Prior to AT THE GATES' November 3 performance in New York City, guitarist Martin Larsson spoke with Heavy New York. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On new guitarist Jonas Stålhammar:
Martin: "He joined the band a long way into the songwriting process, so he didn't time to have a lot of input playing-wise or anything. I can say that he had to change his rhythm playing a little bit. He's not really used to the thrashy thing — it's like, half-thrash, half-death metal, what we do. But he put a lot of effort in it, and he really succeeded in a great way."
On the group's writing process:
Martin: "There probably is a formula, but not consciously. I think everyone has a formula — just, like, the sum of who you are and your influences and all that. But there's definitely a huge space for experimentation. What we did on the last record, which was the first one since the '90s, we tried to explore some new ways that we didn't try before — a little bit darker stuff, more ominous feelings, and I think we went a little bit further on the new one in that direction. I think variation within [a] certain balance... you try to incorporate new things in the music but still keeping it the same band... We're metalheads. We grew up metalheads and will always be metalheads, but for metalheads, I'd say we're pretty broad and diverse in our musical tastes, and hopefully that shows in our music as well."
On the group's ongoing tour with BEHEMOTH:
Martin: "This is the first non-headline tour we've done since '96. That's also by design — it's a conscious thing. What is it, maybe the fourth U.S. tour since we started playing again? We feel it's time to try and reach [new fans], because after three or four times, you start playing to the same people — which is good, reaching loyal fans, but it's a challenge to try to get newer people, people that haven't heard us, [to] try to win them over."
On the group's influences:
Martin: "The way we grew up with all the old heavy metal music, it was dangerous back then in the early '80s. That was extreme back then, and then we grew up within the scene when it gradually became more extreme, so we brought all that along with us when our music became more and more extreme. It's just a natural progression of what we do — the combination of classic heavy metal melodicism and death metal... You don't really think about these things. I don't think it's healthy. We just play. To us, it's not melodic death metal — it's just metal, and whatever form it takes, it's just metal to us, and then it's up to everyone else to categorize."
On the group's early days:
Martin: "Honestly, there weren't a lot of metal bands in Gothenburg back then. What we do now, making a decent living out of playing metal, it wasn't even imaginable in the '90s. It was just like a weird concept. What really helped back then was the municipal help with rehearsal rooms and music lessons. I think that's often forgotten when you talk about the Swedish metal [scene], or whatever you call it — we had a lot of help from the state."
AT THE GATES' latest album, "To Drink From The Night Itself", was released on May 18 via Century Media. Produced with Russ Russell (NAPALM DEATH, THE HAUNTED, DIMMU BORGIR) at Parlour Studios in the U.K., the follow-up 2014's "At War With Reality" features conceptual artwork created by Costin Chioreanu of Twilight 13 Media, who previously worked with AT THE GATES on the band's last disc.
"To Drink From The Night Itself" marks AT THE GATES' first release with Stålhammar, who replaced primary songwriter Anders Björler in 2017.