DARK TRANQUILLITY :  interview with Mikael Stanne


phoner  by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo ___    


organized by  and gryphonmetal.ch

Damage Done
Exposures-  in Retrospect and Denial
Interview with Niklas Sundin
Dark Tranquillity live at  A Day at the Border 2003




Speaking  about the new album, practice and vocals, lyrics, behavior patterns and society, band and friendship, side projects, competition, tour,  personal character, art, feeling on the stage, ending  with the Game of the Emptiness and a message for the fans






dalia: Hi Mikael! My first question is about this formidable new album Character! How was the work in the studio, how was the atmosphere, how was the inspiration? Can you tell us something about the making of of this album?

Mikael: Well, when we came back from touring with Damage Plan we thought about what we need to do and we really didn't know, .... we just liked to take things further, to make things a little bit more extreme and so we started to write material and eventually we had two or three songs written and we realized that this was the direction more or less ........we really want to push things further, to make this one more interesting, more complex, more advanced in many ways and not be too obvious, something that will last longer than at least one week or two, so we spend a lot of time just adding things to the songs and making sure, that everything there is on, is really as we wanted to and we all were satisfied. I think this album is not too obvious and expected, it is not a continuo of what we have done in Damage Done.


Indeed, one needs at least two or three listenings in order to appreciate every details, to get into the album, because the first impact is a big surprise. DT are more aggressive and the aggressiveness is the first thing the listener will realize.

Yeah, it is true, it really needs a little more time before you get into it. This is also the kind of album i like. When i listen to an album i don't want to be like " hey that sound great " and then to forget it one week later. I want something that sounds good to me if you give it the time.

Your voice seems to be more infernal than ever, really great....

...thank you...

.... it is just my opinion, but i think it will match the opinion of everybody. How do you work on your voice? I mean, do you practice (if there is any need)?


Do you practice often your vocals? How do you maintain this  great voice? 

Well, i practice a lot, i mean, we practice with the band, we rehearse and we play a lot. I try to not disguise my voice with many effects,... when i'm in the rehearsal room it sounds really dry and i need to sound as good as possible, so there is no kind of redeeming, to color it, you know.... it sounds really good, another voice will sound totally crap. I never had any teacher, it is just a matter of that i love singing and screaming and i try to do as much as i want. When i started singing in the band, i didn't had a microphone, so i had to scream very loud to be heard over the guitars and drums and i think that helped a lot, and it helps also if you have something to sing about. I think, if i start sing lyrics about things they don't matter to me, my voice will change. It is a pretty revealing instrument and when your heart is not on the right place it shows it very easily, you know, when i listen to albums and i get like "thats not what they like to do" , you can hear that so clearly, and that is really sad, i think sometimes, you can, for me at least, totally destroy an album if everything is good but the singer is lacking, because probably he takes it like an occupation he has.Iit isn't for me to think like that....

Speaking about the lyrics... what meaning or message should the lyrics of Character suggest?

It is all about sense of direction for me, it's all about being totally satisfied where you are right now and not being affected by the outside world and by the  stupidity that goes on. You know, have a good foundation in your believes and having a good believe system it doesn't require you to rethink everything all the time and to follow every trends or current standards. That's what it's about, i mean, being an individual and not being a member of a flock and that was a kind of the starting point for it. Its different songs to different behavior patterns and different, really really bad sides of humanity, that makes us doing really stupid things for all the wrong reasons. You should be strong in a world like this, i am not, and i know that. I make all the wrong decisions all the time and i make really stupid things: i hate that, you know, i try but then i'm failing and all i can do is write about it and scream about it and make sure that at least i am aware of my failings. I guess eventually things getting better, you know, you learn from experience..

... actually it is not easy to live in this society, it is getting more and more complicated day by day.....

...the sad thing i guess is, it can be very easy, but then you should have to disconnect from everything and not care about anything. You can totally distance yourself from all the horrible things or all those stupid things, but that is not good either, you know, because it would mean you are totally irresponsible. I turn to be like that too, i lose that kind of entity for events and things that happens and that's not good either. I hope something good will come out by having written this, but i don't know.

You have suggested me a question. What was the most horrible and stupid thing you have experienced recently?

Oh, i don't know, i mean, obviously we talk about current events, suddenly a great guitar player from a great band gets killed on stage. That means that someone has a strange mind, ...is damaged from his surroundings and not being at all into what is going on, being strange enough to do something like that, just horrible. Probably it has to do more with mental illness, but who knows..... it's really sad.

...yes it was shocking :(... well let's change mind... the success of Dark Tranquility i think, is also due to the great unity of the band, is that true?

Absolutely, everybody takes a huge part of the band,  six people, bringing different influences and ideas into the band, and what comes out is the product of all of our musical interests. It is good enough for six totally different people; hopefully other people around the world will be able to appreciate it as well. I mean, four of us been in the band since 15 years, and before that, we were really good friends, so it is important for us the honesty and that strong sense of belonging to each other, having this great working experience together and being great friends. That means a lot, that means, that we don't really have to compromise at all when it comes to other things, because the only thing that matters is the six of us and the music we make,  nothing else matters at all when we write, you know, we don't think about what the record company will feel or what the fans might want you know. It is just an album, but it is us, we're the ones who gonna live with it.

Yes, i have the impression that you are all so near one another,  also the instrumentation is tight, that i think that only a very united band can create something like that.

I dont know, i cant speak for the whole band, but you know....

So i imagine that you don't have any side project or musical interests besides Dark Tranquility.

Not really, some of us, Niclas has his side project that will be unvealed very soon and it is totally amazing, but he will come out with it by himself. There were some things we have done in the past, but mostly we don't really have the time to devote ourselves to other bands or projects and also we have a lot of freedom in our own music, that allows us to write pretty much whatever we feel like.

Do you think that Dark Tranquility feel any former competition with In Flames?

No, not competition i mean, it's never been like that, we were very good friends from the start, if you thinking competitively...., i'm not a competitive person in anything, i think it feeds just the worst things in the people, such like envy, jealousy. These are really destructive emotions and feelings. I never will conform to that, i don't like that

In Febraury you will start a tour, a new European tour with Ektomorf, Hatesphere and Kreator....


... which are your expectations and how do you think the new stuff will impact live?

I think it will be great, we actually cant wait, we actually played some songs live doing the summer festivals, and at the gig in London. I have good expectations for that tour, because we are touring with my alltime favourite band Kreator which is gonna be amazing and we go to see many new countries we have never been, so i'm really looking forward to it. We have some old songs from our older albums that we incorporate in the set,  we haven't played these songs for six or seven years, and so .... it's gona be amazing.

Will the opener of your setlist be one of the new songs?

Perhaps, i don't know, we don't have decided actually. We don't really know..

Is there a possibility that you come later this year to Switzerland again?

I really hope so, i'd  really do. We are actually working on it, because immediately after this European tour we make a tour in America and than we do some festivals in the summer and than we will give another leg to the European tour.

There is a song on the new album whose title is " Am I One"...


...so...are you one?

I don't know, that's the question.., i am, obvious.., i mean it's a matter of finding yourself, your own character. That was one of the first songs that were written, one of the first lyrics i have written and it is always the question, are you the most important in your life? and do you feel the most important? and is, like your own will your first priority, it is about priority i guess. Do you consider being accepted by others more important than accepting your own person. Stuff like that to me is really important. A lot of people make mistakes of trying to please other people first and themselves second and that can be fine sometimes but not if you want to be yourself and to enjoy your live. Not to be self centered or egoistical, but....

Do you agree with this quotation, "the opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference"

Yeah, i mean, the opposite of art is is the death of all things.That separates us from the animals, the appreciation of creativity, it doesn't have to be beauty, it has to be something special, something created by man, amazing.

You are considered one of the most interactive, interesting and high on spirit frontman of Metal. Are you always so enthusiast, do you always enjoy so much to be on stage?

Yeah, i tink i do. I really try to make the most out of it. To me it is a great experience to have the opportunity to play in front of people who enjoy our music, it is really amazing to me to see people they like what we do: they get there and they go with us,we have a show together with the people, i love that. There is no better feeling, i mean, sometimes you are really tired, sometimes, on tour, you know, after months of touring you feel like crapped, but once we get on stage and the song starts you get into it, its an amazing experience. I love it and i'm very addicted too.

Last question, we of gryphonmetal, have a kind of religion: the last question is a game :D,
and for the bands we interview  the second time, we have the Game of the emptiness. So i will tell  you a place which is completely empty and you should reveal to me which object or person you would put into this imaginary empty place at first. For you, there is a completely empty garden.

Could i put myself there? I think to take it easy and be part of that. 

That's cool, i didn't imagine such a choice!..., so you put yourself as first in this garden!

...yeah, i will probably enjoy it there, it sounds much better than sitting in an office right now anyway!

Would you like to give a short message to your fans?

Hopefully we come to see everybody and i hope the people appreciate the album as much as we do, im just looking forward to meeting everybody again!

Thanks you so much  for your time Mikael!

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