Swedish band Galleon recently released a double album From land To Ocean, which won a 4½ star review here on Sea Of Tranquility, and inclusion on the Top-20-of-2003 List for two of SoT's writers. The new album is a major step forward for Galleon, and ought to propel them to the forefront of the modern progressive rock world.
Duncan Glenday recently caught up with Galleon's Goran Fors, and asked about the band's background and the making of the new album.
Duncan Glenday (Sea Of Tranquility) : Goran many of our readers aren't yet familiar with Galleon, so I'd like to start with a few questions about the band's background. As I understand it you started life as a smaller band named Aragon. What prompted the name change?
Goran Fors : Well we made a demo tape and sent it to a couple of record companies and labels. We got a letter from one of them that simply said that we had to change our name because they already had an Australian band signed to their label with that name. They basically said change your name our see you in court.
SoT : Oh, so you had to change the name. So where did the name "Galleon" come from does it have any particular meaning to the band?
GF : Well I took an English dictionary and wrote down a lot of different names I found and put them down on a piece of paper and showed it to the band and said to everybody pick a name! We voted, and Galleon it became.
SoT : Can you give us a very brief history of Galleon?
GF : Galleon started as a three piece named Aragon back in ΄85, experimenting with different kinds of music, but we never really found the "right" feeling. A friend of the band gave us a tip about a recording studio , which had an engineer who probably would suit our sound and taste in music real good. We had the idea that we wanted at least to document the sweat and blood in composing the music we believed in over many years , just in case. That was in 1991 and there we found Ulf, and he has been in the band since then.
SoT : So that's how the lineup changed from 3 to 4. Do any of the band members have a formal musical background or training?
GF : The only one in the band with some real education in music is Sven, and he also works as a guitar teacher in his home town The rest of us have learned it the long way, by ourselves. Well I had a few guitar lessons in school and I think Dan also had a few drum lessons in school but that's all nothing really serious. And we have all been playing cover music on the side over the years.
SoT : Speaking of Dan - do we take it that you and Dan are brothers? [Goran Fors and Dan Fors]
GF : That is absolutely correct.
SoT : Are any of the members of Galleon full-time musicians?
GF : No we all have regular jobs on the side.
SoT : Looking a bit more deeply into the band itself how solid has Galleon's lineup been over the years? Have there been many personnel changes?
GF : No there haven't. Since we started as Galleon only one member has been replaced. The guitar player Micke left the band in 1999 he had lost the interest in making music and touring and he moved to Stockholm and got a new job and so on.
SoT : Which artists would you say are the band's main musical influences?
GF : It has to be Genesis, Yes, IQ, Rush, Camel, and ELP. But also bands like Van Halen, Toto, Dream Theatre
SoT : Can you tell us a bit about Spektrum, and any other side projects the band-members are involved with?
GF : The [Spektrum] idea came up at our mutual friend Stefan Polzer's wedding. Olov said he wanted to do a project with me, and I said I always wanted to do something outside of Galleon.
Dan has no other projects outside of Galleon.
Ulf is involved in a blues kind of band outside of Galleon but they don't play very often.
Sven on the other hand has been involved in a lot of different kinds of bands in his home town cover acts, a jazz band, a reggae band and so on.
SoT : What music do you listen to now either progressive music or non-prog?
GF : Most of the time I listen to progressive music but also like fusion, classical music some jazz, world music, and heavy metal. I don't know exactly what the other guys listen to but I know they like almost the same music I do.
SoT : That's quite a range of different styles. Do you have any favorite new progressive acts?
GF : I know there are a lot of new bands out there but I haven't had the time to listen to them except from a new band called Liquid Scarlet. They played together with us on our release night and I liked them, they have a more old kind of prog style
SoT : Speaking of playing on your release night how often does Galleon perform live?
GF : We try do a couple of gigs every year but during the process of doing this double album we haven't done many gigs.
SoT : How have the band's sales been in the USA vs. other parts of the world, and where are you the most popular?
GF : Actually I don't know about USA. but I know that we are selling the most records in Germany and Holland
SoT : And how many copies of each CD do you typically sell?
GF : So far it has been around 3500 to 5000 copies of each album
SoT : Let's hope that increases with your new release! Let me turn our attention to your music. How much time does the band actually spend together writing, rehearsing, in the studio, and so on?
GF : We try to rehearse at least meet one weekend a month, and if we have a gig coming up we do it more often. During the writing process of this album I spent a lot of hours on research and writing the lyrics, and Ulf spent a couple of weeks mixing the record. Of course, we all spent hour after hour rehearsing and recording the stuff.
SoT : How does the creative process work within Galleon?
GF : Well, with the earlier records sometimes Micke, Ulf or I would come to the rehearsal with an almost complete song but most of the time we made them together. On this album we decided everyone should be involved in the process, and anyone who had an idea should present it no matter how stupid or strange it sounded.
SoT : Well that approach seemed to have worked with From land To Ocean. It was very popular among the staff of Sea Of Tranquility and I can assure you, we can be a tough, critical bunch to please! What was the concept behind the new album, and how does that one-song epic on disk 2 fit into that theme?
GF : The first CD deals with land based issues such the European Community, solitude, war, and how a lot of people want to be on TV and be famous for just doing nothing or something really stupid.
"The Ocean" is about facts and fiction such Bermuda, Atlantis, the fishing and oil industries, the pollution and a lot of other stuff about the big old sea. It's like the old Indian chief said all things are connected. If we screw up the ocean our land dies and vice versa.
SoT : Every artist has their favorite songs what are your favorites on the new album? "The Ocean", I suppose?
GF : Yes, "The Ocean" of course, and "Three Colors" and "The Price" are also favorites.
SoT : Stylistically, the new album seems to be a big step forward for Galleon. Much of your earlier material seemed to be driven by influences like Rush, as well as Marillion and other neo acts. The new album has you doing all sorts of new stuff. Could you tell us how difficult is was putting together a 2 CD set of such magnitude?
GF : Well the songs on the land side didn't take very long to come up with. It was "The Ocean" that was the hard one. When we were working on "The Ocean" and we had made about 38 to 42 minutes, I think and we had been working for six or eight month,, and we had to cut about 15 minutes because we could not take it any longer. That was very frustrating.
SoT : Regarding the cover art I understand that was done by Ulf Pettersson, a member of Galleon. You guys are really all-round artists! It's a wonderful illustration how does it relate to the album's concept?
GF : Well Ulf has been fiddling around with the program 3D StudioMax for some time, making different covers for the CD. This one we really liked, although it doesn't really relate to the concept. He had made some spaceships inspired by the city in the clouds from Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back, and put them on different backgrounds. This was the one we liked the most you have land and ocean, and it's a little bit up to the viewer to use their imagination.
SoT : From land To Ocean seems to be the most mature and diverse work you have done so far to what do you attribute that growth, or change?
GF : I don't know, but I hope it wasn't a one-timer I hope it is growth!
SoT : There seems to be a more vintage prog sound this time around. Is that a change in direction for Galleon, or was that just a one-off for this album?
GF : Well we never say before we make an album that it should sound like this or that. If we like the ideas and how they sound, we just use them.
SoT : Given the complexity and the rich sounds on From land To Ocean will it be easy to play live?
GF : Actually we have played the song live twice now. With a song like this you can't get it exactly like it is on the album without some extra techniques, but I think we came very close. It's not every day you play a fifty-minute song live!
SoT : No, that must be exhausting! What's next for Galleon are you planning any tours, or is there another album in the works? Or perhaps a DVD?
GF : No new album plans at the moment. But for the future we have an invitation to play a festival in Switzerland, and there are some other offers so we are probably going to make a tour this year. A DVD would be very nice
you never know. Perhaps.
SoT : Goran, thank you very much for giving us your time for this interview! The new album is really wonderful, and side 2 is personal favorite of mine. We hope it helps accelerate Galleon's penetration into the American market. Take care!
GF : Big thanks from the Galleon camp.