Interview mit Daniel Moilanen von Katatonia

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After a two year band break, KATATONIA have returned with „City Burials“ stronger than ever. Drummer Daniel Moilanen talks about the break, its effects on the album and the consequences of the Corona crisis for professional musicians. Finally, we take a detour to Moilanen’s second band RUNEMAGICK, which has released two albums since its comeback in 2017.

Hi and thanks a lot for taking time for this interview! How are you doing?
I’m doing good, thank you. Social distancing during spring time, couldn’t be better. Spent the afternoon reading comments on ‘The Winter of Our Passing’, the third and last single before ‘City Burials’ drops. Having a whiskey, listening to The Chasm. I’m doing very good it seems.

In December 2017, KATATONIA announced to would go on a „short-term hiatus“ following the tour in Feb/March 2018 due to „recent issues and injury“ to „re-evaluate what the future holds for the band“. What happened back then, what were the reasons?
It wasn’t really down to any specific reasons. Just years and years of work culminating in asking ourselves if this is what we want, the way we want it. Jonas and Anders have been brothers of metal for many years now and the last decade has been the busiest ever for the band. Playing music for a living (or at least trying to with the best of ones abilities) is fun but can sometimes feel like pushing rope uphill. People might want the hiatus to have been like ‘Some Kind of Monster’ but it wasn’t that exciting.

The band played the last shows without guitarist Roger Öjersson. Why?
Roger has had some issues with his back for a long time and right before we were flying out he really threw it out and couldn’t really move. So traveling and windmilling on stage was not really an option. And as those were the last shows before the fade, so to speak, canceling them wasn’t an option either so away we went while Roger stayed at home, recuperating.

Was the band only officially on hiatus, so no gigs and so on, or did you also not rehearse?
No, the hiatus was complete. Our headquarters got re-arranged, all the gear torn down to storage and our ping-pong table got main focus. But no KATATONIA related activity. We still kept in touch of course but also kept busy with other stuff, families, other bands, jobs and stuff.

The hiatus officially ended in 2019. When did you bring KATATONIA back to life, started writing songs again and meeting for rehearsals/recordings?
It was January 2019 I think when we started talking about doing anniversary shows for ‘Night is the New Day’ and maybe March/April when the whole band started rehearsing again. I don’t think the writing ever stopped, it never does. As soon as one album is done, a next one is on the horizon. It was only after we’d slowly started up again that the horizon became a new KATATONIA album.

So, in the last six years the line-up of KATATONIA was quite often changing, working with different session-musicians and so on. In how far did that have an influence on the band, the way of working/playing together, writing material, playing live?
The line-up hasn’t really changed that much. After Daniel Liljekvist and Sodo left there was a small void during the acoustic tour but Bruce Soord and J-P Asplund were just sessions musicians for that tour. After I joined it’s been quite stable with Tomas Åkvik doing some shows before Roger joined the ranks. I think all musicians you work with influence you in some way, even after playing with the same guys for years I still get inspiration from what and how they play their instruments.

How much did that influence in consequence the way „The Fall Of Hearts“ turned out?
Obviously the acoustic tour inspired some of the sounds on ‘The Fall Of Hearts’, also featuring J-P on percussion for an even more organic album. I think doing that tour also opened the door to all the new things KATATONIA were able to do as musicians and composers which in turn, combined with my approach to drums, became tracks like “Passer” and “Takeover” alongside “Sistere” and “Decima”. Ideas that the band maybe hadn’t dared to approach earlier in their career.

„The Fall Of Hearts“ was also your first album with KATATONIA. Now, with another one done: What do you think about „The Fall Of Hearts“ – are you still satisfied with every detail?
God no. I’m never satisfied with details. The album as a whole is still great of course. In comparison my playing on ‘City Burials’ is comfortable in a way I could only reach by playing with the band for a while. For ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ it all was still kinda new to me.

The new album, „City Burials“, is the first one with Roger Öjersson. The press letter says that his contributions have been extremely significant. So, in which way was the creative process different this time?
Having Roger and his approach to music in the band has given all of us a fresh view on all we do. He’s a phenomenal guitarist and a fantastic vocalist which opens up so many ways for us to work with layering and organizing material for a live setting. And having toured with Roger for a couple of years I think Jonas has given him more leeway in his songwriting, just as he and Anders had with me as a drummer for ‘The Fall Of Hearts’. We know how to push our limits. And just having Roger in the band is making me a better drummer, I don’t have to practice as much.


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In comparison to the last one, „City Burials“ is almost 20 minutes shorter. I think that makes it easier to get into the album. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just turn out that way?
The way ‘City Burials’ is built wouldn’t really work for a really long album. The songs are more direct, the production is dense and it all fills the album to the brim. With ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ the song structures became a bit more intricate and we utilized a more organic soundscape with acoustic percussion, acoustic guitars and we also had the electronics stand back a bit. Intricacy aside, that variation and a breathy production makes it easier to balance a long track list without the album being overwhelming. For example, while ‘Secret Story’ by Pat Metheny is a soothing 75 minutes I would not want ‘Legion’ by Deicide to be the same length. I guess ‘City Burials’ is our ‘Legion’.

Also music wise there is a clear evolution noticeable: I think its more diverse, a bit harder but yet as proggy as the last one. Would you subscribe that – or what are the main differences from your point of view?
I agree. While ‘City Burials’ might be easier to get into, as you said, with perhaps more intuitive song structures it’s at least as “technical” as ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ as far as our actual playing goes. The progressive take on this album lies more in the details, layering and how it’s performed, not as much in odd time signatures or instrumentation. And no, it’s not as doomy or bleak as older albums but I still think ‘City Burials’ is the heaviest album the band has ever done. I know not all fans agree with me.

Das Cover von "City Burials" von KatatoniaThe artwork is also very dark, it could also be a black-metal-cover. In short: What was the idea behind the combination of this picture and the album title?
This is the territory of Lord Seth and Blakkheim. Everything I could say about those ideas they have already said better. For me the album title and cover fits like hand in glove with the production, songs and lyrics. It’s maybe the “simplest” cover the band has had, ever, but at the same time it carries weight. As it should.

I’d guess you’d planned to go on tour soon. Since the corona-pandemic that’s not possible for some time now. How hard does that hit you as a band, but also as individual musicians who make their living with music?
I mean, for us playing rock music isn’t about just sweating away in a rehearsal room. Our main focus after writing and recording is always the stage and to not be able to get up on one makes for a very restless existence. And with the album being released just in the beginning of a crisis which may last a year, it doesn’t feel great. Other than ‘City Burials’ being released, Niklas is working on the third LIK album and I’ve just finished the second album with Henrik Palm. It doesn’t feel amazing to just let these albums exist, they need to be performed.

What do you think about streaming concerts as they are currently played by many bands, sometimes also as payed streams?
I think it’s a wonderful way of reaching people. Some bands and artists make it something new and exciting, something more than just a club show in 720p. I think if KATATONIA were to do something similar we would want something special as well. Make use of not having to be on a stage but maybe perform in a studio environment instead, nice moody lightning, not having to worry about spilling wine over the set list. But yeah, I wholly support finding new ways of reaching fans, I’m just not online-savvy enough to really know how to do it myself.


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Some musicians also started to give online-lessons teaching fans songs on their instrument. Is that something you thought about as well?
Personally I’m not really inclined to do that. I follow a handful of drummers online whose online lessons are pure gold mines for all musicians. My lessons would just be a mine with no light to show the way. I’m really bad at practicing which for educational purposes is less than ideal. I mainly just learn stuff and play it and that only takes a minute to explain.

Now all festivals in Europe are cancelled for this year. What do you think: What does the crisis mean for the scene in the long run – will the scene suffer permanent damage?
Yes. I think all aspects of life as we’ve lived it will be permanently altered. For the music scene I think artists and bands will have to learn to acclimatize to being online. For the younger generation I think it’s not as big of a problem but for all us older geeks it feels odd. I can barely maintain my Instagram account. But just as businesses close down I think some bands and artists will as well. If there’s no money in what you do you’ll survive. If there’s oodles of money you’ll survive. If there’s just enough to keep going by touring and selling merchandise and you’re all out of touring, times are gonna be tough.

You’re also active in RUNEMAGICK, reactivated three years ago. What made you restart the band?
We’d been talking about starting up again for years and years but life, you know, gets in the way. Me and Nicklas had been active with Heavydeath so it didn’t feel weird thinking about Runemagick again and when Kill-Town Death Fest asked us for the nth time if they could book us we said yes and thought about the consequences later. We originally only meant to record a couple of tracks for a digital release, to have something special for the festival. Those tracks became an EP which in turn became ‘Evoked from Abysmal Sleep’. And suddenly we were doing it again.

In October 2019 you released „Into Desolate Realms“. Were you satisfied with the reactions, are you still happy with the album itself?
I am very happy with the album.  After just being a trio for so long it felt good to have new/old blood in the band with Jonas Blom as a full time member. I think ‘Into Desolate Realms’ is the best we’ve sounded since around ‘Darkness Death Doom’. We were able to intertwine our death metal era with our doom era in a almost ethereal way.

So RUNEMAGICK released two albums in two years. When can we expect the next one?
With all of us being busy with our other bands and projects it’s hard to say. Nicklas never stops writing music so it’s just a matter of time before there’s material for a new Runemagick album. When we are able to record it is another matter. But the process itself is quite quick when we get the ball rolling.

Thank you for the interview! Please let us do a short brainstorming in the end of this interview:
Your hobby besides making music:
I read a lot and hoard band merchandise.
When you go to a bar, the first drink you order is: Two beers.
The musician you’d dream of collaborating with one day: Paul from Blood Incantation. Hey Paul, if you see this – DM me some riffs.
Your favorite album at the moment: Besides ‘City Burials’? ‘Poverty Metal’ by Henrik Palm.
KATATONIA in 10 years: Doing an anniversary run for ‘City Burials’. Still playing Teargas, though.

Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Support the scene, stay safe, more stage dives.


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