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Katatonia - Permanently Discouraged

By: David E. Gehlke

A very young (and morose) Katatonia circa 1998...

Blistering.com: I wonder if you were ever in a songwriting jam if you had the temptation to go back and write a few riffs like the ones on Brave Murder Day or Discouraged Ones, like a fail-safe?

I never pondered that [laughs]. That would be a clever solution, but I don’t even think when I sit down and play the guitar, it’s where my mind is at the time. Whatever comes out from my fingers; it’s my mind playing. I never would do that as a fail-safe, but now I got the tip, so you never know [laughs].

Blistering.com: I’d be glad to take credit if you go that route for the next album [laughs].

I’ll give you proper due credit [laughs].

Blistering.com: It feels like you can bundle Dead End Kings and Night is the New Day together, much like you could with Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance. Do you see it that way too?

Totally, I think you’re dead-on. I do consider Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance to be another pair of twins in a way, even moreso with Night Is the New Day and Dead End Kings. It’s the same formula, the same team, even. Same studio, same engineer, same producer, everything. There never was a masterplan or meeting before we sat down and decided which direction to go. You never know about where you’re going to next. It could be totally different. We’ve done some albums that are definitely an answer to what we did prior and change the course, but if you don’t feel the need to do that, then you don’t have to do it. You can just go with the flow.

Blistering.com: We talked about Frank Default earlier, so I’m curious with the new songs if you gave him free reign, or you had to push him?

I would say both. What changed was the whole situation this time, was that he was involved from the beginning. With the last album, he was coming in at the last second of the whole picture to add spice and certain things. With this one, he was there from the beginning and was there before we had the songs written. He saw us twist the songs into form and he could say “I don’t need to wait to hear the song completed until you give me the material. Let’s just give me that riff and we’ll see what I can do with it.” We could just bounce ideas off him throughout the whole process. This gave us the ability to tell him if something was great, or not-so great, or go in this direction or that direction. We’d bounce ideas back and forth every day. We got really tight.

Me and Jonas say we have the Katatonia filter, that everything needs to go through us and I think that at the end, he understood that he could come up with something beautiful, it still might be too much. I think the fine-line between turning into a symphonic and just being atmospheric and ambient…that a very big difference and we need to stay on the atmospheric and ambient side. I don’t want us to turn into this epic, cheesy symphonic band because we’re adding keyboards on every riff.

Blistering.com: The keyboards are prevalent, but they don’t dominate the album.

Exactly. We’re still a rock 'n' roll band; we’re a metal band. I’d never want to see a review of us where we’re categorized as “electronic.” That would be very wrong [laughs].

Blistering.com: Switching gears, I read that you have a room at your headquarters that has various old tour posters and merch on the wall. Are you the nostalgic type?

I am a really nostalgic person, indeed. I don’t think I entered that state of mind when I write, but I do easily get locked up in it when I sit and talk about it. Especially when I’m doing interviews or talking with fans…I very easily get wrapped up in the old days, especially if it’s someone who was there, talking about magazines, bands, and memories from that time. I could talk for hours about those days. Those times, they were genuine, they were magic. It’s a cool thing and yes, I think I’m nostalgic in that sense. When I now see the Paradise Lost guys on tour with us, I think about Gothic, everything old, basically. It’s very cool.

Blistering.com: Do you miss the days when it was just you and Jonas and no one else?

I wouldn’t say I miss them, but I consider them dear and fond memories. I treat them very well. Those times were the best, but we live in today and I’m happy where we’ve taken Katatonia so far and I’m totally enjoying every minute. Those are great memories to look back upon...the whole foundation, they brought us to where we are now. I’m very grateful; that’s the word – I’m very grateful of our past.

Blistering.com: Those were the days, the mid-90’s, when you were involved with Katatonia, and Diabolical Masquerade was going strong. You were putting an album out every year. Now that seems impossible.

Exactly. The time factor. That’s my biggest enemy. Creatively, I would be able to come up with a lot of stuff, but I wouldn’t be able to break it all out these days. It sucks. We used to have so much time in the past, but that also had a lot to do with we didn’t tour. We were just sitting around writing. These days we’re constantly on tour and when you’re on tour, you just don’t have the time.

Blistering.com: I don’t think you missed a year in the 90’s where you didn’t have something out between the two bands.

I was just thinking about that the other day [laughs]. You could check the spine on all of the albums and you could see that it was every year…’96, ’97, ’98. Now we’re lucky we can put an album out every third year [laughs].

Blistering.com: You’re due for another compilation, so have you thought about putting something together with your various b-sides?

Haven’t thought much about it. I’m busiest with our current project, which involves finishing the 20th anniversary DVD. That’s what next on the release schedule. It’s pretty much done; the only thing left to finish is a documentary on us. The show is mixed, it was from a show in London. After that, we have another project where we’re going to strip Dead End Kings of all the heavy parts like the drums and distorted guitars and just to take into another angle. We’ll go another route, like cinematic, epic, singer/songwriter, really lush, ambient, and see where we get with that. The goal is to see if we can go on a really exclusive small tour and play really unusual places like old churches and stuff. It could be a really interesting thing. I’m really motivated to get that going.

Blistering.com: I think that when you strip the new songs down, they leave a lot of room for expansion.

Exactly. We are just going to readjust them. They’ll turn into beautiful songs with acoustic guitars. We’ll up the ambience, pushing the keyboards, but still stressing “No electronic band!” It’s very important to stress that. You can never take away guitars…it’s not like we’re going to sit up there, five guys with keyboards. The guitars are still going to be the focus of the whole show anyway.



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