"I see myself more as a music fan than a musician"
Tomas Lindberg was very eager to share some information about his new band and of course we couldn’t leave At The Gates out of the conversation.
We’ve known him from At The Gates. He has been a part of many different projects and this time he comes back with The Lurking Fear. We also asked him to comment on the latest tragic events with Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, as well as his view as a teacher and a musician about the next generation. Read below what he had to say.
Τomas, is that you? This is Alkis from Rocking.gr
Yeah man. Are you good?
I’m fine. How are you doing ?
Very good, very good.
Are you in the USA?
No, no I’m still in Sweden.
I ask you because I was scheduled for the interview in Pacific Standard Time.
It’s because of the US label, that has set up this interview.
I see. So, in a couple of weeks, “Out Of The Voiceless Grave” is being released. My first impression is that it is a very enjoyable album, a grower I could say. First of all, how did you decide to form a new band?
Well, I guess, we just were really eager to be creative again. We - me and Adrian (Erlandsson - drummer) - spent the last two years on the road, supporting “At War With Reality”. We were desperate to go back to writing stuff again. At The Gates needed a little break after the long touring, but we were too restless to take that break. So we found some old friends with a lot of similar reference points and just drove straight into it.
So it’s considered to be a normal band not something like a side-project, right?
And I believe that most of you have a thing for Lovecraft.
The album is kind of my words as usual, my themes. But I just put an extra layer of Lovecraft’s things, just to put that extra death metal touch upon it, like the unnerving, unnatural feeling that we wanted for this record. Though the songs had already had it in them, I needed the words to reflect the emotions of the songs.
And it works really great.
It was also a really good creative process. I always need some extra intellectual challenge to get me in the mood of writing.
So now you are in the process of touring.
We start with some festivals in Europe. There are already plans for shows in Europe for the fall. We are looking into the schedule, because we are also writing the next At The Gates album at the same time. There is a bit of logistic issue, but we will definitely solve all those and make as many shows as possible for this band.
Great to hear that. You, Vallenfyre and Bloodbath are trying to make underground music a little bit more popular. Together with the old school music you also manage to capture the old school feeling through the production. It’s like perhaps nowadays spend more on a production than the fine-polished productions of the past decades. Do you agree with this?
I guess for us it was balance, not to become an old school band for the sake of it. Song-wise or production-wise we wanted some of the feeling back from the old days, concerning which, how the songs would move you as a listener. We also wanted to have a really raw production on the record, but at the same time move forward. Bringing old school elements and combing them in a new way that made sense today, not just like rehashing the old days. At the same time with the production too. It should be raw, but it shouldn’t be just for the sake of it, like in a bad production as some of the old school death metal bands go for, like how they did it back in the day. We wanted to be like using what instruments and technology we had, but maintain that raw thing in the signal.
And still not sound like your other bands.
It is a combination of the five of us. There are a lot of similar reference points, a lot of discussions like in which direction to take it and very good conscious decisions and very good creative atmosphere that brought this record together.
"An honest brutal record should feel like a guy standing in your room playing"
There is this live feeling in the album. All of you were there during the recording process, right?
Yeap, we really wanted to make it sound like a band playing in a room. When we started rehearsing together, we felt and sounded like a band very early on. Like a band that has been playing together for quite long. I mean we all have our experience, but how to gel it together, we really wanted to create that atmosphere also in the studio. Like a blessing that came together, which sounds natural and rolls directly. So yes, it was a conscious decision too. An honest brutal record should feel like a guy standing in your room playing.
It sure sound like it. You accomplished that. In the press release the tag super-band has been avoided.
Yes, it was a conscious decision to avoid that. People would be talking about that anyway, and using the word project and stuff like that. It just happens to be five people that have known each other for quite a long time, who are good friends and have the same influences and reference points when it comes to extreme music. We just happen to have history with other bands that are known. But that’s not why we formed this band.
Do you think that maybe being labeled a super-band adds pressure to you?
Well, it could be a good thing in some parts and a bad thing in other. Because people tend to think of it as something that is not as vital, just a project, to test it for fun.
"There is a lot of heart and honesty in this record. So, that’s why we avoid that phrase. Even if we had to talk the record label out of it"
Or maybe that you’ve used leftovers from your other bands.
Exactly. It is something that we worked really hard on. There is a lot of heart and honesty in this record. So, that’s why we avoid that phrase. Even if we had to talk the record label out of it.
Speaking of pressure, I believe that you’ve heard what happened with Chester Bennington, and 2 months ago with Chris Cornell. How hard do you think it its to be in the spotlight and manage to keep yourself together? How do you cope with it?
Well, I guess it’s different for different people. I can’t really speak of reasons why these two people did what they did.
"Υou should really try to separate the image from the real you. Try to be yourself as much as possible, even if you’re in the spotlight"
Of course, no one knows what was going on in their minds.
I don’t know if fame had anything to do with it, but you should really try to separate the image from the real you. Try to be yourself as much as possible, even if you’re in the spotlight. I’m a death metal musician, so I don’t have the same problems like these guys. Try to be as natural as possible, keep your feet on the ground, remember who you are, maybe clichés but it’s actually the whole thing, you know. Spend time with people who care about your band, listen to them, be grateful for what you have.
Do you think that depression is more common among artists than other people?
It depends. Some people cope with it easier, others have harder times. Depending on how you grow up, your values from home, education, experiences in life. For me, as I said, we are not super known people to have the same problems. I see myself more as a music fan than a musician. I’m happy to be able to do what I like.
You’re being very modest.
Maybe that’s also a part of to survive this game. Being down to earth.
"All kind of art gives you the chance to bend and reflect upon stuff. It’s like a reflection of your inner self. You actually get to know yourself a little better.It’s a bit like therapy"
Does creating aggressive music help you relieve some of that negative energy that we all have inside us?
Yeah maybe, I mean all kind of art gives you the chance to bend and reflect upon stuff. It’s like a reflection of your inner self. You actually get to know yourself a little better.It’s a bit like therapy.
Of course. I’ve got also some questions about At The Gates. I saw that you are working on new material, and a photo of you with books, one of them was from Camus’ “The Myth Of Syssyphus”. Does this have to do with the new concept?
I don’t want to say to much. I use different writers and art as inspirations for different parts of my work, so being specific about Camus if I would tell you how he comes into the picture on the next At The Gates record, I would spoil too much.
I can wait then.
It’s not a concept album about Camus’ work. I’ve used some of his ideas into some parts. You’ll get to know more pretty soon.
"So at least on the first half of the 2018 we will have the new (At The Gates) record"
That’s great news. So you’ve already some material written.
Definitely, we are very long way ahead. We are very inspired and creative right now. We are focused and it’s going very smooth and fast actually. So at least on the first half of the 2018 we will have the new record.
Excellent. Looking forward to it. Anders (Bjorler) left At The Gates some time ago, and prior to that he also left Haunted. Is he doing ok? It seems like he is isolating a bit.
He is working on his new record. You know he did his solo records a while ago. He is looking at expanding and doing some other stuff, maybe not under the same name. I don’t know exactly how he will present it yet. He has some new music but he needed to step down from touring and writing, and the pressure that comes with that. For a while at least. But he is still a musician, even if sometimes he doesn’t want to be. I can’t wait to hear his new stuff. It would be really interesting.
Me too. Have you got a replacement for him yet ?
There will be news about that pretty soon. You shouldn’t be worried.
I’m not, I trust you. You’ve got one of the most recognizable voices not only in extreme metal but also in metal in general. Would you go as far as trying to sing clean at some point?
Well not for At The Gates. We have our own sound, we are a death metal band, even though you can never say never about anything. That’s not in our plans. I tried some clean vocals on the Great Deceiver records for example. I can do it, but it has to fit the concept. And the vocals are one of the cornerstones of being a death metal band, so we’re not going to change that.
So you’re still working as a social studies teacher, right?
How do you manage to have a normal daily job, and on holidays work with the band? When do you find time to rest?
On the tour bus, between shows. Actually right now I’m on a summer holiday for teachers, it’s 9 weeks off. So I’m taking some time off, but then I’m focusing the new At The Gates record.
Always on the run.
It’s fun, I like it.
"There is more openness from what I get from my kids, the kids in class, I see development towards more human values"
Being a teacher, being a musician, you meet a lot of young people. How do you see the next generation?
It’s hard to get a grip of a whole generation, but I would say there are a lot of good things with every generation. There is more openness from what I get from my kids, the kids in class, I see development towards more human values. Breaking down the barriers of the old patriarchical system. I think it’s going to the right direction, with the young people today.
I hope so, too. Getting closer to the end of this interview, when are we going to see you again live? I believe it’s a fair question, since your shows are so full of energy every time.
We love coming to Greece. We feel very welcome there and look forward to coming there. With the new At The Gates album, it’s a given that we schedule Greece for some shows. Festival as well as club shows. Also with the Lurking Fear, there is a strong death metal scene in Greece. We would be interested in coming there. We are looking into everything.
That’s great to hear. I’m looking forward to seeing you too. So, it was an honor talking to you. Feel free to end the interview your way.
As I said, it’s always nice to talk to Greek people. We really appreciate all that Greece has done for us, with all my projects we feel very welcome. We can’t wait to come back with At The Gates or Lurking Fear to play live as soon as possible.
Thank you very much Tomas.
Take care, man.