PORTRAIT is a band from Sweden that flies the banner of heavy metal high. You should know them by now. So check out this interview from Christian. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
How would you like to introduce your latest recording to people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-We want people to internalize the power of true heavy metal and to let themselves develop and grow together with it, just like other great bands have shaped ourselves and helped us realize that there is no world deserving to be saved or cared about – just do exactly what you want in life and follow your true will until the very end, no matter what outsiders think about it. The opinions of others should be the least of your concerns. When this world is abandoned the doors to that which lies beyond may become visible.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Actually the name came before any music was written. An old friend of mine came up with it, and I was inspired to use it for a band devoted to heavy metal darkness. Over the years the meaning of the band name has expanded to me, and I nowadays see it as a fitting name for musically portraying what I bear inside related to spiritual matters.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-I think influence comes from all music that I like, but in general when we started out it was classic bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and so on that we felt the biggest influence from. Everything has to start somewhere, but we have always tried to take all our influences and create our own thing out of it, and I think we come closer and closer for each release. Nowadays the band’s development in itself is a good source of inspiration as we have “found our thing” to a certain degree, and most inspiration comes from the inside instead of from the outside.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-I think this maybe was explained already in an earlier answer, but I can add that bands like Mercyful Fate, Dark Wizard, Hell, Stormwitch, early Running Wild, Angel Witch, Death SS, Dark Quarterer and so on were bands that we wanted to do something similar as. But with time Portrait has grown to become something much more important to me than trying to do what others have already done.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-I don’t think it will kill the album format, at least not in our case. With our kind of music you most often need an entire album to be able to include all aspects of relevance. People’s changing habit of listening to music is something that will kill themselves, as they will never be able to fully grasp the essence of the music, but what should be important to the artist/band is to express what you want to express, no matter if anyone else will ever listen to it or not. The album format will die when artists allow themselves to be limited because of the laziness of others, and that will kill not only the format but also the music itself.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-It is very important to us, not to grab attention but to give the music and lyrics (that I view as something that is inspired by “things” I deem as holy) a worthy shell. The best way to grab people’s attention would probably be to put some politically provocative symbols on the cover, but that would not have any relevance in relation to the music, so…
Something I cannot understand is how the old great bands that still does amazing albums can let their cover artworks be so damn ugly. Most have released albums with brilliant cover art in earlier days and now it looks like they let some 15 year old computer nerd put together some last minute Photoshop solution.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Yes, I must agree that it has changed. And I mean, it is much easier to reach people through a Facebood update than it is to do it via many other channels.So I guess it isn’t all bad. The negative thing about social media is mostly people’s inability to use it on a decent and non-addictive level. A pizza can be very good from time to time but if you can’t handle it you will eat too many and become fat and die. The same goes for social media usage, but on a more psychical level.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-In a way yes. Heavy metal as a whole has given me so much over the years, not only the great music but it has also led me towards certain ideological insights and so on (by banishing the ways and influences of “normal people” etc, giving way for a more “open mind” in lack of a better expression, with which to eplore the dark). I am still grateful for this and on some level I see our albums as a way to say thanks to the genre for everything it has given, by adding something worthy to its’ legacy. With that being said, there are very few bands that I identify with on any deeper level, but I do hope that we can help to inspire others to keep heavy metal strong until everything is gone.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We have not done so much touring over the years, only shorter tours during each album cycle. There have been some complications in the past, but I hope it could change for the better. I really enjoy touring, and from my experience it has been good both promotion wise as well as internally for the band.
What will the future bring?
-We will do as much gigs as possible when the album is out, and maybe we will have another release out sometime during next year. We have two new members in the band, Fredrik and Robin, and I really look forward to start writing new material together with them.