Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse – Nightstalker

Friday, 29th March 2013

Blistering.com: While on the topic of “old” material, do you recall the reactions from when you went from Brave Murder Day to Discouraged Ones?

Renkse: Yeah, we had a lot of mixed feelings from the fans. A lot of people expected us to do something in the vein of Brave Murder Day because it was our most successful album. We heard comments like, “Oh, you want to be the new Oasis.” But I think a lot of people totally understood what we were trying to do. We were trying to break new ground for the band, even though it was difficult. It was our first attempt and people totally supported [it]. It was mixed reactions and we didn’t give a shit about the criticisms. I think it was part of how we were feeling at the time. We were dislocated with the type of music and the band wasn’t in a healthy state. It’s got a unique sound, but a very personal album.

Blistering.com: Plus, that was your first album as a clean singer. Now, are you pleased with how you’ve developed as a vocalist?

Renkse: I’m very happy. I remember when I was supposed to sing onDiscouraged Ones, I wasn’t even interested in doing them. But nowadays I really enjoy singing and that’s a huge step for me [laughs]. I’m happy with the progression – it’s been slow, but steady. I have had all the time in the world to create my own sound and what I’m convenient with doing as far as vocals go.

Blistering.com: You’ve done your fair share of guest vocal spots lately with Swallow the Sun and Long Distance Calling. How selective are you when it comes to these?

Renkse: I think I’m kind of selective; I’ve had more offers for things like that, but so far, I’ve only done it with people I know personally, except for the Ayreon thing [ed: Renske appeared on the band’s 2008 01011001 album]. I was already friends with Mikko [Kotamäki] the vocalist from Swallow the Sun and Long Distance Calling, the bass player [Jan Hoffman] has been working for Century Media. I knew him from working with Bloodbath when we were on Century Media. I like to be selective, I want to do things for people I know and are my friends. Of course, I want to be into the music as well.

Blistering.com: Is this an ego boost?

Renkse: I think it’s flattering because it means that I’ve reached something with my voice and it appeals to other people and they want to use it in their own band.

Blistering.com: Let’s try something different: I’ve picked five Katatonia songs that have flown under the radar and I’d like to get your thoughts on each. The first one is “Dissolving Bonds” from the My Twin EP.

Renkse: I had my doubts about that song when Anders presented it to me. And that feeling stayed with me for the whole recording until we did the vocals because it’s Anders’s music and vocal lines. When the vocals were done, it was a completely different song; it was sounding so good. We were bummed out that it turned into a b-side. It belonged on the album [The Great Cold Distance], but we didn’t finalize it until the album was mastered because we didn’t do vocals on that song until the album was finished. It’s one of my favorite songs as well. A lot of people have said it should be on the album and I can agree with that.

Blistering.com: Let’s do “Quiet World,” [from the Saw You Drown EP] which bears some similarities to “Saw You Drown” [from Discouraged Ones].

Renkse: First of all, a lot of the songs on Discouraged Ones sound the same [laughs]. I think it’s a beautiful song, very downtrodden. It’s kind of original in its approach with the main part being heavy and the rest atmospheric. It’s also one of Anders’s lyrics and vocal lines, so it was different for me to sing.

Blistering.com: “12” from Brave Murder Day.

Renkse: That’s a song that re-did for Brave Murder Day, we recorded it for a compilation CD a few years earlier. It was the only song that we didn’t write in the studio for that album. I think it was chosen because it’s a very good song, totally representative of Katatonia back then. For me, I think the ending part of the song is a definitive highlight of our career.

Blistering.com: “Burn the Remembrance” from Viva Emptiness.

Renkse: It’s a monotonous song. I sure like it; I like the lyrics and vocal lines for it. I think we’ve played it live one time for the DVD and we never played it again. It’s got a weird feeling to it…the ending part I think was stolen from a Kyuss song [laughs]. It’s not your usual Katatonia song because for me, it represents something else.

Blistering.com: Off the same album, “Omerta.”

Renkse: That’s a weird song. I remember writing that song in the middle of the night – everything fell into place at once, which isn’t very normal when it comes to my songs. I usually spend a lot of time trying different things, moving back and forth. I think this one is one of those songs; it’s very simple, yet effective. I think it’s beautiful. We’ve never played it live and I know a lot of people want to hear it live. We played it in the rehearsal room and it didn’t sound the way we wanted it to sound. Nowadays, I think we could do it. That’s one of the songs I want to try in the future.

Blistering.com: The lyrics for that have always thrown me for a loop. It sounds like you’re referring to a family member.

Renkse: That’s the feeling I was after when I wrote the lyrics. It’s about trust. Someone not being honest or someone beating you up. A lot of people dislike the ending of that song because they want the chorus to come back in and fade out or something. It’s connected to the lyrics – it’s like someone taking revenge and giving the dishonest person some poison…then the song ends when his life ends.

Blistering.com: Your lyrics have always been cryptic; you never get anything from you right away. Is this intentional or are you looking for people to make their own interpretation?

Renske: Definitely and that’s the kind of lyrics I like to read myself. I don’t want to be obvious, because when I read those kind of lyrics, a lot of the interest is totally gone when you know what the lyrics are about and that’s also why I don’t want to give up every story. What I’m writing is something that will mean totally different to other people, but in a good way. I don’t have copyright on the feelings since I wrote the lyrics. They mean a lot of different things to different people.

Blistering.com: Finally, what are your expectations, ultimate goals for the album?

Renkse: I have high expectations because I think this album sums up Katatonia so perfectly. I think anybody that has ever been into the band will like this album. It’s got bits and pieces for everyone. It’s a Katatonia monument. I have very high expectations, but I am a humble person so I hope people will give the album a chance. The whole touring cycle, I’m looking forward to playing some new songs as well as some songs we haven’t played in a while from the back catalog. Going on tour, that’s the main plan.

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