Metal Skull: Interview with Jonas Renkse of Katatonia: Darkness And The Dawn

There are few metal acts whose reputation genuinely precedes them, but that’s precisely the case with Swedish legends Katatonia. After 18 years together, the writing team of vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström—the band is rounded out by guitarist Fredrik Norrman, bassist Mattias Norrman and drummer Daniel Liljekvist; all of whom have been in the band for at least a decade—are releasing this week their eighth full-length under the Katatonia banner, Night Is The New Day.

Night Is The New Day follows 2006’s The Great Cold Distance and continues the blend between serene melancholic ambience and Euro-death-rooted heaviness. The Katatonia sound is one ever-changing, and Renkse took some time out recently for a phoner to discuss the new album, the band’s writing process and just when we can expect them back for a U.S. tour.

Is it strange for you thinking of this as the eighth Katatonia album? Do you ever stop and think about what you’ve accomplished in your career and where you are at this point?

I don’t think we really thought in that way. For us, it was just important to start working on some new music and that was the main focus. If we were to think too much about where we are in the moment, that would make things more difficult than they already are (laughs). Also, focusing on the music for this album, once the ball started rolling, it was a creative journey. Maybe that wasn’t the answer to your question (laughs). No, we didn’t really think about those more profound things.

How was writing this one different coming off of The Great Cold Distance? You had a while between with the live record, but was the sound of that album a factor going into this one?

I think it’s a natural progression from The Great Cold Distance, but it’s been three years between the albums, and during this time we have probably matured as people and songwriters. You can hear there’s a difference, but I think it’s built upon the same foundation that we have established with the last few albums. Then we just want to take things further and try new things and not be afraid to try different paths. It’s all about the challenge for us. We try to do something different every time, not just repeating ourselves.

Peaceville sent me a stream of the album, and you can see the wave form of the song as it’s playing. It shows the differences between the softer and heavier parts, giving a weird idea of the structure. I wanted to get your sense of the balance of those two sides on this record.

It’s always about the dynamics, of course. To try to balance the light and the shade and everything that comes with. I think it’s a difficult thing to find the right parts that will intertwine with each other and make it listenable. It’s an ongoing process to find that, because we’re not just a band that makes heavy music, period. We always end up using a lot of atmosphere, but at the same time, we want to build our sound around what we have been known for in the past, the heavy riffs and everything. We’re just trying to find the equilibrium between the beautiful, more mellow parts, and the harsh parts, and make it sound natural and that it should be there. As I said, it’s an ongoing process. It’s difficult to master it, but it’s always entertaining to try.

1 2 Next