Interview by Jörgen Holmstedt

In the last Burrn! interview that you expressed a wish for the next Time Requiem album would become almost like a musical album with a female singer on a few songs and even a symphonic orchestra. But this is not really the case with "The Inner Circle Of Reality" is it?

Richard: No, but I actually tried to turn this vision of mine into reality. I had a female singer involved, but she didn´t work out as she came from a totally different school of music. It´s hard to find a female hard rock singer. Otherwise I have to write an actual musical and incorporate metal elements into that. That would be an enterily third project, which would be too much. I also had three violing players in the studio to get a bit of that symphonic thing. I was thinking of recording them three times, so it would almost wound like a symphonic orchestra. But those trained classical musicians play with a totally different timing. It didn´t work out. Yngwie told me the same thing when he did his symphonic albums, that the timing you have as a rock musician is words apart from what classical musicians have. They are used to play guided by a director. But it´s still in my dreams to use several different singers for a metal musical in the furure. It would cost a lot, of course. That´s another problem.

So in the end you did more of a natural follow up album to the first Time Requiem CD, didn´t you?

R: Yes. This time I didn´t know if I wanted to go in a more extreme way with the music, or keep walking the melodic path of the first record. I think the end result is a mixture of both styles. It´s less neo classic and more progressive in the way of the old progressive acts when it comes to chord structures and keys.

I suppose it´s also a matter of separating Time Requiem from how your other project Space Odyssey sounds?

R: Absolutely. Space Odyssey is more simple and melodic. Very fun to do. Time Requiem I take a bit in the extreme direction. Therefore Time Requiem is the more demanding of the two projects. Space Odyssey I will try to make even more different to Time Requiem in the future, otherwise there will be no reason to have two projects going. I can be difficult though, if I feel like doing a Rainbow or Sabbath sort of song while I´m composing for Time Requiem, where I´m supposed to do extreme music.

Two members has left and been replaced by two new guys. Why is that?

R: The drummer Peter Wildoer is a great musician and good friend and I concider him to be a big loss. Peter has his own band called Darkane which he is very involved in. It´s sort of death metal and they are recording a new album and will be touring a lot in the future. I sent Peter the pre-production for the "The Inner Circle Of Reality" album and he called me back and said he just wouldn´t have the time. He was very sorry, and so was I. Peter has said that he would concider to play live with Time Requiem if his schedule would allow it, but I kinda doubt it will be possible as he is also working full time as a music teacher.

What about Dick Lövgren, the former bass player then?

R: Dick worked out fine of the first album and the Japanese tour we did in early 2003. He is a great musician but he is ten years younger than me and he couldn´t agree with me on how Time Requiem should progress in the future.

So the line-up changes had nothing to do with the fast coming deadline for the second album you were given to meet by the record company?

R: Well, when it came to Peter it was a little bit like that, as he just didn´t have the time during the autumn of 2003. If the deadline would have been half a year later, Peter probably could have made it.

Why the hurry?

R: I write music all the time and both me and the record lable agreed that it shouldn´t take more than a year after the debut disc for the follow up to be released.

But there wasn´t so long ago since you released a live album, "Unleashed In Japan", by Time Requiem?

R: No, but that was just a stop gap between the studio albums. It wasn´t even planned to be a live album. I was sent the live material last summer for me to listen to. I was knocked out how good it sounded and agreed to try to make it a live CD. I mixed the whole thing in just three or four days. It´s totally live. We picked the best songs from two different gigs. There´s three or four Majestic songs in there. I wouldn´t have done if if there was a lot of things that needed to be fixed in the studio. But it was good as it was.

The new drummer is Zoltan Csorsz who we know from Space Odyssey. Isn´t that a bit confusing, using the same musician for both projects?

R: Well, that´s why the album is called "The Inner Circle Of Reality". I use the inner circle of the musicans I´m familiar with. It´s the same with the new bass player, Jonas Reingold who has been involved with a couple of my earlier albums on an engineering and co-producing basis as I record in his Reingold Studios. I called Zoltan as I needed a drummer who could give some of the songs a sort of twisted fusion metal touch. All the drum fills and everything was already written. At the same time I don´t want to use the same musicians too much in both of my projects. Zoltan was available and I know I could rely on him. He listened to my pre-production and felt like having a go. We tried and it worked out fine. I consider him to be the new permant drummer of Time Requiem. Jonas Reingold has also given me the thump up for more Time Requiem work. So he is permanent too now. Jonas actually did all his bass playing without me being present, which is a first for me. Usually I´m keeping a very close eye and ear when sessions take place for my albums. But I knew I could trust Jonas to deliver. I showed up three days later, and it was all done exactly as I had visualized it. The inner circle of mucians are the ones you know can cut it. There are very few of those.

How do you think the new rhythm section has made a difference?

R: It´s groovier and it swings at the same time it´s dead tight. I was driving Zoltan hard to get it super tight but with a groovy feeling. The new rhythm section has naturally a bit of the feeling of prog rockers The Flower Kings, as Jonas and Zoltan play with them as well. With Peter and Dick it got a bit cold with Peter coming from the death metal style of playing with very pre-planned drums fills and all that whereas with Zoltan he is more of a swinger with his fusion metal background. Jonas is playing with a pick so we could use more distorsion and the bass is very loud in the mix. That´s because his peformances are so good. What´s good gets pushed forward in the mix, with the lesser good things being pushed back. (laughter) That´s my golden rule.

You said in an earlier Burrn! interview that you think "it´s important to keep a stable line-up as the fans want the same players live as on record, they don´t want a new drummer or another vocalist all of a sudden. Otherwise it becomes too much like Yngwie Malmsteen´s band".

R: That´s still my opinion and whenever I´ve played live it has been the same line-up as on the recent album. It´s when you´re about to make a new album the discussions starts with the players, some of them might want to go in another direction or want too much money and all that. You´ve got a budget, a limit you can´t stretch. If some guy then demand 8 000 US dollars to play his part, then he has to accept less money or have to go. If his name is big enough to make the album sell an extra 20 000 copies, I can offer him royalies. If I can get, say, Tony Martin to sing, it will make the CD sell more. Then I´m absolutely willing to pay him more and give him royalties. I never fuck up when it comes to money or paying the musicians.

Don´t you think the Japanese fans might miss Peter Wildoer and Dick Lövgren as they went down so well on the Jap tour?

R: With Peter that might be the case as he has also been there several times with Darkane. As I said, it´s a big loss to se him go. With Dick I don´t know.

On your homepage there is a fan forum where not all of the fans seems to understand why some of your former players had to go. Is there a lot of confusion among the fans regarding musicians coming and going all the time?

R: No, not at all. The respons I get when players are being replaced is that the fans are always very satisfied when they hear the new CD and the performances of the new line-up. OK, it´s was a bit messy when I suddently had a new drummer and singer on the second Majestic album, but now my following seems to understand that they do not need to worry about musicans coming and going, because I always replace them with the very best players around. It´s an ongoing development which has always resulted in good things. But sure, it remains to be seen how folk reacts of the loss of Peter. Dick I don´t think they have the same relation to, as he was in the band for only a short period.

There was also a posting on your website from a guy who asked if you had changed the name of the band. Do people gets confused about you having two projects going at the same time, with the demise of Majestic not being too far back in the history?

R: No, not as far as I know. I only have two projects, look at the Amott Brothers and how many projects they have going, Armageddon and Arch Enemy and whatever they are called. I can understand if the avarage person gets confused, but if you really dig my music I think you get the whole picture. I got a mail from a guy who said I´d done an Yngwie rip off and that he was going to call Yngwie and tell him about this. "Now you´re in very deep trouble", he added. What a joke. I can´t take things like that serious. If you´re into a band, you go to their home page to find out more as you are interested. There you will find the answers to all the questions you might have.

Is there any danger in releasing too many album during a short time, like now with the two Time Requiem studio albums and the live one with the Space Odyssey CD squeezed inbetween, it makes four album is just a year?

R: I don´t know. These albums are done over a much longer period of time. The first Time Requiem album I started to write a year before it hit the shops. This is what I do. I don´t have a day time job in the side. I´m a professional and music is what I do to pay my rent and support my family. I can´t just put out an album every two or three years. My albums isn´t selling that much. The music hasn´t made me a millionaire. Thinking about it, noone has said I´m releasing too many albums. It´s the quality of the records that speaks for itself. Plus the fact that it´s two different bands. There might be a DVD too in the future. Regain, which is my Europeian label, has made me avare of the fact that there is footage of me doing clinics, backstage stuff and lots of live material from Japan shot with three cameras. There is also old films from Majestic supporting Symphony X and Pretty Maids from Lyon and Paris with professional cameras and DAT sound. A DVD could stretch over my entire career. Maybe I could also do a new recording of an old song and a few things like that.

What do you think of vocalist Apollo Papathanasio´s and guitarist Magnus Nord´s peformances this time?

R: Well, when it comes to Magnus I´ve been waiting for him to go to the next level, so I could give him more space on the album. His playing is good but he is still very young and has a few things to learn. I must admit I did expect more from him. Apollo did good. This album´s music is more advanced technically compard to the debut disc. He had to work harder with his vocal technique which was on the verge to fail which can be heard in a few spots, but in the end it worked out. Apollo´s ego is absolutely none, which is rare for a lead singer. He does what you demand him to do with no unnecessary arguments. If you ask any of my former musicians, they might call me a dictator. But that´s just because I know exactly what I need from the musicians when we work in the studio. You have no excuse to play wrong if you´ve
been given the music to learn one and a half month in advance.

The first Time Requiem album was mixed in the famous Studio Fredman by Fredrik Nordström himself, but not this time you went for a different set up, didn´t you?

R: Right, because I don´t think we gained that much from mixing in the Studio Fredman after all. Space Odyssey, which was the album I recorded after the first Time Requiem CD, I mixed with Jonas Reingold in his studio with excellent result. So this time I decided to do all of the recording and the mix in the same place, Reingold Studios. This second album is a bit more crispy when it comes to the sound, you can hear everything that goes on very cleary, it´s all very separated and naked. This demands top class performances from the players and the singer.

Let´s take a closer look at the new CD which starts with a piece called "Refections"?

R: It´s actually the last track I wrote for the album. I usually write the songs in the running order of the album, but I thought the next song, "In The Circle Of Reality", which I composed first of all songs, became to massive to open a record with. I wanted a start with a lot of energy, like tons of explosions. The title track is one of my favorite songs. It takes off where I left on the last Time Requiem album, only with a higher tempo and more extreme. It's a long one with a super massive instrumental part in the middle which is very inspired by Dream Theatre and Symphony X.

The next thing we hear is a ballad called "Dreams Of Tomorrow"?

R: It´s a very personal lyric I´ve had for a long time. It´s about me and how I look at myself and my musical work: "I keep on with dreams of tomorrow, feel like I´m wasting all my time", as the words go. What I mean is that I keep heading for my musical dreams but they are hard to reach. You asked me if I´m making too many albums. Myself, I feel like I´m not doing enough. I´m spending a lot of time not doing music, which I don´t like. There isn´t enough to do. My mood swings are extreme, it´s up and then down all of a sudden. A lot more down than up, if the truth shall be said. Super bad periods of anxiety and depression... I sound like a psycho now (laughter), but that´s how we artist are. We´re a kind of our own. When I create, there are times when I feel like I´m on top of the world for three minutes because I think I´ve written the best song ever, then suddenly it´s all down again. I don´t feel pleased until I have finished the album and it lives up to the vision I had when I started it. My dreams of tomorrow is to always be able to do this, and not having to do a day time job. I´m very self-critical. I´m never really happy with what I´m doing. I always want to do even better.

You pointed out that this album is less neo classical, but that isn´t the case with "Attar Of Roses", is it?

R: No, that song is super neo classical. It´s a flashback almost back to the fast Majestic songs. A bit Yngwie inspired. The Attar Of Roses is what you call the very finest roses, the type you make the most exclusive and expensive perfume from. It takes ten thousand of these roses to make one drop of perfume, it´s five billion times more expensive than gold and dimonds. In the old days there where people working hard to find those types of flowers. The lyrics are a bit ironic about people being seduced by money that doesn´t really exist, abstact things like the stock market and all that.

Next up is "Definition Of Insanity".

R: The crazy type of intro is a bit Dream Theatre sounding. I wrote it after the actual song was finished. Cool fusion drum playing from Zoltan. It´s a cool hard rock song . You know I love the old rock stuff like Rainbow, Purple, Sabbath, Whitesnake and Yngwie´s 80´s albums.

You haven´t done many ballads previously, but here we get yet another one on the same record, "Quest Of A Million Souls"?

R: The reason I´ve been a bit anti-ballad is because it´s always easier to make a slow song. You can always do a Stratovarius type of ballad with a few chords, a minium of bass drum and then some vocals on top of it. I wanted to make a really beautiful ballad, not that traditional type. This one is orchestrated and has a big solo part in the middle which I´m really proud of. It´s a nice tune, I think a lot of people will be touch by it.

After that we find "Hidden Memories"?

R: I like the piano intro which gets a progressive touch from the bass guitar and the drums. One of the more rocky songs. All in all this album is more progressive and the next Time Requiem album might be my equivalent to Dream Theater´s "Images And Words" CD.

You´re talking a lot about Dream Theater, do you like them more than ever at the moment?

R: I really like their old stuff, it sounded fresh when they came into the scene. Mike Portnoy was the Yngwie Malmsteen of drummers in the beginning. Some of their recent stuff is good too. It takes a lot to make music like that. You gotta admire them. They have the songs as well as the performances. If you take Yngwie´s music, his songs are overshadowed by his guitar playing. The playing is his main thing these days, whereas in the 80´s his albums like "Odyssey" was more song oriented with great singers like Joe Lynn Turner.

"Bach Prelude" is of course a tribute to your idol, Johann Sebastian Bach, isn´t it?

R: Yes, I had this idea to let Magnus Nord play this Prelude on guitar, to make it different. But Magnus made me disappionted as he was to lazy to learn this piece properly. So instead I gave it to Jonas to play it on his bass, as I thought that might almost sound like a cello. It worked out great. A good introduction for Jonas to our listeners. It´s a cool break from the other more intense songs. Bach is my god. Everything he has done is brilliant.

The album ends with a cover of ABBA´s "Voulez Vous", which is the song you used the bridge from on the Space Odyssey album?

R: Yes, that´s why I decided to do it, to go all the way and make those people who said I stole from Abba, to shut up. (laughter) I wasn´t stealing their song, I just used a bart of a good thing. I´ve actually been thinking of doing an ABBA cover for many years, that or an Elvis song. This is a metal version of "Voulez Vous" with a raging jam between keyboard, bass and guitar in the fading outro.

You have also done a few guest spots on forthcoming albums, haven´t you?

R: That´s right. I´m on the next Karmakanics album, just as I was on the first one. That´s Jonas Reingold´s band, you know. The music is slower from what I usually play. It´s a long solo, three minutes I think, on a song called "Masterplan". Göran Edman is doing his best vocals ever, if you ask me, on this album. My original style is actually more blusey, like Hendrix meets Steve Ray Vaughan with some Jan Hammer thrown in for good measure. The old bag. Which is something I haven´t done on my own albums where I play in the neo classical way. So this is like the first blues fusion album I´m on, sort of like Alan Holdsworthis style. It´s a bit different from the last Karmakanics CD. I´m also going to play on a CD by a Finnish band called Cellesty. I think they have been touring with Stratovarius.

But you said in an earlier interview that you hate those "stupid Finnish tango shit bands"?

R: Yes, Finnish metal tango, it´s not really what I like but I must admit they have a certain energy which is good. If you take a band like Stratovarius, who more or less started the whole Finnish wave of metal bands, you´ve got Jens Johansson there, who is a fantastic player. I don´t fancy their music, but the keyboard solos are very, very good. That´s how I look at it, and that´s why I might do the Cellesty thing in the beginning of 2004. It´s the keyboard player in the band who has e-mailed me a few times and been very nice, saying things like thank you for the inspiration. He said it would be an honour if I would concider playing a solo on their next CD. It´s no big deal for me to returning them a tape with my playing. Could be cool. Adriana Project, a South American band, has also asked me play on their next CD. They want me to do a duel with their guitar player, I think. They are into the same music as I am. I´ve also been sent really crappy shit from other bands, but it has to be of a certain standard for me to get involved with.

You will also be heard on an album by the Danish band Evil Masquerade, will you not?

R: Yes, I´m doing a keyboard duel with Andre Andersen from Royal Hunt on that one. Should be cool. I haven´t heard the finished result yet. It will be out this Spring on Marquee Records.

Do you think there will be an other tour with Time Requiem?

R: I certainly hope so. I´m not playing that much live as I´m mainly making lots of albums. The problem is that Time Requiem isn´t a band that is rehearsing three times a week and is prepared to head out on a small tours with short notice. The musicians I want to bring on tour are all professionals who are occupied playing other things as well. They need a certain budget to do a tour, which they should have, for sure. A tour of Japan is usually no problem because then you get a tour support which is money that makes it all possible when it comes to financing rehearsals and all that. Europe is another thing. There is so little money in doing small tours here. I just talked to Patrik Johansson, the singer I use in Space Odyssey, and he said his band Astral Doors wouldn´t be getting any tour support at all from their label. Yet they are expected to do a two week tour of Spain for free. It should be seen as promotion which is good for both the band and the label, and therefore they band should be paid. These guys take time off from their days jobs to do this. So my hope is mainly for another Japanese trip.

Has Yngwie called you recently?

R: He called me five days ago and asked if I knew any good bass players as his last one didn´t work out anymore. He want a Swedish player as he seems to be tired of Americans.

Tell him that Marcel Jacob can play those songs with ease (laughter).

R: I did! "That fucker!" Yngwie shouted. I know they are suing each other, so we left that subject pretty soon (laughter).

Will there be another Space Odyssey CD?

R: Yes, Space Odyssey guitarist Magnus Nilsson and I had a meeting in my studio yesterday to discuss this for the Spring. We agreed to do a second album. I just need to keep February and March clear for a possible Time Requiem tour, then I´m free to do the second Space Odyssey CD.