“I think of our music as the soundtrack to the Norwegian forest.” The story of Wobbler's Rites At Dawn

(Image credit: Press)

Swedish retro prog rockers Wobbler released their third album Rites At Dawn in 2011 which mad an immediate impact in the Prog office. This was the very first piece the magazine ran on the band...

According to keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frøislie, “When we started Wobbler in 1999 we were just teenage friends with the same love for late 60s and early 70s prog and wanted to play that type of music.” Since then the band have released three lovingly crafted, glorious symphonic albums that are a throwback to prog’s golden age. Although typically Frøislie has his own unique perspective: “I think of our music as the soundtrack to the Norwegian forest.”

More prosaically, Frøislie is upfront about Wobbler’s key reference points. “We’re definitely not trying to hide that we’re inspired by bands like PFM, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Gryphon, Genesis, Yes, ELP and so on. We’re proudly carrying on where the early 70s prog bands left off.”

Wobbler’s meticulous approach to recreating the sounds of their heroes evidences their commitment to their art. “We’re quite extreme when it comes to authenticity – all you hear is the real deal. There’s no midi, samples or digital keyboards. We use quite a few classical instruments too.”


(Image credit: Termo Records)

Indeed Frøislie is borderline obsessive regarding the tools that are integral to Wobbler’s trade, with the band eschewing any instruments manufactured since 1975. “I have no problems with samples and soft synths if they’re used on their own terms. If you use samples to try to sound like the real deal you can’t really win, since there’s nothing like the real thing, with all its quirkiness and faults – or charm. To me digital samples are dead, while an analogue keyboard is alive and unique. My Mellotrons sound slightly different from each other. They also look, feel and smell nice! And I play much better on the real thing; it brings out the best in me and the music.”

Frøislie confesses that he currently owns “between 20 and 30” assorted keyboards. “I keep selling and buying, though I try to quit. But I’ve hung on to the most essential classics, like the Chamberlin, Mellotron, Moog, ARP, Hammond organ, Rhodes, Wurlitzer and clavinet. Of course there are some downsides to the old classics – there’s lots of maintenance and they’re not very practical to use live.” 

After two years spent focused on recording current album Rites At Dawn, Wobbler are planning further live shows following a recent excursion to Canada, with Frøislie keen to dispel any idea that the band is purely a studio project. “No, we’re a band in the classical sense for good and bad – we quarrel all the time, which I think is healthy for the music though exhausting. But playing live is so much work to organise all the gear!” 

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.