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Katatonia (I)
Interview mit Jonas [Katatonia], 27.04.2012, phoner



Katatonia haben es fast geschafft. Ende Mai werden sie die Arbeiten an ihrem neunten, bisher namenslosen Studio-Album abschließen. Schlagzeug, Bass, Keyboard und die Gitarren sind bereits im Kasten. Fehlt nur noch Jonas Renkses Gesang. Der Frontmann der schwedischen Dark-Metal-Band kann es kaum erwarten, das finale Ergebnis in Händen zu halten.

Hello Jonas, are you calling from the studio?


Jonas: No, not today. I'm at my home and having a day off from studio.

How does the work on the ninth Katatonia album proceed? What's the current state of the album?

Jonas: The current state is that we're just finishing the vocal sessions. I have a couple of songs left to sing. Then we will start with the whole mix process. So the album is pretty much finished. So far I am super stoked about everything with the new album. According to me it sounds just perfect. The new songs are very good. Everybody is very happy about what we came up with.

When did you start with the recording sessions?

Jonas: We started in January. But we've been on and off from the studio, we've not been there all the time. We've also done recordings in our own studio. So we have just taken it kind of easy. No stress at all.

During which period of time did you write the new material?

Jonas: I started writing pretty much right after the release of the previous album, but that were just small ideas here and there, just collecting a bit of things that I thought sound interesting. Then we started the real writing process last fall, I think. We did a long US-tour with Opeth, but we started writing songs before that. After we came home we really got into the songwriting and it was finished in late December.

How did the songwriting process look like? Did you all work together right from the start or did everybody work on his own and you came together later on presenting your ideas to each other?

Jonas: It usually starts with either me or Anders coming up with ideas in our home studio environment. Then we just meet up and show each other what we have. I might have a couple of songs, and he's got a couple of songs, maybe we also have a couple of song ideas, but they are not finished, so we can help each other out. But the main thing is that we both write on our own and then we listen to each other's stuff, have a few comments and then go further on with the new stuff. A couple of songs we wrote together for this album. But most of it is done in separate ways.

What has been your ambition and focus while writing the new stuff?

Jonas: I think, what we're doing with Katatonia in these days is to write good songs. That's really all what matters to us. So it's very simple: We just try to write better songs with every new album, making the best songs possible in the moment. [laughs]

On your website it is written that you entered the studio with 13 songs in the bag. Is it the final number of tracks on the new record?

Jonas: I think, the album will have eleven songs. I'm not sure yet. We always try to keep the creative process as far as possible into the recording. So even when we're doing the mix, we still add things or decide that this song has to be on the album as well. But we thought about having eleven songs on the album and then we have a couple of extra songs that probably end up as B-sides or bonus stuff.

What's the main studio you're working in?

Jonas: It's called Ghostward and it's placed here in Stockholm. It's were we recorded the previous album as well with the producer David Castillo. It's the same place, pretty much the same team. But the previous album is still very good, so the Ghostward studio was a natural choice and we're good friends with David.

Have there been other criterions for David that you choose him as a producer?


Jonas: Not really. I mean it's always been me and Anders, the guitarist, being the main producers of our albums. David is much more like a technician and mixer kind of wizard. Me and Anders are always handling the producer's role. And it's basically us writing all the material, so we want to keep the track of everything what's done.

How would you describe the studio? And does the surrounding influence the development of an album?

Jonas: Not really, I would say. It's pretty much the other way around, because the studio is very, very small. It's just two rooms: one recording room and one small room where you can sit and listen to what you're doing. You want to get out of there as soon as possible as it is very small and located in a very shitty neighborhood. [laughs] So the influence of the studio is that you're trying to rush things. But nevertheless, it's a good studio with great equipment.

As the studio is so small, I guess, there are no beds allowing you to stay overnight?

Jonas: No, there is not a room for that. We have to go home every night. But as it is located in Stockholm, it's not a problem for us.

So you're all living in Sweden's capital?

Jonas: No, we're not. The other guitarist, Per, and the drummer, Daniel, they live in a town which is located like three hours from Stockholm. But when we're in the studio, they usually stay at our place.

You not only work with David another time, you also hooked up again with Frank Default playing the keyboards. Why did the electronic part become so important for Katatonia's sound?

Jonas: I think, since we started the band back in 1991 we're always trying to add as much atmosphere as possible in the music. Back then we tried to add it by toying around with effects on the guitars and stuff, but as time goes on and you see what electronic instruments can add to this kind of music that we were already doing – atmospheric stuff –, it's kind of an important thing for us on the last few records adding stuff like that to enhance the atmosphere even more.

Why did you decide to work with Frank again?

Jonas: Frank is a good friend of the band. He's really talented in doing arrangements on keyboards etc. The collaboration fits perfectly.

Is he also with you on stage when you're touring?

Jonas: Unfortunately not, although we have invited him. Well, he did only one gig with us here in Stockholm. So we have to use all his stuff on back tracks in a live situation. It's not the best option, but the second best, you know. It's more convenient to do it like that rather than involving a sixth member. So we keep it this way for the time being.

But have you ever thought about recruiting a new band member for playing the keyboards?

Jonas: Yeah, we've been talking about it from time to time. But it's not something that we really decided to do yet. It might happen in the future if we find the right person or if Frank is gonna join the band. It's not something that happens overnight. So we'll see what happens in the future.

In these days you record the vocals in the studio. But in which order did you record the instruments?

Jonas: We started with the drums, then doing all the guitars, first the rhythm guitars and distorted stuff, then adding the clean guitars followed by the bass guitar. After that we added all the things that Frank worked on, the synthie parts, and then I started doing the vocals. I think this order is kind of normal. Some bands want to record base after the drums, but we usually record the guitars after the drums.

So you had to wait quite long till it was your turn…

Jonas: Yeah exactly. But I've been in the studio all the time with the guys, because I wanted to be sure that they play the songs correctly. [laughs] But yes, I had to wait until the end to do my real part.

Was everybody of the band involved in every recording step like being there around the clock/twenty-four-seven?


Jonas: Not all the time, but I think everybody has been present pretty much on every state of the album. Daniel, the drummer, went home after recording the drums, but then he came back to join the recording of the guitars and bass guitar. It's just like some of us live in another city, they have families, so they had to go back in between. But we try to be as much of a band as possible in the studio, even if it's possible to do everything, every step by oneself. It's much more fun if you have the whole band around. You feel much more participating in every move of what's going on with the album.

Is Katatonia a democratic band or do you often have to discuss about things?

Jonas: We don't argue very much. I guess it's a democratic band in one way, but also me and Anders are pretty much the only songwriters. We have the final word on everything. But we're always open to hear the other guy's opinions, we always share every idea we have and that's a democratic process.

How does a typical studio day of Katatonia look like?

Jonas: We always try to start as early as possible. But it's never before 10 in the morning. Around 10/11 am the usual morning behavior is like making coffee and listening to what we did the day before. It's kind of a slow process, but that's the way we wanna do it. As I said before, we don't wanna stress things. And since we have the opportunity to also record in our own studio, we have like a combined rehearsal room and studio, we don't have to feel that the clock is picking money. So we recorded all the guitars and bass in our own studio and then we brought it back to David's studio. That was a nice thing, you know. You can just lean back and recording in your own pace rather than rushing things as it costs money.

How long do you work in the evenings?

Jonas: Basically we always set up a goal for what we wanna get finished with for the day. Then it doesn't really matter what time it is if we say that a song has to be ready tonight. Then everybody gets tired and we wanna quit, but the song is still not finished and we have to finish it – otherwise everything is slacking, you know. Yesterday I was doing vocals and I came home at 4 in the morning. I was very tired, but it turned out really well, so that's a good thing when you go to bed and you feel satisfied. That gives you a much better start the next day.

How did you avoid getting the typical cabin fever? Doing any sports in return for the long studio sessions?

Jonas: We haven't been able to do a lot of stuff outside of the studio. We felt so happy to do another album. Me and Per, the guitar player, when we were doing all the guitars, we went for a couple of walks to clean the minds, but that's about it really. We've been trying to cook some healthy food, not just eat Pizza and Hamburger all the time.

Do you have other jobs beside or is the music the only thing you do at the moment?


Jonas: Right now we're doing only music, because there is no way that we can have a part time work as there's so much to do with the band right now – the touring, recording and everything. Moneywise we're not rich people, but we can pay the bills and when we can do that, we're happy. We don't aspect to live in Hollywood. As long as we can do what we love to do, that's fine with us.

And Stockholm is a nice city…

Jonas: Yeah, I don't complain living here – especially now when winter is finally over.

So there is no snow anymore?

Jonas: Just a little tiny bit, but most of it is totally gone now.

Oh, we have already like 25 degrees here.


Jonas: Oh really? Wow! That's good. [laughs] I think we have like 10 degrees.

Back to the album: Which obstacles did you have to overcome during the recording process?

Jonas: I have to say everything is been really good. The only thing that's kind of a problem is that things are taking a little bit of extra time, but that's our own fault, so we don't care about that so much. But besides that it's been a very smoothed recording. Everybody in the band has been really practicing before, so the band is in top form on this album.

Are there any highlights from the studio sessions you would name here?

Jonas: Not really. The days have been pretty much the same. It's fun, but it's kind of dull also. So I think the highlight will be when we finally mix the album and everything is ready.

How does the new material sound like in comparison to "Night Is The New Day"? Where do you see the band's development?

Jonas: I actually thought about this before the interview, because I assumed that the question would come. But it's kind of hard for me right now, when I'm so much into the process, to actually see the difference between the albums. But maybe this new album is a little bit more varied. That's also something that we always try: to make everything as varied as possible and not just doing the same thing over and over again. The songwriting stepped up from the last album which we're still so happy with. So on the new album you'll find a little bit more variation, some songs are maybe a bit darker and some songs are probably a bit more uptempo than on the last album which had pretty much the same tempo all over the whole record. But that is just my initial feeling. [laughs]

When will the album be finished?

Jonas: It's gonna be finished by the end of May – in a month, I think.

Do you already have a name for the new album?

Jonas: Not really. We're still looking into some different titles. I think it's gonna be revealed soon, but I can't say anything just yet.

How would you continue the sentence "Music is…"?

Jonas: Music is probably the most important thing in my life accept from my family.




Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken & (c) by Linus Pettersson / taken from peaceville.com
Website Band: www.katatonia.com

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(c) Zillo Musikmagazin / Ausgabe 06/12 / www.zillo.de
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