RING OF GYGES: Interview with Guðjón Sveinsson

Guðjón Sveinsson of the Icelandic progressive metal five-piece Ring of Gyges spoke for Rocking Charts about the band’s debut full-length album entitled “Beyond the Night Sky,” which was launched in November 2017.

Hey Guðjón. How are you doing?

We’re great! Exciting times ahead, so we’re all in good sport.

Back in November, you launched your debut album entitled “Beyond the Night Sky.” How do you feel about the release?

We’re really happy with how it turned out, and not any less with the great reception we’ve been getting! Right now I think we’re all feeling a bit anxious to get together and play live, as Helgi is currently living in Sweden, so we have to arrange accordingly in order to play any shows.

Beyond the Night Sky

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

We’re always trying to push our limits and evolve as musicians, and we definitely did that during this process. We’d written the basis for all the tracks and demoed them before we started, so we had a good idea of what we were getting into. Most of the recordings were done over about a 3 month period in late 2016, but the post production process stretched up until right before the release date. When doing a project on this scale while maintaining a full time job simultaneously, things tend to stretch over a longer time period than one would prefer. But we decided to take our time and do it the justice we felt it deserved. Overall it’s just a great learning experience and a lot of food for thought for the road ahead.

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Iceland are you friends with?

Sadly there aren’t really many bands in Iceland into this sort of music. The only 2 similar bands that we’ve played with to any extent are the bands Future Figment and Lucy in Blue. We also love Agent Fresco and their music was a source of inspiration for us for this album. We’re hoping to connect with the few other bands there are around in Iceland in the future.

What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene?

I love it! So many great acts going on, big and small. It really seems to be slowly gaining media attention too, which is important for the scene to be able to thrive. It’s also a highly competitive scene given it’s often technical nature, while at the same time being very accommodating for anything musically interesting in any way.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Listening through the record you can definitely name a wide range of obvious influences, often rooted in the 70’s, but also a lot of the more recent bands. Very present ones would be for example Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Haken, Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson etc. We’ve got a lot of common ground musically speaking, but we also all branch out in different directions with our musical tastes.

What are you listening to these days?

I’ve had the new Bent Knee album, Land Animal on repeat for the past 2 weeks. Other great ones I’ve spun a lot recently are Caligula’s Horse’s In Contact, The Contortionist’s Clairvoyant and Lunatic Soul’s Fractured. I’ve also gravitated a lot toward The Dear Hunter for the past 2 years, and still regularly do.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

A hard question indeed, but I’ll name the 5 albums that I think that I’ve listened to the most often and could still listen to at any given time:

Gazpacho – Demon

Haken – The Mountain

Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV: …

Ayreon – The Theory of Everything

Tool – Ænima

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Beyond the Night Sky”?

We recorded the album at 3 different studios, so of course there’s loads of studio gear involved, which I guess could be a whole article by itself, so I’ll discuss the instruments and other equipment used. The drums were all recorded on Einar’s Pearl BLX maple kit with Sabian cymbals (in a single session!). Bass was tracked on Þorsteinn’s Ibanez GSR206B through a UA1176 preamp. The base distorted guitar tracks mostly consist of a JP6 Musicman and a Fender Strat double tracked through a custom amp handwired by Einar. Other amps and guitars used are Mesa Boogie Mk IV and Dual Rectifier amps, along with Schechter and Jackson 7 string guitars, to name a few. The acoustic guitar on the record is a Simon&Patrick CW Folk. Synth sounds were mostly done with a Nord Electro 5 and a MicroKorg2, while we also recorded grand piano, Hammond, mellotron, and even a church organ!

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Currently we’re looking to do a small European tour next summer/fall to follow it up, and to gain some touring experience. Since this album process took such a long time, it won’t be long after that until we’re ready to get working on the next one!

Any words for the potential new fans?

Hope you enjoy the album, and look out for us in future times!

“Beyond the Night Sky” is available from Bandcamp here.