KATATONIA (Live at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, U.K., May 7, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Sweden’s Katatonia have come along way since their early Death Metal days and have been responsible for making some of the most beautiful, dynamic and atmospheric music around. Mick Burgess caught up with lead singer/guitarist Jonas Renkse to talk about their forthcoming UK tour and their most recent album The Fall of Hearts.

You’re over in the UK for 8 shows in May. Are you looking forward to touring over here again?

Absolutely, the UK is always a good treat.

You’re covering a lot of ground while you’re here from Southampton on the South coast to Glasgow up North in Scotland and over to Ireland to Belfast and Dublin too. Is it important to you to get out and play in as many places as you can?

Yeah, since we didn’t do more than a London show on our European tour, we wanted to come back and cover as much ground as possible.

What sort of show do you have lined up for this tour?

It’s still the tour for the latest album, we have done South and Latin America, Europe, Australia, India and right now we are in North America, so it’s pretty much the same show as we have been doing up until now. Swapped a few songs here and there but basically the same stuff.

You’ve recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Great Cold Distance. Will you base your set around that album together with songs from across you career?

No, we are promoting the latest album and we have done a couple of shows where we played The Great Cold Distance in full, but we always play a lot of stuff from TGCD.

Talking of The Great Cold Distance, you’ve recently released a wonderful special edition of the album including a selection of B-sides, outtakes and a great live show with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. That must have been a fantastic moment for you?

It was kind of surreal. Playing with a symphonic orchestra is not something I could picture myself doing. I like getting that kind of experience, the unexpected stuff.

How long did you have to prepare for that show?

We rehearsed back home as usual, and then we flew to Bulgaria and rehearsed with the orchestra for two days, and then it was show day.

Did you record the video for it too?

No, we opted out of the video since we have released a couple of DVDs the last few years. Don’t wanna overflow the market.

I recently saw Heart play at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Is a special show like that something you’d like to do for your UK fans?

I don’t know. Those projects are so massive in terms of planning and production, and we all have great expectations… but it all comes down to that hour or two on stage. If we would have a shitty gig, it would feel so awkward. I really like the more intimate “rock shows” that are based more on sweat and emotion rather than a huge production.

You’re currently doing a headline tour of The States. How are those shows going?

Really well, we have got a great welcoming by the Americans. Enjoying it!

How long are you over there for?

I think it’s a six week tour, and we are halfway through it now.

Last year you released your latest album The Fall of Hearts. You’ve never made the same album twice. How do you see this as a progression from Dead End Kings?

Basically the last few years of experience, and a drive to write our best songs yet. That’s pretty much the recipe for every new album.

It’s the first album to feature Daniel Moilanen on drums and guitarist Roger Ojersson. What did they bring to Katatonia that maybe wasn’t there before?

Their individual qualities, both as persons and of course as musicians. They are both very skilled and experienced.

How did they end up becoming involved?

Daniel has been playing with us for a couple of years now but this was his first album with us. Roger was on recommendation from a mutual friend, Fredrik from Opeth, who’d heard we were looking for a new guitar player.

The special edition includes a beautiful song called Vakaren? What is that song about?

Well, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint down exactly what it’s about… as always, ha ha!

Singing it in your native language gives the song a real personal touch. Why did you decide to do that?

Just as an experiment. I had never sung anything in Swedish before. It was kind of difficult at first but very inspirational.

Along with the other bonus tracks Sistere and Wide Awake in Quietus, Vakaren shows a real strength in your song writing, the fact that such strong songs are included as bonus tracks. Were you not tempted to keep them for your next album?

It’s always a struggle to pick the songs that will eventually end up on the album, but I like the fact that we have a tradition of strong and original B-sides too.

The artwork as always is exceptional. The work of Travis Smith is perfect for Katatonia. It’s stark, bleak, atmospheric and beautiful. How did you start working with Travis?

I think it was in 1999 that we got to see some of his stuff and we felt an instant connection, so we got in touch.

Do you work closely together on the artwork or do you leave him to it?

It’s a very close co-operation that we do at the same time as we record the album, so that we can keep everything up to date with what we are doing musically in the studio.

A couple of years ago you did a few acoustic shows in old churches including at the Union Chapel in London which you recorded for the Sanctitude album. Do you have any plans to do any more shows like that?

Not at the moment. But it remains one of my favourite tours, I would do it again when the time is right.

After the UK shows are over, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?

Summer festivals… and more touring in the fall. We’re keepin’ busy.

Katatonia tour the UK in May starting in Leeds on May 7th. See for details.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.