DARK TRANQUILLITY hail from Sweden’s very own Gothenburg Scene, which started out with a bunch of other bands that grew together back since the inception. Dark Tranquillity‘s music is characterised with melodies that you can’t not forget and themes that go beyond realms producing a diverse theatrical sound that shows the aggression of Metal yet retaining the essence of the melodies that go parallel. The band is all set to release their new album- Atoma via Century Media Records this November 4th, exploring a new world with its dramatic portrayal and new themes. We are interacting with the front man Mikael Stanne, talking about music, Scandinavia and much more! Excerpts:
MJM. Back in 1991 Dark Tranquillity put out a demo called ‘Trail of Life Decayed’, how much has the band changed today musically and in terms of production and inspiration?
Mikael: Hopefully a lot! We were basically just kids at that time and we experimented our way into writing songs. We had no experience, just excitement and all the time in the world. Our goal was to make music that no one else was doing at the time and those first step toward being original and new were ofcourse important. Nowadays, we still do that but with 27 years worth of experience it´s both easier and harder at the same time.
MJM. Can you tell us why the band is named as Dark Tranquillity?
Mikael: The first proper song we ever wrote was called “Void of tranquillity” and we were very satisfied with it so we decided to name the band after the song. A week or so later we realised that it might be too pretentious and we renamed to Dark Tranquillity. Which to me represents the place where inspiration and creativity comes from.
MJM. Can you tell us the story behind this particular song ‘Derivation TNB’? What does the name mean? What are the musical and lyrical inspirations for that song?
Mikael: As you might be able to figure it out. Its a derivative of the song “the new build”. We took a lot of the elements from that song such as guitar tracks, keyboards, few vocal lines and looped drums and created a new song from it. It was an experiment that happened late in the recording process and I think it turned out to be a very cool and different track.
MJM. Talking about your new album ‘ATOMA’ is due this November, how is it different than the previous albums musically, lyrically and production wise?
Mikael: I think it´s big step forward in terms of songwriting and emotional content. It was written in a way we have not really done before where we had more time with each individual song already months before recording which I think contributed to the directness of the album and since we once again recorded in Rogue Music studios here in Gothenburg we knew what we were doing and it was a great and creative process.
MJM. Is this a concept album? What is the album about?
Mikael: I wouldn’t say its a concept album but there are some themes that runs through the album for sure. One is intolerance and bigotry, one is insecurity and self esteem. Inspiration in this case has come from just seeing the news about what is going on in the world on a global scale but also in terms of how we treat each other. How it seems we have lost our empathy for one another and this fear that I hear about all the time permeates everything we do and feel. I think we should have overcome these very basic territorial notions by now but it´s seems with each step forward we take two steps back.
MJM. Sounds interesting! How long did this album take to finish from pre- production?
Mikael: A year and a half or more. From the first couple of drafts that Anders J wrote to the final mix day.
Listen to the song- Atoma from the new album:
MJM. Tell us about the artwork for this album.
Mikael: Again Niklas has outdone himself. Once again this came from a conversation me and Niklas had about what we felt the album was all about. We agreed that the themes about human nature were central and we also thought that where we are right now as a band should be represented. So three days after this conversation took place Niklas came up with something that I think perfectly shows this. It´s the nucleus of what we are. The beginning of something new and amazing and it speaks of the mysteries of life.
MJM. Anders Iwers of ‘Tiamat’ has been with the band a lot, mostly for live shows. How did you get in contact with him? Has he been part of this album too?
Mikael: Anders is one of my best friends and we have known hims since before the band started so this was very natural to us. And we couldn’t be happier having him in the band. He did a great job on the album and I cannot wait to go out on tour together for real.
MJM. Will Dark Tranquillity be continuing with Century media? How is it working with them?
Mikael: Yes without a doubt. CM has been great to us ever since we signed with them in ’99. They are true music fans and the have great knowledge about the world of music. We have a great relationship with them in terms of never mutual respect. They trust us to do our best and we do the same with them.
MJM. If you had a chance to tour India with another European band, who would that be? Why?
Mikael: Maybe with some of our friends here in the city like In Flames, Evergrey, At The Gates, Hammefall or Monolord.
MJM. How would you see the growth as a Dark Tranquillity?
Mikael: I see it as steady trajectory that always leads to new and better things. We are fortunate I think to not have peaked yet so to speak. We still have a lot more to do and experience and things just keep improving overall.
MJM. What other musicians/ artists do you admire?
Mikael: So many but my biggest heroes are Rush, in particular the lyrics of Neil Peart.
Watch one of the video for the track Iridium taken from their 2011 album- We Are Te Void–
MJM. Coming out of the Scandinavian region or more precisely Sweden’s very own Gothenberg scene, which is relatable to the 80’s Floridan Death Metal or Bay Area Thrash metal from USA; how was the scene back in the days?
Mikael: It was small but very intense and passionate. We were just a few bands but we struggled on and we felt like we were doing something different and that drove us forward. Also there was never any competition, we are all friends and we encouraged each other more than anything.
MJM. How do you see the bands of the current era?
Mikael: I am incredibly proud of all the bands from around here, I try so seek out as many of the new and upcoming bands as I can and the scene here is way bigger and better than it´s ever been I think.
MJM. Any favourite bands from the Scandinavian side?
Mikael: Almost all my favourite bands are from around here actually. Faves include Opeth, Soen, Agusa, Monolord, Swithblade, Evergrey, Wintergatan and Spiritual beggars.
MJM. Tell us what comes to your mind when I mention these-
Syria – People in need of help, assistance and more than anything emphaty.
Religion – the root of most of the problems in the world and something there is absolutely no need for anymore.
Century Media – Passionate music geeks doing great work.
Parallel Universes – It remains a theory and an incredibly interesting one but I hold out for evidence.
European Union – Something I am proud we are part of.
Online Piracy – theft is theft no matter how innocent it might seem.
Family – The most important thing in my life.
Atoma – Togetherness through understanding.
Future – Scary and dark.
MJM. Thanks for speaking with us Mikael! We wish you good luck for new album.
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