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Katatonia Back in India

Swedish metallers Katatonia’s vocalist Jonas Renkse talks about returning to India, celebrating 25 years together as a band, and more

Anurag Tagat Jan 04, 2017
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Katatonia. Photo: Ester Segarra

Katatonia. Photo: Ester Segarra

It’s been a hectic time leading up to the Christmas break for vocalist Jonas Renkse. Not only was he fronting Swedish prog metal band Katatonia on their Australia tour until December 11th, he also jumped straight into a special show with his side project, death metallers Bloodbath, playing bass at the Black Christmas Festival in Sweden the same week.

But the pressures—of the road or even in the studio—is something that Katatonia don’t lament. Despite being around for 25 years, they went into the studio to record their 10th album The Fall of Hearts with limited booked hours. The budgets, as guitarist Anders Nyström mentioned in previous interviews, were also restrained. But Renkse sees it another way. “It’s always good to feel a healthy dose of time pressure, otherwise you get lazy. But I will never compromise with the final result because of financial limits or time restraints. Things have to work out and match our vision, otherwise it’s pointless to even start.”

The results are there to see, of course. The Fall of Hearts, which released in May via Peaceville records, was the moody, melodic prog that is signature Katatonia, even if it has moved them far away from their death/doom metal beginnings. What remains is the sprawling, eerie sound. Renkse explains that they don’t just talk about moving out of comfort zones as a clichéd interview response. They really mean it. “Comfort zones are made to be broken, but not just for the sake of it. It’s important to have a thought behind every new move you make,” he says. Plus, for the rest of us outside Europe, there’s the fascination that some of the world’s most developed countries like Sweden and Norway can often produce the best downhearted music. Renkse says, “I personally think it’s the weather and the nature here that is planting the seeds of melancholy.”

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Katatonia are bringing that melancholy to India once again, performing their second show in the country on January 7th as part of the Indian Institute of Technology —Madras’s annual cultural festival Saarang in Chennai. Interestingly, their India debut in 2010 also came at an IIT, performing in Mumbai. Renkse recalls their first taste of India as “exciting, exotic and a special moment.” He adds, “I think the whole experience was a standout moment, albeit a very brief one. I hope to have the chance to see a little bit more this time.” With a setlist that will include most of The Fall of Hearts and their favorites such as “My Twin,” “July” and “Dead Letters.” Renkse says their second sojourn to India should be a little more relaxed. Coming in from a show in Dubai on January 5th, the vocalist adds, “We have a little more time on our hands on this run, so I hope to see at least something more than a hotel and a stage.” When asked if he has any plans apart from the show, Renkse says, “I am not yet sure what it could be; I am open for anything as long as it’s not too dangerous!”

Buy tickets for the concert here, also featuring Kochi-based Indian rock band Thaikkudam Bridge and Bengaluru-based metal band Kryptos. 

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