RING VAN MÖBIUS revive retroprog to new life

22. January 2021

Ring Van Möbius

RING VAN MÖBIUS erwecken den Retroprog zu neuem Leben

With their second album "The 3rd Majesty" the Norwegian group Ring Van Möbius strikes a big blow, because such inspired retroprog in trio format (without guitar, but with many vintage keyboards) is rarely offered. So it's no surprise that this record, overflowing with playfulness, was named "Album of the Month" in our December 2020 issue. Thor Erik Helgesen, singer and keyboardist of the lively troupe, is accordingly delighted and chats at length about the band's history and the making of the album

eclipsed: The new album by your compatriots from Wobbler narrowly missed out on #1 in our editorial charts recently, and Ring Van Möbius have now managed to take pole position with "The 3rd Majesty". Why do you think proggies get so freaked out by this music?

Thor Erik Helgesen: (laughs) I guess it's because we give off this nostalgic feeling that suits their taste in music. I think we're also very daring and a little crazy, and we try not to control everything too much all the time. We prefer to let go and see where the music takes us. Sometimes the result is total chaos, other times more melodic twists. Maybe the appeal of the album is also due to the production and the wild spirit behind it

eclipsed: In the booklet it says: "Mixed using fully analogue equipment and old techniques". Can you explain that in more detail?

Helgesen: We studied these old techniques from the 50s, 60s and 70s and tried to imitate them, for example how to mic a drum kit or how to manipulate two tape machines to get a real tape-flanging effect - today people think that can only be done with a plug-in. We also put vocals through the rotary speakers of an organ, which we then miked.
It was also crucial that we only had 16 tracks available and had to use that limitation to be more creative. When you listen to older recordings, which I do all day, you realise that often there aren't many instruments involved - it's the mix and the playing that makes the sound powerful.

eclipsed: Your hometown of Kopervik only has 12,000 inhabitants, after all. The chances of finding kindred prog fans there were probably rather slim ..

Helgesen: (laughs) No doubt about it! Not so long ago there were only two prog bands there, and my sister played in one of them. I myself have been playing in bands all my life and I've always been looking for people who are on fire for this music. Usually you have to widen your circle to find people like that, and suddenly I was wrong in that opinion! Because the first two guys I asked joined and are still in it.

eclipsed: When and where did you meet your bandmates Håvard Rasmussen and Dag Olav Husås?

Helgesen: I'll have to elaborate a little on that. To be honest, I never wanted to start a prog band, because I had played in a black metal band forever before. But I always liked the rock music from the 70s: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Then, during my military service, I came into contact with progressive rock through a friend. He introduced me to bands like Camel, King Crimson and Yes, and that music gradually grew on me. About five years ago I sat down with a friend - me with my acoustic guitar, him with his flute - and we played some classical pieces. After a while, we were sampling stuff by Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, and suddenly a tune came to me. I said, "Hey, play this," and I played a chord progression to it. After that, I'd immediately think of the next riff, and so on - until I couldn't stop, and that went on for months! Soon I was walking around with recording equipment in my pocket all the time, and even going to sleep with paper and pen. (laughs) After a while I realized that it would be pretty stupid not to make anything out of it, because I thought those riffs deserved a band. But I didn't want to play those riffs to my band at the time because we had our own style. At the same time I realized that I really only know people who play black metal!
But then I remembered Ove, who had been the sound engineer on my band's last album and worked in a record store at that time, where he recommended me a lot of cool stuff, e.g. by Van Der Graaf Generator. I just called him and asked if he was interested - and he was. After that I called Dag Olav, who also comes more from the extreme metal corner, but I knew he was into Rush. I thought, "This is the most progressive drummer I know." So we took a chance and got together a few times to rehearse - and it probably sounded terrible! (laughs) But we saw the potential right away, and I bought a 1968 Hammond organ soon after. It was the cheapest one I could find, and at first I didn't know how to play it, but that's what I liked. Having been a guitarist all my life, I naturally knew what licks and tricks I could use - but with the organ, I could lose that control. Apart from that it was difficult for me because I had to sing properly for the first time - otherwise I had always just screamed around, and now I had to try not to sound so awful. (laughs)

The Seven Movements of the Third Majesty

The complete interview is part of our Online Abos...