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Interview with Mr. Å

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by cheechonaleash, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. cheechonaleash

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    Taken from February 2008 issue of Revolver Magazine:

    OPETH
    Swedish Prog-Death Wizards Explore Their... Even Darker Side

    If Opeth's upcoming album turns out to be too dark and heavy for your progressive sensibilities, blame it on frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt's kids. Three years ago, the enigmatic songwriter had his first daughter, Melinda, and on October 28, his second, Mirjam, was born. While the children give him great joy, they also fill him with unimaginable dread.

    "I've become much more scared than I've ever been," Åkerfeldt explains from the studio. "Before I had my kids, I didn't care about anything except myself. But now I'm worried all the time. And because of that, the music I've been writing is just pitch black."

    Children haven't been Åkerfeldt's only source of dark inspiration. Since Opeth released their mystical, progressive masterpiece, Ghost Reveries, in 2005, the band has undergone two major lineup shifts. First, drummer Martin Lopez bailed mid-tour, and then, after 16 years in the band, guitarist Peter Lindgren quit last May. These changes have shaken Åkerfeldt's trust in others and his sense of band unity, and have left him penning angry, misanthropic music about the decay of friendship and the difficulty of maintaining relationships.

    Of course, Åkerfeldt isn't about to deliver these themes in simple, bite-sized packages. The new songs will be some of Opeth's heaviest, most musically complex compositions to date, and may win back fans disgruntled by the shards of light and hope on Ghost Reveries.

    Two weeks after Opeth entered Fascination Street studio in Sweden to start tracking the new tunes, Revolver talked with Åkerfeldt about the onset of true darkness, the frustrations of lineup changes, the inspiration of left-of-center singer Scott Walker, and drawing fuel from negative reviews.

    REVOLVER Your second daughter was born on October 28 and you were due to begin recording on November 1. You must be heavily sleep deprived.
    MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT It's probably worse for her mother. I don't sleep much anyway. It kind of sucks that I couldn't be home longer. But the studio is just two hours away from home, so I can go home in an emergency.

    How long do you think you'll be working on the record?
    Hopefully it will be around five weeks of recording and then mixing. We're producing it ourselves so we can make our own schedule.

    When were the songs written?
    We knew we were going to do alot of touring for Ghost Reveries, and we were going to be very exhausted afterwards and would need some time off. So I planned all along to write the next album in that time off. I bought a house to have a little home studio to work in, and that's what I've been doing since December 21, 2006. And I've written eight new songs.

    How will the record compare to Ghost Reveries?
    The music is much more complex. The metal parts are even faster and a lot more technical than the last one. It's really hard to play some of this stuff. I mean, I wrote it and even I have trouble playing parts of it. I think it's going to be hard for some people to get into. It's definitely not a commercial sounding record. The arrangements are exhausting. And it's much darker. Even the major patterns are very dark, while I think Ghost Reveries had some light.

    Were these songs influenced by anything musical?
    I was hugely inspired by Scott Walker, who's an avant-garde artist and crooner. Last year he put out a record called The Drift, which is quite extreme and frightening, and it made a huge impact on me. Immediately, I wanted to do something like that. It just felt right. Also, with the situation this band has gone through over the last couple of years with the lineup changes, I just wanted it to be this way. I didn't want it to be a happy-sounding record.

    Did you consider breaking up the band when Martin or Peter left?
    Not really. Lineup changes are hard, but sometimes they're needed. A Really good, strong chemistry is necessary between band members, and when someone is no longer feeling like they want to be a part of it, you get new people in the band and you have a new chemistry. There is no original chemistry in this band. Not even I am an original member. I auditioned as a bass player. Later, I decided that I don't need a band to hang out with my best friends. I just want to surround myself with great, dedicated musicians who love to play music. That's all that matters.

    Were you surprised when Peter left?
    It didn't come as a complete shock. For the past couple of years, he wasn't as inspired or interested in the music. He and I wrote music together in the early days and we stopped doing that about 10 years ago. Since then, he might have felt a bit left out, and his importance in the band kind of faded. Also, he wanted to pursue his educations. So after going off tour for Ghost Reveries, he wanted to see what he could do to better his education. And that's a sign that something's not right - for a musician to work with something so different from music. And he found the touring lifestyle pretty rough. With all those things, it was best that we parted ways.

    When did his replacement Fredrik Åkesson, join?
    I'd seen Fredrik around the Stockholm scene for a few years. But he was a cock-rocker. He has a different musical feel than the rest of us. He was in bands like Talisman, which was Yngwie Malmsteen's old guys. But I was out in a local club one day and saw him playing in a cover band and realized he was a really good player. And somewhere down the line we met and started to hang out and became friends. I always admired him as a guitar player and I wanted to take lessons from him. Eventually, he got into our scene because he joined Arch Enemy. So he was the obvious choice, and it was the perfect time because he was just fired from Arch Enemy and we were going off tour. We didn't even ask anyone else. He had what we needed. When I asked him to join the band, Fredrik said he loved playing with Arch Enemy but Opeth was a band he actually went out and bought records by.

    What happened with your old drummer Martin Lopez, who had played with you since 1998's My Arms, Your Hearse?
    He was in pretty bad shape. He had anxiety attacks and was falling in and out of love for music. We did the record with him, which was quite a painful time in the studio. And then we went on tour and he was worse. Halfway through the tour he couldn't eat and couldn't sleep. Also, he has some genetic blood disease. He became really sick and really thin. He didn't have any power left in him and wanted to go home.

    Was he fired?
    No. We said, "You should go home and rest for a few months, and we'll just sign some substitute player until you feel fit to come back." And in the time he was away, he felt that he didn't want to come back. So he moved down to Uruguay and stayed there for two years. People are their own individuals and you can't really control them. If you try, you just make yourself depressed and crazy.

    Did you know his replacement, Martin Axenrot?
    I didn't. He was at the Swedish Rock Festival, and I met up with guitarist Patrick Jensen of Witchery. And he came up to me and said, "You're looking for a drummer, right?" So I met him and asked him what his influences were, and he said [Whitesnake and Deep Purple drummer] Ian Paice, which was all I needed to know. After a while it was like, I don't miss anything. He's a marvelous drummer, and he's hungry all the time. And he did everything for the new record in six days, which is really unheard of.

    Do the lyrics for the new record address the lineup changes?
    Well, I haven't written the lyrics yet, but I think there'll be stuff about personal friendships and relationships. It's hard to translate my daily woes into music. A lot of it won't be obvious, because I don't want to have to explain it all in interviews. But it will be very dark.

    Do you think some of the fans that didn't like Ghost Reveries will fell you've redeemed yourself with this next album?
    For some people, it doesn't matter how good it is, because they've made up their mind that we're not good anymore. That bothers me, because when you feel you've written something extraordinary, you want everyone to share your idea of how great it is. And I just don't want to be judged by what we did before. One thing I don't want to hear is that I'm doing commercial music and there's no feeling to it. That kind of hurts - especially because those people don't know what the fuck they are talking about. They don't know anything about my feelings. And, Ghost Reveries is not a commercial record at all. When I hear the parts that are heavy on the new record, I can't help but think, "Wait and see, you people think that we've got nothing in us anymore."

    A lot of people still love Opeth. Why not ignore the negativity?
    Because that's what I'm looking for. If I read a stack of reviews, I want to see the shitty ones. It's a weird thing to me. I'm not interested in the good stuff. I just want to read people talking shit.
    JON WIEDERHORN
     
  2. antipunx13

    antipunx13 Member

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    Nice to see a new interview, though a lot of the questions are in regards to things we already know. Thanks for posting it.
     
  3. Mr Samsara

    Mr Samsara Misanthropic Moderator

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    And you people think Mike wants me to sensor the negativity here.... shit I get much more pissed about it that he ever does.

    Thanks for the article btw Cheechonaleash.
     
  4. Slayer101

    Slayer101 Member

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    Great fucking interview!! Thanks for posting man!!
     
  5. annt

    annt Member

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    Really nice interview, thanks!
     
  6. BefriendedUnit

    BefriendedUnit They wear white for me

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    Yes, thanks a bunch!
     
  7. AnTz0r

    AnTz0r Crimson King

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    didn't he know axenrot from bloodbath's 2004 record? they were in 1 room together for the promo picture, then in 2005 did the wacken gig. that was when lopez was still drumming, so how come he didnt know him?
     
  8. Weakness

    Weakness Senior Citizen

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    Yeah. I was thinking the same thing. That's kind of weird.
     
  9. nizzon

    nizzon f.k.a Qth

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    IIRC Mike only came in temporary to record the vocals for BB, that doesnt mean he was there when axe recorded the drums, same with the wacken gig. Of course he knew who he was and what bands he has been in etc but he didnt know him personally or what musical inspration he had etc.
     
  10. Mr Samsara

    Mr Samsara Misanthropic Moderator

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    Peter Tägtgren did the vocals on Nightmares Made Flesh.... not Mike. Dan Swanö played drums on the 2 previous records.
     
  11. biggsy

    biggsy New Metal Member

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    good read, thanks.
     
  12. Alteredmindeath

    Alteredmindeath Wasteland Survivor

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    good words spoken by Mike, looking forward to the album even more now.
     
  13. IamReptar

    IamReptar Yar be pirating

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    Ok. I really can't wait for the new album now.

    I shouldn't have read that :)
     
  14. AnTz0r

    AnTz0r Crimson King

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    yes but mike did do the wacken gig together with axe, and they rehearsed for several days. i think mike joined for just the last day or so, but still ;)
     
  15. opethpainter

    opethpainter the psychedelic servant

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    hey! february 2008?!?!?!
    how do you get those previews?
     
  16. Maggai

    Maggai Member

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    That was a really good interview. Looking forward to the new album. Sounds amazing from the descriptions!
     
  17. Zephyros

    Zephyros Member

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    Great interview Thanks Mate!
     
  18. Becken

    Becken Du som hater gud

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    good interview, can´t wait for the opeth´s darkest album ever !
     
  19. Korlich

    Korlich So Judah fucked it up

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    Good interview. I would like to know more about the coming album in terms of style/genre/influences, ie. it would be cool if Mike described each song with those parametres. Dark and technical is very broad imo.
     
  20. dwoakee

    dwoakee Suboptimization Expert

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    I can understand that very well. It's the same with me, since I have kids I get scared so easily. Sudden noise, wrong movement, things falling down ... if it catches me in the wrong moment I really get a shock, heart bumping, panting for a while to calm down. Really crazy.
     

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