Jonas Renkse & Anders Nyström (Katatonia) interviewed

** Katatonia recently ventured through the U.S. with Cult of Luna, Intronaut, and Anciients. I sat down with old buds Jonas Renkse & Anders Nyström to have a laugh, chat, talk about old shit (not transcribed), and highlight “experiment” album, Dethroned and Uncrowned. Read on Katacolyts!
What was the motivation behind Dethroned and Uncrowned?
Anders Nyström: It was a total experiment. We saw something lurking deep down on Dead End Kings. By stripping all the elements of heaviness, we’d come up with a more beautiful, quiet sound. Of course, we weren’t ready to dig into that while we were recording Dead End Kings—that would’ve been silly. So, we said, “When we’re done, let’s go back and bring up the files again to see what we can do with the ideas we had.” We felt the material could take a totally different direction and end up as something very beautiful. It sparked the whole thing.

It takes a bit to adjust to. It’s Katatonia but it’s not.
Anders Nyström: It’s an experiment. It’s very important for people to realize this isn’t the direction we’re taking the band. We knew and we felt could pull it off.
Jonas Renkse: It’s for the people who felt Dead End Kings was too harsh.
Anders Nyström: It’s for the housewives. [Laughs]

It’s cool you’re able to experiment and have the label support you.
Anders Nyström: Well, actually we didn’t have a label to support us. That’s how the whole pledge campaign came about.
Jonas Renkse: We didn’t really like the idea, but there was no budget for what we wanted to do.
Anders Nyström: They [Peaceville] really get what they were going to get. They liked the idea, but nobody knew what it was going to sound like until it’s handed in. They had some faith in us. Or, we did some blackmailing. [Laughs] The fans also pledged. It was a win-win. They supported the project and they got it.

Do you support pledging as a financial tool now that you’ve gone through it?
Anders Nyström: It depends on what you pledge. If there’s one product out there that says, “This is what you get when you pledge,” then that’s fine. But when you start going into services that aren’t in your comfort zone, we’re not too into. I mean, where does it stop? I can see management or the label trying to push it [the pledge] too far.
Jonas Renkse: I don’t think we’ll do it again. We’re grateful for what we got, but next time we’re going to focus on the regular album done the regular way.

Pledging is a popular thing now for bands fund whatever they want.
Jonas Renkse: It is. I think it’s the perfect way to finance stuff you want to do by the people who really love you. On the other hand, I feel it’s important to keep some distance. As Anders said, we need to have our comfort zone. I don’t think anybody wants to do anything to get money.
Anders Nyström: The main thing with Kickstarter is for bands who don’t have a label. They’re on their own. Unsigned. It’s when you have other people behind you, that’s when things can go really wrong.

Was there a point where you felt limited musically on Dethroned and Uncrowned?
Jonas Renkse: Most of the ideas were already there. So, no. Some of the songs were more difficult to translate than others. That was the challenge. There are some really heavy songs on the album [Dead End Kings]. Actually, those songs turned out great in the end. Very lush.
Anders Nyström: Exactly. Some songs have the metal characteristics—picking, for example—and to translate them to acoustic guitar can be very tricky. If we tried to make the songs the on the acoustic the same way we made them on the electric, they’d be horribly amateurish. That was the biggest challenge, to get songs to work. Sometimes it was best to not have any guitars. None. Just the vocals and the background. That became a bigger picture. Those moments are so dynamic. There’s just a small amount of instrumentation. All this was there all the time, way down in the mix [on Dead End Kings]. We had to take away a lot of stuff to find the right moments on this album [Dethroned and Uncrowned].

I’m surprised you didn’t use this opportunity to do covers. Like a Whitesnake song.
Anders Nyström: [Laughs] He [pointing to Jonas] wouldn’t allow me! We’re supposed to take this project on tour next year. It’s not the new direction of the band. I’ll say that again. But we’ll take this on tour. We’re going to treat older songs the same way for the live show. It makes sense. We do love cover songs, so it might be cool to do that live, but not on an album.
Jonas Renkse: Not yet.
Anders Nyström: We’re working on it. [Laughs]

You’ve done some stuff outside Katatonia, Jonas. With Bruce Soord.
Jonas Renkse: It was a good experience. I came in quite late to that project. All the music was written, the lyrics, the vocal lines. I just put my signature on it, using my voice as I always do. The result is nice. It’s not very metal at all. I like it. It’s not too far from Katatonia. We have some electric parts in Katatonia, but it’s very different.

Any chance of resurrecting Diabolical Masquerade, Anders?
Anders Nyström: Well… I can’t believe how the last album [Death’s Design] is at this point. Twelve years old now. Crazy. I’ve been saying we have Bloodbath, but if Bloodbath ain’t going to do something, it’s probably what I’m going to do. But there’s a new Bloodbath we’re working on. I like opposite of extremes. It’s probably something I could pick up again.

And you’re reissuing Viva Emptiness. It’s 10 years old at this point. That’s crazy.
Jonas Renkse: It was recently remixed and remastered to have it released at the same time of the Paradise Lost tour.
Anders Nyström: But it’s not to celebrate 10 years or because of the tour. We were never really happy with the outcome.
Jonas Renkse: The decision to remix it came before.
Anders Nyström: Exactly. It’s just timing. We look forward to redeeming ourselves, releasing the album and playing it live. We also added some stuff that we left off the original version. Like vocals on the last song. I think people are going to like it. Way less St. Anger. We applied an anti-Ulrich filter to the album. [Laughs] More Katatonia.

** Katatonia’s Dethroned and Uncrowned is out now Peaceville Records. It’s available HERE. It’s available on vinyl too (HERE). Katatonia’s Viva Emptiness is out now too. Available on CD (HERE) and LP (HERE). Wicked, right?