At the Gates' Tomas Lindberg: How Joy Division's 'Closer' Changed My Life | Revolver

At the Gates' Tomas Lindberg: How Joy Division's 'Closer' Changed My Life

"I had never heard anything like that before. It went straight to the heart."
at the gates tomas by-andy-hayball-press.jpg, Andy Hayball
photograph by Andy Hayball

Considering his band's tried and true melodic death-metal sound, it might be surprising to some fans how diverse At the Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg's musical tastes are. The vocalist has been shaped by all kinds of music over his lifetime and career — from Metallica to David Bowie. Count among that list proto-goth post-punk miserablists Joy Division, and particularly their swan song Closer. When we talked to Lindberg about the 10 albums that have shaped him as a person and an artist, he included that seminal LP among his picks. Below are his thoughts on its profound impact on him.

"Closer sums up the whole English rock experience for me. I have a sister whose boyfriend had an amazing record collection with a lot of depth in it — everything from proto-metal like Wishbone Ash, Blue Öyster Cult, Mahogany Rush — and he had pre-punk stuff like the MC5 and the Stooges and new wave, too. So his record collection was a goldmine. Everything I listened to swept me away because I was so young and I hadn't heard anything that honest before. I saw Joy Division's Closer and played it and it really touched me because it was so full-on emotional. When I heard that first song, 'Atrocity Exhibition,' I was like, 'What is this? What are they doing?' I had never heard anything like that before. They were so naked and it went straight to the heart.

"When I think about that record I also think of Bauhaus and the really early Human League, Echo & the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, the Fall. All of that stuff came from this album for me. I don't know if I would ever have become a big Jesus and Mary Chain fan later on if I had never been introduced to Joy Division. A lot of people tap into the depression elements of Joy Division, but at the age I discovered it, I think I was too young to have even teenage angst. So it was just the honesty and urgency of the music that attracted me. It just has this authenticity about it. Even though I didn't really know what depression was at the time, I could tell it was such an emotional album."