Last week in a rare over-ground win for underground art and authenticity the preconceived notion-smashing At the Gates comeback record At War With Reality won the Swedish Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album of 2014. We, of course, would like to believe this is at least in part the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's way of stealthily endorsing the upcoming Decibel magazine tour, but regardless of intent it seemed appropriate to check in with ATG frontman/living extreme music legend Tomas Lindberg to offer our congratulations and ask him what it was like to reach a whole 'nother level of recognition...
As a band that has been so consistently and unrelentingly extreme and outside the mainstream, was it surreal at all to win a Swedish grammy?
It was very surreal, indeed! We have always seen ourselves as an underground death metal band. But I guess our goal to prove our relevance in the present day made a little mark -- a mark bigger than we thought. It´s been a very strange year, with a lot of stuff happening for us that we never saw coming -- big headline tours, billboard charts, the grammis, etcetera. Overwhelming, really. I still can´t quite get my head around all of it actually. But as long as we try to keep out feet on the ground -- by keeping our day jobs, etcetera -- I Think we´ll manage to understand it eventually.
Were you on hand for the ceremony?
Yes, I and Adrian, our drummer, were there.
What was that experience like?
It was pretty different for us walking the red carpet! You know, all that stuff you think a Grammy ceremony is, it was. We kept a low profile and survived all the free booze so... [laughs]
At the Gates is manifestly not a band catering to awards ceremonies, but is there something gratifying about getting the sort of high profile recognition in your own country?
Yes, I think so. Of course it would be cooler to say no -- that this doesn't mean a thing. But it really does affect you to get a different level of recognition. The biggest reward is still to meet the fans in a live setting, of course, and to share the new songs with them there. To see people sing along, knowing the words already to some of the new tracks, that is what motivates us!
Does this make what you do seem more legit to your non-metal friends and family?
Well, family has always been supportive and cool. Maybe my co-workers have started to take my fun hobby a bit more serious since the show was aired... [laughs]
Has the band held a meeting yet to determine what to do with the trophy?
We have actually tried to order copies of the trophy for everyone, as we try to be a super-democratic band. But as I was the one collecting it, and had to make a big speech on prime-time national TV, it has a place on my shelf so far!
Are you dudes going to have major attitudes when you show up here for the Decibel tour now?
You never know! [Actually] I think that everyone that knows us also know how we work as people. I don´t see a risk of us changing at all. But the people at Universal Sweden had a saying at the award party that stuck with me: "You won a fucking Grammy, you can do whatever you want!" I think I´ll stick to that one for a while. When do you think such a statement expires? The next ceremony?
"Anders, we have to write a new record, NOW!"