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Meshuggah Drummer Tomas Haake Talks New Album ‘Koloss,’ Touring + More

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Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. The stickman talked about the band’s new album ‘Koloss,’ touring and more. If you missed Jackie’s show, check out her interview with Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake below:

Since all of the instrumentation is so percussive, how does Meshuggah push you to play differently than other drummers?

I mean it’s just kind of inherent in the music to some extent, like you said I think we all kind of see the band as more of ever instrument is more of a percussive instrument than a melodic one. It certainly goes for the vocals and the drums of course but even the bass and the guitar playing is to a great extent also percussive. Even though on the new album the melodic side of the band has kind of step forward a little bit and there’s a little more of that going on but as far as me as a drummer I just basically do what needs to be done for the music.

Even though this album is a bit more direct and straightforward than the last one, [2008's] ‘obZen,’ it still had its challenges, for me as a drummer as far as certain tempos, I think most drummers have tempos that are not in their comfort zone. I had to really work on certain tempos to get it to groove and that’s one of the things that we really tried to get through on them and the production of this album had the groove and some of the songs I think we really pulled that off too. We’re pretty stoked about it.

Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal described ‘Koloss’ as more collaborative than Meshuggah has been in a while; what made all of you decide to work that way this time?

Actually, that’s something we were kind of aiming for with this album but in all honesty it didn’t really turn out that way. It was only the one track, track number eight on the upcoming album called ‘Swarm’ — it was only that song actually that we kind of ended up being a whole band and trying to figure out the song together in the rehearsal space and do it in more of an old-school way.

It was our intent to do that and to work that way for the whole album but once we recorded that one, already back in December 2010 but then after that we just kind of fell back into the old routine of doing things which means each of us sitting in his own space and at a computer doing it like we’ve done it over the last few albums. The collaboration wasn’t very different from the ‘obZen’ album in all honesty.

It’s going to be released in several formats, including brown vinyl. Tomas, why brown?

[Laughs] That’s kind of funny now isn’t it? Who wants to release an album on brown vinyl? It’s like a dream come true. It’s pretty simple the whole color scheme of the album and the artwork kind of has those colors in it. I don’t know it’s probably going to look really ugly with the brown vinyl but in all honesty we’re not super involved with every little thing like that so I don’t think the idea to do brown vinyl actually comes from the band, even though I’m ashamed to say so. I wish I was the instigator of that idea but there’s a lot of things by now that we had to let other people decide for us, otherwise it would just be too much work.

Do you think there’s anything about Meshuggah that sounds better to you on vinyl?

I really am a fan of vinyl, for a whole bunch of years probably 15 years I didn’t have a vinyl player and I bought one a couple years back and for me it’s not even so much the sound as it is what it does to me mentally. When I use a vinyl player for some reason, I’m more active, then I really listen to music, I don’t put a vinyl on and then go vacuum or cook food I don’t do that. If I put on a vinyl I just kind of stay there on the couch and listen to what’s going on. For some reason it just takes me back to how I was when I was growing up I guess and it just makes me more of an active listener when I do the vinyl thing.

Meshuggah is very, very intense and not necessarily music to unwind and relax. So when you’re feeling laid back what do you listen to?

I mean this is something of course that changes over the years, the last year or two I’ve been listening a lot to older stuff, Southern rock type of things like Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, stuff like that. Also of course newer stuff but it still has some kind of southern touch to it like Clutch for example or even Mastodon, to me they have something, you can hear that those guys are from down south, it’s just kind of inherent in their music even though it’s not your kind of typical Southern rock at all. Those are the kinds of bands I’ve been listening to lately.

We’re looking forward to having you guys come back to the states for this upcoming tour. Is there anything you’re looking forward to with regard to coming back here?

Well everything about it, it’s been a long time now and although ‘obZen’ we got a lot of attention and recognition on that album and it definitely took us to a new level but we still only did two runs of the U.S. for that album out of which one we were opening up for Ministry and we did our own run which was only like three weeks long. So we really didn’t do much touring in the states, I think we are all pretty psyched to get back there and do a proper run and the way it looks right now we’re all going to come back later in the year to do a second run. It’s going to be cool for sure.

 

This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will talk to Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal along with Goatwhore singer-guitarist Sammy Duet. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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