Face to face Interview with David Olofsson (guitars) and Mikael “Cab” Castervall (bass) from Portrait
07th of February 2015 @ O2 Academy Islington in London
By Ancient Winds
Signed at the prestigious label Metal Blade Records, Portrait has recently received very positive reviews for their third album “Crossroads” released in 2014. Strongly influenced by the NWOBHM scene, this Swedish old-school heavy metal band was supporting Primordial and Winterfylleth for their recent UK tour. Before the beginning of their live performance at the O2 Academy Islington in London, I had a discussion with their guitarist and bassist to know a bit more about them.
Hi David and Mikael! First of all, could you please introduce briefly Portrait to the ones who don’t know your band yet?
Mikael: Heavy Metal Darkness!
David: Well, to be a little bit more elaborate, we were formed in the mid-2000s by the guitarist and drummer. A couple of albums later, we were exploring the darker path of heavy metal. We are now in this formation which has recorded and released “Crossroads”, our latest album. I do think this is the first true incarnation of the band…
David: So it has taken quite a few years to reach…
Mikael: The point where we are today.
David: Where we can really explore the ideas within heavy metal.
You’re currently signed at Metal Blade Records. Are you satisfied with your relations with them so far? Do you think they’re the right label for your music?
David: Yeah, I think so too. They have the ways of communication, they do the paperwork, they have a good reputation and they have a whole staff organising everything that bands don’t have time for.
Mikael: Alan is in the next room, so we can’t say anything bad! He would kill us!
David: (Laughs). So they help us with the necessary stuff and we can concentrate more or less on writing music.
OK. By the way, how did you get this opportunity to sign with such a big label? Did you send them some demos and they said yes?
Mikael: I understood like this way. This was actually before our time in the band. But I heard how it happened. It was at a German festival and we were playing. Alan was in the audience and he liked the band. We had previously released “The Murder of All Things Righteous” EP and so, they took the chance on signing us. I think we have delivered exactly what they wish us to deliver since then. They were actually the ones who did the approaching to us. They approached us.
That’s really good. Let’s talk about your music now. You play old-school heavy metal influenced by the NWOBHM scene. Except this NWOBHM scene, which other bands have influenced you the most?
David: Personally, for me, I would say bands like Deep Purple, Judas Priest… Judas Priest is probably the biggest influence of the band.
Mikael: Yeah, I guess so. All the five members combine their own influences but Judas Priest is clearly the biggest influence of the band.
David: And as well, we are very into black metal such as Nifelheim who are close friends of ours and have supported us.
What are your lyrics about?
David: Hum, basically, Christian is the most suited one to answer that question but I understood that it is related to his personal experiences, with dealings in the occult.
Mikael: Yeah, supernatural things, out of body experiences, exploring the regions beyond what is known.
David: But you have been doing some lyrics…
Mikael: I did one lyric for the “Crossroads” album but it is mainly… You know, I wouldn’t say it’s not a deep lyric or anything but it was more or less… Add the title “Ageless Rites” for quite a few years and all of a sudden, we had a song going on and you know, I tried to make it a good song around the music and the title… Though it was fitting.
David: Yeah, it was fitting, it was a good lyric. You did well. Great song.
Mikael: So I would say Christian the guitarist, is dealing with the occult and explorations of the further regions of existence. So, quite deep stuff from his side, it is.
Your last album “Crossroads” was released last year. Have you already prepared to write some new songs for the next album?
David: Yeah! We have. This time, since we released the album, we have already begun to work on materials. This time, it’s more a collaborative process including all band members because most of “Crossroads” is material that was already written and many riffs have been in existence and circling around in the ideas. Then, Christian basically, put most of it together with lyrics and Cab provided the aforementioned song “Ageless Rites”. But I think “Crossroads” is the mark of a beginning of something even greater that is going to.
Mikael: Yeah, I think from what we have heard in rehearsals and the riffs being sent back and forth… I would say the new album, when it’s taking form, will be very diverse I think.
Mikael: Like the “Crossroads” album as well. I think, with the new album, there will be more influences from David and myself I think.
Mikael: With ideas and inputs, I think it will be a very interesting album once we have put it down in the studio.
Concerning your new album, will it contain more keyboards than in the “Crossroads” album? Or will they be added on rare occasions like you did in the past? Or maybe no keyboards at all?
David: Hum, regarding the keyboards, we haven’t really thought about that because the keyboard stuff on “Crossroads” such as the introduction is kind of a spontaneous decision. On “Our Roads Must Never Cross”, it was Anders’ idea to add keyboards to it to improve the dynamics in the middle section on the song. And on the intro, it was kind of my idea in the studio to do it, add some piano to give a touch of deepness and diversity. But yeah, we will see if we will experiment.
Mikael: Probably on one or two tracks…
David: Yeah, but not too much!
Mikael: Not too much, no! But you know, in an outro or an intro or in the middle of… If we slow down a song… Or something like that.
David: I could imagine having a Hammond organist in the band. That would be really cool. He would have to plug his Hammond into a Marshall amp. It would sound really cool. That I can imagine.
Mikael: You’re thinking about Deep Purple?
David: I’m always thinking about Deep Purple (Laughs)!
When will your new album be released and still through Metal Blade Records?
David: It’s going to be on Metal Blade Records absolutely but we have no plan, no schedule time.
Mikael: No schedule yet. There is a plan of recording it… I don’t know if it is later this year or early 2016…
David: It’s too early to say but we are preparing some material together. Then, we will rehearse and record it as early as possible because we feel that we are in this kind of… We are in a state in which we can produce really fast and really good music. And we should keep doing it. Most of 2015 will be dedicated to the creation of the new album.
Apart from your next album, what are your future projects? Any festivals, tours?
Mikael: Well, right now, we’re on tour in the UK and in two weeks, we will go to Greece. Then, we’ll go to Finland and after that, we’ll have a couple of festivals in Sweden. And Germany in July.
David: And Belgium and Switzerland in autumn. That is what on the table for now.
Thanks for your time guys and good luck for tonight!