Portrait: Interview with guitarist Christian Lindell
Questions – Ann Sulaiman
Sweden has turned out more than a few interesting names into the current heavy metal scene, such as RAM, In Solitude and, of course, Portrait.
While on the one hand, this could be taken as accessibility (since Scandinavia has churned out some iconic names – don’t deny it), on the other, it says something about the spirit of heavy metal being alive and well today.
Metal Rules caught up with Portrait, on the afternoon of their London show with Irish heavyweights Primordial, to talk spirituality, tour clashes and musical influences.
And find out who the hell Lily is.
This is the final show of your tour with Primordial?
Actually, it’s our ONLY show with Primordial! We were already on tour, but our London dates clashed, so they were nice enough to add us to their bill.
We’ve been out for a week now in the UK and Ireland, and so far it’s been very good, though this is the biggest show for us tonight.
Let’s talk about your latest album, ‘Crossroads’. I understand from previous interviews that the song ‘Lily’ is something special for you?
The thing is, it’s personal only to me and has to do with some of my experiences over the last few years, dealing with occult practices. I don’t really want to go into any details about this, but I guess that those who are interested will be able to read between the lines anyway.
The title ‘Lily’ isn’t really a name, but more of a symbol.
We’ve got some people reading this interview at home, who haven’t yet heard the album. How would you sell it to them?
If you don’t have a shitty taste in music, and you give this album at least three spins, then there’s really nothing that needs to be said about it!
It’s got a lot of diversity, and so far is the ultimate Portrait album.
It’s much too easy to compare you guys with King Diamond, despite your influences from Judas Priest and Twisted Sister. How do you personally feel, whenever this comparison comes up?
Well, if that’s the only thing that people hear, then I don’t have anything to say. If they think we’re a King Diamond copy, then we don’t have the same experiences or feelings when it comes to our music.
To me, we’ve only moved further and further away from this, since we first started out. We are constantly striving towards our own unique sound, and while this might take many more albums, I do think that we’re well on our way towards that goal.
There’s also a current trend of “retro heavy metal”, where people try to mimic 1980’s heavy metal.
We try to develop the genre, instead of just reproducing what’s already been done. Apart from 80’s heavy metal, there are other influences as well, like black, death and speed metal which colour our music a lot.
There’s so much more hidden beneath the surface of Portrait, than for others.
Dare I ask – even the media, and debates about free speech?
If you read or hear something that you react to, it’s going to conjure a certain feeling within you, which you can use to channel your thoughts.
But our goal with the band isn’t to make the world “a better place” or anything like that.
I heard from Oscar Carlquist (RAM) that if you’re going up on stage, that you must have something to say which is honest and – in the case of heavy metal – about rebellion.
That’s a good statement I think, but the rebellion doesn’t have to be something that changes society (in my view). It can be spiritual rebellion, which focuses on things within you, rather than outwards.
This is an outcome of spiritual work, both lyrically and musically, which is the biggest inspiration for me, personally.