"Sir, if you print any more photographs of naked women, I shall
cease borrowing your newspaper."
To the editor of the "Kenya Standard"
AN INTERVIEW WITH AT THE GATES
by Andor Bik and Richard Karsmakers
We write August 20th 1994, a nice Saturday that was to be
rounded off by what would probably be the last Dutch occurrence
of My Dying Bride prior to the release of their third full-length
album, probably in late winter or early spring 1995.
However, this was not the only reason why we went to Amsterdam,
for we would also do an interview with, in words that could
have come straight from MTV Headbanger bimbo Vanessa "Oh look I
have blue hair which is actually very trendy and tonight we have
the Almighty" Warwick, 'upcoming thrash metallers' At The Gates.
We had never really heard of At The Gates before - only with
the release of their very good but a tad short new album
"Terminal Spirit Disease" we had been torn from our innocence.
Now we were going to check out their performance at Dutch Pop
Temple Paradiso, supporting Anathema and My Dying Bride, and
interview them if we could.
Our arrival wasn't in time for an interview prior to their
performance that was scheduled to start at 8, but vocalist Tomas
Lindberg told us he'd be more than happy to oblige us after
they'd be off stage again.
Getting backstage after At The Gates had finished a performance
that deserved more of a mosh than it got, was a piece of cake. We
found Tomas lying in a broom closet, trying to regain his breath.
We told him we'd be in their dressing room and he was welcome to
take his time and join us when he felt ready for it. Down we went
to the cellars where the dressing rooms were located, descending
a staircase trod on by the likes of Metallica, Nirvana and, I
seem to recall, even the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
The At the Gates dressing room was the one most distant from the
stage, thankfully. Except for Tomas and Martin (one of the
guitarists), all band members were present and cheerfully
babbling in Swedish about things that all sounded like
'knåckebrød' and 'pøternøken' to us. Martin arrived a few minutes
later and we decided to start the interview.
Well, could you start off by mentioning who you are, what you do
in the band, and when and where you were born?
Adrian: I am Adrian, I play drums. I was born in Malmö, a city
in the south of Sweden, on the 27th of October 1970.
Anders: I am Anders, I play guitar. I was born on the 26th of
February 1973 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Jonas: I am Jonas, Anders' twin brother, and I play bass guitar.
I was born on the same day, in Gothenburg.
Martin: I am Martin Larsson, I play the guitar in At The Gates,
and I was born on the 20th of February 1973, in Sweden.
Could you tell us something about the history of At The Gates
before 1992, when your first Peaceville CD, "The Red in the Sky
is Ours", was released?
Adrian: Before we started the band they were all in highschool.
I was at medical school, but I had to spend too much time reading
books instead of playing. We were formed in September '90 and we
rehearsed quite a lot, and in February '91 we went to Sunlight
Studios in Stockholm to record our first four tracks which were
meant to be released as a demo tape but Dolores records of
Gothenburg liked it and released it as an EP instead of a demo.
It was called "Gardens of Grief". Peaceville will bring it out on
CD some day. Dolores was actually just a record store. They also
released a mini LP of Grotesque, which was more or less the
predecessor of At The Gates because it was Tomas' other band.
What did this stroke of luck mean to you as a band?
Adrian: It looked a lot more professional than a demo tape to
send out to record companies. Right before it was released we had
already signed a contract with Peaceville.
Your music shows influences from classical sources, primarily a
few intros. Some of the songs have cello and/or violin in them.
Do you like classical music?
Martin: Yes, we do. We like baroque classics very much, like
Bach. I am also very much a fan of some modern composers, like
Philip Glass. We used to do the "Koyaanisqatsi" track as an outro
on two guitars and bass, but not now anymore. I also like some
rock symphony composers like Mike Oldfield.
Anders: Influences can be found in the actual songs, integrated.
We don't intend to use a lot of classical instruments, at least
not on stage, because we want to have a lot of aggression when we
play live. We probably couldn't even do it live anyway. We also
have lots of thrash and death in our music though. It's getting
Martin: We have different sorts of riffs in At The Gates. You
have the classical riffs and the thrash riffs, you know. And very
small hardcore things.
Have you done any video clips?
Anders: We've done two. One for "Kingdom Gone" and one for
"Burning Darkness". But we have started on "Terminal Spirit
Disease" as well. It's not finished yet, but it will be finished
in September or so.
Martin: I think it will get quite a bit of exposure.
Do you like making videos?
Martin: The actual procedure is rather boring, but when you see
the outcome it's usually satisfactory.
Anders: It's important, I think, to show yourself to people. You
can get pictures along with your music.
Are you involved in the creative process?
Jonas: Only to some extent.
You are now on the road with My Dying Bride. We understand
you've toured with them before?
Anders: A lot. We did a Holland tour with them in November '92,
before "The Red in the Sky is Ours" was released.
At that moment the fridge - a really prehistoric contraption
that nonetheless appears as if built to survive a nuclear war -
starts to make disconcerting noises. We suggest alleviating it of
some of its burden (a lot of Heineken cans), a suggestion that
results in us getting progressively more beer in our systems.
Anders: My Dying Bride are nice guys, but I don't think they're
quite the band for us. We don't want that audience. They come to
see My Dying Bride, they come to see doom, slow music. Maybe they
like us, but we want faster headliners.
Martin: You saw us tonight. There were some 20 people jumping
around and, like, several hundred people standing in the back
waiting for My Dying Bride, or Anathema.
What is your favourite band?
Anders: Of course Slayer is number one.
Adrian: For me too.
Jonas: Dark Angel.
Martin: Yes, Dark Angel is a big influence. And I like the first
Testament album. We'd like to put it across that we don't only
listen to metal. We listen to, like, 50% metal and 50% everything
else you can imagine. We get a lot of influence from that 50%,
and a lot of seventies symphonic rock.
In comes Tomas, who has apparently regained his breath now. He
sits down with the obligatory can of Heineken. Now we get the
chance to ask some of the questions we had in store for him. What
was his date and place of birth?
Tomas: I was born in a small town called Uppsala, near
Stockholm, and the date of birth is the 16th of October 1972.
Hmm...we thought you were older.
Anders: It's the beard.
Tomas: No, it's the *beer*.
How do you go about writing the lyrics?
Tomas: I write most of them myself, but I get some help from our
previous guitarist (Alf Svensson, ED.), and now Martin is helping
out. Some new lyrics are done but we haven't put them in songs
Do you have a special message with your songs?
Tomas: It's different with each song. I mean, usually when I
hear what they come up with, riffs and stuff, I write the lyrics.
They don't have a special message and stuff.
Martin: I don't think we're a band that puts across messages.
Tomas: Just "stand up for yourself", and the obvious stuff. I
just try to paint pictures of my feelings that match with the
songs. We don't have a message to teach to the kids, like "you
have to do this or that".
Does your extreme, sortof high screaming singing affect your
Tomas: No. I've done it for, like, six or seven years, so...it
affected me for the first year probably, but that's about it. I
learn to do it the right way, I guess. I just go mad, it's not
planned. I started singing in the bedroom, to Slayer albums. I
started a band, I was a pretty extreme guy, but I couldn't play
guitar so I started singing. That was back in '88.
How have the critics reacted to your new album, "Terminal Spirit
Tomas: The critics' reactions are overall good. We get raving
reviews from people like Barney Greenway (of Napalm Death, ED.).
The only bad reviews we got was, like, people saying it's too
short, that the live tracks are just to fill up. But we don't see
it that way. The CD is just complementing the first album, taking
us to different kinds of people. We wanted to show people our new
stuff. Maybe "groundbreaking" is a big word, but it was
groundbreaking for us.
Martin: It was supposed to be a mini album.
Tomas: We started to put the live tracks on so that it would be
better value for money. We didn't want the kids to pay for a
full-length album and only get five songs.
Adrian: We always wanted to record some live tracks as well.
Martin: We wanted to do one song from each album we did.
What's been your first quarrel?
Tomas: We have one every day.
Anders: It's mostly about song structures.
Martin: About drum beats. If 17/6th exist or not. And ugly
Adrian: You must have some quarrels to get along. Otherwise
there's no balance in the band. You will get along all the time.
Tomas: When I was in Grotesque we even had some fist fights and
spitting at each other.
Martin: And fist fucking (laughs).
Where's the biggest market for you?
Martin: I think England is getting better and better. And
Anders: And Sweden.
Martin: We never got any sales figures, so we wouldn't really be
able to tell you.
What has been your best concert so far?
Anders: Not this one.
Martin: I think some concert in Gothenburg, October last year.
What was so special about it?
Anders: Everyone was into it, you know.
Martin: Yeah, the whole audience, you know, like, we got very
Now, then, some words for you to react to. The first one is MTV.
Martin: It's becoming better and better, with us becoming more
well known. We are having some problems with the new video. It
should have been finished. It's filmed already. As soon as it's
finished they've promised to show it, and probably another as
well, and do a 10-minute interview.
Jonas: We know them quite well. We played with them some times.
Adrian: They're OK.
Anders: I don't like the new one ("Wolverine Blues", ED.) as
much as the old ones.
Martin: I mean you always miss Nihilist (Entombed's previous
Music For Nations (the company Peaceville will join on December
Anders: Hopefully they will cause us to be put in big tours.
Martin: That's where the big lack is now, big tours.
Jonas: And we'll get our music to more countries than Peaceville
could ever do.
Martin: Music For Nations is a much bigger company so they'll
have more money to back us up. Our future looks a lot brighter
Martin: Human beings are just so immature. It's bound to happen
Martin: They shouldn't have had the second one.
Adrian: No...it's a blasphemy.
Martin: The idea is not a very good one. It didn't have to be
"Woodstock". It's just a big PR thing now.
Tomas: I would like to go there some day.
Martin: I was going to say that too.
All bands played Dynamo. But not Metallica and not At The Gates.
Maybe that's a sign...Anyway, next word: Campingflight to
Lowlands Paradise (a large Dutch festival, one week after the
Martin: Never heard of it.
You were on the band list in some magazines and even today it
was mentioned on the radio that you will play there.
Martin: (Laughs) Did we do well? Sure...
Martin: I know this sounds rather pretentious, but I used to
think a lot about time before. But, eventually, you get to a
stage that you realise that everything has no point, that it's
all meaningless. Once you've got that far and you can accept
that, it's OK. So time doesn't bother me anymore.
Tomas: Time does not heal, that's my reaction. Time does not
Tomas: Yeah. Heineken - no, *Grolsch*. Grolsch and coffee shops.
Anders: And tulips. Gorefest, yeah.
Martin: Shitloads of beer.
Martin: I am not into drugs.
Tomas: There have been times that I've been on the verge of
being dangerous, but nowadays it's just beer.
Anders: This is the confession part.
Anders: I like it.
Tomas: If you're drunk enough it's comfortable.
Martin: The experience of dying will be...I mean...you're all
very curious about dying, what's it gonna be. Eventually you'll
go there, you can't avoid it. As long as I can avoid it it's
fine. I mean I'm not in a hurry.
Tomas: If I ever die I will kill myself.
Tomas: What's that? I don't know the word.
Anders: I don't really know what it means.
Tomas: God is dead.
Martin: I think the whole subject is fascinating.
Tomas: It's fascinating because it's not real. It interests me,
like history and culture, but not as something to live by.
Anders: It's good.
Martin: Eventually it will happen.
Tomas: A revolution for thrash metal. We're ahead of it.
Tomas: You have to deal with it.
Martin: It doesn't bother me.
Adrian: They're supportive.
Tomas: They understand that we're doing something good.
Anders: They lend us money to record stuff and drive us to gigs.
Martin: Well, they *used* to.
Tomas: My mum likes Candlemass. My dad likes Cannibal Corpse.
When can we seen you on a true tour?
Adrian: We are going on a headline tour in September, October,
which will cover most parts of Europe. I think about 20 dates or
something. It's a tour with Avalanche Entertainment.
Have you got something to add to all of this?
Anders: (Grins) Buy our albums. They rule.
Martin: Tomas would like to have you know that, in '89, when
[Carcass'] "Symphonies of Sickness" was released, he knew that
they'd end up on Columbia.
Tomas: That's an inside band joke.
With that the interview had concluded. We took some pictures of
the band (one with the "ST NEWS - The Atari ST Disk Magazine" T-
shirt, of course), wished them all the beST and went upstairs.
Anathema had already started playing aeons ago so we sat behind
the open backstage door behind the drumkit waiting for them to
end. During the time that they played "Welcome to Hell", "We, the
Gods" and their compository masterpiece "666" we sat there
enjoying ourselves, and scribbling various logos in between those
of celebrities and fellow non-celebrities in just about every
square inch of wall visible around the stairs to the cellars. If
you ever get backstage at Paradiso, check out silver-pen writings
along the lines of "Cronos Warchild", "ST NEWS" and "Avalanche".
Tomas of At The Gates was fetched to scream along with Anathema
to the dying minutes of "666", and it was obvious everybody was
having an excellent time.
After Anathema had finished playing we joined the front to
witness My Dying Bride's performance, but that's an experience
out of place here and to be found elsewhere instead.
SELECTED AT THE GATES DISCOGRAPHY
"Gardens of Grief" (Dolores, 1991)
(Available by sending 100 Skr to Dolores Records, Drottningg.
52, S-411 07 Goteborg, Sweden)
"The Red in the Sky is Ours" (Peaceville, 1992)
"With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness" (Peaceville, 1993)
"Terminal Spirit Disease" (Peaceville, 1994)
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.