Jean-Christophe : Hello Bjorn, how are you? Thank you to take time to answer to our questions for Neoprog.
Bjorn : Thank you! Always a pleasure!
Jean-Christophe : You’re the guitarist and songwriter of Airbag, a band that we really love here, with three albums, the last one release in 2013, The Greatest Show On Earth, so can you tell us the reasons why you wanted to write a solo album ?
Bjorn : We all knew that there would be a time off from Airbag activities, as our vocalist would go on a year-long trip around the world, starting this July. This meant that there would be no rush back to writing new material for a new Airbag album. About a year ago, when we were finishing the Greatest Show album, I went through a bunch of demos that I had laying around and realized that there was a great deal of the material that I wanted to explore further. It was either stuff I
hadn’t finished or for some reason hadn’t quite made it onto one of our albums. I have always been the main writer for Airbag and now I had the chance to see how far I could take my music, without anyone else having a say. Good or bad! It’s very much an ego thing and I did the album for my self, which I guess is why it doesn’t sound all that different from an Airbag album.
Jean-Christophe : The influence of Pink Floyd, more precisely of David Gilmour guitar playing style is very present in your music and in you life (http://www.gilmourish.com/), on Aibag but of course and maybe more on Lullabies in Car Crash. Who is David for you, a model, a master, a mentor?
Bjorn : My first guitar heroes were Ace Frehley and Toni Iommi. I started to play guitar when I was about 12 or 13 and tried my best to learn their riffs. They’re still with me and rock and metal is still a huge influence. I discovered Pink Floyd in the late 80s and there was something about David Gilmour’s playing and tone that struck a nerve. He’s obviously been a huge influence. I’m also very fond of guys like Billy Gibbons, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde and Steven Rothery. I think what all these guys have in common is a sense of melody and tone. They use the guitar as something more than just an instrument with six strings on it.
Jean-Christophe : We also discover Steven Wilson in your way of singing and writing music (I think about “Stay Calm”). Porcupine tree, Pink Floyd and others, was it a concious process? Did you wanted to write a tritute to these bands? For your very first solo album, you didn’t wan’t to create something more personal?
Bjorn : Well, I think I did! I write the music that comes natural to me and it’s full of different influences. I discovered Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree in the late 90s, which was about the same time that I started to write music. Wilson’s way of writing has always been a huge
inspiration. Some go out of their band and create a solo project that’s entirely different, which is admirable but that was not why I made this album. Perhaps I will do that next time but again, I did this album for my self and perhaps it’s some sort of an homage but I didn’t sit down and decide that I wanted to make songs that sounded like this or that. It doesn’t matter really because your bound to be labeled anyway so why not do it properly :)
Jean-Christophe : Lullabies In A Car Crash is not really a funny disco album, (laughs). I love this dark side of the music. Lyrics are dark and depressed sometimes like Moss, Bowness or Wilson way of writing. What makes you write these words: personals experiences?
Bjorn : It’s not a autobiographical album in any way but it’s topics that I’m very interested in. What makes us who we are? Why do we make decitions and compromises we do often knowing that they’re wrong? I like that duality between who we think we are and who we really are. To me, melancholic music strikes a deeper nerve and I find that I explore my self, both with the lyrics and the guitar, in a much more emotional way.
Jean-Christophe : Bjorn Riis, Airbag, any chance to see you on stage in France in the future, or in a festival like ProgSub or Crescendo?
Bjorn : I’ve never played nor been in France so I hope so!
Jean-Christophe : Will there be a new Bjorn Riis’s solo album in the future, and is there enought place for Airbag now in your work ? (fans may be very upset because both projects are really great!)
Bjorn : There will be a second Bjorn Riis album but we’ve started writing for a new Airbag album and I’m very much focused on that. It’s coming along very well and we have some exciting months ahead of us.
Jean-Christophe : Lullabies In A Car Crash is really nice album. What do you think of your work now that it is released ?
Bjorn : Yes, you’re right. I have released my first solo album, Lullabies in a Car Crash, which I’m very proud of! It’s available on CD, luxurious vinyl and digital download.
Jean-Christophe : Thank you Bjorn.
Bjorn : Thank you and thanks to all my friends in France!
Rédigé par Jean-Christophe le 11/12/2014