The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Martin Larsson At The Gates - Interview
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At The Gates

It was only just recently that I spoke to frontman Tomas Lindberg (read here) so it was an absolute bonus to have a chat with another member from At The Gates, this time with guitarist Martin Larsson. It was interesting to get another perspective on some of the same subjects but of course, our main topic of conversation was the upcoming Australian tour which gets underway this week.



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Andrew: Thanks for your time today, how's things with the band at the moment?

Martin: They're great, starting our trip your way tomorrow so we're pretty excited to go.

Andrew: We definitely appreciate you guys coming all the way over here, I know it's a long way to go. It's less than a week to go before your first show in Perth so we're pretty excited as well. I spoke to Tomas a few weeks ago and he seemed pretty excited to be coming back to Australia as well.

Martin: Yeah we are all very excited, that's for sure! It's going to be good.

Andrew: The last time you were here was about 3 years which I guess was the first time for a lot of you guys to be in Australia. What do you remember from that tour?

Martin: Bits and pieces, going record shopping. We went to some animal sanctuary in Brisbane but mostly the great shows and great audiences of course.

Andrew: Do you find the Australian audiences a bit different to other crowds you have played at around the world?

Martin: Not very different really. Metal people all over the world are basically the same I would say, which is a good thing.

Andrew: Yeah it's one of the best things about music, that it brings everyone together I guess. What can we expect as far as setlists? Have you guys been working on what songs we can expect to hear on this tour?

Martin: Yeah it's pretty set now. We're doing about a third of the set from the new album and about two thirds of old stuff so it's going to be a good mixture.

Andrew: OK cool. Obviously the new album "At War With Reality" has been getting a lot of positive reviews and everyone has been pretty happy with it. Now that it's been out for a year now, how do you still feel about those songs?

Martin: I feel great! I'm a little surprised in how well they blended in with the old material. It feels pretty seamless in the set now so I'm super happy.

Andrew: And playing these songs live, are the crowd really getting into it as well?

Martin: Yes sometimes even more so! I mean a lot of people are really into the new songs, singing along so yeah.

Andrew: That's good to hear. Obviously the first album since the hiatus for a number of years and I remember speaking to Tomas about the reasons for coming back and doing a new album after so many times saying you would never make another album. From your perspective, what was the main reason for doing another album?

Martin: I don't think there was one reason, it was more like a gradual process. We were supposed to do just one summer of reunion shows and then we realized we didn't have time to do all that we wanted to do and a couple of years later we had some more really good offers and we said, 'Yeah let's go for it'. And then it just went on and on through the years having more and more shows and we were having such a good time together and not wanting to stop this. Eventually you realize that if you are a band, you write and record new music. One day Anders (Bjorler, guitars) had a song, I don't think it's more complicated than that. He presented it to us and we just went, 'This is great, go on!' There's not a lot of thought about it. I think that first statement that we wouldn't record new music, if we never said that, it would of probably happened sooner. But nevermind that, we are here now and it's great.

Andrew: Yeah I think you are right because I guess some people do over think things and I guess it's a pretty simple idea that you guys are having fun so it's good to see you back again and I think the fans appreciate that.

Martin: Yeah and we definitely do too.

Andrew: Yeah I have heard that you guys are having more fun now, Tomas had mentioned that you guys are having more fun now than the first time around. Would that be true to say?

Martin: Yeah probably because maturity comes with age, I think we all have a healthy distance with it and we take it for what it is. To all this with our lives, this is all a bonus but it's the best bonus in the world so it's a much more laid back feeling between us.

Andrew: Not to go too far into the future because you obviously want to enjoy this moment but do you think there will be another album sometime in the future?

Martin: Noone knows actually! I definitely wouldn't mind doing new music but it's all about timing. We're booked through August already next year so nothing is going to happen before that definitely, and then I guess we'll just figure out together with you guys if we have new music in us.

Andrew: Taking us back into your history a little bit, how did you get into music in the first place and what was it about the guitar specifically that made you want to play music?

Martin: The ones that first did it for me was actually Slade. Back in 1983 I saw them on Swedish TV and it was a bit of an acquired taste but I was 10 years old and all of a sudden I realized I was just humming the songs. But the guitar in particular I can't remember, I guess I just felt like I wanted to do it.

Andrew: Was there any particular guitar player that influenced you a lot?

Martin: I can't say [there] was one particular player but I guess Metallica as a band was a really good school, just sitting at home trying to figure out the songs and the riffs and playing along. Like the first 3 albums.

Andrew: Do you do a lot of writing for At The Gates? How do you sit and write guitar riffs and where do you draw inspiration from?

Martin: I haven't actually written anything for the new album. I don't know why, it just never happened, I guess I was just blocked in a way. But then again Anders and Jonas (Bjorler, bass) did such a good job so there wasn't really a need, all of a sudden we had a full album. I do a bit of writing but I work best in a rehearsal room situation I think.

Andrew: So I guess you like to bounce ideas off other people and things like that?

Martin: Yeah that's the way I work best.

Andrew: Are there any bands at the moment that you think are doing a great job in melodic metal or death metal or whatever you want to call it?

Martin: Yeah plenty of bands! Since you're Australian, I would say Portal is a band that is doing a really good job. I like Adversarial from Canada, I like their style. You're putting me on the spot here, there's so many bands so it's hard to choose.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah I mean I guess one of the things I'm trying to get at is, at least I feel, that metal is in a better shape now than what it was 15-years ago. Would you agree with that?

Martin: Yeah I agree full heartedly. Actually when we quit in the mid-90's, I think metal was in a very sorry state. It was also tidely produced and boring and lifeless so I completely got out of metal myself. I gradually drifted into underground punk music, D beat and hardcore and all that because that underground scene was very vibrant and alive. And then things started happening I guess around the millennium but I didn't know about it so I spent these last 10-15 years back tracking and figuring out all these good bands that I missed.

Andrew: Yeah it is interesting how the whole genre has taken a new direction. Does that inspire you at all to take the band to the next level kind of thing?

Martin: Perhaps, I never thought about it. But yeah!

Andrew: Is there a a particular band that you would love to tour with?

Martin: Yeah Voivod would be great. I've been a huge fan for 25-30 years so that would be great.

Andrew: How do you feel about younger bands crediting you as being a huge influence on them and on a whole genre of music as well?

Martin: It is very flattering but I don't think about it too much. I don't think it's healthy to have that perspective I guess but it's obviously flattering.

Andrew: Well we are looking forward to seeing you in less than a week, it's going to be phenomenal I think. Thanks for your time, it's been a pleasure and we will see you soon!

Martin: Yeah thank you and thanks for your support! We are dying to go and see all the fans again.


Wednesday 28th October - PERTH: Amplifier Bar
Thursday 29th October - ADELAIDE: The Unibar
Friday 30th October - MELBOURNE: Corner Hotel
Saturday 31st October - SYDNEY: Manning Bar
Sunday 1st November - BRISBANE: Brightside

Tickets and tour details can be found at Metropolis Touring.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on October 22nd 2015