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Interviews : ‘Super grateful to get back to Australia’ – Interview with Martin Larsson (At The Gates)

By on April 26, 2019

At the Gates are returning to Australia for a series of shows, expanding their reach to Tasmania and nearby New Zealand for the first time ever. I caught up with guitarist Martin Larsson to chat about the tour, the recent album and the band’s history.

Opening up was a discussion about the recent album To Drink from the Night Itself. Given that this was the first album without long-time contributor and guitarist Anders Bjoler, I wanted to know how the process had changed for preparing the album. “Well, it was different because it was without Anders for the first time ever. So when Jonas [Stalhammer, guitars], the new guy joined we were already on our way into the process. So what happened was Jonas Bjoler, the bass player, took a huge step forward in the songwriting. So obviously, that was very much different. Other than that, I’m not sure; we’ve done a few albums now, so it’s pretty much the same, I suppose.” I was also curious if Larsson himself had found it hard adjusting to a new guitarist in the band: “Not really. With this band, we don’t ‘jam’ as such, we usually play what’s written ahead. So, playing wise, there wasn’t much of a difference I don’t think to Jonas, the new guy. Socially, he fits in super-well and he’s a music fan like us so, yeah I don’t know.”

We also discussed the bands’ previous work as founders of melodic death metal in the mid-90s. I asked Larsson what stood out to him most from this period. “I dunno, just enjoying playing music I suppose. Seeing the world and playing metal is a very fun combination in my experience. I wish I had a more interesting answer!” Beyond this, I was curious as to how the band saw themselves during this period and if they were conscious they were building a legacy as innovators of a new genre. “Yeah, not at all conscious. That all happened after we were, whatever you want to call it, some kind of founding influence for others, that wasn’t around back then. We were a Swedish metal band amongst others, which we still are… The music scene now is in a very good place but there are so many bands. That wasn’t the case back then, you knew almost everyone and I’m pretty sure, in one way or another, you all influenced another back then. Of course, those cornerstone Swedish metal bands were influenced, as well as lots of other things. Even back then At The Gates was a very broad-minded band in influences.”

Turning to the Australian tour, I asked Larsson what he was most looking forward to about their time in Australia. “I’m super grateful just to get to go back to Australia. Since you’re asking, this time we get to play Tasmania which is a first for me and I’m always really excited to go places I’ve never been before! And, OK, it’s not Australia, but it’s our first time in New Zealand also.” I was also interested in what material Larsson liked most to play live: “I like the mixture. Right now we only just started playing ‘Colours of the Beast’… ‘A The Stare Bound in Stone’ is always good, ‘Daggers of Black Haze’, I like most of [the songs on the new album]… In a way, I wish the circumstances were better for us to play more of the old material but there’s always a kind of drop in the energy live-wise because so many people haven’t heard the earliest stuff and it kind of brings it down a level… I was a fan of At the Gates when I joined in ’93, so there are a lot of older songs that I enjoyed. Every once in a while we pick up one or two but they seem to please mostly ourselves! But I do like the mixture of songs, I think we play a solid set of material that blends really well.”

Australian metal itself was also a topic of discussion: “Australian music, in general, has always been really good. I don’t know if it’s like you’re isolated, so people have to make their own music, I’m not sure. Rock and punk and metal and whatever, there’s always really good music and heaps of it from Australia. Lately, I’ve been into Portal and Impetuous Ritual and bands like that. I used to like lots of bands like 25 years ago or so. I’ve always been very partial to Armoured Angel.” To close, Larsson reiterated the enthusiasm that the band has for the tour: “Thanks for the support and we’re really looking forward to going to Tasmania!”

Catch At The Gates on their remaining tour dates with special guests The Haunted and Witchery.

Friday 26th April – SYDNEY Manning BarTICKETS
Saturday 27th April – MELBOURNE Max WattsTICKETS

AT THE GATES New Show Date
Sunday 28th April Hobart Odeon Theatre *TICKETS
* At The Gates only


Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.