In the beginning
In the later part of the 70´s and in the beginning of the 80´s there was a band called Warriens. The band consisted of three guys; Roland on bass, Tommy on drums and Ray played guitar and handled the vocals. They played rock music inspired by the 60´s and were gigging everywhere as much as they could. They started to grow their audience over time and they even won a few music contests.
After a while, probably around 80/81, they decided to leave their softer rock-based music in favor of a much heavier style. It was not just the music that was updated to a more 80’s based sound. With the inspiration of big arena band as Judas Priest, Saxon, and Iron Maiden they had a bigger plan.
The band’s appearance was much more of a visual appearance as Heavy Load and Manowar with the ancient Nordic masculine Vikings in mind. Hence the name – Neptune.
In order to make the visual somewhat clearer, the texts were based on just ancient Nordic stories or tales if you want. With that said, this was a choice made for more than 30 years ago and do not have any political meaning either back then or today. The texts are just stories based on our old Viking history.
In the beginning, Ray was managing both guitar and vocals. To give him total freedom to do what he does best, they decided to hire another guitarist – Johnny Östergren. They performed a bunch of gigs during that time. After a while, the band decided that it was time to record their first demo. Robert Wellerfors known for working with Axewitch, Roxette, KSMB, and others were selected as recording technician and producer. Several record companies showed interest in the band and their demo in the era of NWOSHM.
Time to sign a record deal.. or?
The next step was to expand the band with another guitarist and Jan Granvik (Grave, Glory) was hired as the second guitarist. As mentioned above. Several record companies had shown interest. It was time to invite them all to a gig where the idea was that they would fight for the band and offer the best deal.
The planning for this so important show was in full swing. They were looking for a support act that could match them without taking too much space. The choice went for the band Excetra. A band with a more of a 70´s style of music as Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Rainbow. The guys didn’t know it at that time but it was the first time they were on the same stage as the replacement of Jan Granvik who chose to end the band a few months later.
Not long after Jan left the band, Tommy needed to do his military service, which meant that Neptune temporarily was put on hold. Jan who has been outside the band for a short while contacted Ray. They decided to start the band again but with other members. On drums, they hired Mats Förare, on bass Björn Melander (Gotham City, Mogg) and on the second guitar Ralph Thornberg. The band recorded a demo with two Neptune songs: Enemies and Burglary Man and two Gotham city songs: Poem and Afraid of the beast. This version of Neptune wasn’t active for long, maybe just a half a year or so. Jan, Björn and Mats left for the band Glory North and MK III of Neptune was shortly in the making.
Neptune MK III
It was not just Tommy who needed to do his military service. The guitarist from Excetra – Anders Olsson (the support act from the gig the year before) made his military service at the same time and place as Tommy. They began to talk about common musical interests and that Neptune actually was looking for a new guitarist.
Tommy convinced Anders to leave Excetra for Neptune after their military service was done. Neptune MK III was Roland, Tommy, Johnny, Ray and now with Anders as the second guitarist.
Recording of Land of Northern
When the original band once again was reunited, now with a new guitarist. They started writing new songs on a regular basis. Several demo recordings were made both in their rehearsal room and in different studios. The goal to get a record deal once again came to their mind.
They booked a week or so in the praised Soundtrade studios as bands as Rammstein and Europe have made several recordings. To raise the quality of the recording, even more, the acclaimed sound engineer Alar Suurna was booked as well.
Shortly after the recording was finished, they began to contact record companies once again. Several meetings were held with different record companies and a record label named CMR records was the one who had the best deal. In the same time span, Johnny decided to move from Stockholm and the hunt for a new guitarist started once again. The choice went for Jonas Edler.
Keyboard and melodic metal
We have now reached the year 86. The hard rock development with bands like Ratt and Dokken had to conquer the world with a newer sound and appearance.
This inspired of course also band on this side of the Atlantic and led Neptune in one or another way to upgrade the band with a keyboard player but with their own feeling and touch. In fact, it was Tommy who left the drums for the benefit of a more prominent part of the sound. Tommy’s drum set got a new drummer named Jonas Wikström. With a new drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist. You can call this for Neptune MK 4. With these changes in the band, the sound went through some changes as well.
The end is near.. or?
We are now reaching the end of this story. The band went to Jonas Wikströms hometown – Nyköping and recorded another demo which they sent to Rock SM. The last show ever was in the autumn of 86 in Rock SM. Shortly after that Ray was once again hijacked by Jan Granvik and the band Glory. Neptune tried a few guys on vocal. Even Roland tried a few times but the spark wasn’t there anymore and the band was dissolved soon afterward.
The mystery release
One can think that the story of Neptune ends at this point, but oh so they deceived. Without the band’s knowledge, in 2003 one of their old demos “Enemies” is released on a compilation record called “Metal Knights – The Resurgence of Swedish Steel”. This is considered to be the seed of something that took another 15 years before it broke out. In addition to this, a couple of the band’s old demos had leaked on You Tube and over time a sigh of more songs was created on a number of “fan sites”.
Late 2017, something happens that no one really could predict. Johnny showed some old songs for the singer from Narnia – Christian Liljegren. He liked it so much that he shared it further. In one or another way the songs ended up at a record company. A few days later Tommy received a message on Facebook from Janne Stark, who was representing the record company Sonic Age/Cult Metal Classics, specializing in re-releasing recordings and demos from the 80s. Somewhat surprised, Tommy picked up the phone, contacted his old bandmates and told them about the record company’s request to re-release several of their old recordings, both on CD and vinyl. The contract was signed and the CD was in the stores early 2018.
The story continues
Late autumn 2017 we met again and even though we only had the release of Land of Northern in mind. Someone said, why not make a video to promote the CD release. Said and done, we booked a warehouse for the purpose. Once we all stood in front of the video camera, a feeling arose that we didn’t felt for over 30 years. The idea of actually pulling the band together for real started to arise in our minds. We started to rehearse our old songs. However, it did not take long before both Johnny and Tommy realized that the time needed to put it to get this to work did not really exist.
Ray, Roland, and Anders searched for a new guitarist and a drummer. The choice of drummer fell on an old friend named Jan “Tosh” Andersson who played with Ray and Anders during the 90’s. This new constellation resulted in a re-recording of the songs Keep Us Alive and Dreamer which was released digitally late summer 2018.
After these songs were released, Janne stepped down to work on some own unfinished musical projects. Thanks to social media we had once again found another original Neptune drummer from the 80’s – Jonas Wikström. Not long after our first rehearsals with Jonas we found more or less by pure coincidence Anders Lindqvist and Neptune were once again complete and the plans for recording new material and bookings of new gigs were in full swing.
Ruler of the sea – a crazy idea or?
During “late night” conversations, we got the crazy idea of releasing an EP trilogy. A few weeks later we were in full swing and the first demo recordings were long gone, so far that both drums guitar, bass, and vocal were recorded. One week after we recorded most of the songs, Ray Alex decease in the suites of a stroke… and everything stops once again.
How to proceed? Can we move on? Ray’s voice and style were, to a large extent, a hallmark of Neptune, which cannot be easily replaced.
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