Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 47 - Year Of The Goat

YEAR OF THE GOAT

“THE LUST OF THE GOAT IS THE BOUNTY OF GOD…”

Guitarist Per Broddesson from new Swedish sensation Year Of The Goat talks about music, dark arts and muppets. John Tucker heard [groan] what he had to say…

Year Of The Goat’s debut release – a mini album entitled ‘Lucem Ferre’ – was given a healthy review in the last issue of Fireworks, described equally as “a strange curio that harks back to the early Seventies”, “quirky” and “difficult to categorise”, with a nod to Opeth to at least line up one point of reference. After a bit of small talk, which revealed that every member of Year Of The Goat also plays in another band (including Griftegård, Misericordia, Tor-Peders Kapell and The Horsehead Union) and that Broddesson is an avid NWOBHM collector (“so all of you out there in the UK, raid your collection – or your parents’ collections! – and send me all the rare stuff in there!” he says to the voice recorder, until I reveal my own interest in the genre) I ask guitarist Per Broddesson how he would describe the band. It’s a question he’s been asked before, and will no doubt be asked again.

“I would describe us as progressive Seventies hard rock, although it’s in the ear of the beholder, I guess. We liken ourselves to Coven, Pentagram, Wishbone Ash, Sabbath, old Scorpions, dark heavy music visually and lyrically; and everything else for the music itself. All the music we grew up with and are still listening to stays within you and affects your style of writing and playing unconsciously, so even if I wouldn’t put Year Of The Goat next to, say, ‘Fly To The Rainbow’ by Scorpions it’s all still music I love. There’s also a completely different feel soundwise to all older albums – it should be gritty and organic, something I think we managed to capture quite well. With today’s productions almost everything is compressed too hard and too clean. It sounds great at first, fooling you into believing that it’s heavy and loud, but all the dynamics get lost and is just tiresome for the ears to listen to after a while. All the equipment we use is genuine old beat-up amplifiers etc, but not just for the sake of it: we genuinely believe they sound better. It’s just a shame that they’re not more reliable after forty years of use,” he laughs. “I guess in a live situation we will have to use somewhat more modern equipment, to avoid burning down some places!”

And the name?

“Thomas [Eriksson – vocals and guitars] had that from Day One. It’s nothing to do with the Chinese zodiac, but, in short, the focus is on Lucifer; not Lucifer as Satan in a biblical sense, but as in enlightenment.”

As for the band’s origins, “Thomas and me, along with drummer Fredrik [Hellerström], started the band a couple of years ago based on our love for late Sixties and Seventies rock – psychedelic rock, hard rock, progressive rock, symphonic rock, etc, etc. To begin with there were other members that circulated but didn’t last for various reasons, even though we still work in some way recording-wise with some of them. We had some ideas written already for the first rehearsal, but naturally filled it up by playing some covers by the usual suspects, you know, Lizzy, Scorpions, Sabbath, and so on. We were, and still are, focusing on writing original music and we quite rapidly found ‘our’ sound that we feel comfortable with, some long progressive tracks with plenty of guitars and shorter catchier tracks; ‘Of Darkness’ and ‘Vermillion Clouds’ are quite representative of what you can expect in the future, although without repeating ourselves. Each song has its own feel.

“Last year we finally found the two missing pieces – our bass player Tobias Resch who is a wonderful bassist and who totally has the right approach to playing, and our third,” he laughs, “ our third guitarist Jonas Mattsson who basically after one rehearsal went from supposed additional live guitarist to full-time member, including writing. All of us are contributing with bits and pieces and ideas, but the main writer is Thomas who comes up with mostly basic song structures that we then filter at rehearsals. The only downside we have is that while being based in Norrköping, Tobias lives in Stockholm, roughly 150km away, I live in Hultsfred 160km away and then Jonas is based in Jönköping which is also a bit of a hike.”

Broddesson picks up on my review, in which I described ‘Lucem Ferre’ as “a finely-crafted and extremely clever body of work which says more in 21 minutes than many bands can say in seventy.

“Thank you for that. I couldn’t agree more! A lot of bands today release albums that are way too long, and, personally, I just tend to get bored in the end. The perfect length for an album should be no more than 45 minutes (one side of an old C90 cassette!); it should leave you wanting more, and to hear the album again, as opposed to thinking ‘that was great, now let’s go for something else’. The music we write… We only write music that we would want to hear and buy ourselves, so I’m not ashamed to say that I do listen to our music at home and I do feel we keep it interesting with changes here and there in the songs. Progressive music doesn’t have to mean complicated song structures in weird time signatures and odd scales (even though I personally love some of that stuff too!). If we manage to write ten-minute songs that make you wonder where time went when you listen to us, then we have succeeded.”

‘Lucem Ferre’ itself came together quite quickly.

“We have a steady flow of new ideas and so songs just kept piling up to a point where we actually had to say ‘stop’ and focus on just a few at a time to get them finished. It was the same with the songs we chose for the EP; in the end we said ‘that’s it – we have to get something out now, let’s use these’. We do tend to record demos of all the songs when we feel they are done, and then end up changing only minor parts, so the songs on the EP are pretty much what came out first time round.

“Originally we planned to release just a 7” single, but I’m glad Sven our label manager talked us into releasing a few more songs; we didn’t need much persuasion, to be honest! The general idea was just to raise some interest from the people genuinely interested in this kind of music, and so with the release of an EP I feel that we’ve gone beyond what we first expected but I must add that we knew we were about to release some killer music. We’ve even been played on Swedish national radio, and received some great feedback so far. With getting this much attention for being a new band jealousy and bad press will surely come along as well – but for now let’s hope not!

“Recording-wise there were no problems, except for the fact that as we don’t live in the same city we started by laying down the basic tracks in a studio in Norrköping, and then added solos, vocals, etc using a few different studios dotted around. It was recorded one instrument at a time, as opposed to playing live, with just some support guitars played for Fredrik whilst he recorded the drums. No click-track for us! There are always minor details that you feel afterwards you should have done like this or like that, or mixed this or that louder, but you have to be able to take a step back and say ‘it’s ready’. So, all-in-all we are very satisfied with it and can’t wait to go into the studio after the summer to start recording the full-length follow up. We are currently just finishing songs for our live set so we can start touring first but want to get back in the studio ASAP, hoping for a late release this year, or more likely early next year, to be honest,” he adds. “But obviously we also can’t wait to bring Year Of The Goat out on the road.”

The heaviest moments on the EP come in ‘Dark Lord’, a cover of a Sam Gopal song. Gopal was the leader of a self-titled Sixties British psychedelic rock band, one of whose line-ups featured one Lemmy Kilminster who sang this particular track.

“Since we started playing a few covers in the beginning we felt that it would be nice to include a cover on the EP. The only question was ‘what?’ We played around with a few ideas before settling on ‘Dark Lord’. I believe that if you’re going to record a cover, you have to be able to make it your own instead of just playing it as it is. We still belt out a cover or two for the fun of it at rehearsals but we wouldn’t want anyone to see us as a covers band. Our live shows will only have original material, well, unless we play ‘Dark Lord’,” he laughs, realising he’s tied himself up in knots. “But ‘Dark Lord’ just kind of wrote itself, and lyrically it couldn’t have fitted better. I myself enjoy all of Sam Gopal’s work but it's not actually my favourite record. I do think we managed to make a proper cover out of it, though.”

We touched on the band’s songwriting earlier, and I asked the guitarist if he’d expand on their technique. He’s more than happy to oblige.

“OK, well, first we start by analyzing the theory of gravitational pull increasing over large distances and then we set out to… Nah,” he laughs. “The way we go about it, as I said, is that in most cases Thomas comes up with a more or less complete song, then filters it at rehearsals through the rest of us and we pretty much add our own bits and pieces here and there if needed. Since we are three guitarists we tend to take a lot of care in choosing the right voicings of chords, for example. It would be foolish not to take advantage of that as opposed to just pounding out three powerchords simultaneously – but if needed we do that too, of course! Once the song is more or less complete we – well, to be honest, mostly Thomas again, write the lyrics, and solos comes last. We like to keep the solo parts fairly spontaneous depending on the feel of the solo sections; some are completely written, in my case at least, but a lot of them change around when we’re playing.

“When it comes to inspiration for songs it’s not like we sit down with a pile of records and books and say ‘let’s do something from these’. All of us have been playing for so long now – we’re all in our thirties – that we just kind of get ‘in the zone’ so to speak. A common denominator for what influences, and thus inspires us, I guess, would be old horror movies, old music such as Coven and Pentagram, stuff with occult leanings. Among us we tend to read a lot of books about these occult and dark matters too, although we do not see ourselves as Satanists, nor preaching. Movie director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s movies tend to leave a mark too. So, all things combined, you end up with Year Of The Goat. And musically, from a personal view, I still enjoy and bet inspiration from just playing along to old vinyl and transcribing solos from anything from Thin Lizzy songs to Nevermore.

“I think it really helps that we all get along great and have no large egos when it comes to who gets to play or write what. The most important thing is the song itself; we all know we can play very complicated music so there’s no need to show off, even though all of us as guitarists would love to play ten-minute solos in every song.” Another laugh. “We are all focused on the band and strangely enough all five of us can play anything that’s required and can come up with new/alternative ideas on the spot, as well as getting along as people, and that feels just great!”

Widening things a bit, I point out that seemingly all the best music is coming from Sweden at the moment, and ask Broddesson if he can explain why. Or maybe I’m just wrong?

“No,” he replies, “you are correct that a lot of great music is coming from Sweden, but there’s lots of great music coming from all over the world at the moment. Hard or heavy music is having somewhat of a revival in the Swedish press nationally and therefore I believe that a lot of focus comes from that. And historically there have been a lot of huge bands internationally as well from Sweden so we’ve got a good reputation from the start, so to speak. However, there is also a lot of, uh, let’s just say not-so-good music (to put it mildly) here as well, but thank God that doesn’t too much coverage! And here in Sweden – and maybe it’s the same everywhere? – everyone seems to be playing in a band!”

I’m obviously geographically obsessed with fjords at the moment, as I ask the guitarist if he thinks it’s fair that Norway got all the fjords and Sweden didn’t get any.

“Legend released a fantastic album called ‘From The Fjords’ in the late Seventies. Does that mean they were from Norway? No they were not!” he exclaims, going on to extol the virtues of the American band’s 1979 album which is highly regarded as a metal milestone. “This album is recommended to anyone out there, but if you find an original copy you need to give it to me, because I need a second one! Otherwise, I shall bring down my vengeance upon Norway and destroy all their beautiful fjords!” He laughs, and then composes himself. “Actually, the fjords of Norway are amazingly beautiful, but since Sweden has all the best music they can keep their fjords!”

Sweden also has the Swedish Chef from ‘The Muppets’…

“If I remember correctly the character actually comes from a real life event. A Swedish chef was put forward at the last minute to do some kind of TV show and was apparently so nervous he managed to fuck everything up – or maybe that’s just what the guys behind ‘The Muppet Show’ wanted us to believe. My favourites were always Animal and Gonzo anyway, although I don’t mind having my nation characterised like that. We have a great sense of humour, even if we might be known to be a bit ‘cold’ as people. Bring on the muirdly guirdly cake, that’s what I say!”

John Tucker

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