Josh Rundquist of That Drummer Guy recently conducted an interview with Mikael Stanne of Swedish melodic death metallers DARK TRANQUILLITY. You can listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the songwriting process for the band's forthcoming album, "Atoma":
Mikael: "It's been three years since the last album ['Construct']. We've been on tour constantly. We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. These things don't get easier with time, as much you would like to think experience and time we spent writing songs over the years has taught us something. Turns out, it really hasn't. [Laughs] You still have to start from scratch every time you begin. We started at the end of last year compiling material, constructing songs, trying to come up with something that felt new and refreshing. You start going, 'Let's make an album that sounds nothing like anything we've done before and get away from ourselves as far as possible.' Sometimes you get tired of yourselves and your sound, so sometimes we start out like that to clear our minds and expectations. Then, of course, whatever material that passes through our individual filters, and the end result is something that sounds like DARK TRANQUILLITY anyway. It was long. More than a year and a half, compiling material, constructing simple structures into songs. Bouncing ideas back and forth. I think we had twenty songs at one point that we were going through. We distilled that down to twelve. Once we had the twelve, we really started focusing on making sure every song had that impact we wanted. The better part of this year we spent fine-tuning twelve songs and making sure everything worked. We got into recording in the middle of the summer, which was not a good idea. Spending every day in the studio with no windows was a weird thing, and it was stressful and tortuous. But it turned out great. Eventually once we got over ourselves, we started enjoying recording. Being incredibly satisfied with the end result doesn't hurt either."
On his lyrical approach:
Mikael: "It comes from frustration of feeling hopeless in a way. There's a lot of frustration in there. I don't like to be just all-out negative. I'm not depressed, but I'm angry and frustrated and I wish there was something I could do about what's going on in our lives and world. It's more frustration. When I listen to death metal, anything really powerful and emotional, for me, it's a release. It triggers something in me that makes me feel better after going through an album of pure frustration and anger. I think that's something I've always been attracted to. That's something I try to do in our band as well."
On finding the inspiration to finish "Atoma":
Mikael: "For us, it came out in the beginning year when Martin [Henriksson, guitar] left the band, one of our founding members. A lot of things we went through. We went through really long tours where maybe the motivation started lacking a little bit. We started questioning ourselves in many ways especially after Martin left. We asked, 'What is it we actually do and why does he feel this way?' 'Was it something we did?' He didn't have the motivation to keep going. I think that solidified the fact that this is what we love to do and live for. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we get to do the thing you love, almost for a living. You take things for granted. I think we started re-evaluating the band and our place in it, and the band's place in music. We started feeling good about that. But at the same time, we also felt we needed to prove our place here. 'Why are we allowed to make eleven albums?' 'Why should we still be relevant?' We have to prove ourselves with every album, and even more so with an album every other year. That puts a lot of pressure on us. But it is just pressure we put on ourselves. We want to improve and come up with that perfect album every single time. We won't accept anything else. I think that's one of the things that makes it so difficult to write nowadays. At the same time, it should be hard. If it's too easy, it's not good enough. It should be a struggle and full of frustration and endless sleepless nights, and conflict. What happens is something amazing once you come together and you finish a project like this."
"Atoma" will be released on November 4 through Century Media.