Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MOON SAFARI's PONTUS ÅKESSON – "If A Song – When We Write It – Needs To Be 8 Minutes Or 21 Minutes, It Will Be That"

January 31, 2024, a month ago

By Greg Prato

feature hard rock moon safari

Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MOON SAFARI's PONTUS ÅKESSON – "If A Song – When We Write It – Needs To Be 8 Minutes Or 21 Minutes, It Will Be That"

What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer's guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place. 

In this month's column, we speak to Moon Safari guitarist Pontus Åkesson, who discusses his band's latest album Himlabacken Vol. 2, the length of their tunes, and the current state of prog.

Is it true that it took nearly 10 years to complete Himlabacken Vol. 2? If so, what did it take so long?

"Yes, that's true. I would say it took the same effective time as our previous album to finish, but with this we all were in a very busy family-building time, I'd say. When we released Himlabacken Vol. 1, we had 4 kids together. Now that number is 16! So it was hard to get together, having writing sessions."

What are some of your favorite tracks and why? 

"I would pick 'Between The Devil And Me,' as it is a song based on a true story, and it's got everything music-wise in it. A very dynamic and great 10 minute-hit! I also have to say 'Teen Angel Meets the Apocalypse.' It is a 21 minute epic, that has everything. For me it is the best we've done so far."

What determines if a song will be long in duration, or cut down into different sections/shorter songs?

"Actually, the music itself. We work with no frames at all. We see every song as an art and a story of its own. If a song – when we write it – needs to be 8 minutes or 21 minutes, it will be that."

What is the trickiest Moon Safari song to play?

"Hard to say. I guess it's also different which bandmate you ask, but for me I'd have to say 'Mega Moon,' since it demands a lot of multi-tasking for me. A lot going on on the guitars, and I have a lot of backing vocals to execute at the same time."

Who are some of your favorite modern day prog bands and why?

"I'd say Pain of Salvation, IQ, and Symphony X. They're just my kind of cup."

What are your thoughts on the current state of prog? 

"There are more bands than ever, so I guess it is prospering with new younger bands. But the last few years I've been too busy focusing on my own band and not discovering that much new."

Future plans?

"To promote Himlabacken Vol. 2 and to get some tours going on!"

Between A Rock And A Prog Place News Blast

English proggers Haken will be supporting their latest release, Fauna, with a string of North American tour dates from February through March – a complete listing of the dates and ticket purchase info can be accessed here. And another acclaimed prog group, Big Big Train, will also be supporting their new album, The Likes Of Us, by performing a handful of US dates around the same time, which also can be viewed and tickets obtained via their site.

Triumph singer/guitarist Rik Emmett will be releasing Diamonds: The Best Of The Hard Rock Years 1990-1995 on March 1, which will focus solely on his solo material, and also include two unreleased songs. And Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool has also recently revisited his earlier solo efforts – with the 6-LP Adverse Yaw: The Prawn Song Years Box Set.

Electro prog duo Zombi return on March 22 with a new offering, Direct Inject, which will be supported with a smattering of North American live performances the following month – while the new track “The Post-Atomic Horror” can be enjoyed below. Austin-based prog metallists Transit Method will be issuing their latest LP, Othervoid, on February 2. 

Kamelot will be returning to North America from April through May for the Awaken the World Tour 2024 (along with Hammerfall and Ad Infinitum) – VIP tickets are available for purchase. And lastly, Caligula's Horse will be touring North America throughout February in support of their new album Charcoal Grace – we implore you to visit their site for details.

February 2024 New Albums

February 2
Transit Method- Othervoid

February 9
The Pineapple Thief- It Leads To This 

February 16
Gentle Giant- The Missing Piece (expanded)
Steve Hackett- The Circus And The Nightwhale 
Leah- The Glory And The Fallen
Rick Wakeman- Live At The London Palladium 2023 (4CD box)

February 23
Procol Harum- Shine On Brightly (remastered vinyl edition)

Classic Clip

Was Supertramp prog or pop? Can we agree that they were probably one of the few bands that was able to appeal to fans of both styles equally? Splendid – I knew we could! And if you're one of the few who either, 1. disagrees or 2. requests video/audio proof, then may we suggest you inspect this performance of "Bloody Well Right" from 1979…

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