text from: metalfan.ro
Dark Tranquillity is one of the oldest bands in the Scandinavian metal scene, a group whose influence is unquestionable. Known as pioneers of the wll-known Gothenburg sound, the six Suedes of Dark Tranquillity have contantly evolved in their music during the two decades of existence and have no less than 9 studio albums, some of which are of reference for the genre.
2010 brought the first Dark Tranquillity concert to Romania, at the ARTmania Festival, this being one of the best concerts I have seen last year. On May 19th the Suedes will return to Romania for a concert in the Silver Church CLub in Bucharest. What made them return so swiftly to Romania, what does Gothenburg metal mean today and how does it feel to be part of the same band for 20 years are just some of the thigs we talked to with Niklas Sundin, guitarist and founding member of Dark Tranquillity.
Metalfan: Hello and welcome to Metalfan.ro! Last year you played your first show in Romania at the Artmania Festival. It was definitively my favorite concert I saw at this edition of the festival and as far as I remember, the audience feedback was fantastic too. Is this one of the reasons you decided to come back now for a concert in Bucharest?
Niklas: We certainly were extremely happy with the whole experience of playing at the Artmania festival – both the audience and the general arrangements were great – so that’s definitely one of the reasons. We told our booking agent and the local promotors that we’d like to come back again as soon as possible, and luckily we already had shows in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria planned, so we could add a Bucharest date too.
Metalfan: Do you have any interesting memories from your first visit to Romania that you would like to share?
Niklas: The whole trip was great, but I don’t remember any special anecdotes or crazy events. We enjoyed the general atmosphere of Sibiu and was fortunate enough to be able to spend some extra time there. Of course, seeing Serj Tankian perform at the festival was great as well.
Metalfan: This year, Dark Tranquillity will celebrate its 20th anniversary (the Septic Broiler band was formed in 1989 and changed its name to DT in 1991 – for historical conformity). After all these years, do you consider yourself a successful enterprise, an influential band, a mature one, an old one?
Niklas: I guess a fair reply would be that we’re a bit all of the things mentioned above, but we don’t really spend much time analyzing these things. There are lot of people with an opinion on bands’position in the scene, how influential and relevant they are and so forth, but we mainly focus on the music.
Metalfan: What gives you the necessary fuel and energy that keeps you alive, connected and interested in the metal scene?
Niklas: The band members are very different in this respect. Some are constantly checking new bands out, going to shows and keeping up to date with the metal scene and some hardly ever listens to music. Personally, I’m somewhere in between. When spending 5-6 months a year touring with D.T., I’m not much interested in going to shows at home or participating in the whole “hanging out“ thing, but I still check new bands out if I think that they have something of interest.
Thinking about the usual, perhaps monotonous activity of a band (new albums, tours, festivals, promotion, being away from home), was there a moment in which you felt you’d like to do something else with your life?
As with everything else, one can of course get a bit tired of the band life, but so far we’ve managed to keep the spirits high. We all do other things than the band when we’re not touring though (our bassist and keyboards are studio owners for example, and I have a graphic design studio) – otherwise it might have been a bit too much.
Metalfan: You are considered one of the first bands to ever play the Gothenburg death metal style. Do you think this label still represents the music you’re playing nowadays?
Niklas: We don’t really know what the “Gothenburg sound” means these days, ha ha! It seems that there are lots of listeners with very strong views on this kind of definitions, but to us we’re just a metal band and that’s all good. We’ve released a lot of albums and have covered different musical ground throughout the years, but to answer your question I haven’t really called us a death metal band for many years.
Metalfan: Looking at your discography, one can easily notice that the first almost drastic change in your musical direction took place between The Mind’s I and Projector albums. Besides natural progress and maturity, was it also a change in the band’s mentality?
Niklas: Definitely. We were really fed up with all the talk about the “Gothenburg sound“ and it felt like people were assuming that all bands from here sounded the same. At that time, we had really done our outmost to create our own unique sound and write material that musically and lyrically would separate us from other artists, so it was a bit insulting when mainstream media all of a sudden grouped everyong from Gothenburg together under some kind of “hey-it’s-death-metal-with-melodies“ banner. Nowadays I would probably just be happy for the attention, but back then we felt misunderstood and needed to show people that we could do other things.
Metalfan: What is your favorite Dark Tranquillity album? Before answering that, I am going ask you to try to avoid giving me the classic answer that the latest is always the best. Please motivate your answer!
Niklas: Ha ha, I always say the same thing: I don’t have a fave D.T. album and I’ve never claimed that the last one always is the best. I just don’t think in that way. To me, every album represents our goals and ambitions at the given time, and it’d be impossible to compare them along some kind of objective quality graph. They all have their strong and weak points, which I’m sure would differ a lot depending on what band member you ask. The latest album usually feels most interesting, though, as one haven’t gotten tired of the songs yet.
Metalfan: What were the public reactions to your latest album, We Are The Void? Are you happy with the feedback?
Niklas: The response has generally been very good. Of course, with such a long history as ours, there will always be people who hope for something else, that we should re-visit the sound on their old favourite album – be it “The gallery“ or “Projector“ – but it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.
Metalfan: Have you already begun the work process for a new studio album? When do you think you will be able to release it?
We’ve just started writing new material, but it’ll definitely take a while before we know when we have a full album ready. It definitely won’t happen this year, but maybe late 2012 is realistic.
Are there any Dark Tranquillity songs you avoid or are unable to play live because of their complexity, absence of catchiness, etc.?
Niklas: It depends…there are songs that we’ve tried live but decided that they don’t work, and there are songs that do work well live, but that we’ve just played too much and grown tired of them. The setlist is always changing, and we’re also six people with very different opinions in the band. Dynamics are more important than catchiness when it comes to putting together a well balanced set. You can’t only play the “hit songs“ and audience faves.
Metalfan: Could you tell us what are the best and the worst things about being in a metal band?
Niklas: Best: The creative aspect. Worst: Endless waiting while traveling and the fact that the whole music industry is going downhill at the moment.
Metalfan: What is your biggest achievement as a person and as a musician?
Niklas: I haven’t really thought of it. The biggest achievent is probably that we’ve managed to keep the band going for more than 20 years with four of the five original members still here and that our music have influenced a lot of people/bands all over the world.
Metalfan: Should we expect on 19th of May a similar setlist with the one you played last year in Sibiu? Did you prepare something special for this concert? Any chance that you bring the amazing video projections used during last year’s tour?
Niklas: There might be some special surprises, but if I told them they wouldn’t be surprises anymore. Video projections will definitely be used, thoough I think the Silver church has a LED screen system, so we’ll probably be using that instead, but with the same animations. Should be interesting.
Metalfan: Thank you very much for your time and I’m looking forward seeing you live in May. Some final words for our readers?
Niklas: Thanks! And thanks to your readers for their support!