When David Zackrisson and I (Rikard Sjöblom) were in our final school year we played together in a grunge band called Wooderson, basically a school band rockin’ out. We talked about taking it further since we really liked playing together. Both of us were big fans of King Crimson and Gentle Giant and we wanted to do something of our own that went in that direction musically. We started playing with drummer Petter Diamant (Bootcut) and a bass player named Gabriel Olsson. In the beginning we were mixing these attempts at a crimsonish sound (with lots of diminished chords) with more regular rock songs that I had been writing. We rehearsed for some time but it was hard to get things going because we all had other stuff going on. Another thing was that Petter was not that in to what we were doing and pretty soon we were looking for another drummer.
We tried some guys and finally we met up with the then 18 year old Magnus Östgren and He can tell you about that Himself:
We had lots of fun with Magnus as our new drummer and I wrote some new songs for us to play, one of the very first – “Today”, is still one of my personal Beardfish favourites actually.
We were scheduled to record in a friend’s studio in sandviken, this guy Stefan Aronsson was and still is a guitar player, but a very musical guy and he also plays some keys and flute and stuff so he ended up playing flute on the recordings. I told him one day that I thought Beardfish should have a keyboard player (I don’t think I was mentally ready for that task myself at the moment!) and he sort of got big-eyed and basically shouted out that he wanted to be in the band. Said and done, he started immediately. I had a Hammond L-100 organ that he borrowed when we played and he used some other keyboards as well, after a while he bought a micro-moog that really gave his sound attitude, the oscillators man, the OSCILLATORS!!!
After Stefan started in the band we noticed that having Gabriel on the bass really wasn’t working out that well. We talked about it amongst each other and I had to make that dreaded phone call to tell him that we were looking for someone else. He took it well though, Gabriel is a sweet guy.
I already had my eyes on another bass player who Magnus had known forever. Robert Hansen:
I started writing more songs, among them some with Swedish lyrics which was kind of fun. We started talking about recording an album. We scheduled the recording to take place in Stefan’s studio (that he had now moved to Gävle where it still remains) in the late summer of 2003. When the album was in print I had a lunch with Stefan during which he told me he wanted to quit the band. It just didn’t feel right for him and he had a lot of other projects going on at the same time. Thinking back on it I thought it was very strange that he wanted to leave, but what were we suppose to do, it was his choice. But on the other hand, the band had rehearsed some of the songs without him since he didn’t have that much time to rehearse we would sometimes play without him. Even during the album recording (although this probably had more to do with the amount of tracks we could record at once than anything else) the rest of us recorded our basic tracks live: drums, guitars and bass, then Stefan put down the keyboards later on. He told me that he had been thinking of leaving the band for a while but he had had so much fun recording with us that it wasn’t until the recordings were finished he took his final decision.
The album was financed out of our own pockets and we had some distribution through Progress Records but it went by quite unnoticed (It has now been re-released together with our second album “The Sane Day” through Progress Records) and the 500 copies we’d made lasted for quite some time!
Beardfish continues as a four piece with me replacing Stefan’s role as keyboardist. The end of 2003 is a very productive period for the band and some demos are recorded.
Beardfish starts the recording of a second album. The first session includes five songs; A love story, Sun is the devil, Ask someone who knows, Now, Akakabotu (unreleased). After this it takes almost a year before the band records again.
The band secludes in a cottage outside the little town of Gävle, Sweden to record the rest of the material for the upcoming album. Björn Arnell, a friend of the band, lends us recording equipment and an arsenal of keyboards and effect pedals, and helps us to set things up in a big old dining room and then leaves to let us record. This was a truly beautiful process and many songs were recorded, most of them live, so many in fact that we had to release a double album. “The Sane Day” 2CD was released in December 2005.
Almost immediately we started to rehearse new material and in june/july we record what is to become “Sleeping in traffic: part one”. The album is practically finished in the end of the summer and Beardfish is also asked to play the ProgDay festival in Chapel Hill N.C. After this trip we recorded one more song called “Roulette” and the album was finished. A few labels contacted us, among them InsideOut Music, who wanted to release the new album. Beardfish signed to InsideOut in the end of the year.
New material is being written and recorded and “Sleeping in traffic: Part one” was released to many great reviews. A noteworthy gig is the ProgResisté Convention in Verviers – Belgium. “SIT: part 2″ is in the works and the song “Sleeping in traffic” itself is recorded early on (January if I’m not mistaken) and the rest of the album is recorded in December in the scout cabin “Hästmuren” where The Sane Day was recorded.
A tour is being planned by InsideOut to promote the new albums by The Tangent, Ritual and Beardfish! It’s an eight-date tour starting in May in Germany and then going through Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Belgium (back at the Spirit of 66 again in Verviers!), England and then back to Germany and Holland again. It was loads of fun and “SIT2” is getting a whole lot of rave reviews!
Beardfish is also asked to play with Andy Tillison, Guy Manning, Theo Travis and Jakko Jakszyk as The Tangent at the Summers end festival in Gloucester – England in September. A good gig, and the ensemble got to play “Yours is no disgrace” by Yes as an encore.
Beardfish then start recording what is to become the next Beardfish album “Destined Solitaire”, once again in December and once again the location is “Hästmuren”.
The new album is being mixed and that’s basically where we’re at! Some touring is planned; among them is the Progressive Nation tour with Dream Theater, Zappa Plays Zappa and Pain of Salvation planned to start in the end of July!
Oh but wait! 2009 is long gone, sweet cheeks! It’s 2012 now and that infamous tour never actually happened, unfortunately… We had to pull out of it (POS too) because SPV (owned 50% of InsideOut at the time) went bankrupt and the tour support that we’d been promised disappeared right in front of us. This is what I wrote in our Myspace blog around that time:
Just got home today from NearFest 2009! A big thanks to all who came and hugs & kisses to all of the crew!
We have some bad news though. Although you’ve probably already read about this somewhere else we feel that we need to put this out in our own words as well. Beardfish (and Pain of Salvation) have been forced to back out of the Progressive Nation 2009 tour. We’re all so devastated about this that we can’t even begin to tell you, but the reasons for this were all way beyond our control. Basically we lost our tour support in the midst of SPV (InsideOut’s distributor) filing for bankrupcy… Because of this there was NO possible way for us to pay for the tour. We have been replaced by Big Elf and Scale the Summit and we wish these guys + Zappa Plays Zappa and Dream Theater all the luck in the world on the tour! Naturally, with the added regret of us not being there ofcourse – goddamnit!
Your very jetlagged Rikard Sjöblom (on behalf of Beardfish)
After that tour we had some down time… We all felt very bad about it of course and I even wrote a song about it: “Lamentation”, which I recorded on my own and featured on the Gungfly album “Lamentations” in 2011. When I started writing songs for the next Beardfish album they were pretty much just hard rockin’ riffs at first (Platform, Green Waves) and we all felt that urge to crank up the amps and just rock out, so we did! I also decided to write a very typical progrock epic and basically incorporate everything that I’ve always both liked and disliked about prog. You know, the stuff that cheese is made of, he he… This turned into this 15 minute long thing about a talking stone that had been around since like forever… This guy hears a voice while walking through the night (always!) and he somehow goes underground to this ancient stone wall which tells him about history basically, complete with horseback rhytm on the bass and drums, mellotron, organ, fuzz guitar and, oh yes, a saxophone!
We started recording the album early 2010 at the Overlook studio. We even managed to film a whole bunch of material and made a DVD together with a concert too, but more on that later.
William Blackmon recorded us and we had lots of fun during the sessions. Unlike Destined Solitaire nothing was stressed and we took the time we needed to make it as good as we could. Robert brought in his buddy Johan Holm to play the alto and baritone sax on a couple of tunes. When the album was mixed David and I went down to Stockholm and mastered it at Masters of Audio. Then I sent it to InsideOut. A week later I got a call from Thomas Waber (Captain InsideOut) saying he didn’t like the mix, or the master, I can’t remember. He thought it sounded a bit muffled up and that levels and stuff weren’t good. He also said that if we were satisfied and just thought he was crazy we should release it as it was, but he thought we should re-mix it and he also suggested a few persons who he thought could do it. I mentioned it to the other guys and we listened to it (whilst driving around in Germany on our way to the Zappanale festival) and Robert said that he didn’t like it. I was willing to go with it though but after hearing his feelings about it I couldn’t listen to it. I phoned Thomas back up and suggested that I should do a mix instead and he said “go for it”! So I did and we were all very happy with the end result. Thomas suggested that Peter Van’t Riet of FineTune Mastering in Holland should do the master so we sent it to him and he did a great job with it.
After this we went on tour with Pain Of Salvation which you can read all about in the tour diary marked “Pain Of Salvation”, hehe!
“Mammoth” was released in 2011 and I don’t think we’ve ever had so many good reviews straight away. We were also awarded “band of the year” in our home town which felt nice. Then we started with new material as usual. This time we went nuts and did some outrageous stuff! But you won’t be able to hear it just yet. It’s in the pressing plant now though. Coming out in August 2012.
To be continued…