David E. Gehlke and George Pacheco of Blistering.com recently conducted an interview with KATATONIA guitarist Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Blistering.com: Reports indicated you hit writer's block when compiling material for the new album. If that was the case, how did you get around it and what do you think the initial problem was?
Nyström: The problem was that I set my own ambition bar too high, while in general, also having very little motivation. It led to a stalemate. Jamming wasn't exciting and I felt less and less meaning with everything. I had a musical depression and started avoiding even to pick up the guitar most of the time. My discipline was in the gutter, so was my passion as I was still handling all the business for the band and had been doing this a long time. It totally killed the magic for me being an artist and KATATONIA only turned into strategy, numbers and dealing with assholes and forcing me to become one as well. However, a solution was luckily just around the corner. We agreed that I'd no longer manage the band and put all the paperwork and logistical bullshit over to the hands of a professional management and try to focus on what my intent and position really was about from the beginning — a guitar player and song composer. The other big thing happening at this time was Jonas [Renkse, vocals] showed his motivation was definitely in fine shape as he'd been sitting every day for weeks and weeks jamming out stuff constantly. When I heard all his audio bits and pieces, I realized this could very well prove to be enough material that would make the foundation for our eighth album. With that fact dawning on us, the burden was finally coming off my shoulders and I felt a conviction. We were gonna be able to top our last album. I put a lot of analysis on Jonas's material and we'd agreed what to keep and from there on the rest of the songs pretty much wrote themselves. A few we did together. I did a little bit of stuff on my own and Jonas kept up his own writing crusade. So, the majority of material on this album is actually his stuff and I think that proves that KATATONIA is no longer trapped in the old alley with me notoriously behind the music and him behind the lyrics; it's all equal now and will serve a healthy purpose of variation, creativity and progression. Now, if we only had the other guys as active as we are, we'd be able to come out with a new album every year instead of every third, or more.
Blistering.com: How would you describe the personal dynamic between yourself and Jonas, both with how you compose and perform within the band? Is there something unspoken and special with someone with whom you've written for so long?
Nyström: We're not very similar personality-wise, but we're very like-minded on a few important things such as sharing a vision for music and art for KATATONIA. It's almost like different political parties allied in the government with different agendas and work methods, but with the same ultimate goal in mind. We complement each other's weaknesses and allow for ideas to be born that wouldn't come naturally on our own. I think these days, we're also more open to let each person have his way particularly in one's own song rather than tearing it apart. You gotta trust the end result if there is a firm belief behind it and also respect the feelings and the message behind the creation, but it ain't always rays of sunshine. It's very easy to feel trampled on and conflicts arise along the way, but I think the day I don't feel offended anymore is the day my heart ain't in it either.
Blistering.com: Do you see further experimentation in the future with the loops and drum patterns found here on this album? Or, inversely, do you think KATATONIA would ever take the "regress to progress" avenue and re-filter in any of those early techniques and influences?
Nyström: We won't go back too far. Some things just had their time and place as a part of the past, i.e. exchanging the clean vocals for growls is something you won't see happening again, but I see it possible and maybe necessary to make more unorthodox lengths and progressive song arrangements again. I also don't see a problem with both going more aggressive and exploring riff-based metal and taking the best parts of that, but right now, the atmospheric sound picture is what sticks closest to my heart. It doesn't have to me mellow ballads just because it's atmospheric, it can be the anthem to your very funeral.
Read the entire interview at Blistering.com.