By: Alex Distefano
Sweden is well known for producing some of the darkest, gloomiest metal bands on the planet–from Bathory, At The Gates, Entombed, Amon Amarth, Meshuugah Ghost, Opeth and many more.
Katatonia is no exception. Formed in 1991, the band launched into a sound that was a more melancholy doom/death metal vibe. Katatonia would come to be a band that would help to usher in a sensible mix of Swedish metal that was distinctly its own, even though it has been duplicated by many but replicated by few. With nine studio albums, and two decades worth of touring all around Europe, North and South America, Katatonia are ready to tour in America again, as the band just initiated the first show of a tour with fellow metal band Opeth.
Anders Nyström, Katatonia's guitarist and co-founding member, took time to speak with the OC Weekly about how the band chooses a set list for each tour, how he plans to bring Katatonia to Japan soon, for the first time ever, and the possibility of performing old songs with Opeth singer Mikael Akerfedlt, (the vocalist appeared on the 1996 Kataonia release, Brave Murder Day).
OC Weekly (Alex Distefano): For a band with two decades-worth of material choose from, how does Katatonia go about choosing a set list for each tour?
Anders Nyström: It's quite a dilemma it's boils down to a compromise, you know? We ask every member what their favorites and feelings are at the moment, then we take the best of all those we all put our voices in the pot and just all come to an agreement but we also try to come up a set list the fans will like at the same time, it can get complicated and it's a constant experiment I think we never reach the ultimate perfect set list because every set list we go out with we switch around and mix and match a few weeks of the tour it's a hard thing to come up with a perfect set list but we play around with what we feel is the best that we can play live.
On this tour, since Katatonia is sharing the stage with Opeth, will the band perform any songs from your old album Brave Murder Day, which featured vocals from Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt?
It's not something that is planned on being done, but it basically comes down to Mikael -the singer of Opeth- if he wants to. We're up for it, and he knows that so we just gotta get him drunk and convince him, Haha. Maybe at the end of the tour perhaps but we have limited stage times and I know people think it would be a perfect match and easy thing to pull off since both bands are on tour but it isn't that easy.
Having been a band for over two decades, what are some countries that you have not yet played in that you would like to?
We've never been to Japan. It is strange, but for some reason we've never played there. I have that country on my priority list. The band has been around 20 years and never played there that is insane we owe it to our fans there. We've never been to Africa. Egypt or South Africa… We've toured every country you can tour in Europe and all over North and South America over the past two decades as well.
OC Weekly: Has Katatonia been able to earn a living with the band with the economy the way it is?
It's hard, and things are getting real tough we tour a lot now to get some sort of a stable income. In the past you would actually still get some kind of royalties from album sales which but now we just have to tour more to earn any income. It's tougher but I don't find it productive so sit and bitch and complain about it because it's the same for every band out there, so we just got to roll with it and do the best we can and work our asses off basically regardless if we could make a living or not we'd still make the same kind of music and albums that we do so it goes further than any kind of financial or economic situation it's more of a lifestyle for us.
What are your future plans with Katatonia after this tour with Opeth?
After the summer we're looking at coming back to the States, we want to come to North America again, to promote our newest album from last year, Dead Kings. We want to get on a bill with other bands on tour out here, right now it's being worked out. We are also going to travel to South America as well. To all of our fans, I'd love to say we're very eager to get back on the road and playing shows, we're excited to see all of our fans and love to tour in America, not only is it a good time, but it's one of the easiest touring you can ever do as a band.”
Katatonia play this weekend at the Roxy Theater in Hollywood on May 24, the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on May 26, then again at the Roxy on May 27. For more information, please visit www.katatonia.com.