Recording ‘Lynx’ was pure pleasure, and I think you can hear that when listening to it.
We decided that the songs had a lot more going for them, than being recorded with just drums, bass and guitar or keyboards. So we set out to make the recording as of a 4 piece group.
Göran had just managed to get hold of a Mini Moog, which came to great use along with the Mellotron samples I made out of an old set of tapes from the 400S Mellotron I had stolen from me a couple of years earlier.
The first three songs to be recorded were ‘News’, ‘Wild Ocean’, and ‘On the North Shore pt2’. They were pretty straight forward and recorded live. Micke Värn was playing the main keyboards where no guitar parts were going on at the same time, like the keyboard intro line on ‘News’. I later did some keyboard overdubs only on occasional parts.
The rest of the material was more produced, like ‘Untouchable’ which at first sounded like a slow Pink Floyd ballad. I had just seen a video by ‘It Bites’ and the song ‘Underneath your pillow’, and I suggested we could record the song similar to that song, with a more aggressive approach.
On ‘The Storm’ we added the atmospheric intro, and I overdubbed Mickes acoustic guitar with a guitar sample that gave that intro it’s sizzling crispness which we liked very much.
The ‘Epilogue’ was done in the studio because we only had the lyrics and a vague idea that the song would be kind of “floating” and “swirling”. I played around with some chords and Göran came up with the melody, and it was a pretty quick process from start to finish.
As a whole I think ‘Lynx’ is a great album. It’s full of emotion and rich textures. It’s a pity we didn’t have the kind of recording gear that could’ve made it compete with other albums in the genre.
HERITAGE & VISIONS (1994)
I joined the group in the summer of 1993, when ‘Lynx’ already had been released. And we spent the whole summer rehearsing the material. As Dan, Göran and Micke, already had composed and arranged the songs, it was just a matter of me chipping in with keyboard lines where I felt there was a need.
In the late fall that same year we started the recording. This was, as I recall, happy times and Galleon was still like a playground into which you could throw any crazy ideas. The little metal part at the ending of ‘Intentions’ was invented in the studio. I also remember Göran shouting –“two minutes now!” in the guiding vocal track at the part of ‘intentions’ where the piano solo is. We didn’t know what to put there when we were recording the basic track, other than we wanted to depart from the speed and then back to full strength at the end. In the beginning we were confident enough to let a couple of minutes of music run without knowing what to do with it. You could always put something on it, and still make it sound like it was a profound meaning with the music.
We also played with some odd things, just as we had done on ‘Lynx’ using a tube from a vacuum cleaner.
We also felt that the intro theme on ‘Lullaby’ was in need of some additional texture, so we brought in Björn Lodmark who played the violin brilliantly on the song. He continued to play throughout the song and we thought it was so good, that we wanted to keep it as well as the ad lib after the song.
At about this time we learned, that the Japanese label Zero Corporation, was interested in releasing Lynx in Japan and the Far East. Zero wanted us to add a bonus track for the Japanese market in order to make it stand out and prevent potential Asian buyers to get the imported stuff. Dan had made all his drum overdubs, so we only had a couple of toms, a kick drum and some cymbals. Göran didn’t have his bass, only his bass pedals. So I had this little piano piece which I started to play around with, and Göran added a melody and pretty quick ‘Astonished’ was born.
Then it was time for the hard and tedious part; someone would need to write lyrics. Nobody wanted to do it, so we decided that everyone of us should. Someone began by writing two lines, -totally out of the blue, and would then pass the paper to the next person, who hardly looked at what the person before him had written. Totally unaware of the outcome everybody was like; -write down the first thing that enters your mind. And that’s how it was. Well, While we were recording it, I think Micke came up with that nasty little story at the end though.
There was a lot of mysteries going around in the studio at the time. Things were disappearing, sounds were changing for no reason and some off drumbeats we all heard one day, were totally gone the next and things like that.
It was meant that the song ‘King of Aragon’ would feature H&V, but the tape with the recording disappeared, and we had to drop it. The only tape we recovered was the instrumental part at the end of the song, and it appeared later as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Heritage & Visions.
In total I think ‘Heritage & Visions’ is a good album with great music. I don’t have a special favourite and I value them individually, as each song is having it’s own strengths. The thing I don’t like is the production. It could have been an outstanding album with a better sound.
THE ALL EUROPEAN HERO (1996)
In the process of recording a concept album, there are a lot of things to think about. When you haven’t done it before, there are many pitfalls you’re bound to fall into. And we didn’t miss any single one of them. The first thing is having everybody involved, agreed in which direction to go.
We knew from the start we would need to have as much material we could possibly get. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, Micke had made some wonderful songs, and those songs set the course for the rest of the material. However, it was a horrible task to write songs that matched that standard. So we ended up with a lot of material which Micke had put lyrics to, as part of his story in the concept, but never ended up on the actual concept album, because it didn’t fit the course. That is why the story is so confusing, even to us.
Dan Fors has got the worst case of studio fever I’ve ever encountered, and he’s never been quite satisfied with his drumming on any of the records we’ve made. As soon as the recording light goes on, his arms and legs becomes rigid and stiff like iron studs. So the first thing we set out to do was to make him more comfortable in the studio. That meant programming a clicktrack, which made it possible for us to punch in the drums in parts he wasn’t too satisfied with.
Unfortunately I don’t remember any special events from this recording as it was split up for the recording of another two records before ‘All European Hero’ would be finished.
I do remember buying a computer with recording software, in order to add some additional tracks to the 16 analogue tracks on the tape recorder. It was in the beginning of computer based recording and it didn’t work well at all. I recorded some piano parts at the theatre on a DAT recorder which I brought back to the studio trying to synchronize it with the backing tracks. It didn’t work too well, so you can probably hear some offbeat piano chords here and there. The system came in very handy when it came to editing the pieces of music together though.
This album has got some of Galleons best songs ever, and although the sound is a bit better than Heritage & Visions, it’s not up there where we would like it to be. Songs I think stand out is ‘Jacks Slumber Party’, ‘Paternity suite’, ‘The all European Anthem’, and ‘Seeking Knowledge’.
AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME/KING OF ARAGON (1995)
We realised that the making of ‘All European Hero’ was taking too long to complete, so we came up with the idea of making a limited special edition, while the fans were waiting. We had some outtakes that we already decided wouldn’t fit the concept of ‘All European Hero’, and added just the new version of ‘Eternal Shadows’.
We presented it to Zero Corporation, but they didn’t release singles. However they asked us to add a couple of tracks so they could release it as a full length album, specifically for the Asian market.
So we dug in the pile of rejected ideas, knowing that anything we came up with didn’t have to fit a certain mood, which made us feel more free to choose ideas we liked as separate elements. If you think about it, you can probably hear that this album is the one that has the most diverse types of songs.
While doing this, the terrible news hit us that a dear friend passed away and as it was one of Micke’s closest friends, it devastated him. I believe the musical light in Micke died at the same time this happened. It was in this point in time that he lost most of his interest in music, and it was all downhill for him from here.
Shortly after recording these two albums, we finished off the ‘All European Hero’.
MIND OVER MATTER (1998)
After the first little European tour we did in 1996, our heads were full of inspiration. However we set off to write songs individually as opposed to gather our strength into one majestic mind. Micke had sunk even deeper into his musical coma, and wasn’t even interested in contributing with his own guitar parts. Bless him, he’s a great bloke, with great talent and it was just a shame to see it go to waste.
The rehearsing for this album was tedious and took a long time to complete. And the recording was full of evil surprises and I remember it as being the worst case of a recording situation I’d ever experienced.
We started off by trying to record the album live, as we did a couple of years earlier, but when the recording went to the final stage we discovered that our performance hadn’t the kind of standard we expected. It wasn’t any easier as Micke had moved to Stockholm and couldn’t appear at the sessions. We had to hire other guitarists in order to put down the guiding tracks.
We decided we were going to start all over again, but Dan said no, and didn’t want any of that, and who could blame him really. We came up with the compromise to record the drums using a clicktrack at the rehearsing room. This to make him even more comfortable. The drums on this recording came out very good I think.
We overdubbed the bass as the last thing before it was time to put down the vocal tracks. When we did that we discovered that something was terribly out of tune. We examined the bass carefully, but couldn’t find any problems with it. We examined everything to find out what was out of tune, but all tracks sounded fine individually.
After several days of headache, we finally discovered that some compatibility problems between the analogue tape recorder and the computer hardware was the culprit. When we resolved this, we were, not so much satisfied as we were too scared to touch anything at all. We all agreed to leave it well alone. The funny part, which had nothing to do with the album title, is that it seems contrary to what actually happened; It was more like matter over mind, than the other way around.
BEYOND DREAMS (2000)
Some songs that didn’t make it to the ‘Mind over Matter’ Album went down on this recording. Sven Larson joined the band in april 1999, and we began rehearsing some songs and it worked like a violent vitamine injection to us all.
We were astonished to realise we didn’t need to record all those keyboard overdubs we were used to, to fill up the gaps in the sound-image. For once we had a basic set of instruments and all actually filled their purpose. It was Sven’s guitarplaying that had that energy and richness needed to get rid of all the unnecessary keyboards that would otherwise clutter the sound.
The recording went on for the whole summer of 1999, and it went on pretty smoothly, without any odd occurrences. As I wrote nearly all material for this one I had already recorded demos of the songs which we followed quite rigorously.
Looking back, although really stunned by Sven’s amazing guitarplaying, I remember it as being a rather boring recording. And as that also probably affects my judgement of the record, I have to say I find it pretty boring too. Two exceptions however comes to mind, and that is ‘Let us be amazed’ and ‘Dreamland’ which I like very much.
FROM LAND TO OCEAN (2003)
During the recording of ‘Beyond Dreams’ I played around with different keyboard sounds on Görans new Alesis Q8. Göran sat in the sofa in the control room and said –“Hey, record what you just played, there’s some great ideas in there”.
So we took these little pieces and built the foundation of ‘The Ocean’. These little pieces was not complete songs, but rather small lines we could develop. We decided on a really early stage that we wouldn’t wonder off and write parts individually, but to work together as a team.
Composing and arranging would have taken a long time for those who make a living out of their music, but add to that, the fact that we all have regular jobs, the occasions we actually could work in developing the song were quite few. That’s why it took us nearly two years to complete the song. And when that was done, we had to begin composing material for the other CD.
The recording of ‘The Ocean’ was very easy, and I don’t think it’s been so easy to record an album since the days of ‘Lynx’ and ‘Heritage & Visions’. We rehearsed the song for quite a long time, as it was a part of the writing process. Then it was just a matter of recording it in suitable parts that we could piece together when mixing. To record the whole song in one take would have been almost impossible, as you really can’t focus enough energy to maintain the standard quality for an album. Additionally, there isn’t a tape long enough anyway.
We recorded pretty untraditionally, with microphones to every drum, guitar and bass cabinets and keyboards. Everything went out in the house PA which would have brought tears in the eyes of any sound engineer with some self-respect. Fortunately I’m not one of those engineers with self-respect, and I value a great performance as opposed to high fidelity. A beautiful sound can’t make up for a poor performance, whereas a great performance can make up for a bad sound. Of course the goal should always be to unite the two.
We were recording as we were rehearsing and that suited us best I think. Although we probably will be more careful in isolating instruments and get a better sound on the next album.
All material on this album is recorded more or less live, with a minimum of overdubs.
A song like ‘Liopleurodon’ went straight down to tape, almost without any overdubs. The only thing that really bothered me, was that all MiniMoog had to be overdubbed at a later stage. But that’s because the MiniMoog is living a life of it’s own, and it’s just not possible to keep it in tune for a long enough period of time to record it live.
There is this space at the back of the rehearsing room that fits nicely as a control room, but it isn’t acoustically treated in any way, so the mixing was nearly driving us insane. Just the mixing alone took nearly 6 months, on almost a regular day to day basis, so we were pretty fed up with hearing the songs over and over again. Additionally we had to piece together parts in the same song that was recorded on various occasions over a period of more than a year. That was, in my opinion the most mind stressing part of the whole process.
You will never get completely satisfied with the work you do, and if you ever do get satisfied, it’s time to take a step back, and throw the instruments in the closet. We’re pretty satisfied with this album, and it’s definitely a team effort. It’s the result of the input of every member of the band, and that’s the way it should be. There will, however always be some things you think you could have done better, and that’s especially true when you’re working on an album that’s taking more than three years to complete. In that period you have enough time to develop both musically and as a person, and things you were really proud of three years ago, may not be that good as you once thought it was.