Katatonia is a Swedish Metal band that has gone through massive changes since their incarnation in 1991. Going from a Death/Doom/Gothic Metal band in their humble beginnings to 25 years and 10 albums later becoming a more progressive, dark and catchy Rock and Metal band. As one of my favorite bands growing up, I had the absolute honor of doing my 196th interview with the band's newest member, drummer, Daniel Moilanen to discuss the band's latest album, The Fall of Hearts, which is available NOW through Peaceville Records. We also talk about joining the band at this stage of their career, drumming, and so much more!
That Drummer Guy: Thank you so very much for taking the time to do this interview!
Daniel Moilanen: Thank you for having me!
TDG: The Fall Of Hearts just came out last week through Peaceville Records, How does it feel getting to play on your first studio album with Katatonia?
DM: It feels awesome. I’ve been a fan of the band and I really like working with the guys so I’m honored to be a part of the album and a part of the band.
TDG: I noticed that The Fall of Hearts not only goes into more proggy territory this time around, but also brings back more of the heavier elements as well, including consistent double bass in some sections. Was this something that was thought about before the writing process or did this happen more naturally?
DM: I think everything Katatonia does comes naturally. It’s been four years since ‘Dead End Kings’ and a lot has happened on the way. I think that ‘Dethroned..’ opened some doors which ‘Sanctitude’ kept holding up. Also, I told the guys early on that they had carte blanche to write and arrange whatever they wanted and I’d make sure to play it so that also gave some room to work more freely, I think. I don’t think they ever abandoned their heavier elements, just took them in other directions. With this album we’re just at the next crossroads on our way to somewhere else.
TDG: Do you see the current sound that is presented on The Fall Of Hearts to be a sound that will be explored more by the band in the future?
DM: Seeing that the current sound is very exploring in itself I would have to say yes. Katatonia, as I’ve seen the band throughout the years, has always been about exploration and natural progression and in this current sound and setting the band is perhaps more open than ever to its wants and needs. That doesn’t mean that the next album will be more extreme than this in any direction but this is what we sound like today and I’m excited to see and hear what we will be building on for the future.
TDG: How did you discover Katatonia?
DM: I discovered Katatonia shortly after the release of their debut album ‘Dance of December Souls’, around early 1994 I think. I was very into the northern black metal scene and when I heard the Katatonia album it was like nothing I’d ever heard. They had this dark romantic atmosphere that with their doomy eerie riffs sounded like a mixture of My Dying Bride and Dissection. Both bands that I loved. That album became one of my favorites then and is still to this day.
TDG: Being a new member of the band, and from a fan perspective, how do you feel Katatonia has changed the landscape of heavy music?
DM: I feel Katatonia changed the landscape of heavy music from the very beginning. It’s quite easy to pinpoint different sub-genres and styles being birthed from say ‘Brave Murder Day’ and ‘Last Fair Deal Gone Down’ and even later with ‘The Great Cold Distance’. The emotive genres of heavy music, be it goth, doom, black or prog metal has a lot to thank Katatonia for. There has been this unique aura to every album the band has done which obviously is inspiring.
TDG: How is playing with Katatonia different than other projects you have played with? What is the most challenging aspects and easiest aspects of working with the band?
DM: The most challenging aspect is also the easiest aspect. Fitting into a band with such a great legacy, unique people and a unique sound is a quite daunting experience and at the same time I’m welcomed into a band with just that, which gives a feeling of safety and also exacting serenity. They know what they are doing and now I’m here to start knowing that as well. We get along very well both professionally and personally which makes me less of a ‘drummer for Katatonia’ and more of a musician in company of other musicians. All that seeps into our playing as well. I’ve never felt more safe on stage than with this band. And here it’s a good thing. Some bands require an unsafe environment but there’s a time and a place for that as well.
TDG: What are your favorite songs to play from previous Katatonia albums?
DM: My favorites from what I’ve had the pleasure of playing this far would probably be ‘Lethean’, ‘Soil’s Song’ ‘The Racing Heart’ and ‘Cold Ways’, Good songs, good drum arrangements and good energy.
TDG: What is the recording setup you used for The Fall Of Hearts? Is it any different than what you play live?
DM: My recording setup for album was a Tama Starclassic Performer B/B, sized 10”, 12”, 14”, 16”, 22”. After trying a bunch of different snares we went with a Tama SLP Dynamic Bronze snare. Same with heads, tried some (all Evans) sets but ultimately decided on G2:s over G1:s for the toms, EQ3 for the kick and HD for the snare. If I remember correctly. Cymbals were all Meinl Byzance. My setup can be found on Meinl’s webpage and that was basically what I used, with some cymbals switching places. The recording setup differs a bit from my live setup, cymbal wise. Live I only have one china (on my left hand side), only two crashes and only one splash, if one at all. Drum wise it’s the same setup.
TDG: Did you have to change your playing set up at all when joining Katatonia?
DM: Didn’t have to change but did anyways. I saw an opportunity for meddling with some grooves so I switched sides for my china cymbal and altered the tom placement somewhat but that’s pretty much it.
TDG: What drummers inspired you growing up and what drummers are still inspiring you?
DM: The drummers that gave me the most inspiration to get to where I ultimately got would be Sean Reinert (Cynic), Steve Shelton (Confessor), Snowy Shaw (King Diamond/Mercyful Fate) and Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel). These four drummers gave me the rocks upon which I built my church, so to speak, and my style today would boil down to combining all their different approaches to drumming. I guess that makes me a groovy and technical extreme metal drummer with finesse. Quite true. Today I don’t listen to drummers as much but if I do it’s mostly Ari Hoenig, whose books also are amazing. And obviously a lot of Daniel Liljekvist. And the above mentioned four. Still.
TDG: There is some insane fills and killer odd time signature moments that you pull off on The Fall Of Hearts. Were any of those moments challenging for you?
DM: Yeah, some parts we’re challenging. Not in the ‘this can’t be done’-way but more in the way of ‘how can I make this even quirkier?’. As all the drum parts are programmed when I get the demo tracks there’s quite a bit of learning. It’s always fun deciphering drum parts written by non-drummers. It’s not a mere tech fest but I think the drums on the album are still quite fun, there’s some stuff in the background that makes for a good time. Not all beats need to be in the foreground.
TDG: So what are the current plans for Katatonia for the rest of the year?
DM: For the rest of the year we’re keeping busy. The summer kicks off in three weeks with Hellfest in France and then there’s a fair amount of festivals all through the summer. After the festival season ends we’re off to Latin America for a handful of shows. After that we’re doing a special kind of gig in Bulgaria where we’ll be performing the entire ‘The Great Cold Distance’-album with an orchestra as it is the 10th anniversary of the album, and that’s on top of our ordinary headline set. And directly after that we’re going on the European headlining trek for ‘The Fall of Hearts’. I’ve heard talks about Australia this winter but since nothing is confirmed I can’t comment on the rumors I’ve just started spreading.
TDG: Is there any other projects you are working on, or is Katatonia now your 100% focus?
DM: Right now Katatonia gets all of my attention. We’re too busy at the moment for me to be able to focus fully on other projects. But I am involved in a couple of other bands as well. With the onomatopoeic Heavydeath we’re in the midst of finishing our second album, I put down the drums maybe a month and a half ago. I’m also in the powerviolence duo/trio Mick Hoak with some sort of debut release out hopefully during this summer. And then there’s the occasional session work.
TDG: What are you currently listening to?
DM: Besides all the Katatonia stuff that I’m listening to for the rehearsals there’s really not much time for other music but when I’ve had time I’ve basically been listening to classical and choral music. Also, Paramore.
TDG: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I absolutely love The Fall Of Hearts, which is available now through Peaceville Records. And I love what you are contributing to the band. It feels like such a natural fit. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
DM: I’m very glad to hear that you enjoy the album and my playing! Really cool! Due to the comprehensive nature of this interview I think there’s nothing else to add other than the usual ‘come see us on tour’ and ‘buy our album’ stuff. So for all you readers - come see us on tour and buy our album! Support the scene, go to shows, buy albums, more stagedives.
Katatonia- The Fall Of Hearts is available NOW through Peaceville Records!