It took almost twenty years, but At The Gates released “At War With Reality” last year to huge response from fans all around the world. As Jason said in his 5/5 review, “At The Gates have created a masterpiece,“and I could not agree more. It was easily one of my favorite albums of 2014, and a record that I still blast at least once a week. It was a welcomed return for one of metal’s most important bands.
At The Gates just wrapped up their headlining run here in the States, and I got to sit down for a brief chat with Anders Björler before their final set in New York City. We discussed the new album, it’s response, thoughts on future material, and more! Enjoy the interview with Anders below, and pick up “At War With Reality” today!
Metal Mark: Anders, thank you for taking out the time today. How are you on the last night of this tour?
Anders Björler: Good man. Really good. It’s been a great run here in the States, and to close it out at a sold out show in New York City? It doesn’t get much better than that.
MM: This show tonight is sold out, and I know that many others were as well. For being your first tour here in almost seven years, how cool is that for you guys?
AB: It’s awesome. Just awesome. We were blown away by the response at our first reunion show back in 2008, and to still see the response as strong as it is, it’s really cool man. We did the Maryland Deathfest, and the Barge To Hell cruise as well, but it’s been fun returning to the clubs in the States, and getting more up close and personal with the fans. We are more at home in the clubs for sure.
MM: Very cool. You guys are still touring off of last year’s “At War With Reality,” which everyone in the world seemed to love. What I enjoyed most was that it was an At The Gates album, and you knew it right away. From the beginning, it was you guys, and it did not stop until the last note. Was keeping that familiar sound one of the main goals going into the writing of the record?
AB: Yes and no. We wanted to respect our sound and not surprise the fans, but we also did not want to make “Slaughter of the Soul” part two ya know. That record is very special for us and fans, so to duplicate it would be pointless. It has a special place in our hearts, so if we did it again, it would take away that magic, and so we did not want to do that. With this record, we wanted it more dynamic, and took our time creating that sound. We really took our time with the album, because it had to be right, and we think we’ve succeeded.
MM: I’d say you succeeded too! The record reached #53 on the Billboard 200 chart, and did amazingly well across the world. Seeing the response after so long without a new album must have been special.
AB: It really was man. We were completely overwhelmed by the response to this record. It’s funny because you release an album that you think is great, but then the fans may hate it, and you don’t know what to think anymore. When you release something you love, and you see the fans respond in the same way, it’s a special feeling.
MM: This will be the first time we get to hear the new stuff live, but from your point of view, how has the new material blended in with the old?
AB: Quite well I’d say. Actually better than expected (laughs). It’s funny because like you said earlier, the new material is At The Gates, but with the new dynamics and everything, we were excited to hear how they would sound live, and they sound great. The fans really seem to enjoy them as well, which is most important. Plus, I feel that we are playing the old material better than ever before too. We are all better musicians now, so the old stuff is sounding tighter than ever too, which makes for a great set all night.
MM: That’s great news, because there is a huge line of fans waiting outside, and some have been waiting a long time to see you guys. Plus, it looks like a crowd of all ages. Are you seeing this at other shows as well?
AB: Definitely. That’s been one of my favorite things about this tour is seeing all of the fans in the audience. Parents taking their kids, and stuff like that. That’s just awesome. Plus, there are a lot of girls at our shows now (laughs). That would have never happened twenty years ago, at least not the amount of girls ya know, so it’s been really exciting to look out from the stage at all of that.
MM: It’s weird to say, but right now it feels like At The Gates is bigger than you’ve ever been?
AB: That’s a funny statement, but I agree. Although as a band, we feel that we are still an underground extreme metal band. We are still that band that used to play for one hundred people if we were lucky.
MM: And now you’re playing a sold out show in New York City.
AB: Crazy right? I don’t know. It’s fun man. We are all having a ton of fun right now, and that’s a good thing. Even though we have fans calling us “legends” or whatever, we still feel like the same band from twenty years ago. We realize the importance of some of our records of course, but we don’t focus on that. That would ruin any progress for the future if we kept looking back ya know. We have to stay focused and humble, and that brings out the best in us.
MM: Seeing all of the love from the fans since the 2008 gig, and now with the new record, is there already talks about more new material in the future, or is it too early to say?
AB: We haven’t thought about it too much to be honest. We are enjoying what we are doing now, and that’s the most important thing. We put out a great record, and having successful tours, so it’s best just to enjoy that now, because who knows what the future may hold.
MM: It does seem like you guys are having more fun than ever before. Do you feel that way?
AB: I would say so. We are all really happy right now with what’s going on, and so it makes getting up every day a lot easier. It’s obviously not as wild as it used to be (laughs). We are not the drinkers we used to be, and our main focus everyday is the show that night. We are more focused in our “old” age, but it makes for better shows for the fans, and that’s the most important thing for us. We want the fans to enjoy every moment.
MM: Well so far so good, because the love for you guys is huge right now. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the fans out there?
AB: As always, thanks for all of your support. Because of you we get to live our dream and play music across the world, so we are forever grateful for that. We’ll be hitting the festivals in Europe this Summer, South America, and other spots, so be on the lookout for us in your town. We plan on touring a lot on this new record, so get ready.