Katatonia’s Jonas Renske Talks Upcoming Album, Tour Plans + More
Katatonia are finishing up work on their ninth studio album, set to be released this fall. It’s their follow-up to 2009’s ‘Night Is the New Day.’ In an exclusive interview, Loudwire caught up with the Swedish band’s frontman Jonas Renske to discuss the recording process for the album, the future of his other band Bloodbath and other topics.
When did you begin the writing process for the new album?
We started for real last fall. I had a lot of ideas lying around that were small fragments of music. Then we started putting those together and writing new stuff. Then we did a tour in the U.S. with Opeth, which gave us a short break from writing songs. When we came back from the tour we continued writing even more intensely. We were done with all the songwriting in late December, and then we started recording in January.
Was your songwriting process for this one similar to your previous albums, or was there something different this time around?
It was done pretty much the same way, but I think it has been a little more intense this time. We have been writing stuff faster and with even more enthusiasm than before. That’s the main difference, I think. Other than that it was basically the same.
Where did you do the recording?
At the same studio we recorded the last album, Ghost Ward, in Stockholm. We also recorded some stuff at our own studio. We have a studio rehearsal space where we recorded guitars and bass. But the more important stuff we do in the real studio.
What is the status of the album?
I’m doing the vocals on the last few songs now. That’s all that is left musically, then we’ll do the mixing, which will take a couple of weeks, then the mastering. So the album is almost finished, which is a great feeling.
When David Castillo mixes the album, what is your involvement in that part of the process?
We give him a few days to tweak the main sound, then me and Anders (guitarist) hang out in the studio and give him notes on the balance of the volumes of different instruments.
With budget constraints, do you feel pressure to work quickly in the studio?
We have a budget that we have to stick to, but nobody would be happy if we stressed through the recording. That’s why we wanted to do some of the stuff in our own studio where we can sit back and record things in a relaxed mood rather than feeling like the clock is ticking with studio time money. These days record labels are on a tighter budget because albums aren’t selling as well as they did in the past. But we have to adapt to that, and this album is going to sound as good as any album we’ve ever done, and probably even better. We just can’t spend a lot of money on luxuries when we’re in the studio.
What are your emotions when you’re finished with a new album?
Usually it is a mix of emptiness and relief. Relief because it is a painful process that takes a long time and has some pressure involved. The emptiness comes from when you have worked on a project for such a long time, then all of a sudden you’re not working on it anymore. But mostly for me, it is relief.
Do you have a title or release date yet?
We are still elaborating on the title. I’m not sure on the exact release date, but it is supposed to be at the beginning of September. The title will be revealed soon, but we haven’t decided on it just yet.
You’re playing some European festivals this summer. Will you be playing anything from the new CD?
I think we are going to play one song from the new album on some festivals that are later in the summer. We have a few gigs coming up at the end of May, but we won’t have the time to rehearse new songs then. We want to release at least one song from the album as a streaming thing when everything is done, then we’ll play that song at some festivals.
You did several 20th anniversary shows last year. How did those go?
It was great. It was a fantastic experience. We started at the beginning of last year doing five or six select shows in Europe. Then we did some shows in North America. When we toured with Opeth we did some side shows where we were headlining and could do the anniversary shows. Then at the end of the year we had a gig with some old members. It was a great party to finish off the anniversary year.
You have a DVD in the works. When was it filmed?
It is from the London show we did (in 2011). It has been in the works for a long time, and has been kind of delayed. It is mixed. We only need to finish off the bonus material with interviews and stuff. But the record label really wanted a new album, so we had to put the DVD aside for a while and do the new album.
Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth recently announced he isn’t going to be a member of your death metal project Bloodbath anymore. What is the future of that band?
We haven’t been talking very much about it lately, mainly because Opeth are so busy now and we have been totally busy with the new album. Martin Axenrot the drummer (Opeth) is still going to be in Bloodbath along with the other guys (Anders from Katatonia and Per ‘Sodomizer’ Eriksson). Listening to the new Opeth album, you get a hint of what Mikael is doing these days. He’s not doing the death metal vocals anymore. He wasn’t fond of doing that lately, and I totally respect that. We have to look for somebody else to do the vocals, but right now Katatonia is my main priority for probably at least the next year.
Do you have any interest in doing the vocals for Bloodbath?
Not really. I don’t think I have the capacity to pull off a whole album or the live shows. I’ll just stick to playing the bass there.