At The Gates - Adrian Erlandsson

“At War With The Reality” brought AT THE GATES back in action but I’d say that “To Drink From The Night Itself” brought a refreshed and re-energized AT THE GATES on the scene being full of power and aggression. Yesterday, METAL KAOZ had the following Skype session with drummer Adrian Erlandsson and below you can check out what was covered from the Anders' departure, the making of the new LP and the plans for touring.

At The Gates - Adrian Erlandsson

Hello Adrian how are you?
I am very good, thanks! What about you?

I am good, it is sunny here in Chicago believe it or not.
Excellent, so you are getting some summer as well.

Almost ,I’d say. Where are you calling from, Sweden?
No, I live in London actually and when I look outside it’s grey at the moment and it is about to rain.

Well, it is the UK so it has to rain…
We had some taste of summer as it was 85F the other day so it is getting there.

But enough with the weather; let’s talk about music.
Please, that would be excellent!

First of all, AT THE GATES did some shows in Asia, right? How was the experience?
We have played in China a few times before but we did club shows so when we got there to play in this festival in Taihu it was a massive one. They had different acts and none of those was Metal and in fact right before us it was a Japanese Pop act and after us was a Chinese Pop one. We were getting ready backstage but we were not really sure how this crowd was going to make of us, you know. And when we came on we started with “Death And The Labyrinth” and people were going crazy; it was quite an experience. Thailand was more of a small club show which we are used to playing in front of 400 people maybe and then, we played in this big outdoor festival in Manila, Philippines with BEHEMOTH as headliners, CRADLE OF FILTH, DEATH ANGEL so it was a pretty big package. I am not sure how many people there were but maybe it was something like 20 thousand. The next day we played with DEATH ANGEL in Singapore and meeting with them and sharing the stage with them was really cool. People had travelled all the way from Malesia and Indonesia to come and see the show. So, it was a great experience all around but when you travel like that there is not a lof of time for sightseeing and also not a lot of time to sleep so most of us were really tired. It was hard to find the energy to play the show so we were pretty much burnt out afterwards.

I was about to comment on this; because on one hand visiting all these countries is great but on the other it must be quite an ordeal traveling that far, changing times zones etc…
The tiring thing about it is that you are ruled by the budget. Because, a day-off costs money so have to play pretty much every day and because of the distances you have to travel in between each show and you end up not sleeping very much. For a week this is sort of doable but when it gets longer than that it gets to have an impact on you.

You have a new album coming out this Friday [May 18th]…
Oh yes, have you heard it?

Yes, I have and I like it a lot. I think the sound of this album is a bit dirtier than the previous so it is more aggressive.
You know, this has to do with the way a lot of Metal albums sound these days; they don’t sound like a live band playing and when we were discussing about the sound we would like to have for this album we wanted to have a more of a live feel to it. Starting from the drums we did not want this popular clicky sound that is over-produced and over-edited; we wanted more the raw acoustic drum sound and that sort of shapes the way the guitars because everything has to fit together. We are really happy how the album turned out. I know that a lot of people say that the production is not that clear and to that I’d say that we wanted a live sounding album to capture the energy of the band when we are onstage.

I guess it depends to whom are you speaking to and maybe his age; I mean, if it is someone in his 20s then he is used to that polished sound because, as you said, nowadays almost all the bands go for that production. To my ears, this album sounds better as it sounds more like AT THE GATES.
Yeah, and I am pleased that you said this because this is what we wanted the album to be and have a more organic sound.

And this is why you chose to work with Russ Russell?
Actually, the idea to work with Russ came up during the time we were working on “At War With Reality”; when we recorded that album we sent out a few songs to people to do test mixes on because we had not decided who was going to mix the album. It ended up that Russ was one doing a test-mix and he almost got the job; it was 50-50 between him and Jens Bogren who ended up doing the mix. So, Russ stayed in our minds and after all we know him for a long time. So, when me and Jonas [Björler] did the last THE HAUNTED album, “Strength In Numbers”, we had Russ doing the mix and while doing this we talked to him about working on the new AT THE GATES album and he had quite a lot of ideas right away so it seemed like a natural progression for us. He was also into the sound that we wanted to capture. As opposed to “At War With Reality” where we had Fredrik Nordström do all the recording and then Jens Bogren do the mixing, this time we had Russ Russell there from the beginning and he knew that he would be part of the whole process and do the mixing and mastering as well. This made the planning easier because the steps were one after the other.

And the lyrics of the album are based on Peter Wiess’ novel; have you read this?
I have not read it. The lyrics is kind of Tomas’ department and I cannot really speak about his inspiration.

Well, my question was if you have read this because I am aware than Tomas writes the lyrics. However, how the lyrics meet the music? Is there any connection between those two?
Tomas is really involved in how the music is being shaped as well. And he had concept for the lyrics so it is not a coincidence that the music sounds like it does and fits the lyrics. I did not actually hear or even read any lyrics until after I had been into the process of doing the demos for the drum parts. I knew that Tomas had a plan for the concept but at that time it kind of flew over my head to be honest (laughs). But, you know, he is very competent in that side so I kind of left it to him because I knew it was going to fit with the music.

This is also the album without Anders [Björler], so how did this change - if at all - affect the way you worked on this album?
Obviously, Anders has not written anything on this album. Towards the end of the previous touring cycle for “At War With Reality”, Anders told us that he needed to take a break as he did not want to go into making another album straight away. We said ‘ok’ but then asked how long this break would be. His response was that he did not know how long it would be and, in fact, he was not sure if he was going to return after the break. So, Jonas and Tomas took this response as a cue to start writing the new album in preparation for this. And when Anders confirmed that he was not coming back then, we were more than half-way into writing the new album. I guess, this was like a relief; I love having Anders in the band but it was a relief in the sense that he had kept us waiting without knowing if he was going to come back or what was going to happen.

Or maybe the right word is ‘closure’.
Yeah, closure is better. The songs that Jonas and Tomas had already written were more adventurous than our previous. We have done our reunion album so now we can explore more our music. And tracks like “Daggers of Black Haze”, “The Colours of the Beast” or “The Mirror Black” really show that the band is moving forward and exploring new ideas.You got Jonas Stålhammar in the band so was he involved in the making of the album?
When Jonas #2, as we call him (laughs), joined the band there were only two tracks left to finalize. During the time that Anders took a break from AT THE GATES, me and Tomas got busy with Jonas Stålhammar to create THE LURKING FEAR. We’ve known him for a really long time; he was tape-trading with some of the guys in the band and he was in one of our first shows that we did back in the 90s. He has sort of the same values with us and he likes the same bands that we like. We had a long list of things that we wanted the new band member to have and as I was talking about it with Tomas we realized that Jonas pretty much ticks all of these boxes. It was the question whether he could play or not so we just asked him to try. A few days we played and it felt like he was always with the band. It was really like a natural progression. 

Speaking about THE LURKING FEAR do you think that working on that project had any effect on you when working on the new AT THE GATES album?
Possibly yes, but it is quite hard to say if it had an influence because as bands THE LURKING FEAR and AT THE GATES are different. The thing that was dragging me down during the last days of Anders in the band was the lack of inspiration. He was in place that he did not want to be and I think this rubbed off on the rest of us. And when we formed THE LURKING FEAR it felt that that spark was back again; you know, why I am playing drums to begin with. During our first rehearsal as THE LURKING FEAR it was like “yeah, this is why I am playing drums”. It was like starting fresh and possibly this had an effect on AT THE GATES

This is where I was getting to with my question because it feels like working on the THE LURKING FEAR LP your view about music was refreshed and this is why the AT THE GATES came out so raw and powerful.
Yeah, that could very well be; I have not considered that but I do know when we started rehearsing and writing stuff for THE LURKING FEAR it really felt like a new fire burning. I am sure this had an effect on AT THE GATES.

Do you think you’ll be revisiting THE LURKING FEAR any time soon or was it a one-time thing?
Oh no, we already have a few songs for the next THE LURKING FEAR album. Of course, me, Tomas and Jonas will be extremely busy for the next coming years but we have started writing new material although I cannot promise you when it will come out.

Awesome! What about touring for the new album; you have announced some live shows in Japan so what is on the works?
The official touring cycle for this album will start in two-weeks’ time in Japan where we are doing three shows and then, we have like a long string of summer festival until the end of August. In mid-September we have the Latin America tour for about two and a half weeks and then, we have the US tour that is going to be announced soon. I cannot say more about it other than it will be a three-band package; a killer package and I think loosely it will happen from mid-October until the end of November in the States with some Canadian dates as well.

I know that you cannot say but at least we can rule out THE LURKING FEAR and THE HAUNTED, right? (laughs)
No, these are not the bands. (laughs)

However, it would have been interesting although extremely difficult to pull it out…
I did a double-duty with THE HAUNTED and AT THE GATES for about ten shows or something but it really fucked me up, man!

Thank you very much for your time Adrian! Have a safe travels all over the world and see in Chicago.
Thank you Dimitris and yes, I will see you later on one of AT THE GATES shows. Cheers!