A METALSUCKS EXCLUSIVE: METALSUCKS READERS INTEVIEW DARK TRANQUILLITY FRONTMAN MIKAEL STANNE
Ye asked… and ye shall get answers. We solicited reader questions for frontman Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquillity — whose new album We Are the Void comes out today — and in turn Mikael has answered them for you in equal helpings of funny and serious.
Your questions, his answers; does he ever get mistaken for Chad Kroeger? how does he write lyrics? what’s the new album like? what does he think of modern-day In Flames?
After the jump.
Have you ever been mistaken for Chad Kroger? Do gingers have soul?
Never mistaken but I have often heard that we have a similar look. I totally disagree of course. And no there is nothing resembling a soul in this empty vessel.
Will the new album be a continuation of Fiction or will it be another step in DT’s supposed evolution? or… When will you stop making the exact same album over and over again. p.s. The Gallery is good, do that again.
We feel that this is natural development as well as a new beginning for the band. We are more excited than ever about the album and I think it shows all the different aspects of our sound as well as introducing new and different ideas.
So only one album can be done over and over again? For us it’s about refining and developing the sound of the band. Obviously there is a certain formula to the way we write and compose and it’s hard to totally think outside the norm, but we try.
What is your method for writing lyrics? Do you write after all the music is done, or do you have them ready to go beforehand? What are your main inspirations?
Most of the time I start writing when a song has taken form. I usually improvise lyrics as we are rehearsing a song and then I listen to demos of the songs until I have a basic structure. Then I start writing the lyrics mostly based on the feeling I get from the song. So inspiration comes from the music itself as well as whatever mood I am in at the time.
What do you think of modern death metal bands that often sacrifice melody for the sake of technical prowess? Is there still room in the metal world for melodic music without necessarily venturing into power metal?
Music without melody doesn’t do much for me but I can appreciate all different forms of metal. I think you can hear melody in most metal subgenres nowadays and I am all for it.
Personal favorite bands?
Rush, Depeche Mode, Atheist, Jeff Buckley, Jörn Lande, Journey, Death, Genesis, Morbid Angel and thousands more.
Bands most influential to Dark Tranquillity? Why?
In the early days we were heavily influenced by Kreator because of the aggression and intensity, Sabbat because of the excellent lyrics and the concept ideas, and Helloween because of the excellent guitar melodies. Depeche Mode because of the electronics and amazing vocal melodies. Nowadays we listen to pretty much everything and inspiration can come from any kind of music but these were the reasons for forming the band in the first place.
Mashed Potatoes or baked potatoes? Why?
My carbphobia forbids me from anything spud-based.
I noticed from reading different interviews and such that you are fairly “open” about the fact that you enjoy doing vocals that lie on the harsher end of the spectrum. Though this idea is not limited to you and DT, the fact that you’re going to be answering some questions begs the question: 1) Was there ever a time when you found it hard to stand in front of an audience and sing like that? If so, how did you get over the fact that there are a lot of people that wouldn’t understand/appreciate what it is you do?
No I have never felt uncomfortable or awkward in that respect. I usually get caught up in the music and the singing and I don’t much care what people think.
… 2) Also, as was asked before, how do you come up with the lyrics for DT’s material? I remember hearing that you wait for the band to write the music before setting vocals to it. Do you pre-write your ideas and then try to apply it to the song that you feel fits the mood you were in when writing, or do you try and write while listening to the material the band has composed?
This time I actually wrote a lot of material before I chose which song to use it for. It gave me an overview on the album as a whole. Then I applied whatever was suitable to each song.
… 3) I love the aesthetics of Sweden, the whole forlorn natural vibe. If I were to visit Sweden, what is the best place to check out aside from Stockholm and Gothenburg? What’s the best time of year to hop across the pond (both for the weather and seeing some metal)?
Sweden is certainly a beautiful country and there is tons to see here. Some of my favourite places include the mountains up in Åre where I go skiing or the archipelago outside Gothenburg that has beautiful islands where I go to swim. And if you like hiking there are some amazing places up in Dalarna.
I saw you in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,USA on the “Damage Done” tour. After the show, you and a couple band mates hopped into my friend’s car with us to go get some food. We ended up stopping at a Taco Bell since you had never eaten there before. You were quite enthralled with the large burrito you purchased. Do you still feel this way about Taco Bell, or have you refined your tastes while on tour in the U.S. ?
Haha! I remember that night pretty well. I am a huge fan of junk food in general and since that was on our first tour of the States I wanted to try anything that we don’t have back in Sweden. There are still so many places left to discover. Taco Bell may not be a favourite but when hunger strikes that works too. Yesterday in Vegas I had In ‘N Out burger for breakfast and FatBurger as a snack before bed. It was a good day.
… BTW… I have video of you in my friend’s car ordering the burrito, and trying to understand what the African American woman at the restaurant was saying. You were quite confused as to why someone who had lived their entire life in the U.S. couldn’t speak English half as well as you and your bandmates from Sweden.
Yeah, that was somewhat confusing. But nowadays I don’t have a problem with understanding the different dialects of this country. In fact I love the diversity of the language here.
You contributed lyrics to Solution .45’s debut album, due this April. How involved were you with the songs (for example, did you write all the lyrics or only a few of them?) and are you making any guest appearances on the album apart from the lyrics?
I wrote all the lyrics. Christian is a good friend and an amazing vocalist so I was very excited to write for him. But apart from the words I did not contribute to the songs. The album turned out amazing and should be heard by all!
Did you enjoy your time in In Flames and do you ever wish to go back? Or are you just fine with being in DT now? And what’s you opinion on [modern] In Flames?
I enjoyed it very much. It was only on a session basis since I didn’t want to be a full member of two bands. But Jesper was really excited about forming a band with his friends and I loved the demos he played to me. And since I had just switched from guitar to vocals in DT I figured I needed as much practice and experience as I could get. I recorded the demo first and then since it got picked up pretty fast by Wrong Again records Jesper wanted me to record the album as well and I did. It turned out great and we did some pretty cool shows before they found other temporary singers and before Anders Fridén joined. And obviously a lot has happened since then, but I think it’s amazing how much they’ve grown and developed. Couldn’t be happier for them.
Were there any melodic death metal bands that formed around the same time as you (and In Flames, At the Gates etc.) that you thought would make it big but ultimately never did?
A lot of them. Eucharist being one, Dawn being another. Darkified I really loved. As well as the very under-appreciated Corpsified.
– MS Maniacs & Suckalos