Hi, welcome to Lords of Metal. Could you please tell us who Paatos are?
Paatos is Petronella Nettermalm, Peter Nylander, Ulf “Rockis” Ivarsson and Ricard “Huxflux” Nettermalm. We used to be five but now we're four. This is a good and manageable size. We have been around in various forms since the turn of the millennium.
'Breathing' is your first album in five years, not counting the live album 'Sensors'. Was there a reason for this hiatus or did things just work out that way?
Yes, five years is a long time. The creative process suffered the last few years of the old Paatos line-up. To release a live record does not take much creativity. It is more like a form of documentation. There were various conflicts and opposing ideas rising already around the time when 'Silence Of Another Kind' came out. When Paatos became a temporary trio (Petronella, Peter and Ricard), after Stefan and Johan left the band, we started working from scratch on 'Breathing'. It was the first time in years we could focus on just the music and what it needed, without prestige. We were filled with creativity.
What, would you say, has changed musically since 'Silence Of Another Kind', your last album?
I would say very much has changed. First of all we do not have a fixed member on keyboards. I play most things in the studio and Ricard also plays some keyboards. This meant that one did not have to write music to please certain instrumentalists or to have to endure a conflict about such issues. I guess another natural result of this change is that things became a little more guitar based. We worked much more around Petronella from the start. This made such a difference. We also did a lot more co-writing. It is worth mentioning that we never worked so hard and so long on a record.
I had a bit of a hard time describing your music in my review of 'Breathing'. Some keywords I used were: gloomy, seventies, triprock, jazzy, postrock and progrock. I believe I even had the nerve to draw a parallel with Sigur Rós. Now, I know you hate to categorize your music, but I am afraid I am going to ask you to do just that. Please?
We live in a world where it is impossible to resist categorization. This is a pity, but what can you do? All your genre-descriptions fit well. I'd say you could probably bring up ten more. To be mentioned along-side Sigur Rós is an honour, even though our music is very different in many respects. I think that our similarity lies in the fact that we both paint strong moods. I love Sigur Rós even though I do not listen much to them these days. Paatos was embraced early on by the Progressive world. Perhaps that was understandable. But it also leads to limitations. Many people still want us to repeat our first album, 'Timeloss'. That is a ridiculous wish, which I do not have much respect for. No matter how good some people think 'Timeloss' is, it is the first creation of a new band. I cannot think of anything more sad and pathetic than trying to recreate this.
When I was a teenager I listened to everything. It never occurred to me that Pink Floyd or Genesis was progressive rock. It never entered my mind to even contemplate what David Bowie, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin was. I just listened to it and loved it. Sometimes it feels like the frenzy of categorizing has grown over the decades. Music is without doubt more fun when the barriers are torn down. Paatos loves heavy, beautiful, sad and groovy. These are more like colours, and we would like to be able to delve into these freely. We play rock with a licence 'to use it all'. Cinematic Rock feels good to use as a category since it really does not mean anything other than that it works with images, or perhaps conjures up pictures.
On the homepage of your website it somewhere says 'Breathing is a true rebirth'. Yet your lyrics deal with death, empty relations, murder, abuse. How do those two relate?
Interesting question! A comedian is not always funny in person. The seemingly toughest member of the darkest and heaviest band can be the sweetest, most family loving person on earth. I think we can and should encompass all that is human to be happy. Many of our songs deal with complicated and perhaps depressing issues, but not only. On 'Breathing' we have a couple songs that talk of therapy and self-knowledge ('In That Room', 'Surrounded' and 'Shells'). 'Gone' is about the fall of dictators, which became a highly relevant issue considering North Africa the past months. As far as addressing our feeling of rebirth I would have to say that has more to do with us as a band and creative entity. We have a feeling of wider horizons and endless possibilities. Paatos is looking forward to the future, even though we at times might be perceived as pessimistic. Again, the most pessimistic artist can turn out to be a true optimist. Perhaps dealing with things through artistic expression helps to exorcize the demons, so to speak.
Also, considering the dark nature of your lyrics, the music sounds quite laid-back. Are your lyrics written to fit the music or vice versa? Or are that two separate processes?
The process varies. There is not 'one way'. Sometimes there is a lyric and a basic musical outline. Then of course the lyrics tend to form the rest of the musical ideas. Other times the music comes first and gives birth to a story.
You switched from a big record company 'InsideOut' to a very small one, Glassville records. I would think that 'InsideOut' is just the company for you, considering their market. Why did this shift happen?
These are hard times for the record industry. Being large does not always play in your favour today. We spent several good years at InsideOut and are very grateful to have been part of their team. But after our long break we wanted and had to build from another point. To sign with Glassville felt right. Rob Palmen (owner of Glassville Records, ed.) had already worked with us for many years. We have today built a solid professional and friendship connection with him. To go smaller puts the focus back on the basics; writing and recording music and above all getting out there to play live. I think many bands today would agree with these priorities. Our situation with Glassville feels like we are in control and working the scene as it looks today. Whether it is a sign of the times or a trend, we will have to wait and see.
Your drummer's middle name intrigued me, so I ran 'huxflux' through Google to find out what it means and found out that there is a Swedisch act of the same name. Is there a connection?
No connection to the act.
I also found that your drummer, Ricard 'Huxflux' Nettermalm, has a MySpace with his own spacy, electronic music. What is with that?
Yes. His side-project is called Puckspony. He creates electronic, experimental music. He should be the one to speak more of this. At this moment we all have a total focus on Paatos and 'Breathing'. But we all also have many other projects and interests.
I can't help but thinking that Petra sometimes sounds like our Dutch pride and glory, Anneke van Giersbergen. And some of Breathing's songs have a slight The Gathering touch. That is probably not a coincidence. Or is it?
I would not say we have any concrete thoughts about The Gathering and their sound. They are a great band that we had the fortune of playing with a while back. I think it is more about the genres of music; mood-filled, melodic and sometimes heavy rock. Anneke has a fantastic voice and is a great singer, a pleasure to hear.
Finally, are there any touring plans?
Yes. We will be playing six gigs in Poland with Riverside at the end of May. We will also be playing at a release party here in Stockholm on May 5th. That will be a free concert at Hornstull Strand where we will play a power-set from our latest release. After that we will have drinks with everyone in the bar. In the fall (October) we will go out on a headlining European tour. Holland is on the itinerary. Playing there will be a pleasure for sure. Now that our label is based in your country Paatos is half Dutch, haha.
Thanks for the interview. If you have left anything to say, the space below is yours…?
Hmm….I kind of feel that I have expanded sometimes a little too much. I guess it is really worth mentioning how happy Paatos is to be back and active. We are in the middle of rehearsing for our live work and it feels and sounds great. There is such energy in the band that fills us with confidence and joy. Playing live will be so good for us. Thanks for giving us this moment and we hope to see everyone in the flesh on the road.