Dark Tranquillity - Mikael Stanne

Dark Tranquillity - Mikael Stanne

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It’s been really a long time since the last time DARK TRANQUILLITY had visited the States and after the release of the very good “Construct”, this was the perfect occasion. A couple of hours before the Joliet, IL show, we met with the band’s frontman Mikael Stanne who as always was extremely friendly and polite to answer all of our questions before enjoying his hot meal. Have a read and get the latest info for one of the pioneers of the Gothenburg sound.

How has been the tour so far?
It has been chaotic, but really good. The shows have been awesome; we started in Atlanta, then we did New York and all the way up in Canada.

Out of curiosity, did you like the venue in Atlanta?
I do actually, we have been there so many times that has become a familiar territory to us. There are some good beers nearby and that’s a plus.

Yeah it is. So, by ‘chaotic’ what do you mean? Are you referring to this crazy weather?
That too but we also had some bus and passport problems along the way and some other weird stuff.

The usual stuff when during the US?
Hmm, more than usual I would say. But things are getting smoother now.

Last time DARK TRANQUILITY were in the US was in 2010, so why did it take you so long to come back?
There were some tours that we planned but did not work out in the end. Also, we have been really busy touring everywhere else, plus the album took a lot of time from us to start writing. There was a long period of time where we were sitting home waiting for the inspiration to come, short of speak.

I will get back on this, but first let me ask, have you found a full time bassist?
No, we haven’t and in fact we have pre-recorded bass parts that Martin did before he left.

Are you looking for a bass player?
Right now we are really not sure about this.

Ok, let’s talk about “Construct”; in a recent interview, Niklas said that you changed the way how the band approached this album, so what did you do?
Well, we had to change because we were afraid of repeating ourselves and spent our time in the rehearse room bouncing ideas at each other and nothing really happening. We couldn't agree where to take our music; everybody had different ideas what to do so we decided instead of having the six of us in a room work differently. So, Niklas, Martin and Anders got in the studio and gathered all the material that we had been writing for the last two years; they categorized it and also tried different things and put together simple demos. We were trying to put some structure in all this and see if songs can be made. And this become really exciting; all of a sudden it was like ‘hey, this is awesome stuff’ so they were working on these structures by adding new elements and ideas and then I started listening to what they had been doing and wrote the lyrics. Instead of working on one song at the time, we came up with almost 14 songs. It is kind of weird but at the same time it was very creative and we had a blast.

Why do you think the band had reached a dead-end music composing-wise?
Because at some point you're getting tired of your sound and yourself, you know. Plus, we toured so much and we felt that we did not want to play the same old songs. You know, we have been touring for 20 years, so we felt it was time to create something really exciting for us.

Did you ever think of calling it a day?
No, but we were thinking that we should probably wait for a year and perhaps do an EP or whatever.

Do you think that for the next DARK TRANQUILLITY album you will follow the same process like you did with “Construct”?
We felt really good about it and actually we have talked about doing the same with the next album. I mean, what's the point of getting back to the old ways since this is the easier way.

That sounds very logical and extremely mature for a band.
Of course it is.

You have also a new 7” single out that is also available for sale during the US tour; what are these songs? I mean, are leftovers from the recording “Construct” sessions?
Kind of, they are. One of the songs ["Sorrow's Architect"] was recorded for the Decibel magazine here in the States and I guess it was a leftover as you said. I mean when we are writing music some of the songs do not really fit on the album. Of course you can release an album with fifteen songs but we chose to have ten in the tracklist and have them all to really matter and have some kind of connection. So, the songs that were left out or were for special editions were the ones that did not fit in the same tracklist.

Do you have other songs that have not yet been released?
No, everything is already out there.

You will be celebrating the release of the DARK TANQUILLITY debut “Skydancer”; first of all, congratulations on this!
Thank you very much.

So, what can we find new in the re-release especially in the vinyl edition? Although I have no idea what you can do to make the vinyl sound better…
Actually, I don’t know about the vinyl because it has not been printed yet. So, far it is only on digital format but the vinyl will follow soon. There will be some news regarding this one in the following weeks. In the re-mastered version we have highlighted a lot of things that sound really cool on the album. I was listening to it with my nice headphones at home and I was like ‘holy shit’ because I was discovering things I had never heard before. You can also hear how shitty guitar player I am (laughs).

Have you added any bonus material on this?
No and, in fact, we did not record anything more apart from the songs that are in that album. It sounds way better and it is really cool to listen to something we did when we were 19 years old. We really had no idea what to do, how to be in the studio or how to be a recording band.

What is the first memory that comes to mind when you think of the recording process of “Skydancer”?
I remember turning nineteen and us having tons of ideas; you know, high concept ideas about how the album should sound like, how different guitar and keyboards layers to use and other stuff we thought we could do. And when we entered the studio, it was a reality check; the guys working in the studio were like “What are you talking about, you cannot do that”. I remember their reaction clearly.

Did you ever think of playing the entire “Skydancer” for some shows?
No, we haven’t, but you know something, those songs are so old and I don’t think a lot of people listen to them anymore. We do use a couple of songs in the setlists once in a while but it is very rare. Honestly, I don’t know, maybe “Gallery” would be more appropriate to do this.

This is understandable because the fans of the band are separated into two generations to say the least. Did it cross your mind to re-record “Skydancer” like other bands do?
Oh, no. There are people from the management or the record label coming with such ideas because this means that they can get more money out of an album, but there is no point it doing that, hell no!

You're absolutely correct on this. After this tour, you have Australia, China, Japan and then of course the European summer festivals, so what is next in your calendar?
Most probably we will do another US tour, another European tour before the end of this year I think. Although nothing has been finalized yet.

What about “Gallery”? I mean, you have this anniversary coming up...
Well, we have played almost all the songs from that album but playing the entire album would be cool. I know that people would want that. But I have no idea if there will be any re-release of that album.

Well, Mikael, we’ll have to let you enjoy your meal, so thank you for your time and we will see you onstage.
It was my pleasure guys, thank you too.