Making generalizations is never a smart thing to do because quite often there are outliers, but sometimes you can’t help it. This post is one of those times. Moving past the tough exterior of metal musicians and singers are passionate artists, who want nothing more than to just spread their everlasting love for music onto others. Never judging a book by its cover applies to this overly simplified thought.
Arch Enemy is on the cover of today’s book. The Swedish death metal band formed in 1996 and released their debut album, “Black Earth”, in that same year. Since then, the group has eight studio albums and welcomed female vocalist Angela Gossow in 2001. Rounding out the band’s current line up is guitarists, Michael Amott and Christopher Amott, bassist, Sharlee d’Angelo and drummer, Daniel Erlandsson. By dropping albums consecutively and touring in between their release dates, Arch Enemy is metal music 24/7.
The latest Arch Enemy pattern came after “Khaos Legions” dropped, which was on June 7th via Century Media Records. Following the release, Arch Enemy toured throughout the U.S. and Canada then crossed the seas over to Japan and eventually to Europe. For the band’s “Khaos Over Europe” tour, which kicks off in December, the group held a contest for local bands to compete to be the supporting acts on the tour. Close to 250 bands entered and Century Media narrowed it down to 44 bands for the public to vote on. The Swedish band, Demotional, gathered the most votes, but spreading the metal wealth, Arch Enemy will include six more of the local bands on “Khaos Over Europe”. You should insert, an “Aw” here.
No matter the genre, music is about giving back to others through sharing the love for it. The Beatles had it right in the 60s with the song, “All You Need Is Love”. Arch Enemy obviously has a different sound from that of the Beatles, but both have an undying infatuation with music, which makes them givers.
Check out the interview below with Michael Amott as he discusses the local band contest, “Khaos of Legions” and his hectic schedule, which includes not only Arch Enemy, but also his side projects.
What drew you to pursue a career as a guitarist?
I joined an English band in the early 90s. We went on the road. It appealed to me, the traveling, meeting the fans that was something I never thought I’d be able to do. So, I think I caught the bug there.
What type of music influenced you from the start?
Well, I started out with punk at an early age. Really punk then hardcore kind of things. That really got me going on the instrument.
How do you think the metal genre has changed since first playing with Arch Enemy in the 90s?
It has changed a lot. I think a lot of trends come and go. You know, industrial metal to rap metal to all kinds of stuff. I don’t really pay that much attention to it. I am just set in my ways. I write the songs that I write; the riffs that I write. I write it in a certain style that I always have done. Sometimes it falls in favor to the heavy metal public and sometimes it doesn’t. We have seen it come and go in wave. America is more trend driven than Europe. Europe is more consistent in things.
You had a contest where over 250 bands competed to tour with you on the road. Was that number surreal?
It’s great. That is very flattering and it is really cool. It is how I started out having to support national bands that came through when I was just in a local band. We just kind of wanted to do that again and just give something back.
Between touring, making albums and your side projects, do you ever have downtime?
I don’t have a lot of downtime, but when I do, I really like to chill. I still play guitar a few hours everyday because that is just apart of my daily routine. You try to eat health, workout a bit more, just relax and watch movies. The music is also my work, so I just try to silence it out with not thinking too much about music related things, which is difficult because I always have riffs in my head.
Do you let your other projects influence Arch Enemy’s sound or keep them separate?
I keep them kind of separate. Carcass was a reunion thing and we are always playing older songs live and that wasn’t really confusing in any way. The Spiritual Beggars thing is very different from Arch Enemy. I just draw that from a different place in my mind. I just come up with that stuff in a different headspace.
Congratulations on “Khaos Legions” release! One of my favorite tunes was “City of the Dead”. What was it like making and recording this song?
It was a song that we jammed out in our rehearsal room. It is a kickass song. It has the right riffs and the right energy.
The guitar riffs are unreal in that song! Lyrically my favorite track was “No Gods, No Masters”. What inspired the message of this tune?
We are just an atheist band. We don’t believe in ghosts, spirits, gods, the devil, or unicorns. We are pretty much very realistic. It sucks to think that if there is only here and now that we are going to do. It is absolutely frightening of course. It is unrealistic to think in life that god is out there in heaven, listening to everyone’s prays and making sure everyone is going to have a good afterlife. That doesn’t seem very feasible to me. I haven’t seen proof of anything like that. I was not raised in any religious way. There isn’t much religion going on in Sweden and I think that there is a misconception that has come across that only religious people can have high morals. The morals that we have between human beings are just based on common sense, nothing to do with religion.
Interesting! Do you have a favorite track to play live?
Ya, it is a song called “Bloodstained Cross”. It’s really intricate. It’s really challenging song, which is exciting live. You got to be on your “A” game. You got to bring it. So, it’s fun and it has got a lot of energy. The crowd gets into it.
And you released the video for that track recently, right?
Ya, that’s right. Actually our crew shot that for us. The video was all made on the iPhone and we just edited it. I think it came out crew. I love it. I love it more than our extensive and conceptual videos. It is just live footage of us all over North Africa and Europe, playing really cool places with the fans and everything. It is the more real side of Arch Enemy and how we actually are in concert.
How has the crowd on tour been responding to “Khaos Legions”?
The reaction has been really good, especially to the two tracks, “Yesterday is Dead and Gone” and “Bloodstained Cross”.
Do you still ever get nervous going into these shows?
I am always nervous before a show so that will never go away. I have been doing it for many, many years and I always have a nervous feeling in my stomach. It kind of gives me that edge. I don’t have angst. I am not like freaking out. I get a bit wound-up. I get very excited.
by Lonnie Nemiroff