Loud TV recently conducted an interview with guitarist/co-founder Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström of Swedish dark rockers KATATONIA. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
KATATONIA entered the studio in early February to begin recording its ninth album, to be released on September 3 via Peaceville Records.
On how far into the recording process KATATONIA is at the moment:
Nyström: "We are putting down the vocals for the last song today and then we start the mixing.
"We've ve been having little bit of breaks between [recording sessions]; we have not been in [the studio] every day and just knocking out stuff. And we also have been going back and forth between the real studio and own place."
On the overall musical direction of the new album:
Nyström: "The new album, it will, first of all, have 11 or 13 songs — we haven't decided if we're putting all of them or not on there. I think there's been some discussions that a few editions are gonna have all the tracks, a few editions are gonna have 11 tracks. So that's a little bit up to the label yet. But as far as all those 13 tracks go, first of all, it sounds definitely like KATATONIA; it's a KATATONIA album — solely KATATONIA album. The difference this time is that we maybe even pushed the differences even further. If you compare some of the songs, they could be almost in difference categories of genres, but the interesting thing here is that we have managed with our sound and the production and our performances to make it sound like it's not that far apart; it sounds like it's the same band. But if we would give the songs to some other band, it would sound very, very different. So I'm really happy with that. It was a big challenge. Like, for instance, you could have a song that is going totally off into this singer-songwriter territory, and you could have another song that goes into one of the most aggressive, heavy songs we've ever done, but when I listen to those both songs back to back, I can hear it's the same band doing [them]."
On whether the new album is the kind of record that will take several airings to really register with the listener:
Nyström: "Yes. It might be even more like that this time [than in the past], probably, which is a good thing. I was nervous in the beginning and a little bit insecure with how we were gonna pull this album off and what people were gonna think and everything, but now I have this total calm about it; I am totally positive and confident that we have made the album that we needed to do and also what people expect from us. It might take a few listenings to get into the whole thing, but that will stay longer in your listening collection — you will not get tired of it in the first place; I am totally sure of it."
On the artwork for the new album, which is once again being created by Travis Smith of Seempieces (OPETH, DEVIN TOWNSEND):
Nyström: "It's also gonna be a little bit different. It's actually a really big piece that we're splitting into four, and one of those four is gonna be on the cover. So there will be more to it than what you see first. I don't want to describe too much what's on it yet — you're gonna see that when it's [unveiled] pretty soon — but we're changing the color theme this time. We have been doing the black and the red for a long time now, and we're going totally the opposite and we're doing, actually… The basic color is, actually, white on the new one, but it's not solid white — it's like shades of frost whites and a little bit grey and mixed with black."
On the lyrics for the new album:
Nyström: "The lyrics are, actually, a mixture of trying to be as direct and easy as possible but also remaining a very cryptic feel at the same time, which is a very cool paradox. We're not trying to make it too complicated, but it might be… I mean, the words aren't too complicated, but the meaning of the songs is encrypted. And that we are very eager to see how people will react to and how they will define the meanings of these lyrics. 'Cause they're easy to read, easy to access, but the meaning itself might not be that easy [to decipher]."
KATATONIA previously stated about the band's new material, "Well, you got the lush textures, the moody melodies, the heavy parts, the progressive touches, the mellow bits and so on... Is it metal? Is it rock? Is it alternative? Is it singer/songwriter? Actually at times it feels like we're exploring territories where KATATONIA would be an orphan in the land of 'genres.' We can't tell where and to whom we belong and the goal is that it doesn't even matter, because before and above any genre, there's first an acceptance level of music being good, or being bad. KATATONIA might be bad people, but we create good music."
The group added, "We also hooked up again with keyboard maestro extraordinaire Frank Default and regardless of the Internet speculations, he's not to 'blame' for the increased use of electronics since the last album. That part has been called for as we simply feel that it has grown to fill a hole in our sound inside, or alongside, the classic formation of instruments. In our world, we allow mellotrones, Hammonds, rhodes and strings to integrate with loops, distortion and filters to manifest in the katatonic maelstrom. It's our time to marry contemporary with vintage."
KATATONIA played four shows in Scandinavia in December, hitting the capital cites of Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and, of course, the band's hometown of Stockholm. The concerts, which were part of the 20th-anniversary "Last Fair Day Gone Night Tour 2011", saw the band perform two sets. The first set consisted of a performance of the entire "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" album front to back. The second set was a mixture of carefully picked songs from the band's extensive catalogue.
KATATONIA's May 6, 2011 concert at Koko in London, England was professionally filmed/recorded for a future DVD release.