Swedish rockers Katatonia hit Adelaide tonight for what promises to be an epic show to celebrate the release of their tenth album The Fall Of Hearts. It was an interesting chat with Niklas Sandin who spoke candidly about how it took a while to win fans over with their new album.
On tour now in Australia is great news for fans…
Really good news, we were really happy when the tour got confirmed so finally we are doing our own headline shows, not just festivals or as a support and can play an entire set to our own audience. We’re promoting our new album The Fall Of Hearts so there will be a good couple of songs from that and not forgetting all the old classics and gems as well as some of the older bits and pieces from the older albums.
I’m not sure if there will be much from the first two albums when there was that black doom kind of thing but a wide selection which is what we think it should be in a headline set not just newer stuff but also the old classics and gems.
With ten albums now does it get harder to work out the set list each night which keeps the fans happy and the set fresh for the band?
That it is actually! There are so many songs to choose from and you select songs that should be in the set but you can’t do those Bruce Springsteen sets of three hours if you want to include everything and keep everyone happy. It is hard to balance but we have quite a number of rehearsed songs we can pick and choose from when we do those lengthy tours so we can keep it fresh for ourselves and the fans as well.
Nowadays fans can see the set list coming up an hour after the show in terms of what songs you played. If you play the same set throughout a whole tour there is no surprises even after the first show for anyone because it’s already online.
Bruce has been playing closer to four hours on his current tour, could you match that?Four hours? Wow! That’s impressive… Jesus! He must have quite diehard fans to keep themselves interested for that long.
What are your favourites off The Fall Of Hearts to play live?
Right now it is the Last Song Before The Fade, it’s an interesting number and really dynamic. It has those mellow parts and those really heavy ones as well. This is tightly followed by Serac is also interesting and keeps us on our toes because that is a lengthy one and more technically challenging bits and pieces in it. There’s a lot grind there when it comes to showmanship because it is a long song and you want the audience to be involved the whole time.
Is Australia the best place to tour?
May be it sounds dry and boring but I’m really looking forward to the weather. Right now we only have grey skies in Sweden and it is a mixture between wet, snow and ice. I’m really looking forward to summer, great food and the hospitality which is always warm and welcoming.
Five shows in five days literally zig zagging across the country, how do you manage the grind of travel and still back up playing shows that night? Do you get conditioned to that?
It is always challenging and it is quite different from being on a bus tour because you can get in to your bunk whenever you want to and wake up at two in the afternoon for sound check or even three. The aim is always to get back to the hotel as soon as possible to get as many hours of sleep as possible which usually happens after a couple of lagers after we’ve wound down a little bit. It might usually end up being two or three hours of sleep before we have to head to the airport then there are things happening the whole day.
It is nice when there are those small gaps in the schedule to be able to take a power nap and try to make up for lost sleep like that or even try to sleep on the flight if that is possible. It is hard work but rewarding when you’re out there standing on stage and that’s what you look forward to everyday which brings the energy in to the band to move forward. We did that sort of thing in South America flying everywhere in between shows and ending up like a zombie when you get home. You just have to do it and enjoy it as much as you can.
Playing in India must be a huge buzz?
Yeah, we’re playing there in early 2017 straight after we play our first show in Dubai which is the premiere for us.
Have you been happy with the reception of The Fall Of Hearts?
Really, really happy! I think those who were in doubt in the beginning they have processed it and digested it properly now so they can appreciate it now because I think this is the most versatile album with the most lengthy songs in terms of playing time. It has been a little bit hard for people to digest and I remember when I played it for first time my jaw dropped as it was a really cool experience. I think it takes many listens before you can grasp it as a whole. The reviews have been really cool and I can’t be anymore happier with the feedback.
Does the change in band line up influence the sound for this album?
Maybe, Daniel Liljekvist (the old drummer) is highly skilled and talented drummer but new drummer Daniel Moilanen brings different technique in to play. In that kind of way I think they were not as limited in terms of arranging the drums in terms of speed and double kick drum. I think he brought that new element which you can hear in some songs. Roger came in really late in to the recording process and did some solos down and they speak for themselves. They definitely contributed in to the new record.
Were the ideas fairly well consolidated before recording them?
We all write our own songs and we keep each other in the loop so ninety five percent of the songs are made at home. Those pre-production tracks are brought in to listen to and add our own spices and flavours. I have the freedom to arrange the bass and how it should be done, then we discuss and record it possibly trying different things. There is never an exact mould of how it should sound or you get the tab sheet for how it should be played.
It is always up to open discussion and sometimes it flies and sometimes they shoot it down all depending on how good the ideas are that you come with. That is pretty much how it has always been for Katatonia and I think they are getting more open with this line up that they feel really secure with to be able to go in and add our own input to the music.
How has Katatonia evolved its sound over the last couple of albums?
It’s hard because you never really know, it is all about what influences you at the time and that could be totally different next time and may go a little more ambient or mellow. I don’t think you ever really know with Katatonia and where it heads. The plan is to have the next album out faster next time as there were a number of things that shook the band and we needed to figure out what to do and headhunt new personnel for the band. I think there definitely be less time before the album is out, so that is the plan.
Interview by Rob Lyon