This interview with Anders Nyström of Katatonia was done by Sherrie Zemla in January 2004. The photos used in the interview are taken by Harry Välimäki. Please don't use them without permission.

Viva Emptiness - absolutely awesome. Every Katatonia album kicks ass in it's own right but none have gotten beneath my skin quite as deep as 'Viva Emptiness'. It’s quickly become one of my favorite CDs.

How would you compare the outcome of this album to previous releases?
Firstly, thank you very much for giving 'Viva Emptiness' the chance! I'm glad to hear it got beneath your skin. That's really the highest goal we strive for. Ok, I'm well aware that every band tend to say shit like "this new album is a lot better than anything we've ever done", and I can understand what they're trying to say with that, but it doesn't work like that for us. We don't look down on our previous releases, so I can't say 'Viva Emptiness' is better than anything else we've put out, it's just different. This time we gave room for material ending up far more harder, complex and uptemp than the previous ones. The only thing that remains exactly the same is the dark edge to it.

There's a greater Tool type of influence on this album more.. Is Tool a big musical inspirational source for you guys? What are some of your greatest influences?
You're right. There's obviously a Tool influence coming through. We all love what they've done and their Aenima album ended up as a big inspiration when it came out. Other inspirations... well honestly, ANYTHING that we come across in our daily lifes and the way we live. LIFE itself, is just as much an inspiration as it is a burden.

How was the writing process and overall studio atmosphere/vibe while recording this one?
It was very focused. Me and Jonas sat down at my place, where we'd set up our home studio back in the late summer 2002. We arranged the whole album together this time. We'd go through my and his tapes of riffs and sketches and pick out parts to start building on. We then started putting the songs together doing a complete pre-production. We entered a working man's schedule each day for an intensive period of a couple of weeks. As we finished, we sent out demos of all the songs to the others to learn the structures. Then in November all of us entered 301 studios in Stockholm to record it all under a month's time. We knew it wouldnt be possible to mix the album in the same studio for various of reasons, so we changed to Kuling studio in December and me and jonas went there to mix. There was some stress involved in the change of studios, but once we got there everything fell right into place. We'll go back to that place again for the next offering. Its a great place.

What can you tell me about the upcoming DVD?
Well, we weren't really that concerned about releasing a DVD yet, but Peaceville wanted us to make one, so we filmed one of the gigs in Poland from the last tour as the main feature. We've also tried running around with a handy cam shooting as much as we can offstage. I mean, I love that type of footage, behind the scenes. I think it belongs as bonus material on any band's DVD.

I have to ask, what's with the portion of a chat conversation under the CD in the jewel case? I had a good laugh finding that.
Well...it is what it is! Haha, that's all I can say…

Whats your personal favorite track(s) from Viva Emptiness?
It varies from time to time. I enjoy playing some songs more than others live, whereas i enjoy others more on the stereo. 'A premonition' is a nice track to crank in the darkness of your home, while 'Wealth' is more of a kickazz on the stage. And then there's tracks like 'Evidence' that works everywhere. It changes tho, I strive to only have faves on an album, overall. If I felt a song is a filler, then it would be kept off the album. But fair enough, what might be killer to me, might be filler to you.

Do you think there will be anymore collaboration (like Brave Murder day and Sounds of decay) with Opeth/Mikael or other artists for future projects?
Interesting. I havent really thought about that. We never deliberately thought of collaborating with outsiders. It all happened due to missfortunes. You know, Mike was called in for help because Jonas wasn't able to do his task anymore. What I'm saying is, that if Jonas would have not lost his voice back then, Mike would never have sung on 'Brave Murder Day' and 'Sounds of Decay', so I guess we're "happy" Jonas didnt pull it off back then and it enabled us to use Mike. His vocal performances on those two are nothing but classic and very much part of the sound. If Jonas is yet to lose his voice again... who should we bring in this time? Rob Smith haha?

With Discouraged Ones Katatonia's musical state shifted, took on a new face, so to speak. But kept the same soul - Was that a conscious decision, or just happened with the natural progression to escalate to the current style?
Well, we got more demanding. We needed to challenge ourselves to keepthe ambition. The fact was that the old style of ours was being outgrown, like some old shoes, they were nice, but they were breaking apart, and soon you'd be walking on without them and be unable to go anywhere... As I just mentioned, Jonas severe growling difficulties plus our more open minded attitude for music paved way for the quest to find our true identity. It was not a matter of hesitation, we just went for it, re-booted ourselves and then it it all started to come together with the writing of 'Discouraged Ones'... a dark stylistic turn!

Since you've been a part of the metal "scene" for some time I imagine there must've been some strange happenings along the way. what would be the weirdest show that you have played, or the strangest touring experience you've had?
We did have one bizarre one happening back in 1996 while we were touring for ‘Brave Murder Day’. We arrived at what was addressed on our papers as the venue; a little house out on a huge field with nothing else in sight. We got off the bus went in to chill and got served some food and stuff. The whole place just looked like an apartment or something, like when you were coming home to your old folks home. We were like, "hey how long is it to the venue from here?" And they just pointed at a little tiny stage located in what would had to be the „livingroom" where like, two sofas and an armchair could fit and they said „you are gonna play there tonight" and that was just hilarious, because we had to sit on chairs on the stage. So it was like a bizarre half unplugged bar club version. I dont believe anything was mic’d up because I dont even remember seeing a PA. Once we started playing people that had showed up from nowhere were just standing there in that little room, and the others that couldnt fit in there were peaking in from the doorways. Some people even had to stand outside the house and peak inside the windows to get a glimpse. The last thing I remember before leaving the joint was seeing a tour poster with King Diamond tellin he was coming there a while after us. I laughed my ass off hahaha!

How's the new Diabolical Masquerade album coming together? Can we expect to hear Dan Swanö, Aag, or anyone else on this one?
In progress. Nope, it's just me and the spirits this time.

Do you ever plan to assemble a touring band for DM?
Not as long as Katatonia is still going.

Are there any plans for future tours in Canada and the US?
No tours plans to be announced yet, unfortunately, but we're gonna work on that when we know the time table for our future activities. However, we might have a chance to play Montreal this summer. That would follow as a one off gig after a festival in Ohio. Nothing confirmed yet tho. We'd love to come to Canada. Everything we heard about it is great things, and judging from the pics it feels very "at home"... Katatonia will do everything possible to get on a tour for the new album (autumn, winter 2004), but we'll most likely do that one off gig in ohio and montreal before that…..Thanks for your support and interest in Katatonia.

Thanks for all.

So long!

Links of interest:

Diabolical Masquerade
Peaceville Records