Interview conducted March 01 2015
Interview published April 202015
The first band booked for this year's
House of Metal was none other than At The Gates, one of the leading death
metal bands, now with a brilliant new album out as well. Half an hour
before we headed to see The Haunted, me and the band's frontman Tomas
'Tompa' Lindberg sat down in the hotel lobby for
a short interview, mainly discussing the band's successful return. As
expected, Lindberg was a very likable and humble guy to talk to.
Mozzy: What are your expectations about
House of Metal? At The Gates have not played here before.
Tompa: No we have not. But I've been here with
Disfear, and The Haunted have been here. It went well both times and
the people here are nice so what can go wrong?
Mozzy: Yes, the organisers are great. And
we don't get bigger bands up here in the North of Sweden so it will be
a highlight. You were one the first bands being booked, and the sales
have been terrific.
Tompa: Yes, it was early on. That sounds good,
we are looking forward to tonight!
Mozzy: At The Gates have played in Umeå
one time, a long time ago, in 1993. Can you remember anything from that?
Tompa: Yes, it was at the Galaxen I think. I
think we went there by train, it was one of those crazy journeys. I'm
trying to sort my memory
. I wonder if Throne Of Ahaz or Nocturnal
Nocturnal Rites played, I saw the poster today at my friend's place. Perhaps
Throne Of Ahaz was on it as well.
Tompa: Ok! Well I find it difficult to remember
everything (laughs). But it was fun, absolutely. In those days there
were not many metal bands at all who travelled here, I think.
Mozzy: Tonight will be unusual as both At
The Gates and The Haunted are playing. Has this happened before?
Tompa: Hmm... I think it is the first time with
Adrian and Jonas in both bands. We have played quite a few gigs with
Paradise Lost (who has Adrian as a drummer) during the same evening.
That worked fine, from a physical point of view (laughs).
Mozzy: It is the most demanding for Adrian,
Tompa: Yeah (laughs). Definitely. For me it is
just fun; I do one gig and get to see a second good one.
Mozzy: Adrian and Jonas will get some variety
Tompa: Yes, exactly.
Mozzy: Congratulations on the Swedish Grammy
win some days ago. That was a big thing.
Tompa: Thanks, that was fun (laughs). I didn't
suspect that; that a death metal band would win it ahead of other bands.
Mozzy: How was that evening, then?
Tompa: Well, it was really weird, actually (smiles).
We are a death metal band, from the underground in my opinion. When
you look around, you see all these top dogs like Carola (famous Swedish
pop singer), you know. You don't really understand what you're doing
there, with all the champagne and glamour and so on. But when we had
received the award, it was fun! But our record company people here in
Sweden were happier than us, in a way. So there were some good celebrating
going on (laughs).
Mozzy: Were you there all the five of you?
Tompa: No, it was just me and Adrian actually.
The Haunted had to rehearse, and so on
Also, some find it easier
to bear with these forced social events than others (smiles). Some just
enjoy playing gigs, you know. I find it more fun to play gigs too (laughs).
But you have to make an effort sometimes.
Mozzy: I saw a picture with you and Adrian
together with Sven-Bertil Taube (legendary Swedish singer).
Tompa: Yeah (laughs). It took a while before
we got the courage to approach him.
Mozzy: You were nominated for a Grammy in
1996 as well. So it's cool that you received one almost 20 years later.
Tompa: Yeah, that was fun. Back then, it was
even more unlikely that we could win. Death metal was still kind of
new then, very underground. But it's cool that our two last records
were nominated (laughs).
Mozzy: This success was difficult to anticipate
when you reunited, I guess.
Tompa: Yes. For us it is like
decided to do another record after all
The big goal, apart from
satisfying ourselves musically, was to show that we were relevant and
not just a cover band of ourselves; to show that we had something genuine
to offer. Now, you cannot compete in music really but if it was possible,
this Grammy could have been confirmation that we are still relevant.
But the real confirmation is that there are people at the gigs and they
think it's good. And that they are digging the new songs; that is really
I have to say it's really well-deserved. The record is very strong, and
varied as well.
Tompa: Thanks, that's very cool to hear. I mean,
you cannot judge your own quality, but you can look at the work that
has been put in to make it all possible, you know. So that we ended
up happy with it. It took a couple of years after all. In that respect,
it might be well-deserved but as I said, music is a matter of taste.
Mozzy: Absolutely. But the sales have been
good too, haven't they?
Tompa: Yes, we have noticed it a bit. But it's
rather the response from the record company that we have noticed. It
has been good. And I know that the US branch is very happy, so it will
be fun to go there in a month and see how it goes.
Mozzy: Speaking of the record company, is
there any sort of pressure from them now that the new album is out and
Tompa: No. We were very clear with how we wanted
things now; that it would be on our terms and that there would be no
pressure on us. No long tours for example. But we're saying yes to almost
all interviews and so on, so in that sense we're being behaved in their
eyes (smiles). And Leif Jensen, who was involved in signing us and who
has worked at Century Media for a long time, said "I just want
to release this record!". He wanted to be the one to release it,
he did not want to miss that. He did not give a damn how successful
it would be. He wanted the record on Century Media. So there was no
Mozzy: What about you members of the band;
do you feel like really going for it, so to speak, one more time now?
Tompa: Yeah, absolutely! But it's like, now
that we have done this, we want to enjoy where we are now. 'Wow, we
did it!', you know. So now we get to play the material for those who
bought the album and we can enjoy that response. To think of the next
album now is one step too far, really. It's like being a cross country
skier; you shouldn't think beyond the 50 kilometre race you're in (smiles).
I mean, we won't say again that we won't do another album. But we don't
know now, we will see. When we feel that we are done touring for this
record, we will see if Anders have some riffs and then off we go (laughs).
Mozzy: I guess it is not always easy to
fit it all in with your other careers either? Some of you have day jobs.
Tompa: For sure. But it's more a matter of planning
ahead, and to communicate. That has never been a problem for us, actually:
we have a straight and open communication and respect for each other.
That is why this is working. And we are getting older, so the egos are
vanishing and you have to think a bit further (smiles).
Mozzy: I was working as a postman until
recently, and when I was sorting the mail one day I noticed Lärarnas
tidning (Teachers' union paper) which had you on the back cover, speaking
of your job as a teacher. It said you were working 66 percent.
Tompa: Yeah (laughs). We'll see what happens
in the summer, but that is sort of the level we're going for. We have
to fit in both South America and Australia in the autumn, and there
is only one school holiday break in the autumn so we will see how it
works out (laughs).
It was quite surprising when you reformed again, for the Metaltown festival
in Gothenburg 2011. I met Adrian at a Paradise Lost after show party in
London a few months after the announcement, and he joked "well, we
were offered so much money".
Tompa: (Laughs). Well, for me it was a bit weird
because I could not make a decision. Or I could have, really
of us have veto right. I came home from a holiday and I had missed all
the emails. Everyone was so excited, so I was 'well ok, let's do it'
(laughs). The thoughts from the Metaltown staff were like 'now we have
a big metal festival in your hometown and you are the biggest band,
or at least the first big band from there. You must have played here!'.
And we know the people at the festival and they really wanted us. It
would have been as if a big band from Umeå has not played at this
festival; it would have been the same thing.
Mozzy: It was a fun concert, with some guests
appearing, Mikael Stanne from Dark Tranquility for example.
Tompa: Yes. It was one of those events where
it had to be special. We invited friends and guests. We brought out
the violin again, Andy (La Roque) played guitar, and so on. But above
all, that gig was the most difficult step: to swallow your pride. After
that, we had already broken one promise, you know (smiles). We could
just go on then.
Mozzy: It must be nice to get to play new
Tompa: Yes, it's very nice! This material is
written by us now, and adapted to where we are right now. For example,
I have adapted all the vocals to myself, to where I am now, as a 42-year-old.
Other old songs are written for an 18-year-old, and there are some differences
regarding the voice (laughs). So it feels very good, and also that there
actually is a good response. It felt like large parts of the fans as
well were longing for us to prove that we were relevant. They really
think that the new songs are good. Sometimes when you watch a gig it
can be like 'oh here is a new song' and the fans are just standing there
watching. But it does not feel that way this time.
Mozzy: When you reunited the first time,
you played mainly bigger places, at festivals and so on. This time, you're
playing some smaller venues too. Is that fun?
Tompa: Yeah. Now we're playing for an audience
that has paid money to see us. Then you now that these are our fans.
First of all, it is much easier to get a connection, and also at a festival
you don't really know whether some are just waiting to see Twisted Sister
at another stage, you know. So this is more the real thing. And we are
also playing larger venues than we did in 1996 so it has expanded (smiles).
It's great fun.
Mozzy: One of the smaller places you're
playing is in Sundsvall, Sweden, at Pipeline. That will be sweaty.
Tompa: Yeah! That is a cool place. It will be
warm and hard (laughs).
Mozzy: And you have played there before
with some of your other bands.
Tompa: Yes, I have played there with The Great
Deceiver and Disfear, and The Haunted have played there. Those are the
places we want, it's perfect!
Mozzy: We are looking forward to that very
much and I will see you there. Thank you!
Tompa: Thanks! Now we will make it in time for
The Haunted (laughs).
of the gig the same night