INTERVIEW: Tomas Lindberg (AT THE GATES)
Levi: First album in 19 years, At War with Reality. What was it like recording with all the guys after all that time?
Tomas: I mean we've been doing so much other stuff together, like touring the world and hanging out for... I would say almost like seven years prior to that, like as a reunion thing, so the only thing new was actually being in that environment in the studio. And we choose the studio where we've been before, you know back in the day and we were comfortable with all the people working there. We tried to make it as homely as possible and it really worked. There was no real pressure from the outside masses. It was on our own terms. So it was just exciting and it felt good. We knew we had the songs and ability and it was just let's like capture this moment.
Levi: As you said before you've actually been reunited for about seven years. How come it took you so long before you decided to make another album?
Tomas: I guess basically, we had done almost what we felt that we had set out to do as a reunion band. And I think we still had the fire in us and we really didn't know where to take that. But Anders was quick to point out that he had some ideas that he wanted to show me, and I heard them it was a no-brainer to actually try to pursue that. One of the things we knew that to make a new At the Gates record, we had to be honest and from our hearts without any outside pressure or something like that. We set out to write it without telling anyone, and agreed that if it didn't come out the way we expected, we'd just ditch the whole project without telling anyone. So that's kind of like how we wrote the effort, you know just to please ourselves, as an art project really. And it came out the way we wanted, and that's when we decided to make it public.
Levi: Yeah. And you guys were one of the first bands who claimed the title of "melodic death metal," and influenced a lot of bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, even some of the American bands like Killswitch Engage definitely have a bit of resemblance to your sound. How does it feel knowing that you've influenced quite a fair few bands out there?
Tomas: It's not really something that we think about too much. We're a humble bunch of guys that really want to keep our feet on the ground and focus on our own thing really. And, if you think about our labels and influence, real influence for the other bands too, it's hard to pinpoint who influenced who one in one way. Of course it's rewarding when people say they are influenced by you, but it's not something we go around thinking about. Because, that would just hinder ourselves in our creative ability I would say. We really have to focus on what we do best. It's fun, of course, to see other bands break out that have a similarity so to say.
Levi: Do you think metal bands are as passionate now as they were in the early 90's?
Tomas: Definitely. I think the scene has grown. Both numbers-wise for supporters and also I would say through the internet. The worldwide spread has become more easily accessible, therefore making it easy for bands to record on their own computers and spread it through the internet. So you don't even have to have big budgets and big labels behind your music. Therefore people can experiment more with their sound. So I think the scene is more vibrant more than ever,
Levi: I've also read on Wikipedia you also teach Social Studies. Do you still do that?
Tomas: I work 60 percent of the year, that would equal about three days a week at school. Sometimes we tour when there's break or a holiday, and sometimes during the long weekends. It's tough logistics and good planning. Nowadays you have to plan with site schedules and stuff so long ahead so that it leaves a lot of room for planning. We have a good manager who can do that for us so there's no inconvenience.
Levi: How do your students feel about being taught by a legendary metal frontman. Are they impressed by it? Do they know who your band is?
Tomas: Well, I mean, right now I teach in middle school, so it's mostly kids eleven to twelve years old. I would say they know, and they think it's fun. But, they're not fans of the music so nothing goes to their heads or something like that. I try to be as normal a teacher as possible in school so it doesn't really hinder their studies I would say.
Levi: Okay. So you've never given them a history of heavy metal lesson starting with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest?
Tomas: Not really. Sometimes I've brought up the examples from that world to prove a point. For example, when you have studies about feminism and stuff like that, I can show them some examples of female metal bands so that they can see the world of gender roles doesn't have to be set in stone. I can use that sometimes but it's not really my normal way of doing stuff.
Levi: Now you guys are coming to Australia in October. Are you excited and how long has it been since you've toured here?
Tomas: It's been three years now. And it's not only three normal years, it's what happened in those years. The record came out and we've been touring the whole world on the record. So I mean it's a totally different At the Gates that's coming to Australia this time. It's new songs, it's a new found inspiration and fire that we bring now. So I would say it's doubled the fire that's in us since last time, and we're super excited to come over again.