AT THE GATES's TOMAS LINDBERG On Departure Of Guitarist ANDERS BJÖRLER: 'In A Weird Way, It Was Almost A Relief'

AT THE GATES's TOMAS LINDBERG On Departure Of Guitarist ANDERS BJÖRLER: 'In A Weird Way, It Was Almost A Relief'

Metal Wani's Chuck Marshall recently conducted an interview with frontman Tomas Lindberg of Swedish melodic death metal pioneers AT THE GATES about their forthcoming new studio album, "To Drink From The Night Itself". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the concept behind "To Drink From The Night Itself", which is based on German author Peter Weiss's novel, "The Aesthetics Of Resistance":

Tomas: "The first time I read it, it was probably 15 years ago. It's been in the back of my head for quite some time. I wanted to work with it in some way, especially like the emotional impact it had on me and try to portray that musically and lyrically in a death metal setting, of course. But then, it always felt like it was too big of a challenge, but after the last AT THE GATES record [2014's 'At War With Reality'] which was also pretty heavy conceptually, when we started working on this one, I thought there is nowhere to hide anymore. I thought I should just attack this bastard once and for all. I kind of wrote it in a different way. As I said, it's more heavy on the emotional side and trying to portray that kind of essence of the book. There's a lot of theoretical stuff in there as well, but the full book, the full three volumes is over a thousand pages and our album only has ten songs, so, you have to limit yourself a little bit."

On whether AT THE GATES felt the absence of lead guitarist/primary songwriter Anders Björler, who departed in 2017:

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Tomas: "No, I mean, the thing is, Anders is a very close friend. I've known him since I was 16. He's one of my closest friends and of course, he's [bassist] Jonas's twin brother and everything. It would be rude to say we don't miss him; of course, we do. But, more as a friend. The actual process of writing the record and everything, Anders said after the last show in August 2016, I think it was, on the 'At War With Reality' tour, he said he needed a break after that to figure out if he had another record in him and how he felt about being in a touring band because we all knew he suffered on the tours — he didn't like touring. And we gave him that time, because as I said, his well-being matters to us as a close friend. So, but, during that hiatus, we were really building up this energy to start creating again. Everybody was fired up when we were waiting for Anders. In a weird way, it was almost a relief when Anders said he was not coming back because at least we had a decision. It was not the decision we wanted, but a decision we could work with and start writing. That was the creative spark, which I know it sounds [odd] that one of the main members leaves and that's the creative spark, but it actually was. It was at least a situation we were in control of, but for six months, we were waiting."

On incorporating new lead guitarist Jonas Stålhammar, who also plays in Lindberg's THE LURKING FEAR side project:

Tomas: "Yeah, that was no problem. We had some 'boxes' for the new guitar player to take, basically. When we noticed how much those boxes narrowed the selection down, it was kind of scary. It was like all of these things we needed from a new guitar player and there was almost only one guy who was left after that. So, we knew that he was going to work out socially, the musical reference points and everything and he has a brilliant style of playing that's different from Anders, but that's also nice to have development in that case, not having someone trying to imitate Anders's style. It's a perfect fit. Of course, he officially joined a little bit too late to be a big part of the writing process for the record, but I know that he has already got some stuff lined up. He will, as much as anyone else in the band, be a creative force on the next record."

On whether AT THE GATES has plans to tour North America in support of their new album:

Tomas: "Definitely. We are working on those plans right now, actually. There's going to be some news about that very soon, I hope. It's coming together really nicely. We're looking to probably come over there at least twice on longer runs. Yeah, America has always been super-nice to us. We can't wait to get back there."

"To Drink From The Night Itself" will be released on May 18 via Century Media. Produced with Russ Russell (NAPALM DEATH, THE HAUNTED, DIMMU BORGIR) at Parlour Studios in the U.K., the follow-up 2014's "At War With Reality" will feature conceptual artwork created by Costin Chioreanu, who previously worked with AT THE GATES on the band's last disc.

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