Men On The Border was started as a project in the autumn of 2011 by Goeran Nystroem (lead vocals, guitar) and Phil Etheridge (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, producer) celebrating the life, music and art of Syd Barrett. Our aim was to produce a few Barrett songs with little or no reference to the original recordings; to build on the melodies and lyrics in a new way. The project turned unexpectedly into a full album of interpretations.
Goeran: The first song we completed was Octopus, which was quite a challenge, and then we sort of entered the whole amusement park. This was back in 2011. The seed of an idea germinated after a visit to the Idea Gallery arts and letters exhibition in March that year and then a Floyd festival in July. Phil and I started recording in October.
Phil: Goeran convinced me to give this project a shot with a couple of very rough and weird acoustic demos recorded on his iPhone which he sent me. I found Octopus intriguing with its odd non-structure and I got lots of psychedelic vibes which I found inspiring. It was a difficult song to learn to play for working out all the parts, but it was actually a very satisfying experience. We spent a few weeks working on and off with Octopus and found a pretty good way of working together mostly based around sending suggestions back and forth. It was just the two of us at that time and we were both travelling a lot in our day jobs, so that was a good way to progress.
We loved that first attempt at an arrangement and I had no qualms about immediately starting on another song, which I think was Feel. Seven minutes of dreamy opus. The first half is piano and acoustic 12-string guitar-driven, then it concludes with a strummed Rickenbacker like John Lennon’s rhythm guitar on Hey Jude and a wailing solo on top. That song kind of clinched the deal and sparked off the idea of maybe putting together a whole album of Syd songs. Right from the start the aim was to make these songs our own and I didn’t once refer to Syd’s original recordings. Goeran could play them all on guitar, but I had never heard any of them! So my starting point was only Goeran’s demos.
We became a live band shortly after the release of our second album Jumpstart, by adding drummer Bjorn Hammarberg (who also played on all the songs on Jumpstart) and bassist David Parkin. Phil, Bjorn and David have played and recorded together in various band constellations for many years. Guitarist Odd Westby joined in late 2015.