting more into the distribution part of it all I guess.
So yeah, it is all music.
Are you addicted to coffee?
If by that you mean I drink it all the time, well yes.
What are your other plans for the future?
I am currently wrapping up the Nanook-album with three more mixes this following week. I am halfway through the work on an Akaba-album. I am recording a 3 song sampler with a band called Clockwork which is a kind of a dark, 60's pop combo thing and I'll start working with another band called Kit Le Fever, soon.