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Interview

Katatonia Discusses New Album And 25 Years Of Gloomy Metal

Photo of Katatonia

Band Photo: Katatonia (?)

It's been quite the journey during the past 25 years for the Swedish masters of gloom, Katatonia.

The band just dropped new album "The Fall of Hearts" through Peaceville and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon, with plans to continue bringing depressive metal to the masses for many more years to come.

It's always a pleasure to chat with the guys from Katatonia every few years as new albums come to fruition, and this time around we have front man Jonas Renkse himself to discuss lineup changes, celebrating a quarter century of existence, and more.

Renkse had quite a bit to say about the past and future of Katatonia, from the dim prospects of another "Dethroned And Uncrowned" experiment anytime soon ("I don't want to re-hash things just because they were successful, I want to find new and equally exciting things to do in the future," he comments) to when he'll finally be collaborating with Mikael Akerfeldt on a new project: "Maybe when we are in our 60's!"

xFiruath: You guys just brought on new guitarist Roger. Can you give me a run-down of what happened there with the lineup switch and how the new fit is going so far?

Jonas: Our previous guitarist Per "Sodo" Eriksson moved to Spain which made it difficult to rehearse etc. We have had a stand-in guy for almost two years but were always looking for a permanent replacement. Feels good to have Roger on board!

xFiruath: Let's talk about the new album “The Fall Of Hearts” a bit. From your perspective, what is happening musically on this album that will keep long-time fans happy and what new elements are present that might not be expected?

Jonas: Hard to say exactly what's new, as we always try to incorporate anything that we like, anything we have been inspired by, and then try to fit it into our own sound picture. Apart from that, of course we do have a sound that we have crafted through the years and that we are happy with. So people know what to expect. 

xFiruath: Were there any changes this time during the recording process from the previous few albums?

Jonas: Not really, except that it was the first album to feature our new drummer Daniel Moilanen. This recording was actually one of the smoothest we have had so far. The vision was strong and we all worked hard to reach the goal that we had set up for ourselves. 

xFiruath: What's happening as far as lyrics and themes on the album?

Jonas: Lyrically my aim is always to make them go hand in hand with the music, so every song needs to be as complete as possible before I finalize the lyrics... but it's pretty much the same topics I have always used: contrasts, darkness, the inner struggle that we all can relate to from time to time, and I want to portray them in sometimes a beautiful way, and sometimes a more haunting, unsettling kind of way. Sometimes a mix of the two. 

xFiruath: That's certainly some suitably gloomy artwork and it bears all the hallmarks of your normal Travis Smith collaborations. How does it connect to the music, and what sort of guidance did you give to the artist?

Jonas: We usually start by sending brief ideas, sketches and some titles and lyrics, and then we just move further from that. Every album needs a cover that connects with the actual vibe, so it's a parallel work we do while recording.

xFiruath: If I'm not mistaken, 2016 is officially the band's 25th year of existence! Is anything planned to celebrate the anniversary, and do you think Katatonia will make it to year 50?

Jonas: We are going to do two special shows to celebrate this, one in Plovdiv, Bulgaria where we will play our album "The Great Cold Distance" (which turns 10 years old) in full together with a symphonic orchestra. And one show in London… same thing but without the orchestra. Also on these shows we will do another set with music from pretty much our whole career. 

xFiruath: Do you have new tours and festival appearances already lined up to support the album, and where are you looking forward to heading soon?

Jonas: We do have tours in the pipeline. First off, a number of summer festivals coming up, and then Mexico and South America in September, then an extensive Euro tour during September, October and November. Possibly Australia then and also North America, however those two are not booked just yet, but we're looking into it. 

xFiruath: The “Dethroned and Uncrowned” release from 2013 was crowd funded by the band and featured recreations of songs off the previous album. How involved was your label in that process, and do you see something like that happening again after this album since the funding campaign made nearly twice its goal?

Jonas: We crowdfunded so we could book studio time to realize the different version of "Dead End Kings" and also to set up the tour. The label helped us to release the album to the public via their channels. I don't see it happening again since it was a really interesting thing to do, but it felt quite exclusive. I don't want to re-hash things just because they were successful, I want to find new and equally exciting things to do in the future. 

xFiruath: On a different note, with Mikael Akerfeldt no longer a member of Bloodbath, any chance we're going to see any sort of new Jonas Renkse / Akerfeldt collaboration in the near future? Seems like you guys should be working on something together these days!

Jonas: We haven't really talked about doing anything for a long time, mainly because we are so busy with our respective bands. Back in time we started new "bands" on a daily basis though. We surely match musically; I hope that one day we can do something together. Maybe when we are in our 60's!

xFiruath: Other than the new Katatonia album, what music are you jamming to lately and what's coming soon you are excited for?

Jonas: Right now I am just enjoying the silence between our rehearsals for upcoming gigs... I am always on the lookout for exciting music, but I can't think of anything right now!

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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