This Swedish band took us by surprise by an incredible combination of hard rock and folk on their debut album “Corridors Of Time” released last year by German prog rock label Angular Records and now officially available in Russia. When the answers to our questions arrived by e-mail, we were surprised even more… Hope you will find a lot of interesting stuff here, too. Ah, don’t forget to check out “Corridors Of Time” if you haven’t done it yet, the album rules!

MetalKings.com: What is the band doing at the moment? What is the latest news from the Hagen camp?

Hans Rosén: Well, Michael and I are watching the football game Sweden-Argentina at the moment, mid-time now…
…Well, Hagen will start working on an album with Vladimir Vysotsky songs as soon as the agreements are ready. Keep updated at www.hagen.nu (in which you also can hear the whole album “Corridors of Time” streamed).

Michael Ohlsson: Full time now, Argentina’s out!

MetalKings.com: Your album “Corridors Of Time” has just been released in Russia and the CIS. I was very much impressed by the album’s great cover art and booklet layout. Did you offer your ideas for the layout or did the designer do everything by herself?

Hans Rosén: We got some suggestions to the cover art sent to us by Stefan at our label Angular. It was some artwork made by the American artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law (www.shadowscapes.com). Her artwork was great but the one you can find on the front side now became our choice, it’s really in harmony with our music. The picture contains such nice parallels as: ancient-modern, good-evil, reality-dreamland, life-death, atheism-religion. There are so many details to find in the picture. I find new ones all the time when I have a closer look.
Stephanie though, did not make the layout, it’s made by a guy called Daniel Stephan (www.dialogika.de) for Angular. As far as I know, Daniel and Stefan at Angular are old schoolmates who met because of their common interest in music.
The process of making the sleeve was open and there were a lot of stuff sent between the label and us. It took some time to complete. The result is great! To me it feels like the time when I studied all this vinyl sleeves all over, the time when sleeves were important.

MetalKings.com: Can you explain the meaning of the album title “Corridors Of Time”? Is there any general concept behind the album’s lyrics?

Michael Ohlsson: I imagine the whole universe as a time corridor and it’s circumstantial that we chose the door to this world.
No, the lyrics are not conceptual.

MetalKings.com: Who are Ulf and Kristina to whom you dedicate two instrumental tracks?

Hans Rosén: Ulf and Kristina are very musical friends of Anders. Their full names are Kristina Ståhl-Cedervall and Ulf Störling.

MetalKings.com: Who is Mikael Kring?

Per Nilsson: Near the end of the recordings of “Corridors of Time”, I injured my left arm and was prohibited to play for several months. I asked my long-time friend Mikael Kring to perform the remaining guitar parts. He’s a gifted musician and his style of playing was quite reminiscent of mine. He played the rhythm guitars on “A Summer Air” and “Remember” as well as all the acoustic guitar parts. The virtuoso mid-section of “For Ulf” was written by me and performed by Mikael and the solos of “Dragonfly Dance” and “The Northwinds Blow” were improvised by him. He did a great job and we were very happy to work with him. Nowadays he’s mostly into song-writing and producing, check out his website: www.quadarea.net.

MetalKings.com: What inspired you to write “Afraid”? Are Jenny and Kenny real people or fictional characters?

Hans Rosén: “Afraid” is the very first song that Anders (Rosen, violin player -ed.) and I worked on after we had been standing outside his house a dark evening and decided to try to put something together, him from folk music and me from hard rock. We went right in, hooked up a drum machine and made a demo. I remember I made the drum parts manually on a keyboard.

Michael Ohlsson: The names are fictional but their anguish and suicidal tendencies are common to real people in Sweden, especially teenagers.

MetalKings.com: I’ve searched through your web site but found no reference to live dates or live shows in general. Does Hagen ever play live?

Hans Rosén: There has been a lot of work for all of us to do. When new bands like us release a debut album there’s a lot of time needed for marketing the album. Most of us have made hundreds of gigs in the past. I think the live shows have to be better organized this time. So, when it’s the right time, when there’s a demand, we’ll play. What about a Hagen tour in Russia? (We wish it was possible - ed.).

MetalKings.com: Anders Rosen is not listed on your web site as a band member. Does it mean that he has quit Hagen?

Hans Rosén: Yes, he has.

Michael Ohlsson: Due to his personal problems, it was impossible to continue working with him.

MetalKings.com: I’ve read reviews comparing Hagen with Jethro Tull and Deep Purple of the Coverdale/Hughes era. Do you think that such comparisons are justified?

Patrik Jansson: I can definitely think of worse bands to be compared with! But we haven’t set out to copy anyone and I think that’s quite obvious if you listen to our music, but I can also understand that people make those comparisons due to the similar line-ups. A band with distorted guitars and Hammond organ will probably make people start thinking of Purple no matter what kind of rock they play for example.

Hans Rosén: You can also read that each song could need a review by itself. The songs are diverse. Jethro Tull is not among my favorites, Deep Purple is, and of course you can hear it now and then. “Sundown” is a good example of Hagen’s Purple-ism in my opinion. Michael’s singing style is quite close to the heroes from the seventies too.

Michael Ohlsson: Once in a while I’m compared to guys like David Coverdale and Steve Walsh, no offense taken! Jethro Tull is one of my favorites in the folk rock genre.

MetalKings.com: What do you think of other bands that combine folk and rock influences in their music, I mean Cruachan, Skyclad, Pogues and In Extremo?

Per Nilsson: I think that combining folk with rock is actually quite challenging, due to contrasts of the two genres; folk is old music, rock is new, folk is acoustic, rock´s electric, traditional Swedish folk is often in ¾-meter while rock is 4/4. I don’t really listen to other bands in the folk/rock genre, but I do listen to other fusions like Karl Jenkins´ Adiemus and the Zawinul Syndicate.

Hans Rosén: The only bands I’ve heard mentioned in your question are Pogues and Skyclad. In general, it seems to me the bands combining folk and heavy rock music most often have their starting point in folk music. Then there’s a lot of trying to put heavy accompaniment to their folk style making folk-rock. Hagen wants to achieve a wedding between the styles and at the same time be open to direct artistic feelings and new influences. Some parts of “Corridors Of Time” were made this way. It was created by direct feelings in the studio, and then it was recorded right away when the feeling “was right”.

MetalKings.com: Are you satisfied with your cooperation with Angular Records? Are you going to release your next album through this label or are you going to search for another contract?

Patrik Jansson: Angular has been great, very supportive thru all ups and downs. Hopefully the cooperation will continue.

Hans Rosén: It’s written in the stars.

Michael Ohlsson: I’m satisfied with Angular, and I also think that CD-Maximum does a great job. The sleeve is even better than the original.

MetalKings.com: Among the most famous releases by Angular Records is a tribute to Pink Floyd. If you had been offered to participate in that release, what song would have you chosen? What do you think about the tribute mania in general?

Hans Rosén: It’s impossible to choose one song from Pink Floyd. But, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” would have been great, or why not “Have A Cigar”. The album “Wish You Were Here” is my favorite by Pink Floyd, one of the best albums ever done.
As you name it, I think it’s a tribute hysteria going on right now. The results are seldom as good as the originals, and I think the bands doing the ”tributes” tend to not putting a serious effort into it or maybe the budget is too low. The idea of making tributes is great letting the involved bands show their influences, but the songs made are often great classics and it’s hard to put something more into the originals.

Patrik Jansson: It depends on the quality of the songs and groups involved. It’s always fun to be a part of a great project like a good quality tribute record or a soundtrack or such. We would definitely like to participate in any future tribute records or likewise in the future if anything good comes up.

Michael Ohlsson: It would be nice to cover “ See Emily Play”. I’m not too fond of the tribute concept.

MetalKings.com: As far as I understand, some members of Hagen are simultaneously involved in other bands. What are these bands?

Hans Rosén: Patrik Jansson is also working with Maryslim (www.maryslim.com), a band into rock with a punky feeling, and the Viacheslav Preobrazhenski Quartet (a Russian saxophonist). Hans Lundin has just released a new Kaipa (www.kaipa.info) album. Michael’s playing the drums in a blues-rock band called Mighty River Blues Band and is working on a Swedish solo album (find free downloads at www.hagen.nu) and myself is working with in my opinion one of Sweden’s greatest and most original folk fiddlers, the 80-year-old Wille Toors. I play the bass, keyboard and guitar when needed.

Hans Lundin: After a break for almost 20 years I decided to reform my original band Kaipa together with original guitar player Roine Stolt, who today is a famous artist with his bands The Flower Kings and Transatlantic, and record a new album. (Kaipa was the leading Scandinavian progressive rock band during the years 1974 - 1982.) In 2001 we invited some of the best musicians in the progressive and fusion genre to be part of this reunion. Morgan Ågren (Zappa, Mats & Morgan) on drums, Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) on bass and Patrik Lundström (Ritual) on vocals. I had written 11 new songs for this record called “Notes From The Past”. The music is like a bridge between the old Kaipa music (with a lot of influences from the Swedish folk music, rock and classical music) and my musical identity of today. This album was released in March 2002 on the German record company Inside Out Music. You can find more information of Kaipa, reviews, sound samples and the history of the band on our homepage (www.kaipa.info).

Per Nilsson: I’m currently writing for a symphonic black metal-project called Event Horizon. It’s very dark and complex music. Recordings will commence soon and then the search for a decent record-deal begins…

MetalKings.com: Has Per Nilsson ever played in a band called The Storyteller (a power metal outfit currently signed to No Fashion Records - ed.)?

Per Nilsson: I was the guitar player of an early incarnation of The Storyteller. They are still great friends of mine, and I recently performed live with them at the Parkrock-fest in Sandviken, Sweden, filling in for Fredrik Groth.

Hans Rosén: The Storyteller are friends of us, rehearsing in the same building, very nice guys!

MetalKings.com: When can we expect the second Hagen album? Will it be a continuation of “Corridors of Time” or a dramatic change of style?

Hans Rosén: At the moment we’re about to put our first steps into a very Russia oriented project in co-operation with the Israeli interpreter of Vladimir Vysotsky lyrics, George Tokarev.

Michael Ohlsson: To be honest, it’s difficult to predict the sounds of Hagen playing and me singing Vysotsky, but it will sure be a great challenge with an exiting result.

Hans Lundin: For me as a musician the meeting between different types of music is always interesting. Bringing unexpected elements into the music can give some really dramatic feelings. The basic structure of Swedish folk music will always be an important part in the music of Hagen. We have all different musical backgrounds and ideals, but that is in fact the real strength with this band. When we bring our forces together we produce something unique and unbeatable. We have a lot of new songs waiting to be recorded, but the final shape and form of the songs is not decided, but I’m completely aware of that we will make a new masterpiece.

Per Nilsson: A great deal of the music on “Corridors Of Time” was written by Anders, and since he won’t be participating on the next Hagen-recording there’s obviously going to be some changes in our sound.

MetalKings.com: I know that you are asked this question in every interview, but still it’s the first thing people want to know when I mention Hagen in a conversation. What is the meaning of the band’s name?

Hans Rosén: Hagen is a place in the small village Yttermalung in which it all began. It’s a wonderful place surrounded by meadows, and it’s also the place in which “Corridors of Time” was recorded. Anders and I have our origins from this place and the county surrounding it. The name was obvious after some brainstorming.

MetalKings.com: Have you ever heard any bands from Russia? Please say a few final words to your Russian audience.

Michael Ohlsson: DDT is a good band and I’m very fond of a song that begins with strings and a cough, then the vocal starts and the beat of a bass drum. I can’t read Russian letters, that’s why I don’t know the name of the song. There are also some good songs on an original soundtrack from a movie I think is titled “Brother 2” or maybe “Cousins”…three guys and a bullet on the cover and the first song is my favorite.
Valeria’s “The Taiga Symphony” has its great moments. “The Sky Belongs To Me” is a good song, and she performs it great. The Russian “Madonna” Linda is also OK, but, who needs another “Madonna”?
My all time favorite classical piece is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, which I have three different recordings of.
I have always found Russia and Russian history very intriguing and it would be a dream come true to tour in Russia. I hope you enjoy Hagen’s debut album and I’m really looking forward to see you, which goes for all of us.

-- Roman The Maniac

(June, 2002)

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