Damnation Festival 2013 : Interview with Katatonia

IMG_8299 (2)Katatonia, currently touring the UK playing their 2003 album Viva Emptiness in full, decided it was about time to make their debut at Damnation Festival. CackBlabbath were there to catch up with front man Jonas before they took to the main stage, discussing the tour so far with Paradise Lost, the promise of new material and the fun of drinking a Finnish bar dry…

You are all set to play on the Jagermeister Stage tonight. Excited?

Yeah, definitely. I have heard a lot of good things about Damnation – from being here now, it looks like it is going to be crowded and will be a very good time.

It’s definitely looking pretty busy out there already…

That’s perfect. That’s exactly what we want!

Have you had chance to catch any bands yet or are you hoping to try and do that a bit later?

I haven’t seen anyone properly yet. We did a signing session – I think, while Twilight of the Gods were playing -so we got to see maybe five seconds of them. I want to see Carcass, I haven’t seen them since 1992 maybe so there has been a big gap there. That is going to be a lot of fun.

We are catching you at Damnation in the middle of your UK tour with Lacuna Coil and Paradise Lost – How’s it going so far?

It’s going good. We did three shows so far and they have all been really nice. I think it’s a good tour – it’s a good package. It’s Paradise Lost’s anniversary tour so it’s nice to be there with them. They are good friends of ours, so it’s perfect really.

You mention a lot how big of an influence they have been on your career. It must be nice for you to share this tour with them for that reason?

Absolutely. They were probably the reason we started this band. They have been a huge influence for us, especially back in the day – I’d like to think that now we hopefully have our own entity, but still they are like the forefathers’ of the whole Gothic Doom thing and we love that stuff. We have a really good time together.

Katatonia have been together as a band for a long time now. You’ve been on lots of different tours all around the world … Do you have any interesting tour stories you could share with us – Any stand out memories?

Hmm, yeah… I mean we have done a lot of tours. The more recent tours have been quite easy going, I think we are all a bit older now and we have calmed down a little bit. Back in the day it was a bit different… One thing that comes to mind is erm… Our band is quite popular in Finland – Our neighbour country to Sweden. We played maybe five or six years ago in a town in the north of Finland and it was a venue with a capacity of three hundred people… but I think there were  maybe eight hundred people in there! The bar had just ordered the booze for the whole Spring and it all – every last drop – it all went out that night!

Wow. That’s quite impressive…

Yeah, so they had to restock everything. It was definitely a good night. I think… Yeah, it was a very good night!

It sounds like it! As you have been touring for so long and you have constantly released albums, how do you keep things interesting… Is it tough to keep coming up with new material?

It’s not too tough actually, it could be, but I think that for me and I guess the rest of the guys as well, the touring part for every album is good inspiration for the rest of the album. Once you are touring you will see exactly what works well live – You think that “this kind of part, the audience really likes it” whereas you also think that “now I know this kind of part – It’s just not good enough”. So that’s really helpful. You take that into consideration when you do the next album, what is going down well live – Not all of it, but it is definitely something which is going on in the back of my head. That’s a good thing to keep the inspiration going.

You obviously pay a lot of attention to what the fans want – Do you worry that might stop you being more experimental with your writing?

It’s natural to want to please your fans. We can always see if they are into what we do or not. If they stand like this… Pulls a sulking toddler expression … Then I think; “Uhoh! Maybe this song wasn’t very good”. I wouldn’t want that to stop me experimenting though. I think we, as a band, have to do what feels right for us and hopefully our fans will come with us and maybe more will even come along and like what we do. That’s the nice thing about doing what we think is right. I don’t want that to ever stop.

You must definitely be doing something right as you have just released the 10 year anniversary remastered addition of Viva Emptiness. How did that come about?

It was first and foremost the album we were least satisfied with sound wise, so ever since it was first released back in ’03 we have been talking about “oh, if we ever could remix that album, that would be great”. Now when it’s ten years old, our label wanted to do a re-release of it so we said that if they were going to do that, we had to step in and do a remix of it first – So that’s what happened! We started thinking maybe we can do a small tour for it, just to celebrate that it is sounding better and celebrate ten years and then this Paradise Lost tour came up and it just seemed perfect. It’s a good combination to be part of the Paradise Lost tour and having our own anniversary as well.

There is a lot going on with album releases and the tour… what’s next… What can we expect from Katatonia in 2014?

More touring first of all I think. After this tour we are off for the rest of the year, but I think it will start in probably February again. We’ll do some random gigs and then some more touring – probably Europe. After that, we will do some Summer festivals and hopefully after that we can start writing our next album.

So that’s the next big thing on the cards then?

Yeah. That’s what I am really looking forward to. We’ve been doing like a year of touring now and it is starting to feel like I want to get back to writing music again – It’s just so fun.

Do you try and set yourself a time frame when it comes to the writing, or is it more of a natural process than that? 

It all depends on when we can fit in the recording to be honest. It’s hard to say. It all depends on how long it takes us to get enough songs. For the next album I would like to see us hopefully recording next year and released maybe early the year after. Hopefully. So let’s say new Katatonia album in 2015. Maybe. Hopefully!