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Comrade Aleks covers some '90s Katatonia history with Fredrik Norrman, and gets more up to date regarding October Tide.

Interview with October Tide.
"October Tide isn't a dark horse, their story is as well known as that of Katatonia's early days. Their most recent album, 'Winged Waltz', was released two years ago, and rumours about a new record are just that - rumours. However, I got in touch with Fredrik "North" Norrman due to the work on my book project, and asked him questions in the hope of shedding a bit more light on these two bands. At least it's a good excuse for listening once again to Katatonia's 'Sounds Of Decay' and October Tide's 'Rain Without End'. Do you remember how it was? Do you really remember?"

Talking to Aleks today: October Tide's Fredrik Norrman.

Hi Fredrik! You joined Katatonia in 1994, how did you get into the band?

I got to knew Jonas in 1993. He was interested in my band Uncanny and I just heard "Without God" on a compilation CD that came with a Swedish magazine. So we traded demo tapes and we quickly became friends. So when they needed a second guitarist I think I was the first choice.

Did you discuss your role as a songwriter there? Was Katatonia already famous back then?

There weren't really many bands like Katatonia at that time so they quickly became a name.

'Brave Murder Day' was released in 1996. The Peaceville Three had already said their piece on the Death Doom theme, but you enriched the genre with that remarkable cold yet melodic "Northern" sound. Was it totally formed when you joined the band? Or was it completed during those recording sessions?

I don't think we had much finished when we went to the studio. Much was written during the night after the recording session.

Katatonia, 'Brave Murder Day' sessions: Nyström, Renkse, Norrman.

What are your memories about the work on 'Brave Murder Day'? Did you have any other problems besides the one with Jonas' voice?

The most significant memory is that Dan Swanö didn't like the new direction. He wanted to do an album in the vein of the first album, with lots of synths and stuff. I remember that the album wasn't that well received at first. We also did a tour right before the album was released. I think it actually was released during that tour. You could tell on peoples faces that they wondered what the hell we were doing.

The album's been re-released about 12 times, and the band performed 'Murder' countless times, long after its "non-Death Doom" era. Back then did you feel the significance of this material? Did you feel a growing interest in Katatonia?

I think we were happy with the result. Not sure if the fans agreed at the time when the album was released. But it definitely grew on people and today its def a classic.

It's said that the following EP, 'Sounds Of Decay', was recorded in two versions, and the label released the one which was less brutal and which was recorded without you. How did that happen?

Yes, it was recorded twice and the first version is much more brutal and also not so well played since we were extremely hungover when we came to the studio to record. It sounds ok though. Why I didn't play on the second version I really can't remember.

Katatonia - 'Nowhere':

Were Jonas' problems with his voice the only reason you abandoned the Death Doom sound after 'Sounds Of Decay'? When did you stop playing these songs live?

I guess it was at least one of the reasons. We also at this point got inspired by a lot of other non metal bands/artists like Jeff Buckley and Kent.

How was intensive was your gig schedule in the mid-'90s? Did you catch the train started by Anathema, MDB and PL?

It wasn't intense at all. We did one tour for "Brave Murder Day" and a gig in Sweden. I think that was it. It wasn't until after we did "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" we started to tour more frequently.

The 'Saw You Drown' EP was released just a year after 'Sounds Of Decay': does that mean you already had in mind these changes to the sound? How did you come to the result we see on that record? Katatonia changed their logo, image, and character of artwork, alongside the sound. How long did you work on these general changes?

Even after finishing its death doom era Katatonia never stopped its development as almost every album differs from previous one. Katatonia has been on a constant move forward since day one and it has always been a natural move.

The first October Tide album, 'Rain Without End' was recorded in 1995, yet it wasn't released until two years later. What slowed it down?

I don't remember. It was the label, Vic records who was responsible for this. Not sure why. If the boss disappeared or something.

You recorded that material together with Jonas: how did you compose these songs? How did you keep the balance of melodies and heaviness?

Yes we wrote all the songs together. We recorded our demos in Jonas' kitchen on a 4 channel portable recorder.

October Tide current line-up: Fredrik Norrman (Guitars), Mattias Norrman (Guitars), Johan Jönsegård (Bass), Jonas Sköld (Drums), Alexander Högbom (Vocals).

The project was a studio one, as I understand it: you didn't do interviews or play gigs. Why didn't you turn October Tide into a real band together with Jonas?

I think all of that was Jonas' idea. I don't remember why he didn't want to play live. But I was fine with that. Perhaps we were just interested in doing music. I think we actually did a few interviews.

The next album, 'Grey Dawn' was recorded with Marten Hansen on vocals, but overall it continued the 'Rain Without End' line. Were you satisfied with the sound? How would you describe its main features?

Yes at the time we were, and still are I guess. It's a bit different from "Rain Without End" I think. We were playing around with more dissonant notes and the overall feeling on "Grey Dawn" is much colder I think.

After that you kept October Tide on hold for about ten years, what made you return to the project?

It was when I quit Katatonia. I'd had plans for a while and when I quit I had the time to do it.

You recorded 'A Thin Shell' in 2010 with a new line-up. Did you already have the songs written when you recruited the musicians, or did you compose the material together? Who wrote the lyrics for it? I've read that all the texts for October Tide were created by people outside the band. Don't you feel a necessity to control that, as the band is your own creature?

I had most of the material already written when I recruited the new members who were 2 old friends of mine. The lyrics for "A Thin Shell" was written by Tobias Netzell and a friend of him. For the other 2 albums the lyrics have been made by a friend of mine, Laurence from LA, and it hasn't been any problems at all. He almost become like a real member.

October Tide - 'Reckless Abandon' (Official):

Both October Tide and Katatonia are strongly associated with depressive and desperate moods. How do you feel the music you play? Does it have a negative message? Does it have a positive effect on you?

Playing music does only have a positive effect on me even though the music perhaps is not super happy. Music is my only interest and if I begun to feel negative about it I would have to find something else to do.

The album was released on Candlelight Records: how did you build your collaboration with the label? How fast did you get the offer?

We got the offer rather quick but the relationship with the label was a failure. It was no connection at all and soon after I think the boss sold Candlelight to Spinefarm.

What didn't work with Tobias Netzel? Why did you invite new vocalist Alexander Högbom for 'A Tunnel Of No Light'?

Tobias left because he had no time for October Tide. It was a friend who suggested Alex so we simply asked him to join and he did, obviously. He has a really powerful voice which suits our sound really well.

Were all these changes successful for you? How did you manage to solve all the clutter when one member leaves and another one joins?

I think we've become stronger for every member that has been changed. Of course it's sad when one leaves but if one doesn't want to play it's just best to accept the fact. I'm really satisfied with the line-up now. We're all hungry and want to move forward.

'Winged Waltz' is October Tide's most up-to-date album. How would you sum up your impressions from that recording session?

Still a very good album. Good songs and sound. I can still listen to it and feel good about it. That's a quite good grade.

Bands often say that their latest album is their best: can you say the same about 'Winged Waltz'?

Of course, anything else would be a failure. I can somehow understand that fans don't always feel the same but as a musician you want to look forward and make new things.

What're your plans concerning the next October Tide record? What would you like to fulfill through it?

Make as good songs as possible. We're gonna try for us some new elements. Open up the soundscape a bit more. It's almost impossible to have a plan. When we sit down and write it's gonna sound different anyway. As long as we're satisfied with the new songs and that we feel it's better than previous album we're happy.

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Visit the October Tide bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-03-25 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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