with Daniel Liljekvist and Niklas Sandin
@ Damnation Festival, Leeds UK
2nd November 2013
Interview by Caitlin Smith
Photography by Michelle Murphy
The King may be Dethroned and Uncrowned, but Swedish metal legends KATATONIA still seem to be standing tall among the masses. Fresh of the success of their latest acoustic album, we catch the boys taking a brief break before hitting the stage at Damnation Festival.
Sitting down with bassist Niklas Sandin and drummer Daniel Liljekvist so they can tell us about tales of Eagles, poorly fitting t-shirt and the joys of Emmerdale.
This is certainly no ordinary interview!
The bird has been a reoccurring theme on many of your album covers, is there any reason behind this?
Daniel: I think Anders is obsessed with birds.
Niklas: Yeah, bird lover.
Is that it? He just loves birds!
Daniel: I mean the fowl version of birds, not the girl version of birds, because I understand over here you say ‘Oh, that’s a nice looking bird!’ For the female.
Niklas: Oh yeah.
Yes, we do.
Daniel: Or maybe, I don’t know, maybe it’s a hidden message.
Niklas: Check Wikipedia dude, its on there.
Daniel: Birds are cute!
Daniel: I don’t have parrots at home; I have eagles, in a cage!
Niklas: Along with eagle violence.
Niklas: Are there enough birds?
Sorry shall I just leave and let you ramble about birds?
Daniel: You had some questions?
Niklas: Oh yeah!
Dethroned and Uncrowned is both a symphonic and an acoustic album. Where did your decision to do this come from?
Niklas: Daniel, go ahead…
Daniel: You have the best answer for this.
Niklas: Well, I guess this is born from playing ‘The Racing Heart’ live and that feeling stripped in live performance fueled the interest in making a stripped down version. Bringing up the ambience and stripping it of all the Rock N Roll elements, you know.
Daniel: Yeah, I wasn’t invited to play.
Niklas: He got to stay home and watch Emmerdale. That’s not bad at all.
Daniel: No friends. No friends.
Don’t judge us on Emmerdale!
Daniel: Emmerdale and Heartbeat. I love heartbeat. You know what we call it in Sweden? Back to Aidensfield.
Niklas: And another smashing series, Holby City. That is good.
Daniel: You know the movie Jaws? Do you know what it is called in Sweden?
Daniel: The shark.
Niklas: And Batman in Swedish is Leatherpatch.
Daniel: He’s called Leatherpatch [sings Batman theme]
Did a specific process for writing the latest album?
Daniel: Same as always. Jonas and Anders write at their home studios, send out demos to us and we ‘shit or hit’, and then we got to the studio, we press record and then we just go.
Niklas: And hope for the best!
Daniel: It works incredibly well.
So you don’t get together and jam much?
Daniel: We never do that! When we enter the studio everything is fresh. We tried to do that once. We tried to do that 13 years ago. It sucked! We got drunk instead.
Niklas: Prove or stop.
What inspires you to write? Are there any processes or places you go to?
Daniel: Well, I don’t write anything I just write my drum parts, but I know that Jonas and Andes get inspired by everything like music.
Niklas: Books, colours, beer, birds, shitty Swedish weather.
Niklas: Eagles, yeah!
Daniel: Just everything really.
Daniel: Polar Bears. Penguins, but they’re birds.
Penguins could be the next album cover?
Daniel: Penguins and Polar bears. There’s a Swedish band called Millencolin that already have that title.
Oh it’s already been done.
Niklas: What a shame!
Daniel: Great band.
So you’ve been going over 20 years now. Looking back, how do you think you have changed?
Daniel: We’re getting fatter. Back in the old days was just shenanigans and beer drinking. Having a show was just an excuse to get drunk for a couple of days. Now we’re more professional, it’s the same thing though, just music.
Niklas: It sounds the same.
Daniel: I don’t know, getting older, fatter, and tighter. Tighter as a band, better as a musician.
Niklas: and harder to find shirts that fit. That’s always difficult.
Daniel: Is that your way of saying the band’s getting heavier?
In more ways than one…
Daniel: Hey Jonas we’re a heavy band… Hang on! are you calling me fat?!
Niklas: Can’t fit in the pictures anymore.
Daniel: That’s offensive. No we’re grown up: older, lazier, better musicians… supposedly. Hopefully.
So what’s next for Katatonia?
Daniel: After this tour we’ll be taking some time off. Then next year, early spring I think we’re going to do some catching up of the Dead End Kings tour, we didn’t go on the last section.
Niklas: The last run.
Daniel: So were going to go where we didn’t go. No days are set but I think were going to go to Russian, South America… Nothing is set. No dates are set up.
Niklas: What did we do during those 7 weeks? It’s a long tour and we didn’t even play all of the places.
Daniel: We’ve been in the states a lot of times. Last time we were there we did 7 weeks. We did the Euro tour for 7 weeks. We went through 3 busses so we had to cancel Spain. We have to go back to Spain.
Daniel: Eastern Europe, Portugal and Spain.
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Niklas: Keep on keeping on!
Daniel: Keep on keeping on! Don’t forget to feed the birds.
Niklas: Bob Saget.