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Interview

Katatonia Guitarist Anders Nyström Speaks On Possibility Of New Album, Bloodbath And Playing Albums In Full

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When a musician starts out, their goals are simply to express themselves and hopefully make an impact with their band. Very few actually accomplish the latter and fewer still do it twice. Among this elite are Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse, who formed the legendary band Katatonia in 1991, crafting beautiful works of dark melody and personal lyrics, before forming arguably the greatest supergroup in death metal, Bloodbath in 1998. Both bands have released some truly stellar works over the years and influence metalheads the world over.

After a hiatus, Katatonia are back. Trekking across Europe celebrating the tenth anniversary of their acclaimed "Night Is The New Day" album and bringing with them up and comers Cellar Darling and Wheel. When these sublime Swedes stopped in London, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Anders Nyström, who was joined by Katatonia bandmate Roger Öjersson (also of Tiamat) to discuss both of these bands, how one affects the other, getting confused with a Welsh pop rock group and of course, the chances of a new Katatonia album. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: You're back on the road celebrating, "Night Is The New Day," as well as other accomplishments from the past. The question everybody wanted me to ask you was regarding a new album and if you've got any plans to enter the studio or work on new material.

Anders Nyström: It's too early to tell yet. Throughout this year, we will focus on just celebrating this album's anniversary, which we're enjoying very much. In 2020, fingers crossed, we will look at working on a new album, hopefully get back to where we were. Once an album's recorded, the whole cycle just starts all over again, which for us is pretty much three years of promoting it by touring all the continents. So, it's too early to say anything about it yet but that's definitely on our minds.

Oz: Cool. Like you've said before, a lot of the time it comes back to the old albums. This isn't the first time you've re-visited an album, having released a live album of "The Great Cold Distance" with an orchestra from Bulgaria. Is that a one off or would you maybe like to do that with this album at some point?

Anders: Well, you don't want to put it into this recipe thing where people expect it to happen. Then I'd just want to pull the rug and say, "We're not doing it." I don't want to turn it into a trend where people just expect it to happen for no reason. We did this because it was a good time for the band to come back. Who knows? If we hadn't done this celebration of the album then maybe we'd still be on hiatus. It just made perfect sense to match these things together. It was almost written in the stars.

Personally, I think it's a really cool thing to play an album front to back like that. I see it as an adventure. It's a really good concept and for some people who have that as their favourite album, for them it's a dream concert. More and more bands are doing it and it's cool, but it's not something people should take for granted is going to happen with every album. It's a little bit boring if that would happen with every album. There has to be some kind of substance and reason for doing that.

Oz: Yeah, it's not much of a celebration if it's a routine. Obviously though, despite Katatonia's hiatus, you've not been dormant, you've been very busy with Bloodbath. I really like Nick (Holmes, Paradise Lost) being in the band, I think he suits it very well and has a great sense of humour too.

Anders: No, we couldn't wish for a better frontman in the band. Me and Jonas, we're old Paradise Lost fans so just having him in the band was such a cool thing in the beginning. You can tell he's loving it. It was a really cool thing I think to put on those really old shoes of his again. Re-exploring the death metal years and having fun with it again, especially with PL as they're making a full turn and going back to their old sound.

I don't get it but he's still getting a lot of hate. There's a lot of people who just won't admit that he is the new Bloodbath singer. They've made up their minds that he's shit and they're just going to keep bashing him until the end of days.

Oz: I don't understand it either, because obviously the death metal vocals he did on the early Paradise Lost albums were great and the stuff he's doing with Bloodbath too. I got to see both Paradise Lost and Bloodbath for the first time last year in the same week and it was a very interesting contrast, but you can tell he's really having fun in Bloodbath.

Anders: Yes, it's all about having fun. We formed Bloodbath out of sheer excitement of playing old school death metal and having fun doing it. That was the recipe from day one and we're still having fun otherwise we wouldn't do it. I love playing with Katatonia, that's my main band, but Bloodbath I've said before, I see as something of a vacation from that because you don't have the duties. It's so straight forward. You don't have to think, it's muscle memory. It's just about enjoyment and I'll do that as long as I can, until you have to put me in a wheelchair.

Oz: With that being said, given the recent success Bloodbath has had and now Katatonia's back, has Bloodbath been put to one side?

Anders: Bloodbath was always a side project. Up until this point we mostly did festivals and the festivals don't really compete with your main activity. Sometimes we can pull off double duties where we play with both bands at the same festival, which is pretty common these days actually. Otherwise there's no threat or competition going on because once we do a Bloodbath album, it's done in a period of time where people just have to find gaps in their schedules to come in and out doing it. It's not like we say, "This Spring there's going to be a Bloodbath album," we just fill the gaps where we can.

Whereas with Katatonia, it's more of a strict schedule where we line up how everything's going to be. We record for a much longer time and spend way longer in the studio. With Bloodbath it's more like, in and out, just rock it so they're very different in every shape and form these two bands, which makes it interesting being in both. I'm really content with how it's been panning out.

Oz: A lot of people who aren't into metal, when I told them I was interviewing Katatonia, they got you confused with a Welsh band (Catatonia)...

Anders: Still!? Wow...

Oz: I was just wondering if you've ever had any legal issues with them or anything like that?

Anders: We did back in the mid nineties. They contacted us and we contacted them as well. We had our name trademarked in Scandinavia and they had their name trademarked in the UK and parts of Europe. They brought up the whole "cease and desist" situation and we said, "Well, we could actually do the same thing and prevent you from selling albums in Scandinavia." It's kind of stupid for both bands because it's a lose lose situation.

So we kind of agreed to ignore each other's existence. There's a significant difference with a K or with a C and musically there's light years between us so it was never like fans we're going to affiliate them with us except for maybe when you were wishing to get a Katatonia album for Christmas and your grandma gets you the wrong album. I've heard about that happening! It's funny but beyond that, we never ended up in court or anything like that and eventually they did split up, so only the strong survive!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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1. SDW writes:

Roger is full of words, can’t seem to contain himself 🤣🤣

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