Intense tattoo-based chat with Anders Nyström, guitarist and co-founder of a Swedish band which is beloved like few others. As the new LP “City Burials” confirms …

Hi Anders, Katatonia was formed in 1991 but when was your love for tattoos really born?
Well, ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to get tattoos, but age restrictions and the lack of money probably stopped me from getting anything inked back in those times.

KATATONIA, Anders Nyström, credit by Ester Segarra
KATATONIA, Anders Nyström, credit by Ester Segarra

Tell me a funny story connected with your early times in the tattoo world…
I remember I had my first tattoo planned out already when I was a teenager. It was gonna be an image used on a flyer for our demo tape that we had nicked from a “Dungeons & Dragons” fantasy book. Basically, the image was a drawing of a maelstrom of winged brains! (laughs)

I know it sounds corny, but I really loved that image and thought it would become the perfect “sleeve”, but I’ve never got around to doing it, at least not yet!

Why are you tattooed mostly on your left arm? Is it a Death Metal thing? A sort of “left hand path” maybe?
Of course! (laughs) Nah, I guess it just quickly grew to a full sleeve by allowing the artist carte blanche. I didn’t want to clutter the text on my right arm with anything surrounding it.

Since my left arm was almost an empty canvas, we just quickly filled it up with all this nasty stuff.

Could you explain the concept behind your left sleeve? It “sounds” a lot like death metal with the inverted crosses, all those evil eyes and that devilish snake. More Bloodbath than Katatonia, I guess…
Yeah that whole arm is basically just Bloodbath (the other band Anders plays in, Ed.), themes inspired by various art from the early albums, except for a symbol right in the middle. That symbol is Saint Erik, the patron saint of Stockholm, which I did to represent my hometown.

KATATONIA, credit by Ester Segarra
KATATONIA, credit by Ester Segarra

You are tattooed mostly on your left arm plus a few pieces on your right arm, aren’t you? Or do you have tattoos pretty much everywhere?
I have a big Stormtrooper helmet on my leg and that’s about it.

Who are your favourite tattoo artists? Are they all from theStockholm area?
No, pretty much everything you see on my body was done by a guy called Marc Scheuchl who works at “Sigi’s Tattoo Shop” in Linz, Austria. I was lucky to visit such a talented artist.

KATATONIA, credit by Ester Segarra
KATATONIA, credit by Ester Segarra

Let’s talk about music: “City Burials” is another milestone in Katatonia’s career. Do you think an album so musically rich and warm is more important in a time of troubles and sorrows like 2020?
I think the album title became almost too real in the way it worked out and it’s almost eerie how accurately it reflects the current times and circumstances we live in. My truth? It’s a good time for a soundtrack like ours to embrace in dark times of need.

Read the sequel of the interview with Anders Nyström of Katatonia in a future issue of Tattoo Life magazine.

KATATONIA, cover album