In the last few years, Katatonia has become one of my favorite bands. I always liked them well enough, but recently their music has really clicked with me for some reason. The gloomy atmosphere they so effortlessly create is perfect; dark and depressive yet catchy and somehow beautiful. The last time they toured the US, I had the pleasure of watching them steal the show from Opeth, and they’ll be hitting the states with their Swedish brethren again in a little less than two weeks in support of their latest album, Dead End Kings. The fine folks at Fresno Media helped me get in touch with bassist Nille Sandin to briefly discuss the new album and the upcoming tour.
THKD: What can you tell us about the writing and recording of Dead End Kings? How did the experience differ from that of previous albums, if at all? What were you looking to accomplish with this album?
Nille Sandin: The main difference when writing this effort was the time limit. Before there was more room for the song writing to take place, but this time there was a tight deadline that had to be met. I don’t think this was a bad thing though looking back at the result. Another difference is that Per contributed to the songwriting with the song “Lethean.” The aim was world domination. No, just kidding. I think the aim was to exceed Night is the New Day in terms of songs and mood and I personally think that goal was reached.
THKD: Dead End Kings in many ways feels like a continuation or expansion of the atmospheres you were exploring on Night is the New Day. Was this a conscious choice or merely a natural byproduct of the band’s evolution?
NS: In some ways, yes. It’s like the sequel to Night is the New Day. Although I think there are some differences between this record and the one before.
THKD: Do you have a favorite song or moment on the new album? If so, why is it your favorite?
NS: My favorite song is “Leech.” I don’t know if it’s just because that’s the most challenging for me as a bass player to play or if it’s because that was the first draft of a song I heard. I think it was as early as on the US tour with Opeth I got to hear it via Jonas’ iPod in the Band Wagon.
THKD: Silje Wergeland of The Gathering performs guest vocals on “The One You Are Looking For is Not Here.” How did this collaboration come about?
NS: I think it came out very nice! She contributes to the song in a very tasteful and subtle way. It gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. That should count for something haha.
THKD: You released a music video for the song “Lethean.” What prompted you to choose this song for a video? How do you think the accompanying visuals add to or enhance the song? Are music videos still an important medium for bands to exploit?
NS: It’s one of those songs from the album that catches you from the very first beat and the only words I can come up with that would describe it are “instant hit”. That is important when releasing a song through a music video. I think the video and the song go well together. It’s very artsy and it’s made by Lasse Hoile who is also the maker of the video for last album’s “Day and then the Shade.”
THKD: Is the album title Dead End Kings a reference to how Katatonia sees itself as a band? Where did the title come from?
NS: Yes, the title reflects the band being kings of our own domain. Katatonia choose this living and style of music and we got this far on our own terms, even though some would say that Katatonia is stuck in a dead end. So be it, then Katatonia are the “Dead End Kings”.
THKD: Katatonia’s music is often seen as being depressive, but to my ears there’s also always a glimmer of hope buried deep down. Do you agree with this assessment? Is there hope in Katatonia’s music?
NS: I agree that it’s quite depressive music to listen to. That’s what makes it beautiful and I’m glad that you in some way can find hope in it. I guess many people do since we hear from time to time that the music helps people through difficult times.
THKD: You’re a founding member of Katatonia; how has your perspective on the band changed over the years? How do you keep things fresh for yourself after being in the band for over two decades? [author’s note: I was originally told that Anders Nyström would be answering my questions, so some questions were geared towards him. Thanks to Nille for being a good sport and answering.]
NS: Oh, this one will be hard for me to answer since I’m not one of the founding members of the band. I was only about 6 years old when Jonas and Anders started the band. Crazy huh? If I were one of the founding members at that age the sound would have been completely different ha-ha!
THKD: Katatonia’s sound has changed greatly over the years. When you started with the band did you ever imagine it evolving in the direction that it has? Is Dead End Kings a culmination of that evolution?
NS: I’ve got to try to answer this question even though I haven’t been around for the whole journey, but I’ve got to say that each record is a step in the direction that led up to Dead End Kings.
THKD: You’re going to be hitting the road for a second time with Opeth in North America in April. What can you tell us about the friendship between the two bands?
NS: Yes and I’m looking forward to it! Only two weeks now before we fly off for a one and a half month long tour with the Opeth guys. The friendship between the bands stretches far back since Jonas and Anders have been friends with Mikael for a very, very long time. Katatonia also supported Opeth on their Blackwater Park tour back in 2001.
THKD: Do you enjoy being out on tour? What are the biggest pros and cons of life on the road?
NS: I love being on the road. It almost feels like I’ve been on the road more in the last three years than at home. It takes a certain kind of person to cope with life on the road. Sometimes it can be hard for those with families back at home but it’s so rewarding being up on stage and connecting with the crowd. It’s in those moments it makes sense!
THKD: What does the rest of 2013 have in store for Katatonia? Is there any new material in the works or will you strictly focus on promoting Dead End Kings?
NS: We’re gonna release a stripped-down version of Dead End Kings as well as make the DVD to be released later this year. Of course heavy touring this Fall will accompany this.
THKD: What are you currently listening to? Do you have any recommendations for our readers?
NS: I’m currently listening to Decapitated´s latest effort Carnival is Forever. That’s my recommendation for your readers out there!
THKD: Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
NS: Stay heavy, make us happy by attending the shows and last but not least; keep on keepin’ on!!!