At The Gates’ Jonas Bjorler on ‘At War With Reality’ + 20 Years of ‘Slaughter of the Soul’
With a sold-out show in New York City to round off this year’s Decibel Magazine tour, At The Gates completed their headlining role in support of At War With Reality, At the Gates' first album in 19 years. We spoke to bassist Jonas Björler who talked all about the new disc and reflected on the 20th anniversary of their classic album Slaughter of the Soul. Check out our interview with Jonas Björler of At the Gates below:
After wrapping up this tour in the U.S. you're off to Europe. What would you say is the biggest difference between touring Europe versus touring the states?
Everything is more accessible here, I think. If you want to go and have a bite to eat at four in the morning, you can do it. The service and accessibility is better here. I like touring the U.S.
Even though At War With Reality is said to be a concept album, what does this title mean to you personally?
It’s basically based around an idea that Tomas [Lindberg] had about questioning reality. It’s about the magic realism writers, South American writers that questions the reality we are living in and if there is an alternate reality. That’s what it means to me; different dimensions.
Do you think we as humans are at war with reality?
I think so. You have to question your own perception of reality constantly. If you don’t do that then you just passively go through your day, you have to question everything.
When creating this album, where did you draw inspiration from?
Lyrically, it was from Spanish like [Jorge Luis] Borges. Musically, I would say we based it on interests that we had for Slaughter of the Soul but we also brought in some darker classical inspirations like the Russian composers of the 1800s such as [Pyotr] Tchaikovsky, and you can hear some of it in songs like “The Night Eternal.”
How has all of this been for you touring and performing in support of the first album for At the Gates since 1995?
We got back in the groove of things since 2008 with the reunion shows and then we had a break for two years and came back in 2011. We had the same good feeling in this record as we did back then.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Slaughter of the Soul. What does this mean to you?
It means that I’m 20 years older. [Laughs] Years go past so fast, it’s ridiculous. It feels like we did that album yesterday.
What is memorable about that album for you?
Well, I wasn’t that satisfied when we released it. I wasn’t happy with the production and stuff like that and minor issues. This latest album felt better for me in a way because we spent so much time with pre-production. We had 12 months to do the songs and we did a proper pre-production demo. I’m really happy with it.
Growing up in Sweden, did you go to any shows that had a long lasting impact on you?
Yeah, when we were kids -- 15 or 16 years old -- we went to shows constantly. One of the more groundbreaking shows was probably when I saw Morbid Angel in 1990 at a small festival in Sweden.
What does the rest of 2015 hold in store for you and the rest of At the Gates?
We have summer festivals, maybe 10 to 15. We have South America in September and Australia in October. We’ll be busy until 2016.
With all of this touring what is one thing you must have on tour with you excluding electronics?
A good pillow? [Laughs] It’s important to have sleep, if you don’t sleep properly it’s going to be a nightmare.