Anders Nyström of Katatonia
Interview by Monika Deviat
Dark, heavy and melancholic is how Anders Nyström would describe Katatonia, the band he co-founded 20 years ago in Stockholm Sweden. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Katatonia has been playing headlining shows in Europe titled “An Evening with Katatonia” throughout the year. For the month of October they joined Opeth on a North American tour where they also added in a few special headlining shows around their dates with Opeth. Metal-Rules.com caught up with Nyström before their first ever show in Calgary, Alta. to talk about the tour and the anniversary.
It’s been going great. No real downs just ups. It’s a fantastic tour actually, being out with friends in Opeth. Playing for a lot of…mostly their people really, bigger crowds and a bunch of really nice venues. I’m not complaining at all.
How have the headlining sideshows in North America been?
They have been fun. They are quite a contrast to the shows we are doing with Opeth. They are like basement level again because we are doing these small intimate shows. We’ve been playing a really different set list and we are playing way longer sets. It’s a lot more sweaty and rock and roll.
How do you like playing in Canada?
It’s good. It’s more similar to Europe compared to the [U.S.] in every way. You get proper catering and people take care of you. It just looks more like home actually – the weather, the vibe, the nature around here. So it feels good to be in Canada.
What is the most valuable thing you learned in your 20 years of playing in the band?
I don’t know…dreams come true probably. I mean there are a lot of bands that are not making it past the 20 year level. And for me that is a huge success. Regardless of how successful you are commercially, we are not seen as a big band at all, we’re still seen as pretty underground, especially over here where we basically had to start all over again. Just being together, having a good line up, working and being able to tour for the albums that you love to create. That, for me, is big success.
Did you think the band would end up where it has 20 years ago?
Definitely not. Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t look past tomorrow basically. As soon as you bring it up, I still have a hard time believing I’m here in Calgary doing an interview because it is something I never expected. It is in a way living the dream, because it is doing what you want and people are loving what you do. I am very fortunate to be here.
What do you think has been the biggest change for you in Katatonia since the bands inception?
I think we have constantly been climbing the ladder upwards. There have been no scandals or anything in the band….yet. And I think we have been a band that has been building a fan base so slow, but steady and we have invested so much into what we do. I don’t know. I guess it just has paid off at the end. We learn to do better by experience we really know what we are about, we know what we sound like, we know what we want to achieve. We are definitely on the map these days.
How has your writing style changed over the years?
It’s pretty much the same as it has always been. We constantly progress of course because as musicians you hopefully get better by playing more. Obviously your mind goes into different territories as well as you pick up stuff, pick up new influences, new inspirations from different environments, music, books, movies, everything. I think it’s just like the older you get the wiser you get and it shows in the music. It’s a never dying urge, to write music.
Even after 20 years there are still countries that the band has only recently toured in. What countries would you like to play in that you haven’t yet?
There are probably a couple. We have been around the world now. We haven’t been to Japan yet actually which kind of strange because usually most Swedish bands go there. Maybe some obscure eastern euro country we haven’t been to yet. But pretty much we have been everywhere.
What would you have done career wise if Katatonia had not become so successful?
Wow. I would probably be in a warehouse just working my ass off, in some truck. That’s what I did before actually. So I would probably still be there and dreaming about playing guitar and going to Calgary.
What Horror movie has had the most influence on you or Katatonia?
Well I have to mention “The Shining” because we even stole a sample from the movie and put into one song on Brave Murder Day [Advantage Music, 1996]. I love that movie. I can watch it so many times. It’s a fantastic movie, very epic. It’s not this normal, typical Hollywood blockbuster horror movie. I actually saw, the other day, an interview with Stephen King and he didn’t like it. I was almost upset with that actually. He didn’t like it. I fucking loved it.
We hear there is a new album in the works; do you have any plans for where you are going to write or record it?
To some extent we do. We started the writing already so it is on the way. It’s a constant process of experiment and writing. We are building our practice space/rehearsal room right now, our HQ, where we can record ourselves. Which is going to help out a lot timing wise. You don’t have this dude that just tells you he needs to go home at six and you just want to stay and finish up what you are doing. We can work around the clock which is awesome for us. If you have inspiration you should just go for it. You shouldn’t let the clock decide your schedule for you. After this tour wraps up, we’re just trying to finish up the album and start recording definitely in the winter. So expect a release next year, hopefully by the summer and if not then by autumn.
And is the first time you will have your own place to record?
Yeah, we usually just scatter around different studio, recording different sessions and different instruments. So we are going to most of the stuff in our place and we’re going to probably spend more money on a mix somewhere. A really fancy good place.
Who are thinking of bringing for the mixing?
We are going to probably work with a guy we worked with on the last album because we are still so happy with how that album sounds. It’s up there with everything we hear, it sounds amazing. So we are going to work with this guy, David [Castillo], and it’s basically going to be me and Jonas producing as always.
What music or bands are you listening to on the bus?
Sun Kil Moon definitely. Lovely project by the Red House Painters guy. That’s one of our biggest influences in recent time. We are so open-minded. We listen to Morbid Angel cranked really loud to Sun Kil Moon and everything in between.
What do you do on the bus when you have long drives between cities?
Well when we are in America we are online. We have this thing called Cricket which is just fucking fantastic because you ride for so many hours and you get so bored in there. I don’t know what to do in the bus but if you have the connection you can play on the computer. I’m addicted.
Are you still watching Dexter?
Oh yeah! But I am going to save the whole season for when I come back so I can knock them all out in a row. I can’t wait.
Have you read the books?
No I haven’t read them actually. That’s a good idea though. That’s something to do on the tour bus.
What are some essentials you have to bring on tour with you?
The laptop. Without it I wouldn’t even go out on the tour.
We are really happy to be over here and it’s a pleasure for us to play here. We are stoked about it and thankful for everyone coming to see us. We’ve been waiting a long time to come to these territories we have never been to before.