This live interview with the Swedish death metal band Bloodbath was done by Boris and Andrej Van Berlo on August 5th, 2005, at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany.

The Swedish ‘All-Star’ death metal band Bloodbath have, after existing just over 5 years, already reached a cult status among many fans of the genre. Their performance at this year Wacken Open Air was therefore a not to miss event due to the fact that it would be their first live show ever and also the only (and last) time with Mikael Åkerfeldt delivering the grunts. Of course TD had to cover this once in a lifetime event and after the show our brother team Boris and Andrej Van Berlo had a short but intense conversation with bass player Jonas Renkse. He talks about the days of preparations before getting on the Black Stage @ Wacken, the future concerning Bloodbath, the search for a new singer and also the latest info on his other band Katatonia. Enjoy.

First of I would like to congratulate you with an amazing performance!
Thank you.

I heard from a lot of people that they were overwhelmed by it. How did you experience both the preparation of it and the performance itself?
The thing is that to have everyone in the band together in one place at the same time was very difficult. We had three days of rehearsals with me, Dan [Swanö], Anders ["Blakkheim" Nyström] and Martin [“Axe” Axenrot] the drummer. Only Mikael [Åkerfeldt] came on the last day because he was touring in the US and flew directly into the rehearsal place so he had at least one day of rehearsal. Having that in mind I think it was a very cool performance because I was really nervous. I’ve never been playing bass or guitar live before ever, I just played drums and did vocals before… so I think it was really cool because the reaction from the crowd was excellent and we had very good support.

What were your expectations and/or fears concerning this show?
My fear was that we were going to suck (laughs), so I think we handled it pretty well. My expectations were pretty big because I know this festival kicks ass, loads of people attending if you are playing on the big stage. So I had high expectations on playing here.

You also recorded the show for a future DVD release. Do you already have any idea if the recordings turned out to be satisfactory?
We have to check everything first and hopefully it’s good enough to release. We don’t want to release anything that’s not good. So we will have a look at it and then decide.

Any feedback yet from the recording people?
I don’t know, I didn’t speak to the recording people but I don’t think there should be any trouble.

Concerning the set list: the fans had the opportunity to choose on your website which songs would be played live. Do you know if many people responded to this and how did it affect your choice? Did it have an impact in creating the set list?
I don’t know how many people were actually voting but we sort of knew which songs were the favourites among the fans so we chose a little bit from that and also our own personal favourites.

When comparing the fan’s requests and your personal favourite songs, did they differ a lot?
It depends on who you ask in the band but I think the audience wants to hear more melodic stuff but I wanted to play the more brutal shit.

So it was a nice equilibrium then?

During the show Mikael also mentioned that Bloodbath started off as a joke a few years back and now [in the typical gracious Mikael Åkerfeldt style] ‘we have become the elite’. Were you ever expecting that it would have come to this? Because I know that you are used to delivering quality music of high standards within acts such as Katatonia, October Tide and also taking in account the other member’s bands/projects. So you could have maybe anticipated this with Bloodbath?
Not with Bloodbath. Having a certain quality doesn’t always grant success but we knew and really thought that Bloodbath sounded cool when we did the first mini album [‘Breeding Death’]. Then when we eventually got it released and received the feedback, we wanted to improve it and wanted the next album to be more accessible. Just a full-length album with kick ass songs on it, and then after the success of our first album [‘Resurrection Through Carnage’] we had to improve once again but I never expected something like this to happen, absolutely not! But we have been really growing as a band because nowadays I think Bloodbath is a band but in the beginning it was just a project that wasn’t even meant to be.

So when you say for you Bloodbath is a band, how is the future then going to look from now on? Are you going to search for a new singer and write a new album? Or are you going to put this on hold for a while?
Not for so long I think, but we don’t know yet. Now Anders and me are finishing off the new Katatonia album in the studio and when we are done with that we will hopefully be able to look into Bloodbath and plan things for the future. Then we will have to look for another singer probably, because I think maybe Peter [Tägtgren] would want to record and album again but I don’t think he is very much into playing live and touring with Bloodbath. So the ultimate thing would be to find someone that would be singing on the album but would also be available to go on tour and do gigs.

You are all in different bands and all have different schedules so maybe it was normal that it was too much for both Peter and Mikael. I remember that ‘Lock-Up’, another ‘all-star’ grind/death metal band also had a problem with the availability of the singer. So maybe when you are going to look for a new vocalist…
…maybe he is not going to be a ‘star’.

Yeah, I wanted to say something like that. You will search for somebody with a certain quality who maybe won’t be known at all?
We will make him a ‘star’! (laughs)

No, I know what you mean. It would be good to find someone who would have the dedication and time to be a big part of the band instead of just being a session guy. Hopefully, yeah.

Who’s idea was it to play this show here at Wacken? Was it the band who wanted to play a special gig or did the Wacken organisation launch the idea?
I don’t know, I think it came from the Wacken organisation because we haven’t been thinking about it. So when we got the offer, because this is such a cool and big festival, we had to do it. We didn’t expect it to happen at all. We were expecting to play maybe some club gig sometime in a couple of years when we had enough time to rehearse it. Now we really had to get everything together and rehearse.

So this gig was unique in the way that it’s the only time Mikael will perform live, but in the future when you find a new singer there is nothing that will hold you back to do a more extensive tour?
I don’t think we will be able to tour 2 months in a row. If we do another album we probably be able to do a small tour in Germany and a few other places in Europe for 2 weeks maybe. That’s the most what we can do because everybody is so involved in everything else.

With Katatonia it’s almost the same because you don’t do very extensive long tours either?

If you don’t mind, let’s talk a little about Katatonia and more precisely your new album. How is your personal feeling concerning the new material and the recording of it?
My personal vibe is very good because everything that we have done so far now is extremely good and we have been much, much pickier with everything. Like for example the guitars are super tight, we haven’t been doing it like we’ve done before when we maybe even did some sloppy playing. It used to be: ‘no, it’s cool let’s keep it’. Now this time it sounds like fucking Dream Theatre (laughs). It has a lot to do with the recording guy who is very picky and he is turning us into this progressive band. I think this album as a whole is turning to be more ‘big sounding’, more progressive and a very dark record.

Any idea when the record will be finished?
We will hopefully be finished by the end of August because I am doing the vocals now and I’ve done 3 songs so far and 11 to go.

So it will be released at the end of this year or the beginning of next year?
In January 2006 probably. I think it will be very good.

On that note I want to conclude this interview and wish you all the best with the new Katatonia album and with finding a new singer for Bloodbath?
And with the new Bloodbath album.

Do you have any final words?
We’ve all agreed that you can expect on the next Bloodbath record more ‘blast-beats’ and even more evil true death metal!

Sounds promising, thanks a lot!
No problem.

We would like to thank Jan Hoffmann from Century Media for arranging this interview and also our Editor Vincent Eldefors for his part in making the contacts. In the Bloodbath camp the hunt for a new singer has begun. The band is going to hold auditions and has set out some strict ‘rules for applying’. For more information visit the band's website.

Links of interest:

Century Media
Peaceville Records
Wacken Open Air