U.K.'s Guitarist magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström of Sweden's KATATONIA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Guitarist: You collaborated with a musicians outside the band, keyboard player Frank Default, for this album ["Night Is The New Day"]. It sounds like has had a lot of influence on the sound…
Anders: I think he had a lot of influence. He's basically been the guy that's taken care of all the sounds that aren't a guitar. Of course, we always like to experiment with sounds ourselves — that sound like a keyboard but are played on guitars. We like to cross all borders between keyboard and guitars. But Frank is just a super-talented guy in his field. Jonas [Renkse, vocals] and I are very interested in that, we know how to get some sounds going but we're not good piano players or anything like that. We actually worked with him before where we gave him the chance to be involved with the remix of a song. We decided that the three of us sit would down and make it a 100 per cent collaboration on this album — that's what we needed to do in order to top ourselves. We really didn't want to make a clone of "The Great Cold Distance" album. We wanted to do something beyond our core song — even though we will always be based on a rock and metal sound. I think it's very, very interesting to add sounds where you don't really know what is making them [as a listener] — it can be a guitar or a keyboard but it's basically a soundscape that creates more depth. I think the collaboration with him made the album so much more three-dimensional.
Guitarist: It's really interesting to hear Jonas' vocals on this album — he has a lot of room to work in and his melodies have a lot of depth too; he's never going for the obvious path. It sounds like he's been given a free reign on this album. Was that the case?
Anders: Definitely. First of all, Jonas was the one who wrote most of the songs on this album; so he really stepped up on that part. That was a pleasant surprise. It's really a case of him maturing even further as a performer and vocalist. It's natural that more vocal melodies and hooks and lines are going to get more room. It all comes with the confidence growing. That's a pleasant thing for everybody — that makes it work. Then we're not stagnant and can always stay ahead.
Guitarist: Reading the updates on the website earlier in 2009, there was a point when you were pretty honest with fans about suffering from writer's block. The time you took has often paid off but it must have been frustrating for you…
Anders: There's no reason for us to hide those facts because that's the truth. And now we've finally overcome the obstacles we're proud instead. We were so pressured by everything — ourselves as artists knowing we had to top the last album, also finding the motivation to do this. We have a pretty negative outlook on a lot of stuff here in life and when you go through these cycles, which are often the source of inspiration for KATATONIA, it can be hard sometimes to even find the motivation to go on. We tried [to start work on the album] a couple of times but we didn't get there. It had worked flawlessly in the past — we'd always set up a date and work towards that, counting on having all the material ready in time for that. It worked perfectly in the past but this time it didn't and I think it's because we've come to a point where we have to step up a lot more. I don't know how much further you can take things without having to change. There's only so far you can go with a certain kind of style before you have to look sideways to get out of there. I don't think that we've found ourselves in a dead end here but we needed the motivation to kick ourselves in the ass and find what was there the whole time, waiting for us. I think what really opened things up was that Jonas stepped up and wrote the majority of the album's material. It showed that nothing is wrong if I don't do anything, that was interesting.
Guitarist: Do you think having BLOODBATH as an outlet for the extreme metal side on your playing has benefitted KATATONIA?
Anders: Yes it does, definitely — it just cleanses you. Death metal was around for us even before KATATONIA was born, we were fans of that music style in our teens so that will always be dear to us. It will always be there in our hearts. I choose to call it [BLOODBATH] a vacation from KATATONIA because it's just a pleasure to do it. There's no real struggle to get there with a new album; the writing comes easy, it just flows out and it's just fun. It's fun in the studio, it's fun on the stage — no compromises, you know? Death metal wakes up the balance here of the whole equilibrium. Musically I have a pretty broad taste so I want to keep all my inner demons fed here. By having BLOODBATH on the extreme side and KATATONIA on the other side it's perfect for me.
Read the entire interview from Guitarist magazine.