♦♦♦ Aurora Borealis ♦♦♦
Katatonia (II)
Interview mit Jonas & Anders [Katatonia], 18.06.2012, phoner

Katatonia sind mehr als zufrieden. Ihr neuntes Album ist im Kasten und es hat auch endlich einen Namen: "Dead End Kings". Jonas und Anders, die beiden kreativen Köpfe der Band, verrieten mir, was es mit dem Titel auf sich hat, wie Silje von The Gathering ihren Weg aufs Album fand und wann es die neuen Songs live on stage zu erleben gibt.

Jonas, in August your new album "Dead End Kings" will hit the stores. What is your feeling about the CD? Are you completely satisfied with the final result?

Jonas: Yeah, absolutely. We've been working really, really hard on this one as we want to release a record we're all satisfied with. We're all looking forward to August, that's for sure. It's been lots of hard work that is manifested into an actual album, so everything is good looking for now.

Which feedback did you get so far by your families and friends?

Jonas: It's been brilliant. It's been really nice to play the album to friends and family and they love it so far, so good. [laughs]

When was the last day for you being in the studio and finally saying: "This is it! The album is finished!"?

Jonas: I believe it was…ufff…it could be like in the beginning of June. One of the first days in June me and Per, the second guitarist, went to London to play the album to some journalists. And we just picked it up from the studio, the final result of the album, and then went on the plane. It was really fresh and we feel relieved now as the album is finished and other people already listened to it.

How have been the last days in the studio? Relaxed or stressed?

Jonas: It's been really stressful because of the tight deadlines, you know. We really had to meet the deadlines for this one due to all the promotion dates that were planned. But I think we also tried to put not too much stress on the mixing, so everything sounds as good as planned, but it was a lot of hard work involved.

Are you happy finally being out of the little studio room?

Jonas: Yeah, it's a really small place and it's great to be out of there.

Anders, "Dead End Kings" was the recording debut for guitarist Per and bass player Niklas. Did they have a good start within the band?

Anders: Yeah, things have been gone really well. They've been with us since we start touring with the last album, so they've been with us on the road on every tour we've done since 2010. Things were flowing well with them. You know, they are a little bit younger and have a lot of hunger and energy to put in this band which we needed. And now it came to the second part of the whole thing: being in the studio, being able to deliver. We didn't know what to aspect, but they delivered for sure. They are both good musicians and they were totally part of the whole process. I think the trial is more or less completed now.

To what extend did their playing skills influence Katatonia's sound?

Anders: Not so much creatively and directly to the songwriting, because it's been always me and Jonas doing most of the songwriting. But they both definitely influenced a lot our live shows. They really bring the hunger and energy into the live shows, a lot more than ever before. When we've been in the studio, well, it's always nice to work with other musicians and people, but the sound of Katatonia would sound the same regardless of there are new members or not.

How would you describe the new songs from the songwriting point of view in comparison to "Night Is The New Day"?

Anders: It's really hard for me to do that. I so much love the last album, I love everything we've done. What the cliché bands do is trying to make a new album always sound better. It's like they start to complain and tell what's wrong with the last one. I won't do that! I'm not into that. But the challenge for us was basically to continue what we did, but just try to make better songs. And that's pretty much what other bands do as well.

Jonas told me in our last interview that there might be 13 songs on the new album. Now there are 11. What has happened to the both remaining tracks?

Anders: They actually won't be on the album, but they gonna be on a deluxe book edition. So it's this big fancy thing that has a big book which is like record size. And it has about 48 pages of artwork, two vinyls in there, one CD, a 5.1 surround CD and the two bonus tracks. That's a collector's thing for the diehard fans! I think, everybody should get that one!

What are the bonus tracks? What are their names?

Anders: The titles of the bonus tracks are "The Act Of Darkening" and "The Second". "The Act Of Darkening" is a really, really, really different piece. It's all 'cos the guitars, percussion and some melodies are maybe not what you aspect from Katatonia. The mixer guy, David Castillo, described the song as a mix between Coldplay and Frank Sinatra. The other song, "The Second", is a more traditional Katatonia sounding track. It's actually one of the hit songs, but it's too dark to be a hit. I think that song continues the tradition of delivering bonus or B-sides that are very special. It's actually one of my favorite songs on the album.

Jonas, what did inspire you for the lyrics and how personal are they?

Jonas: They are as personal as always. It's pretty much the only way I can write lyrics. The inspiration is coming from everyday life basically with a dark twist to it, you know.

So you're reflecting experiences from your own life in the songs?

Jonas: Yeah exactly, it's my kind of reflections. And of course I want the lyrics to go hand in hand with the music. It's not always like a kind of poetry I would write, if I did that. It's supposed to help the music as well. And you always have to keep the balance between what sounds good and what looks good on paper.

Do you have the music first and write the lyrics for those or is it the other way around?

Jonas: I usually do the lyrics afterwards, so I start with doing vocal melodies by singing nonsense lyrics until I am satisfied with how the vocals should sound. And then I have to write the real lyrics in the same kind of patterns and rhythms.

Which kind of topics would never find their way into Katatonia's lyrics?

Jonas: I guess really happy stuff like party and dance-all-night songs wouldn't really fit into our music. It's something we would never write about.

To what extent is the rest of the band allowed contributing own ideas to the lyrics?

Jonas: I think they are all happy with me doing the lyrics. Anders has written a couple of lyrics to the songs that he wrote. But it's been like that in the past as well. But I think the others have no intentions to write anything.

Would Katatonia also work with Swedish song texts?

Jonas: I don't know. We never really discussed that. Well, of course we joked about it, but I don't think it's our thing. We could do something like that, but then it should be under a different name. I think we should sing in English, because we have done that all the time. It sounds more natural with this band.

How did you find the album title "Dead End Kings"? Is it like sitting together and brainstorming?

Jonas: I think I came up with the title and just told it to Anders to find out what he thought. And he felt very well with the title and also its meaning. The meaning is actually that you can read into it, you know. It's an open title for interpretations and it also continues our tradition to mix something negative with something positive to create a twisted vibe. It's like a contradiction it itself. Even "Night Is The New Day" is the same kind of title. It just adds to the whole impact of an album to have a title that is kind of striking.

How do I have to interpret the title?

Jonas: As you want. But for us it means, well, I think everybody can relate it to having dark times and a feeling of going nowhere. Once you're in that kind of dead end or alley, you should also think that even though you have that kind of problems, you're a unique person and you should be able to see other ways. Maybe you're some kind of misfit, but you can enjoy stuff anyway.

To what extent is the title connected with the album tracks? Is there some kind of red line?

Jonas: I would say sometimes. I even sing the title in one of the songs, but it's just because the title reflects so much the band itself. So I wanted to have it in one of the lyrics as well. And also I think it goes pretty much hand in hand with the artwork.

How do you usually define the song order of an album?

Jonas: We listen a lot to the songs, first when we write them and then when we record the songs. We hear them all over and over again. I think that helps pretty much, because we get the total sound of the album kind of early, so we can say "This is probably the opening track, this is a good second song…".

So you always discuss within the band about it?

Jonas: Yeah.

What are your personal highlights on the new album at the moment?

Jonas: It's hard to say. I haven't been listening to the album very much, since it got mixed and mastered. Of course all of the songs are babies, but I really like the second song "The One You're Looking For Is Not Here" with Silje Wergeland's guest vocals. And the closing track "Dead Letters" is a very important song for the whole album, because it represents pretty much the whole album in one song. So those are key songs for me right now, but it can probably change tomorrow.

How did the collaboration with Silje from The Gathering came about?

Jonas: We have met each other a couple of times during the last few years. We played some festivals with The Gathering and started talking to Silje, because she is from Norway and we're from the neighborhood Sweden, and just hanging out a bit together. And on the last occasion she came to one of our shows in Holland, because she was working there with The Gathering. On that day we just talked about maybe singing together sometimes. It was that kind of talk that you do all the time when you drink a little bit of wine and stuff. But I think this time it made sense, because she's got a lovely voice, she's a very nice person, very easy to work with, so we just wanted to invite her to sing on one of the songs and it worked out really well.

Anders, the album cover was created by the artist Travis Smith once again. What do you especially like about his art that you choose him again for doing the artwork?

Anders: I actually like working together with him. We have so much fun doing it. If you would look at my inbox, you would probably see 500 mails from him. [laughs] Yeah, it's crazy, we talk so many times per day, we send so much stuff over to each other, we have so much fun making the artwork and we are on the same page, you know. We're totally tuning on the same frequency when it comes to the whole creative aspect of the art. Because what he release for the band is suspension of our minds. He's the one who has the power to put our visions into visuals. So we've been working with him since 1999 – it's a long time now. And I look forward to it every time as it is smooth, easy and so much fun. We can't go wrong with him, you know. It's a collaboration that is set in stone as it works so well.

What have been the requirements for him doing the artwork?

Anders: Usually it starts that I collect all the notes that we've been doing since me and Jonas started writing the songs. We always talk already when we do the songs in terms of visions and stuff, and we saw this vision of the forest lines, the big bird with the whole vomit. We told Travis about it and then his mind started to spin…

So is it a crow on the album?

Anders: Yeah, it is. It's something we already started back on one of our old albums, so we featured that bird on the album cover. We wanted to revise that, but do something new with it. Again it's a twist. It actually looks frightening, it's supposed to be unreal. So it's fiction, but it just fits in a good way in the whole setting and environment on that picture. What you have seen yet is probably just half of the cover, because what's on the album cover now, is only half of the picture. It continues for one more panel. So when that comes, I think a lot of people will say "wow" and understand more what's going on.

But we still have to wait a little bit?

Anders: Probably not too long, because I'm actually sitting right now in front of my laptop and making a video of the first song we'll gonna leak by ourselves on the Internet; and I'm putting the cover in there. I will publish it this week.

In September you will be on tour with Devin Townsend, Paradise Lost and Stolen Babies in the USA. How did this come about?

Anders: Well, it's a great package. That's the tour we want!

Fans joing the US-tour have the chance to get a special VIP ticket. How important is it for you to be so close to your fans?

Anders: That's a big part of the whole thing. We actually enjoy hanging out with our fans and speaking with them. They always have something interesting to say. When you've been in the studio for half a year, you're really longing for to just get out on the road and hear everyone's opinion on the album.

And when will it be possible to experience the new Katatonia songs live on stage here in Germany?

Anders: In November. We will do the longest European tour I've ever seen. It's two months almost. It lasts until December 22nd.

And one last question: Who will win the football game tomorrow? Sweden or France?

Anders: Sweden will of course win, because they are so angry now for a revenge.

And what do you think, Jonas?

Jonas: Sweden, of course.

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

(c) Zillo Musikmagazin / Ausgabe 09/12 / www.zillo.de
copyright: Aurora Borealis 2007-2015
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