Katatonia Between Night And Day

Try to imagine: you’re offered to interview a legend of the extreme scene, Anders Nyström, right before Katatonia’s concert. How do you react? You’re happy, you’re excited, of course! Now, say this interview is to take place in some sort of bike garage. Still interested? Ah, now I can tell you’re hesitating… Long story short, this interview did take place in an annex of Villeurbanne’s CCO. Unlikely places are often well-suited for extraordinary meetings.

Available and agreeable, Anders Nyström, together with Daniel, the band’s drummer, nicely agreed to answer the questions of our special correspondent. Now, when will Katatonia sponsor the Tour de France?

« (NDLR : about recording studio) It was a strange place. There were always strange things happening all the time when we were there. Every time we walked in we would find piss on the floor and so we were just like ‘wow, what the hell is up with these people?!’. At night, when we would be leaving the studio, we would see broken glass and stuff like that so it made the whole experience very strange for us.
Lasse Hoile who directed your last video has worked with Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater from the progressive genre. Is there a link between Katatonia and progressive metal?

Anders Nyström (lead guitar) : Sure there is because we see progressive music in general as an interesting playground for Katatonia to be in. We think that it is a challenge to play it. We also love a lot of progressive bands and the style in general.

Such as?

Porcupine Tree, Opeth etc. There are a lot of good bands that play progressive metal. We haven’t explored the progressive genre before. We’ve been pretty much a ‘simple’ band so far so we find it really interesting to advance into the progressive scene.

If you had to make a duet with one band, which one would you pick?

I would say Porcupine Tree but we already toured with them in Scandinavia. We were also hoping to tour with them a little bit more and hopefully we will do that. A band that we also liked a lot when we were starting off was Paradise Lost, and we also toured with them! These are all dreams that have come true so we are really happy. Overall there are a lot of good bands so it’s really difficult just to pick one.

The Ghost Ward studio where you recorded your last album is located in a slum belt. Did this environment influence your work?

It just happened to be there and it was a strange place. There were always strange things happening all the time when we were there. Every time we walked in we would find piss on the floor and so we were just like ‘wow, what the hell is up with these people?!’. At night, when we would be leaving the studio, we would see broken glass and stuff like that so it made the whole experience very strange for us. I mean when we were in the studio itself, everything was absolutely fine and we were safe with all of the doors locked. So it is possible that the atmosphere surrounding us influenced the album to be a little darker than we had planned actually.

The song ‘Nephilim’ had a previous name. Why did you change the title?

I wouldn’t know. That is a question for Jonas who does the lyrics.

Do you like the new title?

Yeah sure, because when we discussed the new title we agreed that it would be a tribute to Fields Of Nephilim which is one of our favourite bands and a great influence of ours. In fact, it is also a band I would like to tour with.

Is it possible to feel free-minded when you compose dark lyrics or play dark music like you?

Good question. I think that it just comes naturally to us. We don’t think about it and it just happens. This is who we are and we enjoy doing it. We started Katatonia in 1991, so it will be twenty years next year and we don’t know anything else. I think that we are naturally drawn to the whole darkness thing and it is what we like. It is a natural common interest within the band which came along by itself because we did not choose it.

You said that you were happy. Is it easy to be happy when everything around you is dark and cold like the music that you compose?

That’s the kind of contrast that we have to deal with. For example, as a person I am not Katatonia all of the time, yet as a band, we have chosen to be the medium in which we channel darkness and talk about all things that are dark because we like it. But at the same time I am here talking to you sitting in a fucking bicycle room, and that is ok too (laughs). In the end, it all comes in the package. Katatonia is a dark band, and when we are working, we are all on the same wave length to create this heavy atmospheric music. On the other hand, what we each do in our private lives is something else.

Daniel Liljekvist (drums) : Pehaps it’s easier to be happy when you channel out all of your thoughts and anger within you into the music rather than let it build up inside you. Maybe in the same way that a painter gets out his emotions on his canvas and a boxer gets out his anger in the ring. I think the we are a happy band.

Anders : We are a happy dark band! (laughs)

« We are a happy dark band! (laughs) »
You said that you like dark influences. Do you read dark book and see dark movies?

Yes. Jonas is very much into reading books. He’s probably the one who reads the most out of all of us and that’s probably why he does the lyrics. As far as movies go, we are always talking about them. Movies inspire Katatonia a lot because they can really express a dark atmosphere.

What kind of dark movie?

Mostly the drama genre; it doesn’t have to be horror necessarily. We saw a movie called The Road last night.

Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy?

Yeah. That book is a very good example because it made us all think ‘wow, this story could influence our music’.

You started with doom metal and now it has turned into a type of cold/happy metal. What do you think about your first period?

We are very proud of it because at the time we were only teenagers. Now we are… Well we don’t say how old we are (laughs).

How old are you?

Daniel : 23. I’m the kid in the band.

Anders : He keeps us young (laughs). Anyway, the whole doom metal period was a great and exciting time because it was all new for us and there were lots of things going on at the time and loads of interesting new bands around. I have some very good memories from that time, yet life goes on and we cannot live in the past. For this reason, I can’t get too nostalgic about it, otherwise I might ramble on about it all night.

Daniel : And then cry later! (laughs)

Do you think that music is the best way to express your feelings?

Anders :I think that there are a lot of ways to express feelings. For us it is through music because this is what comes naturally to us and this is what we chose. We are not movie directors or writers etc. Although, I think that Jonas could probably be a very good author. I think that if he was given the chance than he would seize the opportunity. However, for us, we are musicians and this is what we do. But I would like to have more input when it comes to our music videos because even though we are not directors we still have lots of ideas to add to the manuscript. I think that next time, I will make sure that during the making of the video, it manages to capture the song one hundred percent.


On stage, Jonas (singer) seems very shy. Is it difficult for him to be on stage
or with you in the tour bus?

Anders : Not at all. If you could see Jonas backstage and on tour you would see that he is very charismatic and he is a lot of different characters. Sometimes, he is even like a comedian! This is something that people don’t know. I have probably counted at least 10 fucking characters that he has! He’s always making voices, talking strangely and going up to all kinds of people. So he is totally different on and off the stage. When he is on stage, Jonas is incredibly shy. However, I understand this because the things that he sings about on stage are not funny. So in order to stay true to Katatonia’s lyrics and music, being shy is actually quite a good technique and it works. When people say to us that our singer is too shy, it is actually a compliment for us. But still, he isn’t a fucking pantomime! He isn’t really that shy, he just doesn’t talk much, but he is always really enjoying the moment. We can send him in afterwards; you can talk to him yourself! (laughs).

Daniel : I also think that standing still with your hair in front of your face is a good way to portray the music instead of running around on stage like a power metal band. He is Katatonia.

Anders :Yes but I know why. It’s because he is bored of touring all year and so he does it to entertain himself. I’ve spoken with him about it and I said ‘why are you always doing stand-up comedy on stage every night?’ and he was like ‘I’m bored! What else can I do?!’. That is just the way he is, he wants to have fun during the shows with the crowd etc, but he is very serious about his music. He is just bored. I mean he does crazy stuff on stage!

Daniel : Yeah like he would start playing a riff, then the music starts and he’s like ‘Hey, what was that previous riff from earlier?’.

Anders : That’s Mike in a nutshell, he’s just funny like that!

« I said (to Mike) ‘Why are you always doing stand-up comedy on stage every night?’ and he was like ‘I’m bored! What else can I do?!’»

If you take Mickael from Opeth on stage for example, he acts like a clown on stage, despite the fact that the music is very depressing. And you, are you bored?

Anders :To be on stage is great because that’s what you have been looking forward to the whole day. But you are only there for an hour or so, so what do you do for the rest of the 23 hours? We drink beer (laughs). We watch movies…

Do you visit the countries?

Anders : We don’t have time because the second we get to the venue we are told that nobody can leave or go anywhere. Well we are in a bicycle room right now so this is what I’ve seen from this city (laughs).

Daniel : Sometimes you only have the time to see McDonalds! It’s horrible.

Anders :It’s good to meet people in different cities and to play live but the rest is boring… And the girls!

Daniel : From the moment you wake up there is a 10 hour queue to want to go on stage. Actually the sound check is quite nice to do because at least you are doing something.

Anders :It sounds a little bit sad… What a glamorous life! (laughs)

Interview conducted at CCO, Villeurbanne, France.
Myspace Katatonia : http://www.myspace.com/katatonia

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