“Night Is The New Day” is the new record of Swedish Katatonia and Anders Nystrom, the guitarist and founding member of the band, talks with Metalpaths about the composing process of the album.
So finally here you are with your eighth studio album! What took you so long?
Well, we were supposed to enter the studio at different occasions already two years ago, but we ended up postponing each session since we didn’t manage to get enough songs finished and the ones that came about weren’t strong enough. We had to start over each time since we would never go ahead with something that is half-assed. Apart from those obstacles we also did the obvious touring in support of the last album with two tours in north America, one in Europe and plenty of one-off shows and festivals, so we weren’t locked up and hiding the whole time. Time went fast man, I cant believe the last album was recorded four years ago – it’s like no way! But eventually we realized we’d come up with material that would meet our expectations and decided to hit the studio back in may. We spent the entire summer down the Rathole (the studio) and now here I am talking to you…
What can you tell us about the process of making your latest album, “Night is the new day”?
Well, it was a long draining time, but we kept very focused with the goal of making our best album so far without compromising on the aspects of performance and sound, so even though we ended up taking almost 3 months recording, it was worth it in the end. We made a studio diary of all the stages while in there that has been posted on www.nightistheday.com. I’m just happy we managed to get a new album of this calibre out to share it with our followers.
Who did handle the production? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
The album was co-produced and mixed by David Castillo whom has worked on the last Bloodbath releases and also as the live engineer for the band. We’re very satisfied with the outcome, it’s the most well produced and best mixed album of our career.
What’s the feedback you get from people and musicians that have listened to the new album?
The feedback has really been explosive and positive, much more so than on any other release. It seems we managed to get people more excited with really high anticipations for this album, which of course makes us even more motivated to get things rolling again and take things to the next level.
Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth stated that “Night is the new day” is probably the best heavy record he has listened to the past ten years! According to your opinion what does it sound like? I mean, can it get any better than that?
That’s a very big compliment. It’s hard to comment on it. I mean, even though it’s fantastic to hear someone say that, it also means it will be harder than ever to top this album if we’re gonna continue in the same direction. It’s like how do you do that? Where do we go from here… I don’t wanna think about that yet. The next two years will be all about the “night and the day”.
Do Katatonia follow a formula for writing songs and if there is one can you describe us the whole idea behind it?
It usually starts with someone sitting by himself, secluded and in their comfort of their own privacy. Jamming out riffs, ideas and structures mostly as fragments. Already at this point there’s usually a vision for the title of the song or the lyrical content although it’s far from written yet. Next step is to arrange the parts together into a song. We can go back and forth for ages and the song might even make such turns all of the original parts are exchanged. When a song is complete it’s in a rough sketch mode, everyone gets an idea on how it will sound, if it’s decided to be complete a pre-production demo is recorded as well. We don’t have a rehearsal place, so much time practicing as a whole band doesn’t happen a lot. We usually only get together for rehearsals before a tour or the studio, but never when writing music.
A great characteristic of your sound are those layers of music elements circulating in songs which give this special “Katatonia Sound” even if this is a background guitar or some extra vocal lines or some samples etc…
Yeah, that’s we strive after, the trademark that people can easily put their finger on and label as Katatonia. We’d like to think that our foundation is a metal/rock type of sound, but we wanna spice it up and layer it with swirling sounds from electronic and alternative music – experiment with effects. Something you thought was a synth could be a guitar and vice versa, we like to eliminate the borders between where they come from and what belongs where.
Are you open to whatever technology provides in terms of sound?
Definitely. Where you can keep things analogue, it’s often best to do so, but we’ve no problems with exploring the wonders that the evolution of the digital technology provides. If something is in favor of the production, we give it a green light.
It’s almost tradition that a new Katatonia release will be combined with a proper artwork. Do you believe that having a nice look on the outside is almost obligatory nowadays?
Indeed. In our eyes, the cover artwork should more or less represent what the music and lyrics are about. From looking at the cover (and the rest of the) artwork you should get an instant feeling what you’re in for. I think it’s easy to see that our designs make justice for what’s inside. It’s there to glue everything together visually.
Who did handle the artwork this time?
It’s good lo’ Travis Smith again, the same guy we’ve been using for the last decade. We’ve had such a great collaboration going on every release that we haven’t even thought about moving on with someone else. There’s been times where I felt he’s getting overused, but then again, that’s his job, that’s his talent being utilized. We were very early to work with him back in 1999, so I rather just focus on what we’ve done.
Any special editions coming out for this release?
There is this “swedish edition” which is just a fancier word for special edition. It will have more pages in the booklet, more luxurious packaging and one bonus track. There’s also limited a gatefold vinyl edition for the collectors.
Having read the introduction on your new mini site for “Night is the new Day” one can assume that there have been some problems that you had to face the past three years you were absent. Can you describe us what made you write that introduction ?
It felt like the wrong thing to do. Many many fans have been asking us why it’s taken so long for us to come up with a new album and it felt honest to let them know what was holding us back and what eventually cleared the way. A statement on the sign of the times. It hasn’t been easy, but what is easy anyway?! The challenges this band constantly face is what brings us to where we ultimately wanna be, but it’s definitely not a shortcut.
At a Katatonia album everyone can find lyrics that refer to hard situations and sad feelings. Isn’t there a bright sight in life or is it just a way of expressing all sad/hard feelings through lyrics as a process of soul cleansing?
When it comes to Katatonia, it will always be a certain way. We could sit down and write happy songs as well, but would it be intriguing? Would it appeal to us and our fans? Would it be Katatonia? No! Writing darker songs just comes natural to us, it doesn’t have any strategy or agenda behind it. The truth is this is simply the kind of music and mood where we see true beauty reveal it’s face. I don’t know any other music genre that can give me more powerful and overwhelming feelings than in the (contemporary) dark.
Any special guest performing with you at this album?
Yes, we’ve a guy called Krister Linder appearing on the song ‘Departer’. It was a great honor since we’ve big fans of him ever since the mid 80’s and we consider him possibly to have one of the best male voices in the world. He’s mostly known in the electronic scene where he’s been involved in constellations like Dive etc but he’s also active as the singer for a metal band called Enter The Hunt these days.
What about a tour? Do you plan to get on stage for promoting ” Night Is the new Day”?
Oh for sure. We’ll probably do more touring than we’ve ever done. We’re right now out on a Scandinavian support tour for Porcupine Tree and after that we’ll go to UK for a tour with Paradise Lost and Engel. There’s possibly another support tour coming up at the end of the year and a few one off shows. Then next spring we’ll do both a European and American headline our back to back and when we’re home from those it’s time to do all the summer festivals, so it will be busy busy times.
How do you feel about getting the new songs ready within a playlist amongst some of your best songs from the past? Is it hard to pick the songs for a tour?
Yeah, it’s really hard, because you simply can not please everyone, not even ourselves. There are so many songs to choose from and we only got a certain limited amount of time on stage. The majority of the fans expect to hear certain songs and will be upset if we’re leaving them out, but at the same time we’ve our die-hard fans that have grown tired of the “obvious” songs and are begging us to play more obscure, non typical songs. I think the band is somewhere with their heads in between. It’s always a compromise.
On your previous album “The Great Cold Distance” you made two promotional videos for two separate single releases. Do you plan on doing a video for any of the new songs and if so can you tell us for which one?
We’re talking right now of shooting a video for the song ‘Day And Then The Shade’, but I can’t reveal the director, script, location yet.
Thank you for your time. Closing this interview I’d like you to send a strong message to all Katatonia fans out there…
We can’t wait to come back to Greece. I will never forget one of the gigs we did in Athens many years ago, when the audience sang long in a choir to a lead guitar melody theme in ‘Disposession’ and it drowned my own guitar. Goosebumps! Hope we can repeat that moment again. Cheerz!
Interview by: Andrew Koran.