Was it a difficult time for you personally?
“Oh yeah. You can look at it like we formed in 1990 and broke up in 1996. But those years were from 19 to our early 20s, so it's formative. I was Tomas from At The Gates – that's how I saw myself. Now we have a broader perspective of who we are as people but at the time I was a little more narrow-minded. It took some effort to get over that and look at it more maturely.”
You've always had a number of projects on the go, though. Is music something you have to do?
“I think so. I've got several people around me saying, ‘When you're not working on a project you're a more lousy person!’ Of course when I'm working on the final stages, I'm a pretty boring person to be around because I'm so focused, but at least I'm happy. Whenever we finally call it quits I would have to find another outlet to be creative.”
Are you a political animal as punkier projects like Disfear and Skitsystem might suggest?
“Yes, but the main thing I've learned from getting older is that I don't know everything. As a 20-year-old, I did – ‘This is my world view and everybody else can fuck off.’ Now I understand a little bit more that people have differing perspectives. I work as a teacher as well, so I have to work with that all the time. Why, for example, is this person so right-wing and racist? What has made him into that person? And that's what I try to figure out all the time. I don't believe there’s one solution for everything.”
At The Gates’ lyrics tended to be quite deep and reflective. Did that influence your vocal style?
“We always thought about that even when we started back in the ’90s. With Grotesque we took Satanic death metal as far as we could then when we formed At The Gates I thought, 'This band has to express more emotions than just aggression.' There's so much more out there and it's more interesting to paint with more colours. When we got back together I realised that was what was so special about At The Gates for me: there was a wider emotional palette, especially things like desperation and melancholy, and that speaks to the listener pretty openly. That's what I try to put into my lyrics and vocals as well. Pure aggressive death metal vocals are hard to do well, but it's even harder to do it with soul in death metal. That's what I try to do: put myself on the dissection table of my emotions!”