February 23, 2023 Interview – Roger Öjersson of Katatonia
Nearly all bands sustain lineup shifts… and Katatonia are no different. Looking strikingly different from earlier in their career, Katatonia has rolled with the changes, settling in comfortably with a solid lineup of musicians over the last decade. A lineup surrounding the co-founding core of Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström, one of the newest to grace the stage with the band is Roger Öjersson.
A guitarist with more of a Blues Rock background, Öjersson entered the world of Heavy Metal with Tiamat back in 2012, recorded with them for The Scarred People album, and united with Katatonia in 2016. An important piece to the puzzle since, Öjersson guitar skills have shined brightly in the live setting and on studio recordings, including the band’s latest masterpiece Sky Void of Stars. Feeling right at home in Katatonia, the seasoned guitarist recently sat down to chat about his time in Katatonia, the work behind their latest album, and more.
Cryptic Rock – You came on with Katatonia as a full-time member back in 2016. In that time, you have been a part of the recording of an EP, two albums, and done countless touring. What has the past seven years with Katatonia been like for you?
Roger Öjersson – Good times. Yeah, I kind of stumbled in when The Fall of Hearts (2016) album was nearly done and the guys wanted me to record a few solos on it somewhere in late 2015. Then shortly thereafter we went down to Plovdiv and recorded the The Great Cold Distance live album with a symphony orchestra, so it was kind of a flying start. After that it has, apart from the covid years where we just did a live stream concert that we also released as a live album, just rolled on with touring, festivals and two more albums so far. Good times, indeed.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it has been a good fit. Prior to Katatonia, you had been a part of several other projects such as Kamchatka. Kamchatka is more of a Blues Hard Rock band. As a guitarist, do you enjoy working in different sub-genres of Metal and Rock?
Roger Öjersson – Well, before entering the world of metalish bands, which I guess was with Tiamat at first, I came from Blues and old ’70s Prog Rock. I do think there needs to be a measure of Blues involved to keep me interested, which I definitely think Katatonia has.
Cryptic Rock – It is interesting to hear a little about your background. Prior to joining up with Katatonia, were you a follower of their music? A band with such an in-depth discography, with amazing early work such as 1998’s Discouraged Ones and 1999’s Tonight’s Decision, it is so hard to pick a favorite album. That said, what was the album that really stood out for you from Katatonia prior to joining?
Roger Öjersson – Weirdly enough our paths had never crossed before I joined the band, even though we turned out to have many mutual friends and have apparently been hanging out at the same places, too. I got word from a friend of mine, Leo Margerit, who plays drums with Pain of Salvation that I have previously toured with, that the guys were looking for a guitar player, and he suggested I’d check it out. I gave another old friend, Fredrik Åkesson from Opeth, a call to ask him what kind of style it was, since I knew they had been touring together, and he thought it would most likely suit me very well, so I asked him to put in a good word for me. I had dinner with the guys at a restaurant in town and all of a sudden, I was in the band. It was during rehearsals I came to know the treasure of songs that has come out of this band.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool, and now you are creating music as a part of the band. Katatonia’s latest album, Sky Void of Stars, is a fantastic collection of songs. Some fans are saying it could be one of the band’s most balanced albums, or, a perfect unity of everything the band has experimented with in the past. That in mind, what was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Roger Öjersson – On this one Jonas stood for the writing. He pretty much got the stuff down in black and white and then us other guys added our colors to the whole thing.
Cryptic Rock – And those subtle pieces of texture add to the overall recording. As mentioned, you have been working with Katatonia since 2016; in fact, you actually even provided some guitar work on The Fall of Hearts. Is there more of a comfortable level with the band with each passing recording session?
Roger Öjersson – I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. I felt quite comfortable right from the start.
Cryptic Rock – Well that is a good thing. Katatonia is currently amidst a European tour which will transcend into a Latin American Tour. How has the tour gone thus far?
Roger Öjersson – It has been great. The songs from the new album have been very well-received by the audiences. Usually, it takes a while for people to melt the new material but not on this one. The album was released on the day of the first gig of the tour and the crowds have been awesome since day one.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear, hopefully the band will return to North American again sooner than later. Last question for you. If you are a fan of Horror and/or Sci-Fi films what are some of your favorites?
Roger Öjersson – I love the Alien movies. To get to see four different takes on the whole thing by four different directors is very interesting. Plus, the awesome soundtrack, of course.