The Swedish band Katatonia just released a unique album, initially recorded as a live stream performance and now released on vinyl and digital audio streaming platforms as well. We had a chat with bass player Niklas Sandin about how it went by, recording a live album in a year with basically no live performances allowed the way it used to be. And about a piece of EBS gear that plays a central role in creating his sound…
How did the idea about releasing a Live Stream album develop?
– It wasn´t something that we thought we would do initially, but since the live stream went so well and we are so happy about how it turned out, we wanted to make this a long-lasting impression by releasing it on vinyl and CD.
You’ve got a lot of comments online about the bass sound, what setup did you use on the recording, and where did the recording happen?
-I used a very lowkey setup on this gig/recording. It was nothing more than the EBS MicroBass 3 pedal which I love. It is a very flexible box that covers your needs when performing on stage. So I didn´t feel like I needed anything more.
Since we were in a studio and wasn´t gonna run around, I plugged myself straight into it via cable not using wireless.
We did the stream at studio “Gröndahl”, which name reveals its location in Gröndal here in Stockholm. A very nice place where David Castillo is housed, a guy who we have worked with lots in the past. So he is very familiar with the sound of Katatonia, and he got the mix just right.
Did you use both line outs on the MicroBass 3, and did you also played it safe with a separate line box?
-It was the MicroBass 3 alone. We used the Post Balanced Output so that we got the preamp coloration and overdrive from the drive channel. There´s plenty of low-end kept since I carefully blend in the drive channel, leaving a huge and fat bottom. So you get the best from both worlds. This is a very welcomed feature that the MicroBass 2 didn´t have. And also some compression, from the built-in comp that is very easy to use.
Was there any additional gear, or special treat in the post-production?
-No extra gear. But I can imagine that some EQ and compression were added, just to make the sound sit perfectly with the other instruments in the final mix. But it feels and sounds just like I know my settings sounds like.
When I first heard the album, it took a couple of songs before I realized it was actually a live recording, both the sound production and the performance is extremely well carried out. How did you prepare before walking into the studio?
-It took lots and lots of practice and rehearsing to make it happen. We wanted to be in our ‘A’-game when entering the studio, not leaving anything to chance.
It´s scary and stressful enough to know that you´re being broadcasted straight into people’s homes, with a studio mix that is transparent enough to make all your playing flaws noticeable. So we worked our asses off at the rehearsal studio to make the end result as good as possible.
The only thing that gives it away, apart from the songs that fans recognize from your catalog, is a little technical issue that is audible. But, you kept that too and stayed away from the temptation of doing overdubs?
-It feels weird when something doesn´t f*ck up when we perform live. I guess that´s a curse that is hovering over us, and it has been doing that for years.
So it truly felt more like a normal gig when the microphone started acting up. But it was solved during the gig. I think you should leave those things in a live recording since that is what happened and we don´t want to alter that.
If fans would like a physical copy where do they go for that?
-Physical copies are available in all well-sorted record stores, both in local stores and online.
Do you sell digital downloads as well, since these times, bands need all the support they can and it’s well known the big streaming platforms don’t pay well?
-It is possible to purchase a digital download as well with high-resolution FLAC files via the Peaceville Records Bandcamp site. This is a bit cheaper than obtaining the real deal.
Even though I´m a big fan of vinyl records and CDs, I think it is a no-brainer to offer a downloadable version as well. That´s where we’re heading, and it´s inevitable since we´re entering an age where all goes digital.
This was originally a live-streamed event, is there a video version of the session available online too?
-There´s a DVD included in the CD version of this album, where one can enjoy the studio set visually as well as sonically.
Other than that I think there are just three songs online, which shows how it looks like when it took place. It´s the three singles from our latest studio album ”City Burials”. So I can highly recommend people to check those out.
Not just to see our melancholic faces, but also to listen to the awesome sound of the MicroBass 3 together with my Hagström Super Swede. It´s like a match made in heaven!
Finally, where do people go to follow you online?
-We´re active both on Facebook and Instagram. So tune in there for news about all things Katatonia.
Interview by Ralf Bjurbo, November 2020.