Prog Sphere brings you an interview with a man behind one of the most influential Swedish bands, Kaipa. I had an opportunity to ask him some questions about his musical background, the beginnings of Kaipa, their albums, his collaboration with other musicians, future plans and so on. Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for… Mr. Hans Lundin!
Nick: Hello, Hans! First of all I want to say that I’m very glad you’ve agreed to do this interview for Prog Sphere.
Hans: Hi Nick! Thanks for the invitation, I’m glad that you want to share my thoughts and history.
Nick: Would you tell us something about your musical beginnings? How did you get into composing music? Which bands/artists influenced you back in the 60’s/70’s?
Hans: Before Kaipa started 1973 I played in my first band S:t Michael Sect 1964-1969 and in the later version of the same band San Michael’s 1970-1972. I think the first 7 years were, except having a lot of fun, like an education learning the basic rules of playing in a band. 1970 I had grown as a musician and I started to write own songs. I think San Michael’s in a way are the basic roots of Kaipa. San Michael’s disbanded early 1972 and for one year I worked as a backing musician behind other artists. During this year I realized that I wanted to form a new band where I could develop my musical ideas.
In the 60’s I was of course impressed by Beatles but also bands like Steppenwolf and Spencer Davies Group with Steve Winwood. They were using Hammond organ with a dirty and distorted sound that I really liked. In 1967 I bought my own Hammond organ. In the early 70’s I remember I was impressed by the band Ekseption and their heavy versions of classical music on Hammond organ and also Swedish organ player Merit Hemmingsson who showed how to play Swedish folk music on the organ.
Nick: Kaipa formed out of a band called San Michael’s. With this band you had recorded two albums. Please tell us a bit more about San Michael’s as well as these two albums. It’s interesting that San Michael’s second album, “Nattåg” was released last year, after 37 years. Why’s that?
Hans: San Michael’s started as a trio 1970 – Hans Lundin (Hammond organ, Hohner Clavinet & vocal), Tomas Eriksson (bass & vocal) and Gunnar Westbergh (drums & vocal). In 1972 Nane Kvillsäter (guitar & vocal) joined us. We played a lot of own material with Swedish lyrics but like one of our heroes “Vanilla Fudge” we rearranged cover songs to become moodier and heavier. We also jammed a lot on stage.
We recorded two albums with only original material. The first one was recorded and released 1971 and the second one “Nattåg” was recorded 1972 but it was never released. Not until 2009 when Japanese record company Marquee released the album for the first time after 37 years. This album is also released in an European version 2009 by Transubstans records/Record Heaven.
Nick: In 1973, San Michael’s split and later that year you and Tomas Eriksson formed Ura-Kaipa and recorded a single under that name, but later you shortened the name to Kaipa. What does Kaipa mean? It’s a Swedish word, right? Kaipa’s first records, as well as San Michael’s were sung in Swedish, why did you decide to do that?
Hans: The single with Ura Kaipa actually contained two songs from San Michael’s album “Nattåg” but we decided to use the new band name when it was released simply because San Michael’s didn’t exist anymore.
The name of the band was originally URA KAIPA. It referred to a Swedish Stone Age chieftain and came from the book “Svenskarna och deras hövdingar” by Werner von Heidenstam. In 1975 the name was shortened to KAIPA.
At that time we were only playing in Scandinavia and it felt natural to use our own language.
Nick: Would you tell us something more about the original line-up of the band? Beside you, there were also Thomas Sjöberg and Tomas Eriksson. It was the line-up in the very first days of Kaipa.
Hans: In 1973 I wanted to form a new band and I asked Tomas Eriksson and Thomas Sjöberg to join me. Sadly, Thomas Sjöberg was hit by cancer and couldn’t rehearse regularly any more. He was forced to leave the band early 1974, and was replaced by Ingemar Bergman. During the spring of 1974 we felt that the trio format was too limited to express all the dimensions in our compositions. So we started to look around for a guitarist and during the summer of 1974 Roine Stolt joined us.
Nick: Kaipa is one of those bands that sees several different line-ups over the years. In 1974, Roine Stolt and Ingemar Bergman joined you and Tomas Eriksson, and these musicians basically beside you formed the core of Kaipa for the next 5 years or so. I’m not sure, but Roine then was 17 years old when joined the band, and slowly you became one of the leading acts coming from Sweden. How was it then to compose music with these guys and how has your approach to creating music changed since then?
Hans: Roine and I were the main composers in Kaipa. There is only one song from that time that we wrote together “Musiken är ljuset”. The arrangements were mostly made together by the whole band.
The basic roots in my compositions are probably the same but today I have a lot of experience and knowledge that I didn’t have at that time. I suppose that my basic identity today is a mix of all my musical impressions since I started to play in my first band. I’ve been on a long musical journey and it seems that some of the places I’ve visited just continue to stay in my memory but they seem to change in size and form and sometimes they come back with a totally different identity. This is probably the seed to the music I’m writing today.
Nick: 1975 brought us your first album, called “Kaipa”, and with this release you became one of the most important progressive rock groups in Sweden. This album exudes with ambition, refreshment, as well as professionalism even now after 35 years. An explorative release. What are your notes on this album? How do you see now?
Hans: I wish it would’ve been recorded with a better sound especially the drums but I think it contains some really great compositions and beautiful melodies.
Nick: After your selftitled album, the band continued to grow and mature, and as a product of this you created “Inget Nytt Under Solen”. This record contains the epic “Skenet bedrar”. Please, tell us about the songs itself, the titles, and give us technical details about this album. What was it like creating it?
Hans: This was the first time we created a really long song. It was a challenge but I think we succeeded. The song “Skenet bedrar” had several different faces and went through many changes before we found the final version that we recorded for the album. The song is almost 22 minutes long, it couldn’t be performed properly as a whole so we recorded it in several sections that were later reassembled in its final form. The album was produced by Kaipa together with Leif Mases who also recorded the San Michael’s albums. Leif managed to reproduce the sound we wanted, as close as possible to that of our live gigs with less reverb and more punch to the drum parts.
Nick: “Inget Nytt Under Solen” includes a slightly jazzy atmosphere. What were your influences for it? I have to say that most beautiful keyboard work is done on this record, in my opinion. Would you mind telling us what instruments you used for this album?
Hans: I don’t recognize your description “jazzy atmosphere” but there are many other influences Swedsih folk music, classic music and rock. I play Hammond organ, Grand piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Mellotron, Yamaha & Korg synthesizers, Logan string machine, Hohner Clavinet, vibes, marimba and prepared piano.
Nick: I have an impression that all other songs on this album are under the shadow of “Skenet bedrar”, as this is so great. Would you agree with me?
Hans: Maybe the other songs are overshadowed by “Skenet bedrar” but there are several great songs on this album. The song “Korståg” is considered to be a classic Kaipa song.
Nick: For your next album, Mats Löfgren joined the band to be the lead vocalist and did a very good job. What were some of the influences behind “Solo”? Also, what’s behind the name? It seems like the same as the English word “solo”.
Hans: On the two first album I wrote most of the songs. On this album Roine Stolt was the main composer. I’m not sure we really knew what direction we should choose. But it ended up with shorter and sometimes simpler songs. The artwork for this album is made by a close friend to the band “Lars Holm” I think “Solo” is the name of one of the figures in his painting.
Nick: How much were Roine and the other band members involved in creating the music for Kaipa’s 70’s albums?
Hans: As I mentioned before Roine and I were the main composers in Kaipa. Roine’s involvement increased until he left the band 1979. The arrangements were mostly made the whole band.
Dan: Could you tell us about some of the lyrics on the early Kaipa albums, for all of those people in the world who don’t speak Swedish? I know this is probably a hard one because you guys released quite a few songs that all had lyrics… Just pick something that comes to mind that you think we might enjoy.
Hans: The main message in our lyrics was probably to celebrate the power of love and the beauty of nature.
Dan: Also, who wrote the lyrics for Kaipa in general?
Hans: On the two first albums Roine and I wrote the lyrics but also Ingemar Bergman in some places. When Mats Löfgren joined the band he became the main writer.
Nick: “Händer” introduced many changes to the band’s sound and lineup, and I believe that majority of your fans have been disappointed with this and next album “Nattdjurstid“. Not that I’m trying to blame you or make you feel guilty, but what happened? Did it have anything to do with Roine leaving?
Hans: No I don’t think it had anything to do with Roine leaving. Just listen to what he did with his own group “Fantasia” a few years later. I think it was more a question of what happened in music business generally these years. We wanted to continue our musical journey, not playing the same style over and over again. Many other famous band went in the same direction and symphonic rock was just not in fashion during these years. In a way I think we was progressive anyway, we were looking for new challenges, even if it is the albums from the 70’s that are remembered both regarding Kaipa and other bands.
Nick: And then after “Nattdjurstid” the band disbanded and you continued as a solo artist. In the period of 1984 – 1989 you recorded three solo albums and released them under your label. Tell us something about these records.
Hans: During the 80’s I recorded three solo albums “Tales” 1984, “Visions of circles of sounds” 1985 and “Houses” 1989 (listen at: www.myspace.com/hanslundin). The music on these albums was a melodic progressive music, mostly instrumental and would probably attract prog rock fans. When these albums were recorded many musicians recorded solo albums playing almost everything themselves. So did I, but I had a few guest musicians (Roine Stolt – guitar, Ulf Wallander – saxophone among others) playing on a few tracks. When I listen to theses albums today I wish I had used more real musicians for the recordings but now this is history. The two first albums were released on LP and the last on CD.
Nick: There’s an interesting detail for me. I found recently that you’ve collaborated with former Yugoslavian musician Blagoj Stojanov. I come from Serbia, so that’s why I mention this. How did you get in touch with him? Tell us a bit more about it.
Hans: At that time I collaborated with “Boris Petrovski” who worked with theatre in Uppsala and I wrote music to some of their performances. Blagoj was in Sweden at that time, he was a friend of Boris son Viktor and they asked me to record two songs with Blagoj. I don’t remember all the details but the songs were released as a single.
Nick: Hagen is another project you’ve been involved with, and an album “Corridors of Time” was released in 2001. What about this? I’d say that Swedish folk music has become your sphere of interest. Am I right?
Hans: I’ve always liked the special feeling in Swedish folk music tunes. They often contains both a melancholy and merry feeling at the same time that goes directly into my heart. There were some folk influences already on the first Kaipa album 1975 but today I feel it’s a more integral and natural part of the compositions and the Kaipa landscape.
In the late 90’s I was invited to play in a musical project called Hagen, mixing traditional Swedish folk music and progressive metal. We recorded an album “Corridors of time” that was released 2001. Another member of Hagen was Per Nilsson who is now the guitar player in Kaipa.
I think working with Hagen gave me a lot new inspiration. I had written a lot of songs, I just didn’t know what to do with them but in 2000 I decided to record an album (KAIPA: Notes from the past) which was the beginning of Kaipa part two.
Nick: The new millennium brought us the return of “Kaipa”, but with a different lineup. Who initiated this idea? Also, why was the name “Kaipa” reused?
Hans: The album “Notes from the past” started as solo project. I asked Roine if he would like to play guitar on the album and help me to get back into the recording process again after my long hiatus. I didn’t have any intention to release it under the name Kaipa. Per Nordin who made the artwork for the album told me when he heard the music: “this is exactly how Kaipa should sound today so why don’t you use the old band name?” I asked Roine if he thought it was a good idea. He said yes and suddenly Kaipa was reborn.
Nick: This new turn brought us a different Kaipa. Roine rejoined you and as a product of this collaboration, we were given “Notes from the Past”. From the title, it sounds like this album is very retrospective, would you say so? Also, why did you decide that this album would be done in English, along with all other future Kaipa albums (as far as we know).
Hans: With “Notes from the past” I wanted to record an album with brand new music but with a lot of inspiration in the song writing and sound structures from my own history. If you listen carefully to the last minutes of the album you can hear fragments of several melodies from the old 70’s Kaipa albums.
In the 70’s there was a market for progressive rock in Sweden making it possible to act and tour in our own country and it was most natural to sing in Swedish. Today the situation is totally different, the market for our music is now the whole world so it’s most natural to use the English language.
Nick: New Kaipa kinda brought forth a new sound. Was that natural growth or did you want to start something different? How would you describe your musical status now? The fact is that with this reincarnated Kaipa you’re more closely to the fans of bands like Karmakanic, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, etc. and that’s fine with me, hehe.
Hans: The unique sound of Kaipa is the sum of the original compositions and the personality and high quality of the individual musicians playing in the band.
Nick: Do you think that re-forming with Roine brought a surge of popularity to Kaipa?
Hans: Of course it did. Even though many people maybe had heard about the old band most of them didn’t know how we sounded. Many people discovered Flower Kings because Roine played with Transatlantic. In the same way many people discovered Kaipa because Roine was playing with the band.
Nick: Was that hard to find a vocalist for the new Kaipa? Patrik Lundström did great job, and I have to say that his vocals, especially on “Notes from the Past” remind me of Goran Edman’s vocals of Karmakanic. In fact, when I first heard it I thought that Edman had sung on that record! How did you get in touch with Patrik, as well as Aleena?
Hans: From the beginning I worked with “Mikael Olsson” from Hagen as singer but we soon realized it wasn’t a good idea. Roine mentioned Patrik as a potential singer, I had heard him on a Ritual album and thought it was a good idea. I contacted him and the rest is history.
I had written one song “A road in my mind” for the album “Notes from the past” where I wanted female vocal. I asked Patrik if he knew someone who could perform the song with both energy and passion. Aleena Gibson and Patrik are old friends and he thought Aleena could try to sing this song. She came to my studio and from the first note she sang I immediately knew that this was exactly what I wanted. Today she’s a very important part of the Kaipa sound. Aleena is not only a brilliant singer she is also a famous songwriter. Listen to her music at: www.myspace.com/aleenagibson
Nick: Some critics say that Roine sort of “paved the path” for Kaipa on Notes from the Past, Keyholder and Mindrevolutions, and you were sort of in his shadow, but I (and many other critics) would disagree with them. Aside from the fact that Roine is a great musician and talent, as well as friend of yours, it seems to most that you were the main man behind Kaipa. Am I right?
Nick: Roine departed before the recording of Angling Feelings, but you quickly found a new guitarist in the form of Per Nilsson. Many people know him as a guitarist of Swedish melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry, but I would bet very few fans of that band would imagine he’s a guitarist for a band like Kaipa. How did you find him? No doubt he’s a great guitarist; so how would you compare his style with Roine’s? They both grew up in different times, listening different artists, what is it that Per brought to the band?
Hans: I first met Per Nilsson when we both played in Hagen. I immediately realized that he is a very diverse and gifted musician able to play any styles in his own personal way. I actually asked him already in 2002 if he wanted to be the guitar player in Kaipa some time in the future. I had a feeling that the collaboration with Roine Stolt shouldn’t last forever.
Both Roine and Per are great musicians but they have different styles and starting points. When I formed Kaipa in 1973, Per wasn’t even born. So he grew up in a totally different musical environment. I know that one of his heroes is Alan Holdsworth.
Nick: How is it to work with Jonas Reingold? He’s probably one of the most renowned bass players around today and personally one of my favorite musicians.
Nick: “In the Wake of Evolution” is your newest album, and it is, well… it’s evolution. An emotional record, if I can say like that. What’s your experience on making this album?
Hans: I think “In the wake of evolution” is a logic development and continuation of the previous album “Angling feelings”. I never decide in advance what to do or in what direction I shall take the music. It was like if the inspiration took me on an unpredictable ride when I wrote the songs for this album.
Nick: I personally feel like In the Wake of Evolution is Kaipa’s greatest album since Solo. How would you compare Kaipa’s albums, looking back at all of what has been released under that name?
Hans: Yes I think “In the wake of evolution” is our best album but every album is like a separate story and they all have their highlights.
Nick: The elements which adorn your new album are great guitar solos, originality in the structure of melodies and their imaginative blend with excellent vocals. From the distance of few months since this album has been released, do you consider it a worthy effort? I truly do.
Hans: Yes definitely.
Dan: Speaking of the vocals… how do I say this… some people had problems with Aleena’s voice on Angling Feelings. I will admit she was very “emotional” on that album. She seems to have been toned down a bit on “In the Wake…” What do you think about this?
Hans: I think she’s always been truly emotional and I don’t think she will change her way of singing just because some people have “problems” with her voice.
Nick: What about live shows? Do you have in plan doing them? Maybe a few venues? I have to admit that I’d like to see a live DVD of Kaipa where you would perform two sets, one based on the 70’s albums and the other one based on the post-millenium era. What do you think?
Hans: I’m probably a bit like the bull Ferdinand who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. I’ve always considered this second edition of Kaipa to be strictly a recording project. I’ve spent eighteen years of my life (1964 – 1982) sleeping in a bus, eating cheap food, taking care of all my equipment, doing all the booking and all other things you have to do when you’re poor and play in a band trying to be famous. I don’t regret a single day but that is history and I just don’t want to do it once again under the same conditions. If the conditions were different today and we could just concentrate on playing our instruments and always have the chance to do a proper sound check maybe I could reconsider this decision but the prog market is very small that’s just a fact.
It would also be very difficult to play the Kaipa music live without including several extra musicians. If you listen carefully to our albums you can notice that sometimes there are up to four or more different guitar or keyboard lines playing simultaneously.
Nick: Would you tell us about your favorite bands/albums of all time? What/who are your influences? Also, what gear/equipment you use?
Hans: I don’t like rating music and after all the taste changes from one day to another. Maybe you expect that I spend my time listening to a lot of progressive rock but that’s not the case. I like all types of music (including progressive rock) as long as it contains good melodies and performance. There was a time when everything was “real” instruments and you could turn real knobs to change the sound. Sometimes I miss that time and I still own some of these instrument like my Hammond organ and Yamaha CS-60 Synthesizer but I seldom use them when I record nowadays.I use a Studio Logic master keyboard to control a lot of different plugin instruments in my computer. Several different self programmed electric piano and clavinet sounds together with organ and different mellotron sounds are the basic foundations in the recordings. The only real synthesizer I use for solos and melodies is a Nord Lead 3 synthesizer which I mostly connect to a guitar amplifier and wah-wah pedal to produce my typical distorted sounds. I also play Melodion and Grand Piano.
Nick: What plans do you have for the future? Are you planning on releasing any more solo material? Are you perhaps working on a new Kaipa album? Are you planning on collaborating with someone else for to do something?
Hans: My future plans are still written in the stars, but I’m very curious to find out what message they’ll come up with.
Nick: Do you have any messages for the visitors of Prog Sphere?
It’s time, we’re closer to the edge than yesterday
We must break this circle find another way
Let our children’s children celebrate this day
When we found our way
Nick: Thanks for the interview, Hans. I hope you enjoyed in answering our questions. All the best!