Interview : PORTRAIT guitarist, Christian Lindell… Posted: 07/04/2015 by John O'Brien
I was due to conduct this interview on the night of their Limerick show on the 31st January last, but unfortunately circumstances didn’t allow it. All was not lost, though! As soon after their recent Irish/UK tour last January and February, I finally did get to have a few words PORTRAIT guitarist, Christian Lindell about their Irish experience.
IMA : You’ve just played three nights around Ireland.
But this wasn’t your first time playing here, was it?
Christian : No, you’re right. We did shows in Dublin, Belfast and Cork some years ago as well. It was great then but I must say that the audience was much better this time! And our shows as well…
IMA : Did you get to do any sightseeing at all, while you were here?
Christian : Not that much unfortunately. We got to see the Rock of Dunamase at least, and the inside of many nice pubs… hehe
IMA : I know there was a fair bit of excitement about the shows with some local fans. How did you find the Irish crowds? Did you get a good reception?
Christian : The Irish crowd were awesome. We know quite a few metalheads from there but the general feedback from the audience during the shows were over our expectations really. We had a very good time.
IMA : You had some fantastic local talent lined-up as support bands for the Irish dates on the tour. In Limerick you had BRIGANTIA and STEREO NASTY, who also played Dublin. As well as TERMINUS and SENTINEL for the other shows. And of course, RABID BITCH OF THE NORTH who are joining you for the other UK dates, also. Were you familiar with any of them before the tour? Did you get to see any of them playing? Did any in particular stand out?
Christian : Yes, I watched Stereo Nasty and Terminus and found both bands promising. The band that stood out though is definitely Rabid Bitch of the North, who made quite an impression of us. Good to see a band that dares to think outside the box musically!
IMA : You’ve also recently played a few shows with your label mates PRIMORDIAL over in Germany. How did those go?
Christian : They went great and it is a very good thing for us to get to play for the “extreme” metal fans as I believe many of them can appreciate us as well but maybe haven’t heard us before the shows. So even though the audience doesn’t seem to be as much into it as during our own headlining shows, I am sure that we convinced many of them in Germany, as well as in London where we also supported Primordial.
IMA : ‘Crossroads’ is your latest album, which has been getting very positive press and reviews since it’s release. Do you feel that it has opened a few more doors for the band?
Christian : Yes, I think so. It is quite clear that the interest in the band has grown since its release actually. We get a lot more offers now than earlier.
IMA : You’re split EP out with RAM is fantastic. I really enjoy that one. How did that collaboration come about?
Christian : We are good friends with RAM and we have the same view upon the importance of heavy metal, in a fundamentalist way. Trends are coming and going, especially in Sweden, but Portrait and RAM will remain!
IMA : And the concept behind it? With each band including new material as well as covers of classic bands and of each others tracks, also?
Christian : It’s a way to show our appreciation for the other band and by also adding classic covers we show the width of heavy metal, and how that width is also expanded by our own original material. I think it is a nice little release.
IMA : On the subject of cover versions… ‘Mother Sun’ is probably one of the most obscure JUDAS PRIEST tracks out there. They never even recorded it properly themselves and it has only ever featured on a sparse few bootlegs from back in the 70’s. Was there any particular reason for PORTRAIT recording it?
Christian : We needed to include an exclusive track in order to have a CD single included in Sweden Rock Magazine, and we decided to do a cover instead of “wasting” a new song on that release. Mother Sun is perfect as Priest are among our biggest influences musically, and it would not make sense to cover any song that they have already perfected on an album, so Mother Sun was the perfect choice.
IMA : Have you had any feedback from anyone in JUDAS PRIEST, or associated with them, about it?
Christian : Yes, actually Rob Halford himself talked very positively about it in a Swedish interview. I have the audio recording of that interview. It was a big thing for us to hear his nice words about our cover of course.
IMA : PORTRAIT are definitely rooted in the traditional, 1980’s style of heavy metal. Was it always your intention to create a style of metal that is so identifiable and, for want of a better description, time-stamped?
Christian :Our intention is to find our own original sound, not to copy any style from the 80’s. We are definitely influenced by many 80’s releases but we always try to broaden our style. It might take many albums until we reach perfection, but that is also what drives us and inspires us, and I think we come closer by each release really.
IMA : I heard you playing DEEP PURPLE while soundchecking in before your Limerick show. Do you think you’ll ever broaden your style in the future? Or just leave that sort of thing to soundchecks or occasional covers?
Christian : Every metal band is inspired by Deep Purple, whether they know it or not. According to me our style is being broadened by every release, but we won’t strive to become one of those “occult” 70’s rock bands that are so popular now, that I can promise. But to have that sort of width through our career that for example Deep Purple has, is an inspiring goal. I mean, there’s a lot of difference in the style of Speed King compared to Child in time, even though the red line is clear. To succeed with such a thing is indeed one of our goals.
IMA : OK, sure! We’ll leave at that so!
Thanks a million again, for your time.
And we’ll hopefully see you back in Ireland again soon.
Interview by John O’Brien
Photos courtesy of Nevill Bedford Photography