Success can be achieved a multitude of ways. Some hit the lottery while others plod towards a goal step by step. I’d like to think if you put your time in, you’ll get rewarded but let’s face it, paying your dues can be a grueling prospect for most to endure.
The trek towards success in heavy metal is treacherous. You have to really love metal to play metal because the underground is small and shows little mercy. Artists who don’t release a big selling album must achieve success through hard work, this often translates into years of recording, endless interviews, and a tough life on the road. Even then, there are no guarantees….
Katatonia has been active since 1991and although their music may have changed over the years, the bands drive hasn’t waivered. Nine studio albums later, Kataonia are at the top of their game with the critically acclaimed release Dead End Kings.
I recently had to opportunity to speak with Katatonia’s drummer Daniel Liljekvist about his band’s relationship with Opeth, the value of a music video today and rock star technology.
We also experienced some challenging technical difficulties (see below) please enjoy some excerpts from my 4/27/13 interview..
Daniel Liljekvist © Mathias Blom, The Happy Creative
David Halbe – You’re currently touring North America with Opeth. I’ve read Jonas and Anders have been friends with Mikael for a very long time, what can you tell us about the two bands relationship?
Daniel Liljekvist – Yes, like you said Anders, Jonas and Mikael have been friends for years and years. Mikael was in Katatonia for a short period and of course they have a death metal band together called Bloodbath. They seem to just really enjoy each others company.
Dave – How have social media networks enhanced the bands popularity?
Daniel – Enormously, I think. Facebook, My Space, Twitter and illegal downloads although that’s not a social media network, have enhanced our popularity. Without the internet we wouldn’t be as big as we are but we’d all be a hell of a lot richer.
Dave – Could the album title Dead End Kings be considered a reflection of Katatonia today?
Daniel – (Silence)
Dave – Daniel?
At this point, I was smugly thinking what a clever question I had asked… Katatonia are at the top of their game (the kings) of this progressive melancholy metal movement but this success could also be considered a (dead end) because we’re talking about the underground where being the biggest doesn’t necessarily translate into fortune or fame. When Daniel didn’t respond I was thinking; ‘Oh fuck, my feigned cleverness has finally pissed somebody off!’
Fortunately Daniel’s silence was due to bad phone reception and not anger over some idiot reporter’s question. CURSE YOU METAL GODS!!
Daniel tried to call me back several times but the phone reception was too muddled to have a proper conversation. This went on for thirty minuets! At one point I suggested that I call him back but my calls to his number failed to connect. Not knowing if he could hear me, I suggested he grab a bite and try me back later.
At this point I wrote off the interview, bands on the road are tired, hungry, often broke and usually lonely. The road is a bitch for most and it takes a special kind of person to conquer it. I wasn’t upset with Katatonia for this mishap and I wouldn’t have been angry if Daniel didn’t call back. If I were in his shoes, the last thing I’d want to do is talk to some reporter but he did. Daniel Liljekvist is a true professional; he took the time to make this interview happen despite these aggravating technical difficulties. I cannot thank him enough for his time and effort – Thank you Daniel!! Katatonia rules!
Not to be denied. We continued this garbled interview, as quickly as possible, all in the name of metal.
Dave – How has Katatonia’s use of stage-show lighting evolved over the years?
Daniel – I think is has become a very important part of the band’s live show. It’s gotten bigger over the years. We also use a lot of back drops and side drops. I think the lighting highlights elements of the show; it enhances the overall experience of the music, at least for me.
Dave – The lighting helps set the tone of the music?
Daniel – Exactly, and it makes the whole stage show look bigger, more professional.
Dave – You’re headlining a show at the Roxy in LA at the end of May. A lot of famous bands have played and recorded at the Roxy; (Zappa, Springsteen, Ratt and The Red Hot Chili Peppers) is there any significance attached to that date?
Daniel – No. I don’t believe we’ve ever played the Roxy before, I wasn’t aware of its history until now but we love playing in California especially Los Angeles.
Dave – What’s the value of a music video in 2013?
Daniel – I don’t think really anything, I don’t watch music videos anymore or pay attention to them since MTV stopped playing music videos. They really don’t have a value for the artist today, maybe back in the day, now they seem like a waste of time and money.
Dave – Katatonia has its own iPhone iPad, and Android apps, how important is technology to the modern rock star?
Daniel – I haven’t checked out our apps online in a couple of months but technology is important to me. I have tons a gadgets and I use them all the time, sometimes there’s not much to do on the road.
Dave – Are you in regular contact with friends and family back home?
Daniel – All the time, I talk to my fiancé and children everyday.
Dave – That’s excellent, I can’t imagine being away from my family for so long.
Daniel – It’s definitely tough but this new technology makes it bearable. I can’t imagine what they did in the 80s.
Dave – Katatonia has toured North America at least a half dozen times over the last few years, is that part of an organized effort to gain a foothold in this market?
Daniel – Yes. We enjoy playing here in the US. Sometimes I think we do better here than there (Europe) It’s been awhile since we have headlined a tour here, maybe we will do that but it’s important to us to have that recognition, to be successful in North America, we’re working hard for it.
Dave – What’s up next for the band once this current North American tour ends?
We barely have time to sleep.
Dave – Is metal a fad for younger generations or one of the last true forms of artistic expression?
Daniel – That’s a good question, I think metal is definitely here to stay, it’s not going anywhere. Of course I don’t really know what you’d call metal anymore because so many lines have been fused between rock and metal. Individual expression will always be there but if an artist refuses an idea because it doesn’t fall into his form of work, he’s fucked! You can’t limit yourself. I’m not even so sure we (Katatonia) are truly metal any more, the line is so blurred.
Dave – So you’re saying if something rocks, it rocks metal or not?
Daniel – Exactly.
Dave – Thanks again for your time, I really appreciate the call back. Good luck with the rest of the tour, hope to see you guys next month.
Daniel – Thanks, see you on the road, cheers!
Katatonia are currently touring North America with Opeth; catch them live:
5/11 – Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s
5/12 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
5/14 – Fargo, ND @ The Venue
5/15 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
5/16 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
5/17 – Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
5/18 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
5/19 – Merriam, KS @ Aftershock **Katatonia headline
5/20 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
5/21 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
5/22 – Farmington, NM @ Top Deck **Katatonia headline
5/23 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
5/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
5/25 – Agoura Hills, CA @ The Canyon Club
5/26 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
5/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy **Katatonia headline