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Katatonia (IV)
Interview mit Daniel Moilanen [Katatonia], April 2016, mailer

Am 20. Mai 2016 erscheint das neue Katatonia-Album „The Fall Of Hearts“. Es wurde unter den Fittichen von Sänger Jonas Renkse und Gitarrist Anders Nyström in Stockholm aufgenommen. Lediglich das Mixing und Mastering gaben die Musiker aus ihren Händen. Auf dem neuen Album wird erstmals der neue Schlagzeuger der Band, Daniel „Mojjo“ Moilanen, zu hören sein. Ich sprach mit ihm über den Entstehungsprozess der Platte, die Herausforderungen im Studio und darüber, ob Katatonia in seinen Augen eine Metal-Band ist.

Daniel, “The Fall Of Hearts” is done, the release date is set and you just presented a first bite of the new Katatonia album – a lyric video for the song “Old Heart Falls”. What have been the reactions so far within your families and friends’ circles, but also from fans and media?

Daniel: Hello to Germany! Yes, “The Fall Of Hearts” has reached quite far on its way to release and the reactions have been more than positive both from those near us and those not. The true test will be when the album is in their hands and they can ingest all of it at once. There’s a lot to take in.

How did this idea with the typewriter in the lyric video come about?

Daniel: It was quite clear early on that we weren’t interested in the traditional font fest with the album cover in the background. I think, those kinds of lyric videos focus more on the presentation whereas “Old Heart Falls” presents the lyrics alongside the track in a fitting setting and atmosphere. I think, Anders had the final idea of what we see now and Lasse Hoile did a wonderful job presenting that idea.

Jonas said that the new album “needed to be more adventurous”. What does this mean? What do the listeners have to expect?

Daniel: “The Fall Of Hearts” is a journey just as all previous Katatonia albums have been, but it’s a different kind of journey. More adventurous in an organic way. If I would compare it to literature I would place its adventure not in the plot twists, but in which words were chosen to describe them. This is probably the most progressive Katatonia has ever been, but in so many more ways than just syncopation and chord progressions. What can the listeners expect? A fierce and fearless album. I’d go so far as gathering all 25 years of Katatonia into this album. It’s not just a continuation of “Dead End Kings”. Some of the stuff feels like continuing from “Discouraged Ones” while others are vibing more towards “The Great Cold Distance” and there’s also some stuff included that goes even further into the past.

When did you start the songwriting process for the new album? Was it a struggle or pleasure to write new material?

Daniel: I think the songwriting process had already started before I first joined the band for the summer shows in 2014, but I personally became more involved about a year before we started recording, in the fall of 2014. It’s always both – a struggle and a pleasure creating something from your heart, which it should be.

To what extent have you and the new guitarist Roger Öjersson been involved in the whole album developing process?

Daniel: I haven’t been so much involved in the songwriting process other than having been someone to pitch ideas with. In terms of my own contributions during the process I’ve mainly been making it clear for Jonas and Anders that I was up for anything drum wise. There’s been a bunch of “is this really playable”-discussions when sending demo tracks back and forth and I think, that my main involvement in the process has been just that. Letting them know that I won’t back down and I'll never quit.

“The Fall Of Hearts” is already the 10th Katatonia album to date – how did you manage it to not repeat yourselves over all the years?

Daniel: If I could comment from the listener’s point of view, I think that the main issue with bands repeating themselves through albums and ideas is maybe that they feel “trapped” inside their genre and their sound. Invariability for me is not about having the same production or the same style of riffs or song structures, but when it becomes evident that the creative heart has stopped beating. There are bands that have been repeating themselves for 20+ years, but still never become boring. And there are bands repeating themselves after only one album. Even though you might think that “Old Heart Falls” sounds like “Dead End Kings” which sounds like “Night Is The New Day”, it’s still not repeating. Katatonia has never reached the point in their career where they have to excuse themselves for what they’ve created. When you have that confidence in what you do, the world is your oyster.

If you compare the new album “The Fall Of Hearts” (2016) with the very first one “Dance Of December Souls” (1993), where do you see the main differences? And what do both albums have in common?

Daniel: Again, I can only comment as a listener: “Dance Of December Souls” was a very big thing for me as a kid. Both musically and lyrically they had a poetic presence that made them stand out from a lot of stuff being released at that time. And that presence has always been present through all Katatonia releases regardless the musical genre. For me the main difference between Katatonia now and then is that they’ve grown in coherence. Compare it to authors perfecting their language skills, but still not disconnecting thematically.

Is Katatonia still a metal band?

Daniel: To be able to really honestly answer that question we’d need to boil down what metal is. Metal for me is “Painkiller” by Judas Priest. We are not that nor have we ever been. Today, when I look at the past and present of Katatonia, the band has never “been” metal. They’ve always been a gloomy rock band shifting between genres “performing” metal rather than being it. But of course, an easier and less pretentious answer would be “yes”. Katatonia is still a metal band. More now than before if you only look at some of the musical building blocks of the metal genre and I think that will surprise a lot of the listeners, in a positive way.

But the title “The Fall Of Hearts” doesn’t really sound positive in my ears. The first association that came to my mind was “death” – especially in connection with the artwork that shows this backwards falling crow. To what extent is this album really dealing with the “death”?

Daniel: To a great extent, from where I see it. Not directly in a “deathly” way, but more in the ways we are connected to it. Death, closing in on it and the emptiness in us and outside of us. On “The Fall Of Hearts” both Jonas and Anders have, as I read them, lyrically touched on so many levels of experiencing loss that I would only be able to summarize it as death. Death is not something you only experience before your heart stops, just as decay is not only something that happens to your body after burial. It also comes from within whether you ask for it or not.

What have been Jonas’ inspiration sources for the lyrics this time?

Daniel: This is as very hard question for me to answer. I can only give my own views on the lyrics and the inspiration I get by reading and interpreting them on my own. Both Jonas and Anders have written lyrics on this album and while their lyrics are different in language and execution, they are thematically connected.

Which guidelines did you give artist Travis Smith before he started creating the artwork?

Daniel: Anders and Travis have been working together for a long time with graphic concepts for this album. I don’t have insight in which specific guidelines Travis got before starting on the project, but I know that it has been an ongoing and close collaboration with Anders and Travis as Anders is as involved in the graphical part of Katatonia as he is in the musical part.

How much time did you spend at Gröndahl & Tri-lamb studio in Stockholm to record the new album?

Daniel: We spent a total of ten days in Gröndahl tracking drums and then moved to Tri-Lamb for maybe one and a half months for everything else.

To what extent did you and Roger contribute own flavors to the sound of Katatonia?

Daniel: My own flavors are quite evident in my playing and those flavors really come to life on this album. I’ve never felt held back or hindered to let myself shine through, even though I’ve entered a band with an already very own and distinct sound. I think, my contributions were more extensive than Roger’s as he came in very late in the recording. But nevertheless it’s pure Roger you hear on the album.

And I’ve heard there are guest musicians on the album…?

Daniel: You’ve heard correctly. We’ve had the pleasure of having Greg from Paradise Lost shed his weeping vibrato on one of the tracks. And of course we have the percussion wizardry of JP Asplund, once again.

The album was produced by Jonas and Anders. What’s the advantage, but also disadvantage of self-producing an album?

Daniel: The obvious advantage in our case is that Jonas and Anders have such a focused view into what they are creating, that very little outside intervention is needed or indeed useful when it comes to actually producing the album. And I think, that focus strips away any disadvantages altogether. Do we suffer from tunnel vision when we’re sitting inside only listening to ourselves for weeks on end? Of course. But it’s our tunnel.

What have been real challenges during the recording process?

Daniel: I can only really comment on my own parts and the obvious challenge for me there was, that this was my first time in the studio with Katatonia. We’ve gotten to know each other during the time I’ve been doing shows with the band, but being in a studio is a different experience altogether. There’s usually always some sort of compromising between different working styles, but this time, I think, none of us had to compromise with anything.

Why did you choose Jens Bogren and Karl Daniel Lidén for mixing and mastering the new album?

Daniel: Well, Jens is one of the best in his field and it was fairly obvious during the writing process that we would want his final touch on the production. He’s been giving that final touch on a couple of the previous albums as well, so he knows the Katatonia tricks and it sounds amazing. With KDL we wanted to try something new. He re-mastered one of my favorite Swedish albums, “Kollapse” by Breach, and he’s also worked closely with our friends in Switchblade, so we had a feel for what he could bring to the table, especially in regards to the drums. And he brought that to all the tables. Right from the start he had a good idea of the drum sound which in turn, I think, formed the rest of the production as well. It’s a very organic album which was the point, sharpened further by KDL.

Any chance to experience “The Fall Of Hearts” also in a “Dethroned & Uncrowned” kind of version in near future?

Daniel: I wouldn’t say it would happen in the near future, if at all. Personally I think, creating a conceptually similar version of “The Fall Of Hearts” would be an enormously different experience from “Dethroned & Uncrowned” as “The Fall Of Hearts” is an entirely different kind of being than “Dead End Kings”. Sound wise we’re treading in other waters and I think, much of the ambience is already there. I would be more up for a “Sanctitude” kind of version, but those vibes are also already present. But at the same time I’ve learned to not rule anything out with these guys.

Are you already prepared for the festival summer? What are you especially looking forward to?

Daniel: We are very much looking forward to the festival summer. There’s so much exciting stuff in store with the new line-up and with “The Fall Of Hearts” being released right before the summer. Personally I look forward to playing in Romania again, such a beautiful country with an equally wonderful audience.

Are there already plans for a bigger tour to present the new songs live on stage?

Daniel: There sure are. Who knows, they might even be official when this interview is online.

Interview: Lea S.
Foto: Promo 2016 taken from www.facebook.com/katatonia/?fref=ts
Website Band: www.katatonia.com

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