Katatonia are back with a studio album 4 years after 2012’s “Dead End Kings”. Bassist Niklas Sandin took the time to talk to Grande Rock about the new album and not only. Read below for more…
Katatonia band pic
Hi Niklas… thx for taking the time to speak to Grande Rock about your new melancholic opus “The Fall of Hearts”…
N: Always a pleasure!
First, let me ask you about the line-up changes. Per (guitars) & Daniel (drums) left the band while Roger Öjersson (Tiamat) is the new guitarist and Daniel Moilanen (Runemagick, ex-Lord Belial) is the new drummer. He got to play only in 3 tracks on the album, if I’m not wrong huh?
N: You’re absolutely right and that’s because he came in just as the album was being recorded. It wasn’t long before I entered the studio as I had my first pint of beer with Roger. I’m really happy that he at least got to lay down the solos. They fit the album in a perfect manner.
There’s also the participation of the session player, J P Asplund on percussion. I guess you have a steady cooperation with the guy, since he has participated in 3 Katatonia albums (and a tour) so far, right?
N: We have had him on a couple of earlier releases and he was with us when we did the acoustic tour. He’s a great musician and since he’s a percussion player and been playing with folks around the word like Cuba, he has the right vibe and feel for it. He’s also a great bloke to hang out with.
The new album also marks your return to Peaceville Records. How’s that? Which were those things that made you sign to Peaceville again?
N: We’ve released the latest albums through Peaceville but it might be that you think of the “Dethroned and Uncrowned” album. That we released via a crowd funding campaign and via K-scope. (i.n.: Yeap, I was referring to that album...)
Which are the new elements that you introduce with “The Fall of Hearts”?
N: One thing that stands out on this new release is that there’s two acoustic oriented songs on the main album, rather than keeping those as bonus songs. It was a daring move to keep those more integrated in the album, especially “Pale Flag”, but it just sits right in there and it’s a smooth gentle breeze before “Passer” hits you!
Hence, what’s the “The Fall of Hearts”? What’s the “secret meaning” behind the album’s title?
N: That’s something for the listener to find out. It’s a bread crumb to interpret.
Do tell us a couple of things about each track…
N: Takeover: This obviously the opening track of the album and it instantly gives you something to chew on.
Serein: One of the straighter forward songs. Little bit more of a rock approach.
Old Heart Falls: The first one we released. Strong chorus with a more ambient sound than experienced on “Serein”.
Decima: Slower number and here you get the first sip of acoustic elements.
Sanction: Progressive and technical at times with smooth passages.
Residual: Song that builds up to one of the bigger on the album.
Serac: The more lengthy and progressive adventure.
Last Song Before the Fade: My personal favorite and also one of the first I heard in the pre-production.
Shifts: The first breather.
The Night Subscriber: Very dynamic with both mellow and super heavy sides.
Pale Flag: The previously mentioned track that really stands out. The most beautiful gem on this album.
Passer: The ending track that really introduces Roger and how he lays down a solo that fits in just perfectly.
Bonus Tracks:
Vakaren (CD/DVD & Deluxe Edition): Electronic song that’s sung in Swedish.
Sistere (LP & Deluxe Edition): One of the last I heard before entering the studio, but a really strong track.
Wide Awake in Quietus (Digital & Deluxe Edition): The song where you can hear Greg from Paradise Lost put down a solo with his signature sound and feel.
It seems that you prefer to work with guys that you trust and you fully respect & admire like the designer Travis Smith, who has been working with the band for almost 17 years now… is that right?
N: It’s a tight and close collaboration that has been working for really long, and as you mentioned it has for 17 years. Why change a winning concept when someone understands the meaning of a band and can transpire that to the artwork?
The album was produced by Anders Nystrom & Jonas Renkse, while the mixing and mastering was done by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Ihsahn, Devin Townsend) at Fascination Street Studios, along with engineer Karl Daniel Liden (Switchblade, The Ocean, Greenleaf). What has changed from your previous works sound-wise? Did you manage to achieve the sound you had in mind initially?
N: That’s more a question to Anders and Jonas themselves. But they’re really pleased how the album turned out. And you can easily say that it has a more organic touch this time. Everything is more “alive”.
Are you working on a concept video and if yes for which track? When will it be released?
N: We’re not at the moment working on any concept video.
I’ve seen you have already booked numerous gigs for the Summer & Fall. Do you like being on the road or do you prefer the studio time? What’s the most exciting and the most boring thing when you’re on the road?
N: For me it’s always been more rewarding to be on the road. That’s when the previous hard work makes sense. And we’re working harder than ever to be prepared to hit the road and the lengthy tours we have in front of us.
How would you describe Katatonia’s sound nowadays? Some of your fans claim that you’re more progressive now while some others say that you haven’t “progressed” that much over the years sound wise. What’s your say?
N: I think the band has a progressive sound and the album changes in subtle ways. It’s not like a release all of a sudden is going to sound like Slayer or Porcupine Tree. It won’t take those extreme turns. The sound will always hold the red thread of the signature bleak and dark sound that makes Katatonia so great.
What does the future hold for Katatonia and what are your expectations from the new album “The Fall of Hearts”?
N: Now it’s all about hitting the road as much as possible and playing for the fans. I’m really hoping to touch some new territories this time as Japan. That’s a place we’ve aimed at playing for a while but never happened. I think it’s about time now.
Katatonia band pic
It’s time for our Weird Questions!!! Do you know how the band got the name Katatonia initially?
N: Haha, I’m not sure. But it’s a quite fitting name for this not so uplifting music isn’t it.
If you could “erase” one thing from today’s music industry, what would it be?
N: It would be the hunger for money without any passion for the music itself.
Are “social media” a “compulsory part” of music biz these days or bands, artists & labels can do without them as well?
N: I think it’s an important part today since internet has opened up the world as we know it so much. Fans demand other things today than they did back in the days. The photos they saw from tours might have been in the cover art for a live DVD. Now they want to see it day by day as a band goes out to play. And I think everyone needs for good and bad to meet that demand.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
N: I don’t have any such wishes since the ones I hold in highest regard wouldn’t have that place for me if I would have written them. And it’s much easier and less weird to listen lot’s to an album you haven’t participated on yourself.
Fill in the phrase… “Atmospheric Metal wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
N: - Insert important album here - ... No just kidding. But I don’t know if I at the moment have some special turn of events in music history that shaped the sound as we know it today.
Which are the best 3 Atmospheric Metal albums of all time according to you?
N: I don’t have any top three records when it comes to Atmospheric metal albums.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
N: I would like to travel back to the ‘80s. Not just because of the music itself but for the absence of internet and the way people were in touch listening to it. I guess there was more magic in the way that it wasn’t accessible as it is today. Whatever you desire to listen to is just a click away, which is convenient, but it destroys the whole vibe. You’re less amazed and of course it takes the whole “special” feeling out from it all when someone released something new.
Top 3 Horror movies of all time?
N: At number one I have to say “The Exorcist”. It might be a popular pick but it’s oh so good. It still freaks me out as much today as it did the first time I saw it. The way it builds up is genius. The second pick is “Event Horizon”. Really cool movie, which is scary as hell in a space environment. “Friday the 13th part 3 is a killer and ends up as third on my list.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
N: Weird choice maybe but I’d go for the imp. He has a sharp mind and gets to enjoy great quantities of wine thru out the series. Something I would’ve enjoyed in the Seven Kingdoms, haha.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
N: That would be a big blow of course since there’s some quite cool gems in there. Luckily I have a far too understanding girlfriend for that to happen, haha…
We’re done Niklas! Say anything you feel like saying. Wish you the best and have fun on the road. Take care dude!
N: Keep it cool by staying in school!