The word ‘pioneer’ gets thrown around too casually. However, in some instances the term is rather apt, if not an understatement. Iconic Swedish melodic death metal outfit At The Gates are preparing to make their long-awaited and maiden trip to Australia. Killyourstereo recently caught up with frontman Tomas Lindberg from the Gothenburg maestros to discuss metal, the upcoming tour…and, the new Converge record.
Hey Tomas, how’s it going?
Pretty good thanks.
How are things with yourself and the band at the moment? Are you sort of taking a break at the moment? Or have rehearsals and preparations begun for the upcoming Australian tour?
We’re pretty much just preparing for the Australian tour right now. That’s the main focus at this point. We haven’t done any shows since August, so [we’ve had] some time off for our other activities. And, then [we’re] starting to prepare for the tour right now.
Cool, sounds exciting. It’s At The Gates’ first trip down to Australia. Are you familiar much with the Australian metal scene?
Well yeah, I mean it’s my first time ever in Australia really. So it’s going to be exciting no matter which band I go with. I’ve got some contacts in the Australian scene. [I know] mainly the old, bands like Slaughter Lord, Sadistik Exekution. But that was a while ago. Disembowelment are they from Australia as well?
Yep, I believe are they are.
That’s a good band [too].
Yeah, for sure, I agree.
And, I know this is sort of a hard one to answer. But I was interviewing Marten from Meshuggah a while back and we were talking about how Sweden has been so big for metal bands over the years. Do you have an opinion why Sweden has been so good for metal bands?
I guess the scene always evolves around a few different personalities or bands. If there’s a driving force; people get inspired by it and that’s it really. There doesn’t actually have to be any special qualities to the country, but I mean we’re a pretty close functioning country. Maybe we’re a bit spoiled with the welfare system here, so we don’t really have to worry about much. In our spare time we can actually play music.
That’s fair enough.
People talk so positively about your albums, specifically ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ for example. When people make mention that the album has had such an impact on the metal scene today how does that make you feel? Do you feel proud? Or, is it not something you give much thought to?
I mean I am proud of it, but I try not to think about it too much. I’ve seen other people’s egos grown too big for themselves (laughs).
We have always tried to stay on the ground and be a bit humble about ourselves. But you know, of course we are very happy with people liking the stuff. It’s very flattering.
In terms of metal music today do you have any thoughts on the genre or the scene at the moment? Anything that’s perhaps good or bad about it?
There’s still a lot of interesting stuff coming out. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s all metal, but for extreme music, it’s like hardcore, grindcore, whatever the style is, it’s very prospering in that way. If people are cross-breeding the different genres a bit and exploring new stuff, I think it is really interesting – new stuff coming out all the time. And I’m really trying to keep up with it. People say it was better before. I don’t know? Both. There are more bands now at least, maybe some of them aren’t as good, but there’s a lot more stuff to choose from.
And, for the Australian tour coming up, I know the shows are back-to-back, on consecutive days, but seen as it is your first time here is there anything you want to do apart from the shows? Places to see or anything?
Being musicians we are very much into liking [the] different culture and all that. To actually get to see the architecture, the culture, all that stuff and the different things. We just want to try and breathe in the atmosphere of the country and [really] be there. And there’s nothing like I’ve got to see this or this…but [just get] the vibe of the country really. Apparently, there’s a lot of beautiful nature there.
I know it’s a question you’ve been asked to death and you’re probably sick of answering, but I know you said you At The Gates are not going to write another record together, but you might be open to writing together under a different name. Is that something you’ve given much thought to lately?
Well basically I’ve learnt never to say never. We said we’d never do any more shows whatsoever and now we’re doing shows [again]. 2008 was the last tour we were going to do and now we are doing more [shows]. I learned not to say never you know.
In terms of the shows coming up, what can fans expect from the set list? Are you going to play a cross section of all your albums? Or are you going to focus on one album more than the next?
We’re going to hang onto the set list, [from] the first time the band existed. That’s where we left off, so that’s where we are going to continue. It’s mainly focused around the last two records we did, but we try to play songs from all the records.
Have you noticed much difference between the shows now and the past couple of years as opposed to back when you were a permanent band over a decade ago?
Of course, for us especially, as I said the reception was overwhelming. We didn’t have a clue that it [reunion shows] was going to be that big. It’s what I would say, for us, it was pretty frustrating back in the day, we were playing really small shows and we were working really hard. And nowadays people actually come out to see us (laughs) and they know the songs. It’s very good. And, I think it’s probably easier in that way to be a young band today as there is a supportive crowd not matter what style of music you play. Of course there’s more bands to compete with if you want to have a career out of it, but if you just want to go round making music, it’s a lot easier doing it now I think.
And in regards to 2012 have you any favourite albums you’ve been listening to so far this year?
Oh yeah, it’s a great year actually, I mean for new music and for some of my favourite bands that have released records this year. A lot of my favourite bands released records this year. The new Converge just came out, the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor record came out, the new record by Tragedy [too]. There’s a lot of good stuff really, it has been an impressive year so far.
Yeah, I was going to ask you about that because you did guest vocals on Converge’s split with Napalm Death, what is your opinion on the new Converge album?
I think it’s brilliant; I actually just got to hear it just a few days ago. I heard a couple of songs in the studio when I was doing backing vocals on the ‘Wolverine Blues’ cover. I heard some songs but they weren’t finished, they were skeleton of songs really. But, I really got to hear the record in full a few days ago. Maybe the production is a bit leaner, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For me, they’re such brilliant musicians from all the different four guys in the band. I think they’re a very exciting group.
Couldn’t agree more. And just before I let you go, are there any words you want to share with the Killyourstereo readers?
It’s brilliant to finally come down and see what Australia has to offer. I’ve heard so much good stuff about the country from other bands touring in Australia. I’m really, really excited and looking forward to seeing you guys.
Excellent. I’m really looking forward to the shows too. I’ll be at the Melbourne show. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today and I’ll see you guys in just under a month.
No problem. Take care man.
Cheers, Thanks Tomas.