Track By Track: Beardfish - Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two

By John A. Wilcox

Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two is eclectic Swedish prog at its finest. Rikard Sjöblom (guitars / keyboards / vocals), David Zackrisson (guitars), Robert Hansen (bass), and Magnus Östgren (drums) run the table in terms of moods and styles on numbers like Into The Night, South Of The Border, and the colossal 35 minute Sleeping In Traffic. Rikard Sjöblom takes us track by track through this remarkable album...

Track 1: As The Sun Sets
RS: Just like with Sleeping In Traffic: Part One, we wanted to have some sort of intro and outro on part two, and one day when we were recording overdubs on Into The Night, I was laying down a piano track and didn’t feel that it contributed anything special to the song. David came up with the idea to gaffer tape the piano strings where the hammers hit, so we did and it sounded really cool, almost Japanese. After I’d recorded the piano part on Into The Night, Robert told me to just play some more and he’d let the tape roll (figuratively speaking, since we recorded on a computer…). I played something, stopped, looked over my back at him sitting there with his headphones. He said “Ok, do another one”. I figured he didn’t like what I had just recorded but when he pressed “REC” I noticed that I was hearing what I had just played and immediately started playing something to accompany it. When it was done I looked at him once more and he just said “one more”. So I recorded yet another one, making it a total of three completely improvised piano takes that together became the intro for the album.

Track 2: Into The Night
RS: Sometimes music comes to you just because you sit down by an instrument to play something and the fingers start moving and it’s a new thing you haven’t heard before (preferably no one else has either!). The first part of Into The Night is such a theme. I had difficulty coming up with the next part though and Robert had this piece of music with a laid back guitar arpeggio and some nice slow chord changes that he played for us one day in the rehearsal studio. It had a couple of variations and a possible ending for the song so we decided to put it in there and then when I came home that night I had more fantasy to come up with the remaining parts (which turned out to be quite a few). Into The Night is the first real song on the album and lyrically it takes off from where we left off in the previous album where our main character has been left by his woman (sound familiar? Anyone heard A Love Story?) and he is screaming out “she won’t miss me when I’m gone”. This is sort of him working out the problems on his own so as he wanders off (into the night, he-he) he accidentally walks into the woods and the story is to a large portion told musically rather than lyrically from that point on. It turned out very well in our own opinion, but it might take a few tryouts for the listener, we don’t know yet and we’re waiting with excitement!

Track 3: The Hunter
RS: In the end of Into The Night our hero gets shot at from a far (way over yonder!) by a hunter who mistakes him for an animal. Of course I wanted to explore the mind of this person a little closer and let me tell you that he turned out to be quite an exciting homicidal maniac. Not only does he like to kill things, he despises them, think they’re lower creatures and since he has emotional issues he wants to see their naked brains in hope to find out how they work emotionally. This is probably one of the more explicit lyrics I’ve ever written and I had some doubts about it, but in the end I refuse to censor myself and what came as a shock to me when I lifted the pen from the paper and saw what I had written might also be a healthy disrupt from everyday bubblegum radio for someone else out there… Musically this is quite different for Beardfish, it’s more jazz-rock oriented than anything we’ve played before and it’s the only song on the album that has no instrumental overdubs, it’s all live with exception for the vocals.

Track 4: South Of The Border
RS: This is a real rocker with a twist. South of the border is an attempt at a new The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer and it actually features Dwight’s (the main character from The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer) cousin Garth, who is this guy you might see on a disco, smacking girls on the ass as they walk by. He is really unhappy inside though, and the reason for this is that he’s actually homosexual. His co-workers decide to play with him a little at a party so they hire some drag queens to jump out of a big cake and they start messing around with Garth, who is piss drunk, so he ends up in bed with one of them. This is his turning point in life and from that day on he’s a happy camper! It’s a salute to everyone who comes out of their closets. We had a fun time recording it because it has a lot of musical theatrics, small gimmicks that we put in there to spiff it up a little. One of them is Magnus spanking Robert on the ass for a sound effect, we were laughing so much in the studio, I think it went on for several minutes!

Track 5: Cashflow
RS: Cashflow is an expression we learned from a guy named Martin Landqvist who is a musician/producer (he’s done remixes for Swedish groups Kent, The Cardigans etcetera) when we where playing a gig in Spain. He used the expression a lot during the days we hung out with him so we decided to name this instrumental track after him. The song itself is quite a typical Beardfish sounding instrumental, it has many counter melodies that intertwine with each other, it’s quite funky with the clavinet and the bass/drum work. When we played it live prior to recording it, I usually played accordion on it and it was a fun live attribute, but in the studio I only overdubbed with accordion on one place in the song and the rest is this cheesy sounding Vox organ instead. David overdubbed his guitar with a guitar synthesizer that we had borrowed from a friend and it sounds really nice, a different sound for us you might say. Robert and David does some very nice work on this one, as does Magnus – Ah! They’re all so good.

Track 6: The Downward Spiral / Chimay
RS: The Downward Spiral / Chimay are actually two songs in one, we were content on dividing the two on the CD originally, but in the end we decided to let them stay together because they belong together. The first part has a grunge flavour to it, in my opinion. A little Alice in Chains or Soundgarden, or perhaps Jeff Buckley (one of Magnus favourite artists). It’s quite a depressing song about boozing out after a gig and falling asleep on the bathroom floor. Chimay on the other hand is quite a happy tune, an instrumental tour de force with some tricky guitar and drum passages. It starts off with an acoustic part, where Robert, David and I play acoustic guitars and with Magnus bashing away on the drums with his hands. Then it goes electric (like Dylan did) and Magnus has a little drum solo, I have a guitar solo and that’s it basically! It’s named after this amazing Belgian beer Chimay Bleu that we discovered in Belgium thanks to the ProgResisté team - cheers guys!

Track 7: Sleeping In Traffic
RS: Oh yes, our longest track ever Sleeping In Traffic! This one is actually one of our oldest songs. It was written in 2002 and we’ve been playing it live ever since. When it came to the task of putting it on an album we had problems though because of it’s length and the fact that the first recording of it didn’t measure up to our standard. When we signed to InsideOut we saw our chance to build not one, but two albums around this monster (it’s sort of like our very own Keeper Of The Seven Keys ha ha ha!!!). The song is a suite with many different parts and some themes that return many times throughout the track. Lyrically it’s quite an adventure based on a dream, a guy goes to bed in the beginning of the song and he wakes up at the end. We recorded it in two parts, so there were many evil eyes towards each other when someone made a little mistake 13 or 14 minutes in to the song, ha ha!

Track 8: Sunrise Again
RS: This is the second “muffled piano” theme on the album and it’s an improvisation based around the song Sunrise from Sleeping In Traffic: Part One. It’s a short, sweet outro for the two albums and it’s supposed to symbolise the sun rising once more.


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