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Interview with Dark Tranquillity

  • Interview by: Krishna Ravi
  • Date: August 18, 2011

Niklas Sundin, guitarist of Swedish melodic death metal giants Dark Tranquillity, sits down with Headbangers India for this interview about their experience in India, their current tours and the possibility of coming back to India! Read on!

HB: Hello Niklas! It’s a pleasure to have you with us here on Headbangers India. How are all of you doing?

Niklas: We’re fine, thanks! Just played the last show of the festival season (in Modena, Italy) and are now back at home preparing for the upcoming European headline tour.

HB: You break for a couple of months before you get on the road again. What do you do when you’re not touring?

Niklas: We all do different things when we have time available. I work as a graphic designer, some of the other guys own their own studios and some chose to spend the spare time focusing on their families.

HB: It’s been a year and a half since We Are The Void. You must be in the process of writing material for a new record. How difficult is it to keep your music fresh while not experimenting with the sound too much?

Niklas: Songwriting never comes easily, especially in a band featuring six people with very different opinions and music tastes. However, it would be strange to analyze our own music or to think about how it compares to our previous albums or other bands, so we never really worry about those things. Usually we just try to create music that we think is good, and when there are enough songs it’s time to hit the studio.

HB: You probably get asked about Iridium quite a bit, but the song that makes me curious is Arkhangelsk, which is apparently a city in Russia. Some sections of this song have a very doomy sound to it. Can you tell us what this song is about?

Niklas: I don’t think that songs necessarily need to have a storyline or need to be “about” something. It’s more about invoking atmosphere, triggering people’s imagination and allowing them to apply their own reality to the words. With something as symbolical and abstract as “Arkhangelsk”, one tends to hear a lot of different interpretations. None of them are probably exactly what we had in mind, but it’d strip away the magic for the listener to tell them the “right” way of reading it. There’s obviously a lot of end-of-the-world imagery going on in the song, but whether it relates to a natural or man-made catastrophe or something totally different isn’t really important in my point of view. The idea for the title is very old; I saw it on the in-flight monitor map the first time I was on an airplane as a kid and thought that it would be a cool title for a song.

HB: As you might expect, we would like to ask you a few questions about your show in India last year. Now that you’ve had a lot of time to reflect upon it, what can you tell us about your experience? Did you enjoy the culture, the hospitality and the atmosphere?

Niklas: It was amazing! Very passionate and warm people and a very exotic and interesting experience overall for us. The hospitality and general welcome was great, and we took the opportunity to stay for some extra days in both Hyderabad and Goa to absorb the atmosphere. We’re all huge fans of Indian food as well, and some of the culinary treats were just incredible.

HB: The metal crowd in India has waited a long time to watch bands like Dark Tranquillity play live in front of them. How did the Indian crowd compare to those in Europe and America?

Niklas: To be honest, there isn’t a huge difference between the audiences in different countries. Everyone tends to behave in the same basic metal ways, headbanging and moving around ha ha! Of course we could tell that the crowd at the festival was very enthusiastic and passionate and had been looking forward to the event for a long time.

HB: Did you get a chance to listen to any music by Indian bands? Are there any bands that caught your eye?

Niklas: I know Kryptos since many years, and think that they’re a great band, it was really cool sharing the stage with them that night. Apart from that, I have to admit that I’m not very good at keeping up with the scene in general these days.

HB: A few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that Dark Tranquillity would play live in India. Now we see more bands placing India on their map. Why do you believe this is? Were you happy with the way your show was organized?

Niklas: Absolutely! We had been wanting to visit India for many years, so it was great that it finally could happen and that it turned out to be such a successful and well organized trip. I have to clarify though, that it’s not
really up to the bands to decide where to play. The way it works is that a professional promoter needs to make an offer, and after the usual practical and logistical hassle, a show can hopefully happen. People often thank us for finally “deciding” to come to a new country, but they should thank their booking agents instead. If someone had asked us to play in India ten years ago and made a realistic offer, we would have been there in a heartbeat. In other words, the increased amount of bands visiting India is probably due to promotors becoming more professional and a generally better climate for metal.

HB: You tour a lot of popular cities on a regular basis. Do you see the band making another trip to India? If yes, what would you do differently next time?

Niklas: Yes! I can’t give any details until everything is confirmed, but there’s actually a very high chance that we’ll return to India before the end of the year. It’s not 100% sure yet, and of course anything can happen in the music world, but things are indeed looking very positive, so let’s hope for the best. Different? I guess we’ll change the setlist a bit, but that’s all I can think of.

HB: I just saw a teaser of a project called “Zero Distance”. It looks like something that you put together. Is there anything you can tell us about it?

Niklas: Well…the whole point of the teaser is to not tell people exactly what it is, ha ha! All the info will be revealed in a couple of weeks, so the patient will be rewarded.

HB: That brings us to the end of this interview. Thank you very much for taking the time to sit down for us! Hope to see you again soon!

Niklas: Thanks a lot for the interview, and thanks to all Indian fans and supporters! See you soon!