Katatonia Vocalist Jonas Renkse Talks "Night is the New Day" and "New Night Over North America" Tour
Band Photo: Katatonia (?)
Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 Katatonia has become one of Europe's top dark metal acts. Releasing eight influential albums during it's career, the band is continuing on without reprieve. Vocalist and Katatonia founder Jonas Renkse sat down with Metalunderground.com to talk about the band's latest offering "Night is the New Day" and the band's highly successful "New Night Over North America" tour.
Cody B: Katatonia has been around for a long time and over the years the band has been refining it’s sound. How would you describe Katatonia to those who have never heard your music?
Jonas Renkse: I’d say were like dark rock or a dark metal sound. With different atmospheres to it, but also heavy.
Cody B: The band is known for its dark themes. What inspires that?
Jonas Renkse: Well really it comes from everyday life. Those small things that can turn into major stuff. Heartbreak, loss, pain. Everyday life.
Cody B: So what prompted the change in sound from your earlier doom-death style to what you have going today?
Jonas Renkse: I think it was based on the members in Katatonia. We’ve always been a band willing to expand. We just opened our horizons and wanted a challenge. We started to mess around with different stuff and it went pretty well so we stuck with that.
Cody B: How was the recording process like for your new album “Night is the New Day” compared to your earlier work?
Jonas Renkse: I would say it was a bit different. We worked long days and nights, just trying to get everything done as best as possible. It was a struggle at times but was well worth it in the end. This new album is one we can stand behind.
Cody B: Is this new album your favourite Katatonia release?
Jonas Renkse: Yes I would say so. Every album we have ever put out I enjoy but “Night is the New Day” is the one we spent the most time with; working out the arrangements and all of that stuff. It’s my personal favourite.
Cody B: The new album features lots of new elements like orchestrations, electronics and acoustics. When did those make it onto the record?
Jonas Renkse: We’ve been working with a friend of ours named Frank Default and he is very good at orchestrations and keyboards and adding different textures. So we wanted to bring him into the process of this album. Even before we started recording he was a part of the whole writing process. The stuff he added was great for the recording and how it came out in the end.
Cody B: Was there any concept going into the writing for “Night is the New Day?”
Jonas Renkse: No, there wasn’t any concept which was a benefit for the album. I can’t write stuff on demand, it’s hard to come up with a connecting story so I just write with whatever comes to my mind.
Cody B: Recently you guys had a robbery incident in Minnesota. What are the current details surrounding that situation?
Jonas Renkse: We lost a couple of guitars that were stolen. It was a shitty situation for us, having those taken. But the guitars were found and returned to the police in Minnesota. The fans have been a great help for us. It was them sending us updates and they found them on eBay or wherever the guitars were found online. So yeah, we got them back. It was a great relief for myself and the band.
Cody B: So besides that setback how has the rest of the tour been?
Jonas Renkse: Great. It was a major thing when that happened in Minnesota but once you overcome that little obstacle the rest of the tour makes up for it. The fans have been great though.
Cody B: You’re one tour with Swallow the Sun and Orphaned Land. Has it been going well sharing the road with them?
Jonas Renkse: We have toured with Swallow the Sun before, a couple times, so we are good friends with them. I think Orphaned Land are a great bunch of guys too. We share a bus with Swallow the Sun so that's great. I’m enjoying this tour.
Cody B: You have been a part of the metal scene now for quite a few years. Where did your love for metal begin?
Jonas Renkse: I started listening to metal music back in 1983 when I got a couple of albums from my dad. He gave me Iron Maiden’s “Piece Of Mind” and an album from Motorhead. Then in the late 80s and early 90s I got into all of the tape trading and started listening to death metal which became a big part of my life. I never really looked away from that ever since.
Cody B: You’ve come up in the metal scene with Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. How has that been sharing that experience with him?
Jonas Renkse: It’s amazing. We have so much in common and we always have stuff to talk about with our bands being so busy. We have been on so many tours and also grew up listening to alot of the same stuff. I think it’s a good thing to share that with a friend in metal.
Cody B: Mikael was very open about his love for “Night is the New Day.” What is your favourite Opeth album?
Jonas Renkse: I think “Still Life” has always been my favourite. That one is really, really good. The latest one is good as well.
Cody B: This is the first time Katatonia has been to Vancouver. What brings you guys around with this tour?
Jonas Renkse: I don’t really know. I guess it’s a part of the fact that we’ve never been here before. We have heard about this place though from many other bands. They seem to like it here.
Cody B: Bloodbath has yet to perform here. Will we ever get to see Bloodbath on a North American tour?
Jonas Renkse: In North America, no. I would love to come here and play with Bloodbath but it’s just such a different thing compared to Katatonia, with all the guys that have other projects and different schedules. Bloodbath are playing more now than we ever planned on. We did five festivals in Europe and that was pretty much what you get from Bloodbath right now. I would love to come over here and play with those guys, Canada and the U.S. are great places for death metal.
Cody B: Katatonia and Bloodbath are seemingly very opposite bands. How do you manage time for both?
Jonas Renkse: Bloodbath is a different entity. Everything is different, from the writing and recording. Bloodbath is much more simple. Katatonia needs more attention to details, arranging, even the lyrics take more time. Because with Bloodbath it’s meant to be much more to the point. We don’t have to sit around and struggle with certain areas.
Cody B: Speaking of lyrics; you write them for both Bloodbath and Katatonia. Do you prefer one over the other?
Jonas Renkse: Bloodbath is much easier. They are both different but Katatonia is a much bigger challenge. When I’m finished with a Bloodbath lyric and I’m happy with it then it goes on the album. But with Katatonia, even when I’m happy with it, it’s harder to include it on an album and be satisfied.
Cody B: You have done guest appearances on many albums, performing vocals. What happened with the track you were scheduled to do on The Ocean’s “Precambrian” album?
Jonas Renkse: I just didn’t really have the proper time for it. I had The Ocean send the track to me and it was kind of difficult, you know that progressive style they have? It’s not just a simple [Michael Jackson’s] “Billy Jean” pop. So I had to reconsider on that one.
Cody B: So what is the future going ahead for your musical projects?
Jonas Renkse: Katatonia has to finish off this current tour and then we are heading out on a Scandinavian tour. After that we are going to Australia, New Zealand and India. So Katatonia is very active with touring. Then next year we plan on going to South America. After that we’ll start to think about the next album. Bloodbath will have to come second hand for now. I’d love to do another Bloodbath album and I’m sure that we will but it has to take a step backwards for the time being. Everyone should pick up the new Katatonia album, “Night is the New Day,” and look out for us throughout the world. We will see you all soon.
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