Dark Tranquillity Interview
Dark Tranquillity is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Gothenburg. They are considered one of the pioneering acts of the Gothenburg metal scene, which also includes bands, such as In Flames and At the Gates. Dark Tranquillity is regarded as the Gothenburg fathers in the film entitled Out of Nothing: A DT Documentary released by Century Media, which was filmed in Gothenburg, Sweden in April 2009.
Now on their second U.S. tour in support of the “Character” album, Dark Tranquillity has been leaving a trail of pleased audiences in their wake. We meet up with vocalist, Mikael Stanne while on this latest tour.
Grim Magazine: First of all, I’ve got to ask what it’s like going from being the direct support act to the opening band on the tour?
Mikael: We would prefer to be the direct support, but it’s kind of cool because you get to set up all the stuff and you get to have sound checks, so it’s better that way. And also, actually, every night people have actually been in. Usually, that’s a problem for opening bands and I don’t think that we’ve opened a show say in ten years, this is the first one we’ve done touring in the opening slot. But it’s alright, people are in there and enjoying it, so it’s fine.
Grim Magazine: I heard there were problems at the Edmonton show where security was really slow getting people in there.
Mikael: It wasn’t that bad, actually. There were enough people in there; we were happy.
Grim Magazine: We had one member of our message board complaining about that, he said he missed half your set because security was slow and then he saw you guys bowling after the show.
Mikael: Oh! (laughter) That was a crazy day, crazy place. Ever been there?
Grim Magazine: I’ve not been up to Edmonton; the only places I’ve been to in Canada are in B.C. Alright, now how does this compare to your previous U.S. tours; the one with Nile you did about three years ago and the one you did with In Flames and Sentenced before that?
Mikael: The first one obviously was a lot of fun, we went with In Flames and it was just two weeks and it was just crazy. A great first experience of being here, so that was cool. The Nile one was pretty good, but it was kind of a different crowd, it was more of a Napalm and Nile crowd, but it was good, too. Then we did Soilwork; that was much more our crowd and this one is fantastic. This one is by far the best one we’ve done, actually. We’re playing so many places that we haven’t been and everything’s so smooth and works out great. We’re just really, really comfortable; we love it.
Grim Magazine: Are you playing the same set every night or are you varying it out?
Mikael: We are varying it, but sometimes we do the same. We also headline shows whenever Opeth has a day off or when they do their own shows; tomorrow we headline in San Francisco.
Grim Magazine: Okay, the next question, I’ve always wondered about this, why is “Tranquility” in the band name spelled with two L’s?
Mikael: That’s how they spelled it in old English literature, like Shakespeare and stuff like that. That’s where we were influenced by when we started the band.
Grim Magazine: Okay, ’cause I was thinking that it was more of the Megadeth, Def Leppard school of thought.
Mikael: No, no. It can be spelled either way and it was just the way that we learned the word when we were starting the band. It’s more like old English.
Grim Magazine: Okay, now the U.S. reissues of “The Mind’s I” and “The Gallery”, were they at all inspired by the insane prices the Osmose pressings were selling for on eBay and other such places?
Mikael: Yeah. I mean, we knew they were really hard to get, people were trying really hard to get the albums and they weren’t available and Osmose, they kind of aren’t really doing that much anymore, so it was hard to even get them reprinted, so Century Media bought the rights and then released them. It was only supposed to be for America, but they were released in Europe as well. I think they’re great; I love it – it’s a much better release.
Grim Magazine: I remember going to downtown Portland to 2nd Avenue Records and just picking up “The Mind’s I” for something like thirteen bucks and then three weeks later I see a used copy selling on eBay for like forty-five bucks; I’m thinking to myself, “fuck, I’m in the wrong business.”
Mikael: Oh yeah. (laughs) Oh well, we never see any of that money, anyway.
Grim Magazine: Okay, given that Dark Tranquillity is one of the pioneers of the Gothenburg sound, what do you think of the direction that a lot of the bands are taking it these days?
Mikael: I think it’s interesting and of course it’s kind of flattering that bands are influenced by our kind of music, but then again, I’d rather hear original music; that’s what I love, that’s what I care about and that’s why we started, ’cause we wanted to make something that no-one else has done, you know? Music is art and you don’t want to copy, so it’s sad that people are copying a little bit too much, but then again, a lot of people are taking it in a different direction and it’s kind of cool.
Grim Magazine: Yeah. I’ve always had this feeling a lot of duplication, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it does kind of cheapen the originals.
Grim Magazine: You guys have managed to avoid that because you’ve always gone in a more artistic direction than a lot of the other bands.
Mikael: Yeah, I hope so.
Grim Magazine: Now, I read about your appearance on Swedish television, talking about junk food. What specifically was talked about?
Mikael: It’s a new TV show in Sweden and we only have a few channels and it’s on the national one, which is the biggest one that everybody gets in the whole of Sweden and it’s a metal show, one of my oldest friends is hosting it, so it’s pretty big news. It’s really cool; we’ve never had a metal show there before. He wanted an angel, so we said junk food, ’cause I love it! I’m really interested in trying anything. So we went to my absolute favorite hamburger place in Gothenburg and we just talked about the best and the worst, you know, German dinner kabobs, shitty White Castle burgers and stuff like that. (laughter) It was just a fun thing, nothing about music at all.
Grim Magazine: Now would that incorporate some of the European breath mints I saw when I was over there where they have black licorice in the middle?
Mikael: What? Breath mints?
Grim Magazine: Yeah; I think junk food, I think candy as well.
Mikael: Ah! I’m not into candy at all; I’m into burgers and kabobs and stuff like that.
Grim Magazine: Ah, greasy stuff.
Grim Magazine: Now, at the Feast of Burden, who would you invite and what would you serve for dinner?
Mikael: (grins) Oooohhh-ah! (pauses) Who would I invite? I think I would have a Mexican fucking taco feast extreme with extra everything! I mean, the biggest one! I would probably invite the band and treat them to the biggest fucking meal they ever had! (laughter)
Grim Magazine: Okay, just one last question – a guy I know said he was down somewhere in California, I don’t remember what city, for the In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Sentenced show and according to him, you got stranded after the show, separated from everybody else, and ended up staying with him and his friends. Now I have no way of verifying this, but I just figured I’d ask about it.
Mikael: (pauses) I don’t remember. No, I don’t think so. (pauses again) I honestly don’t know. Could be true; stranger things have happened. I didn’t stay overnight or anything like that, that’s for sure. Perhaps I went over to someone’s house, had a few beers and then went back to the bus or something like that. Next time you talk, ask him for details. (laughter)
Grim Magazine: All right, thank you very much and good luck with the tour.
Mikael: It’s a pleasure, thank you!
Dark Tranquillity’s Discography:
(1993) Dark Tranquillity – Skydancer
(1995) Dark Tranquillity – The Gallery
(1997) Dark Tranquillity – The Mind’s I
(1999) Dark Tranquillity – Projector
(2000) Dark Tranquillity – Haven
(2002) Dark Tranquillity – Damage Done
(2005) Dark Tranquillity – Character
(2007) Dark Tranquillity – Fiction
(2010) Dark Tranquillity – We Are the Void
(2013) Dark Tranquillity – Construct
(2016) Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Band: Dark Tranquillity
With: Mikael Stanne (vocalist)
Interview Date: March 11, 2006
Years Active: 1989–present
Genre: Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Website: Official Website
Label: Century Media, Spinefarm
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
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