Legendary Swedish extreme metal band AT THE GATES has announced its plans to reform for several festival appearances next summer, including Wacken Open Air (Germany), Bloodstock (UK) and Ruisrock (Finland). In an exclusive interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, AT THE GATES guitarist Anders Björler discusses the band's decision to reunite and offers insight into the band's future plans:
Q: In the statement announcing the reunion, you said that you have been talking about a possible reunion for years now, but this was the first time everything fell into place. Can you elaborate a bit on which obstacles you had encountered previously in making the AT THE GATES reunion happen and how you managed to get around it now?
Anders: We have been talking about a reunion for years, but there've never been any concrete plans until now. Me and Jonas [Björler, bass] have THE HAUNTED as our main priority musically. Adrian [Erlandsson] was very busy in the past with CRADLE OF FILTH. Tomas [Lindberg, vocals] does DISFEAR and THE GREAT DECEIVER, etc.
I guess I realized this spring (2007), that if we were to pull this off at all it had to be planned way ahead — at least a year prior to the reunion becoming a reality. Since we have alot of other obligations with our other main bands, families, work/studies it was really important to plan this early to avoid any discomfort or stress on our end (as well as the people we work with in our other bands). The summer of 2008 is ideal. Especially for me and Jonas, since we are currently in the writing stage of the new THE HAUNTED album, which probably means we will record it before next summer. Adrian is no longer with CRADLE OF FILTH which means he is not tied up with extensive touring as he was in the past. This leaves summer 2008 pretty much open for a couple of AT THE GATES shows.
Q: You have announced three shows so far — in Finland, Germany and the UK. How many dates in total do you expect to do and which additional territories will be covered?
Anders: We have talked about a couple of European festivals, and possibly a couple of shows in the U.S., but that's all I can tell right now. Please be patient with this. We want to cover as many territories as possible, but since we probably won't do extensive tours you might have to travel a bit to see us in this short period of time.
Q: Jeff Walker from CARCASS implied in a recent interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET that he would like to team up with AT THE GATES for some reunion shows, especially in the U.S. Is this something that you are considering?
Anders: We would love to do some U.S. shows, but when and where (and with who), we don't know. Probably during the summer of 2008 sometime.
There are no concrete plans to tour with CARCASS.
Q: Anders, you mentioned in your statement announcing the reunion that doing these will be like getting closure, which implies that these select dates will be the last that we will see of AT THE GATES. Is there any possibility whatsoever of AT THE GATES recording a new studio album or doing additional shows beyond 2008?
Anders: What I mean with closure is that we didn't do a "last show" back then when me and Jonas left the band. I basically called everybody up and said "I'm leaving the band". It was abrupt and of course very shocking to the other guys. Today, it feels like we can get together again to play some shows without that old shit hanging over us. We have had a good relationship for the last couple of years now and I think we could do something special — both for ourselves and our fans.
If it's the last thing we do — I don't know, and I don't want to limit future possibilites in saying that it is. I can only speak for myself when I say that we probably won't do extensive touring and definitely not another record. I mean, it would be pointless to follow up "Slaughter of the Soul" which was made 12 years ago. We have all changed as persons and musicians since then. I know that most people will agree with me on this... However, these are my personal opinons. Not a band statement!
Q: In the years since AT THE GATES split up, the band's reputation and status in the metal scene has grown manyfold, to the point where a lot of people consider AT THE GATES to be the forefathers of the so-called Gothenburg sound. Do you personally feel that AT THE GATES' music was as revolutionary as it is often portrayed to be If so, what do you feel made the group's songwriting style and sound so unique?
Anders: As I see it, AT THE GATES are almost like five different bands — one different band for each album. Both musically and production-wise etc. Alf [Svensson, guitar] was a major songwriter on the first three albums. I personally think he is a great musician and I admire his music a lot. He definitely brought the dark and epic segments to our overall sound.
In 1990 we were basically kids growing up with the rising scene of death metal. Tomas came from the underground scene tape-trading and writing his own fanzines.
In the beginning, I guess we did what many other bands did as well. We tried too hard. We threw in hundreds of riffs in each song which left a cascading noise attack. Pretty schizophrenic, if you listen to it now almost 20 years later. We gradually learned how to compose songs, and when Alf left, one of the persons who came up with the most twisted ideas suddenly was gone.
In 1993 we started working on songs for "Terminal Spirit Disease" where we took a more straight approach — both lyrically and musically. It was more direct, and the songs were basically simple rock songs (verse/bridge/chorus structured). This style continued and was perfected on "Slaughter of the Soul".
Our goal was to write the "Reign in Blood" [SLAYER] for the 90's. At least try to do so, hehe... What we achieved was an album that was powerful, aggressive, melodic and to the point.
The funny thing about "Gothenburg sound" is that I never heard the expression until AT THE GATES split up. I think I heard it around 1997/1998 when a couple of Swedish bands stated that they were influenced what was happening in Gothenburg.
I don't know what made it so special. Maybe it felt fresh when it came out. I don't think we were specifically revolutionary, maybe the timing was in favor. We split up after the success of "Slaughter of the Soul". The fact that we split up might just have triggered the hype. I don't know...
If we were the forefathers of the so-called Gothenburg sound? I guess we were, along with the other bands at the time.
Q: How does the AT THE GATES reunion announcement affect THE HAUNTED's future plans? Will THE HAUNTED be forced to go on hiatus for awhile in order to make room for these reunion shows?
Anders: No hiatus needed. The AT THE GATES shows are basically festival shows where we play once or twice each week. As I said earlier, my main focus is THE HAUNTED. The AT THE GATES thing is just about having fun, getting together again playing some songs and having a good time.
Watch a three-minute minute teaser for the "Making Of Slaughter Of The Soul" DualDisc from AT THE GATES;
Watch fan-filmed video footage of AT THE GATES performing the song "Blinded by Fear" on March 17, 1996 in Houston, Texas: