A Sunday Conversation With Trettioariga Kriget

After thirty years of creating sonically lush and emotionally charged music, Trettioariga Kriget are preparing to release their first double live album to the world. Tearing himself from his busy schedule, bassist and lead spokesman for the band, Stefan Fredin made himself comfy on the Ripple interview couch and gave us the low down on the bands approach to songwriting, the new live album, and on stage mishaps.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, and Simon & Garfunkle, the first time I ever hear Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

My defining musical moment without any comparance was hearing The Beatles "She loves you"...only 10 years oldat the time it was like suddenly discovering a new world full of colours and hope and joy....nothing was the same after that...And where would we all be today if The Beatles had not laid the foundations for pop/rock as we know it today...Of course later in the 60s there were some other mind opening albums showing that the boundaries of rock could and should be broken...The Doors 1st album, Disraeli Gears-Cream, Are You Experienced? - Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelins 1st album, Ummagumma - Pink Floyd and last but not least In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson . . another very important album for me was "Touch"..Touch was a very underrated American band..they only made one album....but what an album...a complete masterpiece!! Highly recommended.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Olle, who writes the lyrics, really prefers to have the music first....he thinks his lyrics rhythmically and formally becomes more stiff if he writes them first...but we work in both ways really....one of our best songs in my opinion "Krigssång"...I was given the lyrics first when we made it....so in making songs, as in all art, I don’t think there are any rules....For my composing....I think in the early days I tended to start with a riff more where nowadays I think I tend to start with a melody first....a verse or a refrain or a theme..something to build from....I also very often have the form of the song in my head very early...the form forus in TK is very important since we often work with extended instrumental sections....When I have some ideas I believe in I play them to Olle..often on acoustic guitar and I hum the melody....he then rejects or approves....he is a very hard but fair judge (smiles)....he then writes the lyrics and I in my turn go through them....then we take the song to the band for arranging....when we arrange and record backing tracks, it is always only me, Dag and Chris..the basic trio format.

When you write a piece of music, do you consciously write from the mind set of being different than what's out there now?

No...maybe in the beginning there could be this thought sometimes...but I think that looking too much at what’s going on out there can put restraints on you...at least if you, like me, are quite a few years into your career...I would not deny though that subconsciously we all get affected by the music we hear every day....but the important thing in all musical making I think is to try and open yourself emotionally..which is not so easy really...because music is really so much an emotion driven art form.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

The first song I wrote is called "Amassilations" and is actually the opening song on the first album we made Glorious War. Though the album was the first we recorded it was not released until 2004. Another later live version of the song with Swedish lyrics, "Perpsektiv", is included on our new live album War Years . . I am still rather proud of the song...especially the opening theme in 7/4 and the riff after the vocal section...

What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

For sure the title track of our 2nd album Krigssång, the song "Röster från minus till plus" on our self titled debut album..."Night Flight" and "Gnistor" from Elden av år...The instrumentals "Andra sidan" and "Moln på marken" from the 3rd album Hej på er .. "Benke," "I krigets tid," and "I början och slutet" from our latest album I början och slutet...and not forgetting the 2nd song I ever wrote "Ur djupen" from our debut album which still always closes our shows...

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

I think the complexity versus simplicity always has to do with first basic musical idea you have and the form of the song.....if you have an idea for a longer extended piece with many instrumental sections it tends, of course, to be more complex..

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

For us who have been in the business for since the 70s, although with some extended breaks, the new technology has only worked for our benefit....we can now connect directly to our fans through the Internet which was impossible in the 70s...I personally have a very liberal view of illegal downloading...my opinion is that illegal downloading also helps to spread and create interest in a band....it for sure have worked that way for us...our hardcore fans anyway buy our albums....because they know that for us, who are rooted in the 70s progressive movement, its the total package of both the music and the cover that gives you the whole experience...we always work very hard on the covers...I don’t know if the business is more brutal now than in the 70s...for us maybe it was more brutal then as we all had our living from the band then and had to tour extensively...where as now we all make our living from other careers/ fortunes..This means it is definitely more fun now....we only do theshows we like to do....we make records when we want...no pressure from record labels or managers...since we now manage ourselves and release all our records through our own label "Krigssang" who in its turn licenses it to Mellotronen or other labels...

You have a new double live album about to be released. How did that project come about? Who was instrumental in making this thing come to life?

I got this idea a couple of years ago...to make a live album spanning our whole career making it actually a history of the band ...it would also be our very first live album....the idea was then buried for a year or so because we were planning a DVD...now the DVD would have taken 1-2 years in the making so we decided to postpone that instead....the reason is we want to start to work on a new studio album. Putting together a live album is obviously less time consuming that putting together a DVD..I am just home from mastering the album and it sounds great..To hear the band from the 2nd show ever through the years is quite emotional really for me..

Every band seems to have their "Spinal Tap" moments, and I'm sure that TK has their fair share as well. What was your best "Spinal Tap" moment?

I recall one episode, involving Dag, aren’t the drummers always the wild guy of all bands?...one show in Oslo beginning of the 80s..big venue. Right then at one point in the show Dag did stand on his drumstool for a minute or so..don’t ask me why ...this night he probably had one or two too many beers...so what happens?? He falls off his stool right through his drumkit....I recall seeing this like in slow motion thinking....this doesn’t happen (smiles) ...I can still see him lying helplessly there between the snare and kickdrum...

We, at The Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to visit?

As it is probably the case everywhere else the best record shops in Stockholm have closed down...including the bestof the all the "Mellotronen" shop....but....the show still lives on the Internet and once every month at the melloclub.


Ogun Ferraille said…
Hi, it's been a while since I last came here. Your eclecticism is pretty impressive(though some of those bands don't really match my taste)! Keep up the good work!