Interview with Christian Lindell of
While in this era more and more bands come out carrying a sound of the past, only the few survive with a personal stigma and Portrait are one of them. And then what an honor to discuss with a pleasant and cheerful person like Christian Lindell around "Crossroads" and other stuff. Enjoy...
Hello Christian, how are you these first days after the release of “Crossroads”?
Portrait reach favorably three albums, they are not a band still searching for a personal ID, they know who they are and what they want. Each album has its story and yet each one is different from the others. I, as a listener, am really happy for those albums that can make me be captured by them. You, as the creator of them, have the satisfaction that everything roll more than good?
Thank you very much. It is both a blessing and a curse to be sure of where you stand and what you desire. Mostly a blessing of course as it is the actual writing process and the live shows that are the most valuable sides of being in a band, but the curse is that this world is affected by a lot of trends and you really have to be at the right place at the right time to go anywhere. To me it is perfectly fine to stay in the underground, but in order to get to do proper tours and stuff like that you need to be “popular” and that is a hard thing when staying true to the genre that has given you so much. With that being said and even though we have our personal ID etc., our strive for perfection will always continue, and you ain’t seen nothing yet!
In a discussion with a friend of mine some months after the release of “Crimen…” we wondered how could the band create a new album which could touch the standards of “Crimen…” and at the same time be unique. Although, not only you didn’t copy the previous album, but also you served an abundance of anthemical songs. Did you have a common wondering when you gathered and said “Ok let’s bring fresh ideas on the table”?
I like the “Crimen…” album a lot but there were never any question for us about being able to do something of the same quality again. We live and breathe heavy metal and we know the vastness of it, there are so many areas to still explore and so much inspiration stemming from it. We did not theorize over anything at all when we started to write songs for “Crossroads” actually, it just came naturally and instinctively. The one thing that I thought of in theory was that I did not want this album to start off with a fast song, as we had done that on two albums before. I wanted the feeling that the first song should almost be like a pro-longed intro, like Judas Priest on “Priest… live” when they start with Out in the cold. It builds up in a great way I think.
In “Crossroads” you managed to do something that many new bands try it, but only a few of them succed it. You incorporated elements from the precocious Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but you didn’t exaggerated and have things inside that remind only of those bands and not Portrait. For example, the intro riff in “Our Roads Must Never Cross” is like came from “The Ripper”. You must listening to them every day (haha), right?
Haha yes, almost every day. What else is there to do in this world? If society could present me with something better than spending my day listening to Judas Priest then go ahead, hahaha. This world only exists because we should be able to put it between the hammer and the anvil and ram it down through its own point of entry. To get back on topic I thank you again for the compliment and you are probably right about that intro riff. Judas Priest has indeed taught us how to use strange forms of scales and so on. I don’t know much about the theory behind such things but it comes naturally now, after 15-20 years of worship.
The songs carry the atmosphere of darkness, but some people believe that this atmosphere is just a fairytale or a myth. Personally, I believe that no matter where we lie our souls, we have dark sides and moments that could be described as dark stories. Why do you think people avoid the personal darkness?
It goes a long way back and if you look at how for example the Christians have excluded some texts (apocrypha) from their bible which would paint a very different picture of what Jesus actually preached (and a lot of other parts too), it is easy to see that they wanted to form something for sheep to follow so that they instead could control people themselves. They forced people into an easier alternative that doesn’t crave any own will or spiritual practice or search at all, as opposed to for example how the gnostic “sects” were viewing things. It is all about tyranny and politics that led people to oblige and obey instead of searching for truth themselves. Nowadays the church of course does not have the same influence on society, at least not in Sweden, but the “plan” still remains the same even though it is presented through politics/media and laws now, and not through religion. It is still the same wheel that keeps on turning, all in accordance with the will of the blind demiurge and his enslaved and enslaving archons - it’s just that the outer forms are somewhat different. They are ever present and it is their one will and goal to have people occupied with other things than the search for truth.
As we are talking about darkness, tell me this, what is black metal for you? Many many years ago black metal were Mercyful Fate and Venom. Then Norway became the Mother of black and in the consiences of people black metal used to be the black-white corpse-painting, nails, bullets and the must ideology against churches.
Black metal is mostly rubbish to me, at least when it comes to the “ideological” sides of it. I like the music and there are indeed good releases from both the 80’s and the 90’s, but the genre itself has nothing to with that which I consider to be Satanism.
Back to the songs. I have two thoughts. The first one is about “Black Easter”; is in its main riff and the general rhythm any reference to Rush? When I hear this song Rush are the first coming in my mind. And the second is about the beloved “Liberation”; does it pay tribute to the solo album of Jim Matheos “Away with Words”?
I like Rush a lot so it is possible that some inspiration may have come from them, absolutely, but it is nothing that I have thought of personally myself. A friend told me the other day that he thought that riff sounded like a mix of Mercyful Fate and Voivod. I came up with the riff pretty spontaneously at the rehearsal place so I don’t know really… And for the other question: no it is not meant as a Jim Matheos tribute.
Now that things seem ideally for you, are you ready to conquer the stages?
Yes, absolutely. We are trying to set up as many gigs as possible for this year and the beginning of the next year. It felt great to do the new stuff live at the release party and I look very much forward to keep doing so!
With Per on stages and with “Crossroads” in your packages I think that the time has come for those who called him as a clone of King Diamond to see that he has a pesonal voice. He really did a great performance in the whole album, presenting a wider side of himself.
Yes, I agree totally with you. He really impressed me with his performance on “Crossroads”!
Another thing that I want to congrat you for, is the “combat” production of the album. The work of Tore Stjerna is excellent and I’m happy that I can hear in 2014 a sound like this one in “South of Heaven”. Did you guide him or you just left him to do his own things?
Thank you, I like the production very much myself and it is all Tore’s work really. We had ideas for certain effects in certain places, and the general stuff about the volume of each instrument etc, but it is to a great extent Tore’s vision of a fitting production for the songs and he did a very good job. We did not have any doubts about it, but our expectations were indeed exceeded.
Christian it was an honor for me to do this interview with you. I wish you the best for your life and good luck on stages with your new album, hoping to see you some day (in Greece). You shall assign the end of this path…
Thank you very much! I hope we will get back to Greece soon as we had a great time there when we played the Up the Hammers festival. Keep on keepin’ on!
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