Dark Tranquillity: Trust In Metal

Obviously We Have Done Something Right Starting This Band...

Dark Tranquillity hit Australian shores this week to reiterate why they are one of the primary pioneers of the melodic death metal genre. An accolade which I’m sure made vocalist Mikael Stanne blush as Metal As Fuck chatted with him recently re the extensive world tour promoting their latest album Construct, a stroll down memory lane; reminding ourselves how old we are and of course their highly anticipated visit to Australia…

What has the response been like for Construct so far? “It’s been amazing; it’s also going to lead to the most intense touring schedule we’ve ever done. We’re seventy shows into this tour with…. Oh I don’t know how many more to go” [Laughs] “It’s been amazing and the greatest compliment we can get every night is that fans want to hear more of the new songs”.

You're the longest standing band from the original Gothenburg movement with statements made about you such as “One of the most integral pioneers of that genre” how does this statement make you feel? “I guess kind of weird [Laughs] but at the same time very proud, obviously that means that we have done something right by forming this band and sticking to our guns and sticking to our sound that has kept us unique, a sound that no one was doing at the time. I remember pushing the extreme and we felt very strongly about our music, fuck it eventually people will get it. We’ve never had to compromise our sound and that’s the thing I’m most proud of”.  

Dark Tranquillity has always had a heavy influence on the style; what motivates you to keep making music? “I guess it’s the feeling of writing together and pushing our boundaries. It’s amazing, we can travel the world and meet new people and it’s still fun, it’s still interesting and of course our most elusive ultimate album is still out there; I mean Construct was as close as we can get to it but I think we can do even better next time and that’s the mind set, you can always make a better album”.

The bands inception was back in 1989 and technology has changed in the years of the band; what has changed for you guys or more appropriately what has been made easier over the years with the newer technology? “Wow, everything you know – I can remember the days where we copied cassettes and printed covers for the cassettes to hand out to people, to spread the word of the band – but now it’s just a couple of mouse clicks away, you can get music instantly, you can listen to every album in the world on your cell phone, I mean that’s a huge change; if someone told me I could do that twenty years ago my mind would have been blown! [Laughs] the biggest change of course was when people stopped buying your albums because of the new technology, so I guess it’s the negative side of technology. Yet writing and recording music is so much easier, I don’t remember a time before e-mail really. Although running out to your mailbox everyday to check to see if your new favourite album had arrived, the waiting and delayed gratification is something I miss. Having to hold something in your hand is pretty special, the record collection – it’s basically the proof of how metal you are” [Laughs]

It’s also the twentieth celebration of Skydancer; twenty years Michael! You’ve mentioned previously that Skydancer has been the most underrated album of your catalogue, so you feel with the re-release it gained more momentum this time around? “I’m not sure, I guess, it’s still kind of interesting in terms of how we started and what happened when a couple of kids started writing music – it’s interesting seeing yourself at 18/19 years old learning how to write music, it was a great learning experience. I feel though that The Gallery was kind of our proper album where we found our sound, but I still love Skydancer, I still love listening to it, it will always have a special place in our hearts”.

Getting into Construct a bit more, what was the underlining premise you wanted to explore through the album? “Lyrically for me, it was about trust, I’ve experienced a lot of things over the last few years that made me basically not trust people anymore, it was pretty traumatic; people you thought you knew turn out to be something else, It was kind of devastating. I didn’t want to be whiney, I wanted to explore the skeptical movement, asking the questions, why people do the things they do, holding a scientific standpoint at all times. It became kind of like some sort of therapy for me, to get through tough times, look at things rationally – I wanted to see things for what they were or what they could be and what I wanted them to be. It was tough to write yet I got out on the other side”. These are the sort of albums that do resonate through the fans and leave an imprint. “I hope so”. [Laughs]

Over twenty years one (one being the fan) would immediately identify what a Dark Tranquillity song sounds like, is it this easy when you write? “Nooo” [Laughs] “It’s extremely difficult and they get more and more difficult with every year; trying to figure out how to sound new and exciting and relevant. This is our tenth album; you sit there and think hmmm why should we still be relevant? We have to prove ourselves. It becomes more difficult but the reward is something you can be proud of”. I understand the general song writing process was altered with Construct? “Yeah, we had to, we lost ourselves doing the same thing over and over again, working in a manner that was so incredibly time consuming and frustrating, we didn’t want this album to be a continuation of We Are The Void, we wanted it to be new and different so we went to the studio and demoed each of the songs and allowed ourselves to experiment and that was very helpful, we could take a step back and actually listen to the songs, we could now see the whole idea coming together”.

It has indeed come together and the result is the intense world tour you have schedule, Australia and Japan come shortly, however where else has and is the album taking you this year? “Oh wow, well we started in Europe in November, followed by South America in January we did the 70,000 Tonnes of Metal, travelling around North America throughout February, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia this week which is great because I have been knee deep in snow for months. Then back to mainland Europe, with shows following in Turkey, North Africa and Israel – then we can get home for a while but then the festivals start [Laughs]