Katatonia are riding high this year. After releasing their fantastic new studio album earlier this year – ‘City Burials’, read our review here, the band have also just announced the release of a live album due 13th November via Peaceville Records. Entitled ‘Dear Air‘ the live album will feature fan favourites plus the live premiere of 3 songs from City Burials.
We got a chance to quiz bassist Niklas Sandin about the album, how the band have dealt with Covid and what he is listening to during lockdown.
- First off, I love the album’s title – Dead Air. It somewhat suits the current climate. How has the pandemic affected you guys? Any messages for your fans?
Cheers! I think it´s a very suitable title for this live album since it’s a very special portrait of us playing “in front of” our listeners.
The pandemic has affected us lots, just as it has for most people worldwide. It has made a huge impact on how we normally support a new album. Instead of embarking on a long tour cycle, it has been one live streamed gig, but hey, it’s something!
We could connect with our fans at least once, even though it was under different circumstances. If this virus would´ve made its way into public not long ago, there would´ve been no option than to just stand by. My message would be that we´re longing to come out and play in front of everyone who has in their heart the desire to experience Katatonia live.
- How are you guys feeling about the album? Are there any surprises to look forward to?
I can only speak for myself when saying that I´m excited that this comes out as a proper album. It was lots of hard work put into it, and the level of focus and commitment to get every tone just right was there since it was broadcasted through the excellent Studio Gröndahl with David Castillo behind the desk – it´s like being under the microscope. It´s a straight forward release, so there won´t be any surprises.
- Three decades in the game is one hell of an achievement. How do you think you guys managed it? What’s the secret of longevity, especially in today’s fast paced music industry?
The main key to keeping yourself in the industry this long is to do music that speaks to you. To create something that will make sense in the long run. Those who choose music as a way to make a career for monetary reasons will see their way out pretty quick. It might work for an album or two, but then it will notice and sound bland. It’s best to not listen to external feedback that might compromise the vision.
- Do you feel like you have achieved what you set out to do? Is being in a band still what you guys love?
Most definitely! It might not be a high end life style, but it’s the environment everyone in the band has chosen. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
It’s in our blood and it’s nothing that will change for sure!
- With the various members you have had through the band, how do you think your sound has been influenced by the different members?
I think it has influenced the sound, but maybe not in a very direct way. All good musicians have their own colour and flavour in how they play. And with that in mind, Jonas and Anders can open up for writing new things that might not have happened in the past. Both Daniel Moilanen and Roger Öjersson are beasts at what they do, so there´s really no limitations to the creative side of things.
- Going back over the years, has the approach to songwriting changed? How does a track develop within the band?
Jonas and Anders are always the ones who write/compose the songs. They later present it to us either by sending it via worldwide web or over a glass of wine – I prefer the latter, of course. We all then rehearse it at our homes and then nail it, to our best abilities, in the studio. We do get to have input on the music. I’ve been given bigger trust, to come up with and tweak existing bass lines, through the years as well. It’s a work flow that has been proven successful for so many years, so way change it?
- With your music moving away from the early traditional black metal and incorporating more progressive elements, has that given you freedom to create?
I don’t think there has been any boundaries or restrictions when Katatonia has created music. It has been an constant evolution of the sound, but sometimes with bigger leaps. However, the core is always to create from what influence the band at the time.
- The music industry has changed a hell of a lot over the years. How have you guys found the journey when dealing with the industry?
People are buying fewer records these days – no real surprise there with all the streaming and downloading. I am torn between if it’s a good thing or not. More people can listen to what you create, but less is given back to the artist. So the real challenge is to be able to tour enough to make ends meet as a band which is something that I love, so I would like to do that no matter how the sales of music occurs. However, it’s a very different industry nowadays where bands needs to be inventive to create other ways to attract fans attention – like going into the wine and beer business as an example.
- What songs are you looking forward to playing live when you get the chance?
I’m always a sucker for playing “Soils Song” from The Great Cold Distance live. It’s such a heavy and groovy song – it never disappoints and always puts a smile on my face. I think it goes down very good with the crowd as well. Other than that, there’s so many songs from the new album I’m longing for to play live, so it’s hard to choose any.
- Are there any bands, past or present, you would love to have played with or even been part of?
Not really. I’m very happy with my own musical journey and experiences as of now so far. Also, I’d rather keep those idols and icons as they are. Some bands you want to experience as a fan and be able to see live.
- Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like for yourself and the band?
As you mention, it’s so difficult to look into the future. I’ve lost my magic future telling orb, so I’m all in the hands of this virus. However, be sure that when things open up, we will try to perform as many shows possible. We will hopefully reach some new territories we’ve never been to before, like Japan. It has always been a dream of mine to go there and perform a couple shows and soak in their rich culture.
- What music are you digging right now? How do you see the metal scene right now, are there any particular artists you would love to see make it?
Right now I’m listening to everything from Colter Wall, which is a brilliant country artist from Canada, to Decapitated. I just rediscovered the latter mentioned album “Carnival is Forever”. It is a brilliant hard hitter. I urge everyone to try that out and Colter Wall’s amazing long playing record “Imaginary Appalachia”.
Our thanks to Niklas for taking the time out to answer our questions.
Dead Air will be released on the 13th November as a gatefold double LP; a limited edition 3-disc set featuring 2 audio discs and DVD format and digitally and is available to pre-order now from https://katatoniaband.lnk.to/DeadAir
Check out a live version of The Winter Of Our Passing, below: