Katatonia Interview (Anders Nystrom)

"I think it's all about embracing anything that is creative and retains control for you as an artist, and also maintains the possibility to have your fans directly involved at what you do and eliminating the middle hands"

16/09/2013 @ 12:53
Having just released "Dethroned And Uncrowned", an album that takes a more ambient look at the songs from "Dead End Kings" and shows a band that is not afraid to experiment, we talked with Anders Nyström about Katatonia, Bloodbath, and the future of the music industry. When a musician talks with so much enthusiasm about his work, the talk is always interesting...

KatatoniaHi Nikos, how are you?

I'm good, how are you?
I'm really good!

I'm glad to hear that, it's very nice talking to you. So, you just released your new album, "Dethroned and Uncrowned", which i really enjoyed by the way. How did the idea for this album come up, was it after the release of "Dead End Kings", or during the writing process?
It was definitely during the writing process. It kind of, you know, just happened like a coincidence, almost like an accident, though i wouldn’t say accident because it sounds negative, a coincidence. You know, we were sitting there, several times just trying to focus on certain parts, and to look at the part more carefully, you ended up muting the other channels, taking away a lot of the other instruments. And when we did that, we just felt "wow, this might even sound better without them on" you know, so it was just a very interesting thing to see how the songs sounded so intricate and different, without all the heaviness and all the busy things going on at the same time. But we, you know, we were discussing this several times, and we just said that we're not ready to do this just because we found out the songs sound different, we cannot just start scrapping the drums or taking away the distorted guitars which are very much part of our signature trademark sound. So we just said like, let's focus on doing what we should do, and that is to complete the album in the best way we can, the way we know and we are supposed to do it, and then we can go back and see again if we can talk about another project, where we just go stripped.

Katatonia - Dethroned And UncrownedSo, did you re-record any instruments or vocals, or was it just using the original tracks in a more ambient way?
First of all, the easy thing was just to take away what we didn't need, like the drums or the distortion of the rhythm guitars and all that stuff, but the vocals are the exact same on the album, they were not redone,  we could have actually done that but we felt that they sounded so good already to do changes, so people wouldn't even realize at some parts that they were the same, not even we did. So the only thing i was really focused on doing was to fill the void they rhythm guitars left by replacing them with acoustic guitars. So there have been new recorded acoustic six string and twelve string guitars throughout the whole album, and a new bass guitar as well. Keyboards have been pretty much kept and turned up into the sound picture, and a few times they had been added or altered, you know where we have made new chord progressions and stuff like that. So i would say that the whole emphasis on the album is put on the keyboards, the ambience and the vocals.

KatatoniaYou used a crowdfunding campaign through Pledge Music to make this album come to life. What is your experience with this new way of funding and getting your fans directly involved in the process of making an album?
I didn't know what to expect first, because this is the first time that we've done anything like this. I have been monitoring some bands, i knew that they were doing it and i felt that it was interesting, because i was fascinated by the independence you get by doing that, you don't need to ask your label, and even if you ask your label and they turn you down, you can still do an experiment like this, by following on a campaign like this. So i just felt like "why not put two of two together here", i saw the whole “Dethroned And Uncrowned” project as an experiment that could be supported by another experiment, which was the Pledge campaign. And i was really happy and glad to see how successful that turned out, i mean we reached our goal so much faster than i could ever imagine, and i think it was a fair thing you know, we offered stuff directly to our fans, they wanted it, they pledged, and here we are, the album is out.

Anders Nyström (Katatonia)Do you feel like this is something that you would like to use in the future, do you see a change coming in the music industry with the increasing popularity of such platforms like Pledge Music?
Exactly! I think it's all about embracing anything that is creative and retains control for you as an artist, and also maintains the possibility to have your fans directly involved at what you do and eliminating the middle hands. I think it's just a fair thing to do, just for yourself but also for the fans, they become more encouraged by letting them into your project, you know. So i think this is definitely the way to go, i wouldn't say we are ready to just bail and skip on our label yet, but i would say that i totally understand the bands who have such a big fanbase, and a big platform that they don't need labels anymore. So this is definitely a part of the future and the way things go down right now, yeah.

You are going on tour soon, with Cult Of Luna, Intronaut and Tesseract, how do you feel about this package of great bands?
I think the bill is a fantastic lineup of very progressive, ambitious and driven bands, and it will be really cool for America to have this bill, it's a pretty short tour but we're still hitting all the major markets, so i think it's going to be a short but sweet tour, awesome lineup, and for our part, we have some surprises as well, we are doing a setlist that has never been with so many surprises in it, than this time. There are a lot of songs that we never even rehearsed or played live before, so this is the first time ever, and i think people are going to be really-really happy about that when they see that!

Well, I’m sure your Greek fans will be very jealous of this!
Yes, unfortunately! (laughs)

BloodbathSo, any news on Bloodbath? You said that there's an album coming in 2013, is this still on track?
Well what's still on track is that it's going to be hopefully recorded in 2013, we are right now trying to schedule all the recordings, it will happen in the Winter, you know Opeth are going to do a new album as well so as soon as Axe has put the drums down for that, we're going to switch him over to us and continue with him doing the drums for us. And the good thing is that as soon as we'll get those drums down, we can pretty much work whenever or wherever on the album ourselves, so we just need to nail those drums with Axe and it's going to be good to go.

So are the songs written and it's just a matter of finding the time to record it?
Um, some songs have been written, some songs are still being written, but we're gonna be finished before we enter the studio and doing the drums, so no problem there.

And what about the 'mysterious' singer you teased us about? Any news on that?
Well, there are news but we're going to keep him in mystery until we have an audio sample to go with it, because we have figured out there are so many rumors and bullshit right now, you know people saying this and that, and they're just throwing too many names out there, and to avoid any kind of misconceptions or letdowns or rumors or bullshit, we want to have the new singer have his result do the talking for him and for us, it's very important that we do that.

KatatoniaI'm excited to hear about it when it's finally coming out! Going back to Katatonia, after so many albums, what keeps you inspired to create new music and explore different paths?
I think every new album we do serves as a direct inspiration to do another one, because there's so much stuff that happens during a recording. A good example, is Dethroned and Uncrowned, that happened during this album, so we always find a new way to approach and you know, to wonder about while we record. I'm not saying that we're going to do a "Dethroned And Uncrowned" every time we make a new album, but there are always new possibilities open that people don't know about that we discuss internally in the band, and i don't see writing the next album as a problem at all, you know, i even look forward to doing it, it's just going to be, the way i see it, it's going to go to unknown territory for some songs, and some songs are going to be more traditional, more heavy, and i just want to create this beautiful balance in the best way i can.

Anders Nyström (Katatonia)Are there any plans for writing new material at the moment?
We're not going to go back to the writing phase until we're done touring and probably have done the Bloodbath thing as well, then we're going to look on writing the next album.

So if you had the chance to rework one song from any older Katatonia album, in the way that you did with the songs of Dead End Kings for Dethroned And Uncrowned, which one would you choose?
Just one song? (laughs)

Just one song! (laughs)
I could take any song, without a problem and do it, but i have personally found it a huge challenge to take a song, from, maybe our first album, that people would totally not see how it would be "Dethroned And Uncrowned", cause they're a very different style, they also didn't have melodic vocals at the time, so you would have to come up with new vocal melodies for the song, that would be very-very interesting, so how cool would it be to have a stripped down acoustic version of "Without God", you know?

Anders Nyström (Katatonia)That would be very interesting, for sure!
For sure, yeah!

There is the "Last Fair Day Gone Night" DVD you had announced, how is it progressing?
It's progressing, but slow as a turtle!

Yeah, unfortunately, you know, it's kind of a shame that the show itself, the whole anniversary celebration is already two years old now, and the thing that has taken the longest time is the whole behind the scenes, the whole documentary part to come together, because it's so much work to gather all this footage, to get hold of all those people and settle interviews with everybody, it's a long term process you know, but i didn't want to rush it, i didn't want to compromise with it and just do something fast, because we too many releases already, that are not complete DVD experiences from Katatonia. And i want this DVD finally to be the ultimate experience of Katatonia, covering the whole story of the band, so this is why it's been taking a long time and unfortunately i don't have any news apart from that it's still not completed, but it's progressing slowly.

KatatoniaSo you covered all my questions, i hope your tour goes well, do you have any message for your Greek fans?
Greek fans, our deer Greek fans, it's always a pleasure to come and play for you, unfortunately we couldn't go to Thessaloniki the last time, so we're sorry about that, but hopefully we'll do it the next time we'll come over because for sure we haven't forgotten about the northern part of Greece, but it's a great place to play and we always feel welcome coming back there.

Thank you so much for this interview, and taking the time to talk with me!
No problem, my pleasure Nikos!

Also congratulations for this release, i really enjoyed it with all my heart!
That's good to hear, thank you very much!

Nikos Katapidis