KATATONIA Rakija-Induced Katatonia

We obviously had some misunderstanding during the preparation of this interview as I was told that Anders “Blakkheim” Nystrom will answer my questions so I prepared them for him. Instead, the drummer Daniel Liljekvist took over that duty so it is not strange that he gave me shorter answers. But nevertheless, the most important thing right now is that you have the chance to read an interview with unrepeatable Katatonia, who has just released their new masterpiece.

Hey there, Anders! I must admit that it is great pleasure to talk with you, even through an e-mail, since Katatonia is one of my all time faves. So how are you, are you already tired of promotion of „Night is the new day“?
Hey, Daniel here. No, we’re not tired yet…haha…get back to me on that one in a couple of months though.

I know that you are currently on the tour with Porcupine Tree, and soon after you will play few gigs with Paradise Lost. Is reaction of the audience on the new material good, how are you accepted on those bigger gigs anyway? What songs are you playing from the new material, are they going well live?
Both tours were awesome! Great shows, great crowds and fantastic guys to tour with in both bands. We only play Forsaker live at this moment…guess we need to get some more new tunes for the upcoming tours.

Are you planning some tours after those mentioned gigs? I have heard the rumor that you will embark with Amorphis on European tour in 2010., is that true? You know that Serbia loves you, so we await you here very eagerly. I have heard from my friend that you are very familiar with our national drink „rakija”
The euro tour starts in March 2010 but it’s not confirmed yet what band will join us. Hope we come back to Serbia again.

I strayed off the main theme (the new album) a bit, but there is so much stuff I want to ask you… So let us go back there, tell me first are you and the guys satisfied with the way „Night is the new day“ turned out?
Yes, it turned out as I hoped. I wasn’t involved with the recording process, after I recorded the drums, as much as Jonas and Anders but they made an incredible job on this one.

„The great cold distance“ was released way back in 2006. so what caused that break? I know that it is hard to force out the music such as yours, so were you working on new stuff all those years or…?
Well, it’s not like we’ve been lazy doing nothing for the past three years. We did a fair amount of touring for TGCD and yes, we were supposed to enter the studio a couple of times but we didn’t feel we had songs good enough to put on tape.

It is very obvious on this album that you guys are tighter and better on your instruments, you have grown nice beards so I can say that the sound is also fatter. Quite a progression from your early days… You were relying on the emotions as your main weapon back then; do you think that nowadays Katatonia is simply better band since you can play out your ideas without technical disabilities?
Absolutely! I think you answered your own question there…about the beard though, I just shaved it off after the Paradise Lost tour. I look like a fucking frog in the face now.

I have seen the clip on youtube where Jonas and you speak about your main influences like Fields of the nephilim, The Cure… But I can feel also the touches of prog rock, like for example in „Forward into battle“, where we can hear Porcupine Tree-like parts (not to say that you have ripped them off!). What do you think about this remark?
I think that everything you listen to unintendedly becomes inspirational to you.

I love the way that you guys have used the parts of silence, even very short segments where everything is quiet so the following heaviness from guitars is accentuated by that. I would say that this album is big on dynamics, what do you think about it?
You’re right. We deliberately made it like that so the heavy parts would be heavier than we’re use to and the soft parts softer. Obvious “hills and vallies” in whole so to speak.

Katatonia has come the long way, from blackish Doom of „Dance of December souls“ all the way to now. It seems to me that you have been perfecting the formula up to „Viva Emptiness“, then you found your little spot that you are confortable with and exploring it ever since. Where do you think is the limit where one band can go without loosing its identity? I mean, just look at Anathema nowadays, they have nothing in common with their 90’s days now! Do you want that to happen to Katatonia? This maybe calls for a small, but very hard question – how would you define your band in a few sentences? Elaborate on this a little bit…
I guess when it all comes down to it, you have to be true to your self and honest in the music you make. We make music for us, music that we like and if other people like it it’s a huge bonus. It’s a lame and cliché answer, but that’s how I feel about it.

The reactions from your old fans (the ones that I am in contact with, at least) on „Night is the new day“ have been quite mixed, for the first time in Katatonia’s existence. People either worship it, or say that it is very boring and that you didn’t change single thing in comparison to “Great cold distance”. I guess that people got used to constant change from you, eh… Your comment on this.
We hear this every time we release a new album. It’s nothing unique with Night Is The New Day. If you like the album, fine! If you find the album boring, it’s just as fine but I don’t think you’ve listened to it enough…or at all.

Tell me something about the album cover. I have my version of its meaning – the statue symbolizes the past and the city inside the urban decay, meaning that night is eternal (as Moonspell so nicely put). So, am I right ? Describe to me the main ideas behind it?
Your interpretation of the album cover sounds right, yes. I have my own and i think everyone has. Again, Travis made an awesome job!

Maybe the best song on the album for me is „Departer“ (together with „Forsaker“ and „Idle blood“), it is notable that you have always had the strong album closers. Tell me something about that particular song and cooperation with Kristen Linder? Are guys planning to expand more that style of songs like „Departer” and “Unfurl” in the future, maybe through some side projects?
Krister and Jonas are friends and after Krister made the remix of Soil’s Song he demanded to have a singing spot on the new album. However, we already wanted him to sing on the album before he asked. I don’t think we’re planning any special style of songs or side projects at this moment. We have our asses full of touring for this album the next two years.

„The Great Cold Distance“ was promoted with videos and 3 singles/EPs, is that planned also for „Night is the new day“? I have seen that Peaceville is doing the killer job on the album promotion, by the way.
Yes, the video for Day And Then The Shade was just released and we’re planning a new single and video already. As I see it, we have more material to make singles on this album than the others so I don’t doubt at least three singles.

If I am right, with this album your contract with Peaceville expires. Will you look for some other label or are you satisfied with them? While we’re at it, what is your favorite label mate – Darkthrone, My dying bride…?
We singed Peaceville again actually. We are very happy with them, yes. We hooked up with My Dying Bride and Anathema in UK last week and had a great evening with beer and lots of bullshit…great guys!

Katatonia has been on the upswing for years, you have cult status but the band never reach the heights of, say, Opeth. Now that progressive and dark music is more popular than ever with bands like Porcupine Tree, do you think that you can benefit from it?
I hope so. I’d love to do this fulltime.

My editor has been torturing me for days to ask you what is going on with Diabolical Masquerade, since he is a great fan of that project of yours 🙂 so can you fill us in with that information? Tell us also what the future holds for Bloodbath, are you planning some new releases soon?
I know that DM is put on ice for the moment and Bloodbath is going on a couple of summer festivals. Think they’re making another album but I don’t know when, but I hope they take on a more crabcore approach.

OK man, I don’t want to bore you anymore, I wish you all the best, I also wish to see Katatonia in Serbia again. Your last words…
Puno hvala! Hope to see you in Serbia in 2010! Bring on the rakija!

  • Answers by Daniel
  • Questions done by Trifunovic Slobodan