Nicklas Barker is a well-known name in Swedish progressive rock circles. He’s been working with the highly appreciated Anekdoten since 1991, but also he’s involved in other projects and bands. The last, but not least of them is My Brother The Wind, a psychedelic rock oriented project that came up as an improvisational journey. Find out what Nicklas says about it, but also do not miss the chance to find out what’s going on with Anekdoten. Enjoy!
Nick: Hey Nick, Nick is speaking. Thanks for the interview. So, the newest info coming from you is that there are only a few days left before My Brother The Wind’s album called “Twilight in the Crystal Cabinet” is released. Tell us, please, what can we expect? Who initiated the idea about starting this new band?
Nicklas: The idea was that Me, Mathias, Ronny and Tomas would meet up in a studio and just improvise for a couple of hours. We had never played together before so we didn’t know what to expect. We talked about it for some months and decided to take the train to Ronnys hometown Åmål where his friend Love has a analog studio. We wanted to stay true to our aim and inpirations so we needed a computer free and totally analog studio. We had 3 michropones on the drums three other on our amps. So it’s recorded live on 6 tracks. The sound you get is so natural and homogenic. The tracks on the cd are in the same order as we recorded them. We just started playing and let things happen. The mixing was done in real time the day after and we only used a tape echo, a reverb, a flanger and one compressor. I’m very pleased of the result.
Nick: I had an opportunity to hear the preview of “Twilight in the Crystal Cabinet” on the band’s official MySpace page and I have to admit that this sounds really promising. The sound is pretty raw. It’s evident that in the basis of this band lies psychedelic sounds, so would you tell us where did you get from such influence?
Nicklas: Well we all comes from different backrounds but and we never discussed anything about how it was suppose to sound or anything. I think the first notes on the album set the feeling and we just continued from that.
Nick: The cover art of the album is pretty interesting and I am sure it fits well with the music presented on this piece. Who made it?
Nicklas: Anna Sofi from Anekdoten made the sleeve. She also does all the Anekdoten sleeves.
Nick: Are there any plans for a tour with MBTW? I saw an official announcement on the band’s Facebook profile that you will be “probably opening for U2 or Madonna”, haha.
Nicklas: Well we have some gigs coming up and we are very willing to tour. I hope things will kick of when the album is out.
Nick: How did you come to an idea for the name My Brother The Wind? Pretty interesting name. For some reason it reminds me of a psychedelic band from the 70’s called Socrates Drank The Conium. Have you listened to them?
Nicklas: No I haven’t heard them. I took the name from a Sun Ra record which I love and suggested that. We had many suggestions but we found this suiting us well.
Nick: So what’s going on with Anekdoten? A retrospective-compilation has been released by Kscope in 2009, consisted of 2 discs with completely remastered tracks. Are there any plans for Anekdoten in the near future? I have to say that I would love for you guys to release a new album.
Nicklas: Anekdoten are currently recording demos and writing. We have a lot of material but since we aren’t in any real hurry we want to be well prepared this time before recording. We are going to record analog this time and and try to record as much as possible live in the studio. We will have something out in late 2010 or early 2011.
Nick: You had an interesting experience in 2008 playing on Melloboat together with Opeth, Comus, Bo Hansson, Katatonia, among others. How was it? I envy all the lucky bastards who got to see that.
Nicklas: It was great to finally share the stage with our friends from Opeth and Katatonia. The event was great fun and I was totally blown away by Comus. An amazing trip!
Nick: In less than a month we lost two great musicians who have each influenced many, many musicians. Of course, I am talking about Bo Hansson and Ronnie James Dio. Could you tell us about about how they influenced you? I would imagine Hansson influenced you more than Dio, but I felt it would be nice to mention him.
Nicklas: Well I’m a big fan of both and I guess they have both influenced us in one way or another. When I was a teenager Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules and Live Evil made an big impact on me and still does. I love Dio’s voice. I ususally borrow words from Dio when I working on songs before Jan Erik delivers the real lyrics. For some reason they suit Anekdoten very much. Bo Hansson was one of the greatest and unique composers of all time. His influence is on me is hugh. He had a this very personal touch that was instantly recognizable. In my world he is up there with Hendrix and Coltrane when it comes orginality. I miss them both.
Nick: Anekdoten’s first album is surely one of the best albums of the genre in 90’s. I would say this album is one of the best in my collection. How did working on this album then?
Nicklas: Well it was traumatic experience. We really did’t get the sound right and was in a hurry. The songs were great but we were unexperienced. I v’e been listening to lately when we remastered the tapes for the exclusive vinyl edition that will be out soon and I kinda enjoyed it. The new vinyl edition will be the best sounding Vemod release so far. It comes with a bonus 12″ with Sad Rain.
Nick: I don’t want to disturb your privacy, but on the first releases of Anekdoten you appear as Nicklas Berg, and on “Gravity” it says you’re Nicklas Barker. How come?
Nicklas: Got married.
Nick: I’ve always thought Nucleus has a lot of influence taken from King Crimson’s Red era, with addition of some Starless elements, but in a new, innovative way. How did this blend of old and new occur?
Nicklas: Well actually the idea was to blend Black Sabbath with Univers Zero. It doesn’t really sound like that but the result was good. Of course we where under influence of the current music scene in the 90s like Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Portishead and I think that is obvious in some parts
Nick: Is “From Within” an album which got you on the level of musical independence, leaving the past, when you were a cover band playing King Crimson songs?
Nicklas: Well maybe we parted from the obvious KC influence here. Two important influences here was Motorpsycho and Landberk.
Nick: “Hole” is a song which is probably one of the largest band’s trademarks, and I cannot avoid comparing it to King Crimson’s “Epitaph”. Not that I’m trying to ask you for differences or similarities, but can we consider “Hole” as an homage to the KC song I mentioned?
Nicklas: No not really. I have no memories that Hole had something to do with Epitaph. As I said before we were very influenced by Motorpsycho and Sonic Youth at the time. I guess the mellotron makes it similar to Epitaph.
Nick: A song “Seljak” from Gravity in my native language (Serbian) means “a peasant, nomad”. Was that intentional, or does that word mean something in Swedish? What’s the story behind it?
Nicklas: Hmm I think Jan Erik was dating a a woman from Serbia at the time and maybe he got the title from her but I’m not sure.
Nick: “A Time of Day” is so far your latest studio album, released in 2007. And I have to praise the vocals on this release, as in my opinion they sound excellent. The albums is a bit more rocky. Do you think that you’ve made a turn with this album?
Nicklas: Well maybe but we don’t think in terms of doing changes in our direction. The songs just popped up. I think we can hear some Cantebury influences and maybe some Amon Duul and Popol Vuh in some parts.
Nick: Considering you have been releasing Anekdoten albums every four years, maybe we should expect another album in 2011?
Nicklas: Yes or late 2010.
Nick: Together with your fellow Swedes Peter Nordins, Stefan Dimle and Reine Fiske, you’ve started a project back in 1998, called Morte Macabre, an homage to horror soundtracks. And so far you have an album called “Symphonic Holocaust”. Whose idea was it to start a project like this? What are your favorite 70’s horror movies? Were you inspired mostly by Popol Vuh or Goblin?
Nicklas: None actually. This was a spontaneous thing and we improvised over the themes. I guess you can hear influences from those bands but at the time I had not heard Popol Vuh or Goblin that much. The recordings were done in a day and much of it was spontaneous. The idea came up when Landberk was asked to do a horror movie soundtrack cover for a italian compilation. Only Stefan and Reine was interested so they asked me and Peter if we were interested.
Nick: Are there plans for recording a new Morte Macabre album?
Nicklas: Not at this point. We had some plans a year ago but I really don’t have any energy or inspiration for Morte Macabre at the moment. But you never know.
Nick: What are your all-time favorite bands/artists? Could you mention some of the albums that wholesomely influenced on your musical shape? Give us a few names from the deep underground, I think that everybody already know of King Crimson or VDGG, hehe.
Nicklas: Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Magma, Univers Zero, Talk Talk, Trettioåriga Kriget, May Blitz, Roy Harper, Bo Hansson, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Beatles, Amon Duul, Can, Sun Ra…
Hmm that was not so deep underground but I’ll continue. Children Of One, Anne Briggs, Frumious Bandersnatch, Cressida, The Advancement, Flower Travelln Band, Spring, Hairy Chapter, il Baletto Di Bronzo, Gracious…
Nick: What kind of gear do you own? Also, how many instruments do you know to play and which are they?
Nicklas: Guitars: Gibson SG, ’61-reissue,Ibanez Artist, Gibson Les Paul Standard, Ibanez Concorde 12 string and a Ibanez 6 string
Amps: Hi-Watt modified by Marcus Resch Peavey Classic 50
Cabinet: Marshall JCM 900, Lead-1960
Effects: Fuzzface, Line 6 DL4 Delay modeler, Octavia, Wah, Univibe and volume pedal custom made by Marcus Resch, MXR compressor, A/B switch,
Mellotron M 400S
Nick: Do you have any hobbies? Also, do you have a full daytime job or are you completely involved in music?
Nicklas: I work as a record dealer buying and selling vintage vinyls. That is my full time job and hobby. Playing music is my therapy.
Nick: Thank you for the interview, Nicklas. All the best with your new band, hope to hear much more from you.