MetalKings.com: How hot is it in Sweden?
Mikael: I don't know it's close to 30 degrees, it's like 28 or 29.
MetalKings.com: Pretty much same here. I start with something really original and unexpected, that is what does the name of the album mean?
Mikael: It deals with two things I guess. It deals with a lot of the lyrical part of the album. That is the something that you bring to yourself in a start of a new relationship you know, be that of a child, be that of a girlfriend or lover or whatever. What do you bring, what do you show of yourself. And when things go too far, how do you step back from there. You know I am really interested in that kind of a no-return scenario, with that kind of things. Because there is no turning back and you just go on. And also it deals with the writing process for us. How we are working together and really-really trying to make an album that is perfect. And when you finally put it down on tape you know after one and half years of work, you just put it down there and it's finished, and there's no turning back. And you know that's the final thing. It's gotta be a completion of hard work and you can just move on. There is no turning back. You cannot say like, oh we should have done that instead. So it's a metaphor for those two things I guess.
MetalKings.com: Yes, because I was about to ask like damage to whom and how permanent is it?
Mikael: Ha-ha. It isn't really like that, it's more of a damage to people close to you, I guess. The damage that you inflict on others and I think that most of the things are permanent, like really permanent.
MetalKings.com: I see, well I was playing with the name of the album a lot, so another thing here might be, since Dark Tranquillity are the founders or the co-founders of the so-called Goethenburg school of Swedish Death Metal, which has now formed like a really dedicated and huge following not only among the fans, but also among different bands. I don't need to tell this to, that there is like a ton of bands out there who want to sound exactly like you. So was this the damage that you referred to? Like you done a whole lot of damage to the scene?
Mikael: (Laughs) Ho, well that's true. Actually I didn't think of it, like that, but that's a good way. You never heard that coming from me, but, ok.
MetalKings.com: But anyways how does it feel to be claimed responsible for the birth of a new trend?
Mikael: It's so hard for us to kinda take that in, in that sense. Of course we are really flattered by bands coming up to us saying that they were really influenced by us over the years, you know, and stuff like that. But it's hard, for us it's something that we have been doing for 13 years. Just playing, we started out playing the music that we love. So we don't really think of it much, but of course we are always very happy to hear that people like the band and that they have been influenced by us. But still, I cannot distance myself from it enough.
MetalKings.com: When you started like 13 years ago could you ever have thought that you'd start a whole new thing?
Mikael: No, definitely not. Not at all. You know, at that time, at least around here, or wherever I could get demos from, the thing wasn't that big, there wasn't that many death metal bands. I remember we were sitting in this room, me and Niklas and Martin, and we were like "Man! There aren't any death metal bands that have released two album yet!" And I think Death were like the only ones who had two albums, that was so impressive to us, we were like 'Oh man, this is so new!" We really thought it was like a very special thing, just knowing about death metal, because it was so obscure. We were getting demos and all of these live and rehearsal tapes from all of these new bands and we got into it. A lot of American new bands and at that time Morbid Angel had been along for a while and kind of blew up the scene with Altars of Madness and stuff like that. It was just fabulous. Then we just started and we played the music that we loved. And tried to combine the elements of our favourite bands into something that we called our own, and of course we had no idea as to where it was going to take us.
MetalKings.com: So who were the favourite bands at that time?
Mikael: I think the stuff that we were looking to the most and that really kinda influenced us was bands like Kreator, Sodom, Destruction… A lot of American bands, especially Atheist, although I guess that came a bit later. Also we wanted to combine this aggressiveness and brutality with melody from bands like Helloween and Skyclad, and Sabbath, and Blind Guardian - really melodic speed metal bands. And that was the main thing we wanted to combine the aggression of death metal and thrash with melodies of speed metal bands. So that is what we have been doing over the years I guess.
MetalKings.com: And that's how melodic death metal was born, is that right?
Mikael: (Laughs) Okay, if you say so…
MetalKings.com: Well, I mean for me being like an honest-to-god lover of Florida school…
Mikael: Like Malevolent Creation, Suffocation and stuff like that?
MetalKings.com: Oh yeah, yeah, and Decide and Morbid Angel, and all of them… And that was the way death metal started for me. Then I hear this new term melodic death metal, and it doesn't really go together.
Mikael: No. That's a good point.
MetalKings.com: Lyrically too, because most of Florida bands, are like gore, and cadaver and blood, and regurgitation, and all of a sudden somebody comes up with some really cool almost fantasy or else existentialistic lyrics. That was really surprising. So how did you come up with those?
Mikael: Well, I guess we never wrote any fantasy lyrics, we tried to write about more personal stuff. We were really influenced by Swedish poets and I think our main lyrical influence was Sabbat, the old English thrash band. At least that was mine main influence at that time, I really wanted to make something poetic and beautiful, and still put my personality to it, not just be a copy of Shakespeare. And we also made stories that had more of a kind of aggressive, kind of a brutal approach, still using this kind of language and at firs tit was big challenge. And we loved doing it. And I think that was what kind of set us apart from other bands at that time.
MetalKings.com: Talking of lyrics. Was that the important component of your music from day one or did it come with age, if you understand what I mean?
Mikael: I totally understand your point. I think it was almost as important as the music from the start. Me and Niklas founded the band back then and me and him we were writing the lyrics even before we could play the guitar. We were kind of practicing in our rooms, just coming up with stupid things and at the same time writing lyrics, some of them were just for fun, and some of them were really serious. Some of the really old songs were written in five parts to have like a concept demo or something like that. We really-really got into it a lot. Really spent a lot of part just writing the lyrics, because it was just important for us, you know. But it's definitely been a very big part of the band in the beginning. I was important for me and Niklas, and although I write them all by myself these days, it's still important for us I guess. And nowadays what Niklas I doing with the covers and I am doing with the lyrics it's also a contribution on our part to the music that the other guys in the band do I guess.
MetalKings.com: I already heard nine songs out of eleven on the new album…
Mikael: Oh, cool, so you got the early internet version then?
MetalKings.com: Yeah I guess. So what are the remaining two songs like?
Mikael: One of them is called the 'Enemy' and the other one is called 'White Noise Black Silence' and. The enemy is kind of an introspective song, one of the heavier songs off the album, kind of a mid-paced, heavy number. I think it's got some very interesting stuff on it I think. And 'White Noise Black Silence' I think so far it has proven to be one of the highlights of the new album. It's pretty much a really death metal song I guess, it has not got any mellow parts on it or interesting melodies. Also on the European version of the album there is going to be one extra track called 'I Deception', which is not going to be released anywhere else. Which is a really-really cool song, it's just a bonus track for the digi-pack version of the album.
MetalKings.com: And of course why did you decide to go back to your roots? Cause I think there is no discussion whether or not you did return back to the roots?
Mikael: He-he, well I wouldn't say we are coming back to our roots that much musically, I think it's more like once again we have a focus on aggression and intensity. We wanted to bring that feeling back into the music. I really wanted to push that with the vocals and also we kind of put up the tempo of the songs to make it more interesting and kind of add that to the song structuring that we were doing right now. That felt really fresh for and at the same time we were retaining the aggressiveness and intensity.
MetalKings.com: At a certain point of your career you were like experimenting with the clean vocals and I ain't heard anything of that on the new record…
Mikael: It's definitely not a part of this album. Like I said we really wanted to focus on making it intense. I didn't need it because the music really spoke to me and I guess it sorta attracted that kind of animal, primal part in my vocals. The album wouldn't benefit much from having any kind of different vocals we wanted to make this the best death metal album as we could do.
MetalKings.com: Which one is more fun, doing clean vocals or doing growls and screams?
Mikael: I don't know. It's both, but it get's more frustrating when I scream. That's where the most emotion comes out. Like I can sing while in my shower, but I can only scream on stage. It's just a different feeling. And I guess for the 'Projector' album we really had a lot of other kind of emotions to get out there, rather then just the brutal stuff. I wanted a more emotional approach and I really needed it, just to do something different.
MetalKings.com: What did you feel when you heard people lashing out at you recent works, calling them a sellout and stuff?
Mikael: I know it would have certainly been the end of Dark Tranquillity if we did not do that, of we did not change, and did not evolve, and do something different. At that time were fed up with a lot of music around. And a lot of people were so narrow-minded, there was so much talk about the Gothenburg scene and all that stuff, we just wanted to prove that we can do other stuff as well. We really needed to change, to prove to ourselves to that we are able and we are capable of doing something else, expressing other parts of our musicality and our personality. That took a lot of work to get that done and to be satisfied with it. And I think it was a very necessary step for us to realize that we could move on and still do different things from our original style. I know there's always people who want another 'The Gallery' or another 'Mind's I', but we have never been about this kind of thing, cause we didn't want to eventually turn into some stupid cover band of our own songs. Some bands are doing this nowadays and it just gets boring.
MetalKings.com: If you are going to be experimenting more in the future, would you rather go for something more mellow and pop (in the good sense of the word, that is more accessible), or would you go for something more brutal like grindcore or noise?
Mikael: I am not really a grindcore or noise fan, so I wouldn't wanna do that, but just more extreme in another sense. Like do it more extreme for us in a more industrial way, or say in a lyrical sense, more in the song-writing, to make that as extreme as possible. But we definitely need to expand and experiment, as long as we feel intrigued by what we do, and don't feel like, you know, same old again. We don't want this to be like an everyday job, that's not what we are about but I don't know. But I don't know we'll have to experiment with different things and see what happens next time, what attracts our interest.
MetalKings.com: Some people say that in order to experiment and develop you gotta change studios every once in a while as well as the producer?
Mikael: We didn't have a producer for this record only a sound engineer. We've been using this studio for years now, and it's just a very comfortable situation for us. And the sound engineer he just comes in and mixes the album and makes sure we have a good time in the studio. His studio is expensive but we know it very well so we can pretty much record everything ourselves, and all the songs and everything is finished before we come into studio so we're just putting it down on tape and then make sure that it sounds good when the mixing is done. As to changing studios it could be true, but I personally don't think it would change that much if we went to another studio. If we used another producer in that producing role that someone comes in and really helps you out with arrangements, and makes sure that it sounds really well and all these kind of 'add that', and 'take that away', and 'restructure that', I don't think we are ready for that, you know, we are too fond of our material. We don't want a seventh member to come in and poke around the songs, we do that ourselves so we don't really need a new, extra part in the band…
MetalKings.com: Yeah and six people should be enough of chaos already…
Mikael: True. Yeah, and being a very democratic band and everybody has a say in the music and all of us write the music, me excluded. And I really like pushing a lot of ideas all the time, making sure that I can make my way with the vocals and stuff like that. So it's pretty chaotic for sure but when everybody's finished we can move on. That's how it works.
MetalKings.com: How much the commercial side of Dark Tranquillity is important for you? I mean sell big, sell a little or sell sufficient to pay the bills, how much is it important?
Mikael: It's not important at all. We don't make enough money to support ourselves from this band, and if we wanted that we wouldn't play death metal, we wouldn't be in this genre at all, if making money was all that mattered or if that was a big part. We want to make sure that we earn enough money for doing tours and stuff like that of course. But it's not a big issue at all. If we started too think about money in a way our manager wants us to do, because he is like 'I wanna make some money for you, guys!", but if we start thinking about that I think that eventually it would delude our music. If we wanted this we would probably make a nu-metal sounding album. And we would have dreadlocks to look cool on stage, that would work, right?
MetalKings.com: But at the same time, if you are selling more records that means that your music becomes available to a wider audience, isn't that good?
Mikael: Yeah that is good, if the people are getting into the metal horde, but if we started that thing to the people then that's wrong I think. But it's weird cause thanks to bands like Linking Park these really young kids are getting more and more into metal. But I mean, honestly even if we take this nu-metal scene there's still some really talented bands like say Slipknot, they're fucking brutal… Mikael: Yeah, they definitely are. I am following their works, I really am. Their new album, its totally death metal and grindcore, and it's great. It's amazing that they can actually get away with it. It's still fucking brutal death metal, and totally they are coming from the same place that you are. This American death metal, from the start. I mean, drop the masks and the suits, and underneath you just find an average death metal band.
MetalKings.com: Well, not average, if you ask me, they were pretty talented in the first place.
MetalKings.com: Okay, let's not talk about Slipknot, we are doing an intie with Dark Trnaquillity…
Mikael: Oh yeah, you got me carried away a bit.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, but I mean how many interview you are going too do this session?
Mikael: Between 10 and 15 every day, I dunno…
MetalKings.com: Yes, and in each of them you will be talking DT, so it's nice to talk about Slipknot every once in a while isn't it?
Mikael: Yeah, that's true. And also it's been a long time since I spoke to anyone from Russia so…
MetalKings.com: I hear, that there is a new video out…
Mikael: Well its the video for the track called Monochromatic Stains, the very first song that we wrote for this album. And this guy he wanted too show himself off, as well as to promote his favorite band - in his own words. I gave him the lyrics for the song and he's got like an early rehearsal version of it. And we had long discussions about the lyrics and what they mean to him and what they meant to me. And we also share the same kind of taste for movies and cinematography, and art direction. He was really intrigued and he just got to work and hired some actors, and some friends of his to help him out - and he just did the video all by himself, and we just got it a couple of weeks ago. And this video's gonna be on the final version of the CD.
MetalKings.com: Are you more of a studio band or more of a touring band?
Mikael: Touring or rehearsing band, ok? Because rehearsing is what we do most, we love rehearsing and writing new songs. But studio is so boring, I hate that, it's just putting everything down on tape, as perfect as we can. But we are definitely much more of a live band.
MetalKings.com: What's your fave pickup line?
Mikael: Oh, man, I don't have any. You know I suck at these things. I never pick girls up, I'm sorry
MetalKings.com: Was that the reason why you started the band, so that girls would pick you up?
Mikael: Exactly, yeah, being a fucked up redhead it really works.
MetalKings.com: Final comment?
Mikael: I am hoping, that we can come to Russia to play soon. Hopefully there are some people out there who would buy our actual album and not the bootlegs. And I just wanna thank everybody who supported us over the years.
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