This extensive 8-part interview consists of various Katatonia features, written by Paul Kearns, Frank Bøkseth, Sauli Vuoti and Roy Kristensen. Enjoy!
A band that changes but still maintains to keep its identity, is a band that demands respect. Katatonia is such a band and Imhotep's Roy Kristensen went to Stockholm to confront Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström with this, that and whatnot, in three parts. The first is a run through the albums, the second is one for the enthusiasts while the last is not the dead end one could expect from these kings of Sweden.
Best Katatonia song, aside from songs from "Dead End Kings" of course?
Anders: "For me it has to be "Tonight's Music". It has to do with the chorus. I feel that every time I hear the chorus, I feel I made the ultimate combination of notes that I can never beat again. That melody is something I can't touch again!"
Jonas: "I think I must choose "Departer" from the last album. Most of all it's a beautiful song and that's enough for me."
What's the worst mistake with Katatonia so far?
Jonas: "One of the worst feelings in my opinion was just recently. We were going to play in Russia, and Anders was sick. He was calling in sick just the day before we were going to leave, and we didn't want to cancel the gig so we went without him. Since he was sick we didn't manage to rehearse, we hadn't played live for six months and we hadn't rehearsed during that time either. And no Anders. Then me and Per [Eriksson], the other guitar player, missed the connecting flights to Russia. We had all the gear. So when we finally arrived, we had three hours to set up the stage, do sound check, let the support band do their thing - that was such a horrible feeling. Sweating all over the place. But it turned out OK despite the hassles."
"I didn't want the guys to become too comfortable and it worries me that they did too good actually. I've seen the videos and they sounded too good, yeah", Anders laughs and tells his worst experience with the band.
"I honestly have to say that at a certain point of time I took on too many management duties in the band. This unfortunately made me sacrifice some of the songwriting and creativity aspects of Katatonia. That was the worst decision..., actually it wasn't even a decision, it was just something that led that way. If we had management that worked for us before, I wouldn't have suffered from the whole situation at all. We are so happy with how things are working these days, so no more such low points in the band anymore."
Favourite Katatonia covers, not counting the new album?
Anders: "We have in fact 48 internal different images to choose from."
Jonas: "For me it is "Tonight's Decision". I think it's beautiful and very striking."
Anders: "In this sense I would probably choose "Brave Murder Day" for the way it's so strong. It's a dead bird on the cover and it's so Katatonia, it sums up everything we're about and to me it's definitely a classic."
From what you remember, what's the best gig Katatonia have done so far?
Anders: "It would probably be the first gig we did in Mexico, which was held in 2006. It was an experience..., it's really hard to retell this again, but the gig was sold out, there were thousands of people in there and the crowd was out voicing the instruments with their vocals. It was surreal. For a few minutes you're not thinking that they're there for you, so you look back to see the band on stage, Madonna or something, ha ha. It's not that they're so loud in between the songs, it's more that they're constantly loud in a linear level and the songs actually suffered from the impact. But, I got goosebumps and I looked at the peoples' faces and thought that this was probably it! "
Jonas: "I have to agree. It was definitely the same for me. It was surreal but definitely a great experience."
Anders: "We have to give it up to the Mexican people, they really know how to treat a band."
Favourite album, counting in where you were in life, nostalgia and whatnot?
Anders: "I know exactly what you mean. Since we can't choose the new album, the most important album all things considered is "Brave Murder Day". You know what, it is still a unique album today, it was not an album that was expected from us at the time. It affected..., or I'd rather say that it didn't affect the post rock bands because they don't know about this album, but it sounds like what they're doing today. This is something I remind myself on every now and then, I love what these bands are doing but we already touched upon this on the "Brave Murder Day" album. It's a very dark album, I love the layout, it's classy and it also has Mikael's beautifully brutal growls."
Jonas: "I think I have to say "Brave Murder Day" as well for the same reasons. But also "The Great Cold Distance" is an album that defines what we're doing now. Every album is of course important but I love "The Great Cold...", it's a great album."
Katatonia have probably done more than a thousand interviews, and many interviewers ask about the same questions. But is there something that people most likely do not know about Katatonia now?
Anders: "I was actually reminded about this when we just mentioned Mikael Åkerfelt and I don't think we've told anyone about this before, and I'm quite shocked that nobody has even said anything about it yet. We have been talking about the "Discouraged Ones" album before, and it was Jonas' first vocal performance if you see what I mean. The first song on this album, "I Break", the chorus is actually not sung by Jonas. This is the first time I'm telling anyone this. It is Mikael who is singing it with me on backing vocals. Nobody has ever asked about it! To us this is crystal clear, we hear there's a change. There was no real reason for this, it was probably just Jonas who told him to go in there and do it. As easy as that (laughs). He did and it sounded cool so we kept it."
Jonas: "I have a weird one. I don't know what the fuck we were thinking back then, but we did an EP called "Sounds Of Decay". We recorded this one time first, but we were so hungover that the result was horrible. It was actually delivered to the label but we had to call them and tell them to not press this version since we had to go to the studio to record it again. They were like "what the fuck! Why?" and we had to tell them that we were so goddamn hungover, we needed to do it again. We booked another studio session at the same studio, Sunlight Studio. Here's the weird part. We were a trio back then, me, Anders and Fredrik [Norrman], the other guitarist. For some reason we never called him and told him we would do it again. Anders and I recorded this as a duo."
Anders: "In this confused haze of trying to redeem yourself... I don't even have any memories of this, it was just us trying to fix the situation in a way. The label was furious since we'd spent the money on a hungover recording..."
Jonas: "...and we were so ashamed that once we got the chance to redeem ourselves and do it over again we were like "let's do it now!" and we did it as a duo. I played the drums, he played the bass and the guitars. And when Fredrik asked if we should to do it again, we told him we already did. He is listed on the recordings..."
Anders: "... on guitar AND bass (laughs out loud)."
Black & white live photos by Trine Lindh Justad!
Composed by Roy Kristensen