Swedish prog metallers Opeth are currently back on tour around the UK and Europe and I caught up with mainman Mikael Akerfeldt before the tour commenced to talk tours, recording and more …
You’re back out on tour around the UK, looking forward to the dates ?
M: Yes I am. Had a bit of a holiday for a month or two so I guess all of us are a bit eager. We’ve rehearsed 2 sets for this trip, so it’s been a lot of work, but we sound good I have to say. On a personal note, I’ll hit all the record stores of course. Love the UK when it comes to buying records (vinyl)!
The ‘Heritage’ album was a great success for you, given that the sound was a bit of a departure from your previous albums were you surprised at how readily it was accepted ?
M: Both yes and no. I was more surprised about how narrow minded some metal fans are. Even if we’d done the “Damnation” album which is way softer,,”Heritage” came as a complete (and unwanted) surprise to parts of our fanbase, and the line between love and hate was thin. Whatever, is fine by me. I think it had been worse if it had created a shrug. My worst nightmare is stagnating as a band. I love progress musically, and as long as we in the band deem the progress, interesting, and that it generates music that we want to hear, we’re happy. However, some metal fans are quite content with same-y records from their favourite bands, which is cool too, but we won’t provide that. It’d be the death of this band to be honest.
I believe the album was recorded in the same studio in Stockholm that was used to record ABBA’s classic hits, was there any urge to head into ‘Dancing Queen’ territory when writing ?
M: Hehe, not really, but the grand piano used on that track is still there. We didn’t use it. The studio is quite similar to how it was back in the day. It’s like stepping into a time machine.
I understand that you are currently working on the follow up to ‘Heritage’. How are things progressing ?
M: Slow, but I have a song written and another song we’ve jammed throughout the last tours and I recorded a demo version of that one too. So I guess 2 songs. But we’ll see.
As a band, how do you approach the writing process, do you work as a band or individually then bring the ideas together in the studio ?
M: I write most of the music. The other guys bring in their personality in the songs which is why we sound like we do I think. Everyone in the band has a quite unique sound and it fits together perfectly with my writing.
Will this new release see Opeth push the boundaries further, possibly exploring other musical areas ?
M: Hopefully. But only if it sounds good. We won’t progress for the sake of it. Bottom line is that it has to be good songs to us. Like I said before, I love crazy progress but if it’s going to be natural, you have to give it time. You can’t force it, so I don’t know yet. I’d like to write more riffs and perhaps more melodically, but I don’t know.
Will Steven Wilson be involved in the recording process this time around and if so how important is his input to the Opeth sound ?
M: Not sure yet. SW is always my first choice when it comes to mixing and production, but we’re not sure yet.
When can we expect the new album to appear ?
M: Early 2014, maybe….
You were recently at the Prog awards along with some of your musical heroes, how was that experience ?
M: It was fun. I stayed well off the bottle, which I’m proud of. I saw all these super cats in there, but I didn’t talk to anyone really. A few nods and a few handshakes. I get starstruck and have nothing to say.
This current UK and European tour will see you through to the end of this year, can we expect further tours in 2013 and possibly festival apearances as well ?
M: Yes, we’re touring up til May, I think. And then a few Summer fests, but it will calm down after May.
As an artist do you get more satisfaction from creating in the studio or playing live on stage or do the separate disciplines reap their own different rewards ?
M: They are two different things really. Nothing creative to me about being on stage, but the ego gets a boost and it’s “fun”. In the studio however, is when I feel I have something to offer. I can lose myself completely in the music. It’s an indescribable feeling and I can’t liken it to anything else. It’s just amazing being able to create something from nothing, and in the end, hopefully, to you like what you did.
Lastly, a question that has always crossed my mind is why Sweden is such a hotbed for quality rock bands of all genres, is it due solely to the long dark nights or is there something more to it ?
M: I’ve no idea. I think the Swedish scene is quite dull to be honest!
Thanks for your time Mikael and I hope the tour goes well.
In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.
Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)
Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)
Tweets by Get Ready to ROCK!