The idea was to create a project that could combine Thrash and Death, with the melodic guitar of Classic Hard Rock and Classic Metal”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hello, Mr. Michael Amott.
Michael Amott: Hello, hello, good evening.
W (NM): Good evening, how are you today?
MA: Pretty good, pretty good.
W (NM): Good, good. You’re in Sweden now, right?
MA: Yes, we’re home.
W (NM): I read you’re recording some guitars, is that true?
MA: I am, yes. I am.
W (NM): Excellent.
MA: It’s something I… I like to stay busy. And then next week we have rehearsals for the tour we’re doing in Latin America.
W (NM): That’s great.
W (Daniel Dystyler): Excellent, Michael. This is Daniel, from Wikimetal. I’m going to start asking if you remember how you first became involved with music, and who were your main influences that made you choose to play guitar on a rock and metal band.
MA: Oh… Yeah, that’s a good question! You know, I’ve always loved music. I was always around music as a kid… My parents, especially my mother, was a big music fan, you know, classical music, jazz… And some rock as well, bust mostly classical and jazz. So I grew up around music, listening to music, but I don’t know… I had a friend and he got me into Kiss, actually, the “Destroyer” album, and I was really into that, really into Kiss for a few years. But then I got into punk as well, which was kind of like… I was just looking for something with a lot of energy I guess, and I loved punk and early hard core stuff. And then a lot of my friends were listening to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and these kinds of bands in the 80s, so I was getting into that as well, I liked a bit of everything at that point. And then I started playing guitar in a band when I was 14, and that was more punk stuff, actually. And then from that point on… Or maybe I was 13, actually, when I started playing guitar. So yeah, it was just a little bit of everything, but I think I got more serious about playing guitar when I heard bands like Metallica and stuff like that, you know… “Kill ’Em All” album, I was really impressed with… You know, stuff like that. Then I started like “Yeah, I also want to be able to play really tight, really cool extreme riffs, but really well played” you know…
W (NM): Everybody knows that Arch Enemy has a very unique sound, how would you describe your music to someone who had never heard the band? Is there a way to label the sound of Arch Enemy?
MA: Well, you know, musicians, we don’t like labels, right? We don’t want to acknowledge them, we think we’re very original, every single one of us. I think Arch Enemy’s music… The idea I had when I started the band was to create the most awesome, perfect project that could combine the extreme music, this heaviness, of say thrash and death, combined with, like, the melodic guitar work of classic hard rock and classic heavy metal. And, you know, have those two things, like really fast, intense drumming, heavy riffs, extreme vocals, but then have the harmonies of the guitar solos be just like, some really beautiful things going on. I just wanted to blend those, I wanted to take that to the next level with this band. And I’m still trying to do that, I guess. You know, it’s still the same concept that we have in the band, so… Sometimes people call Arch Enemy… We’re called death metal, or melodic death metal. I don’t really see us as that kind of band, I see us more as a hybrid metal, we’ve just combined quite a lot of different things in our music. But we’re definitely extreme, you know, we’re not the most extreme band in the world, of course, and we don’t want to be, but you know, we want to… I guess we’re some kind of extreme metal. It’s definitely metal.
The years in Carcass were very important for my development as a musician.”
W (DD): Definitely, definitely. And can you talk a little bit about your times with Carcass in the early 90s and how it was for you to play on these reunion concerts couple of years ago?
MA: You know, I loved playing with them, it was a huge honor for me to play with them back in the day. When I first joined them, in the early 90s, it was just such a massive learning experience for me, you know, because they had some more experience than I did, and I learned a lot from playing with them. They’d been doing it for longer than me, you know, playing shows, they were just more seasoned musicians in a way at that time, even though they were very young. So it was like a really, really cool experience, I loved it, and I played on two albums: “Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious”, and the “Heartwork” album. And yeah, I had a really good time in those three amazing years, really. Very important years for my development as a musician. And then the reunion shows we did in 2008 to 2010, I was doing reunion shows with them, quite a lot of shows all around the world, really. That was also, again, a really, really fun experience. It was a lot of fun, and it was just great to play that old music again, and present it to the fans – to the old fans that maybe hadn’t seen us in a very long time, or hadn’t ever seen us, maybe, and new fans – we had new fans as well. So it was just a really enjoyable experience. And it was nice to reconnect, you know, with those guys, Jeff and Bill as well…
W (NM): So do you remember the first time you met Angela? What do you remember of her auditions in order to join the band and how was the invitation for her to become part of Arch Enemy?
MA: You know, I’d known her a little bit through e-mail and stuff, because we’d done a couple of interviews actually… Or we did one interview, and then I met her in person later on. She was doing like a web scene at the time, working for another web scene. And then I met her at an Arch Enemy show. We were on tour in Germany and she came out to the show and said hello. And then she gave us, like a demo tape, some stuff of her band… Her old band, and yeah… She was just somebody that we knew that was really into… You know, we knew she was a singer and stuff like that, but it wasn’t something that we really thought about that much. But then, you know, when we decided to part ways with Johann, our first singer, we started making a list of who could be like a cool… You know, who would be… We would like someone unknown, you know, to come in, and be… But at the same time, be really awesome, so Angela’s name came up, and I just remember that it sounded really, really good, when she sang our material, so it was just a… It was a really cool thing, we actually went, pretty much immediately into the studio. We’d already been writing the “Wages of Sin” album, and it was pretty much written already, and we went in and started recording and it just sounded great at the studio as well, so… The rest is heavy metal history.
W (DD): And it is a great history. Michael, we have a classic question on our show that we ask every single guest, which is, imagine you’re listening to your iPod on shuffle mode or you’re listening to a rock station while driving your car and all of a sudden a Heavy Metal song starts that makes you lose your mind and you feel you need to start headbanging immediately, regardless of where you are, you can’t stop, you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
MA: Oh, dear… It would probably be something like a Slayer song, you know, they get me every time. Probably something like “Chemical Warfare”, by Slayer.
The first time I played in Japan, in 1997, was a very special feeling: being onstage playing in front of fans that were so far away from Sweden, but they knew my music.”
W (NM): “Chemical Warfare”, by Slayer, on Wikimetal! You also played keyboards and bass for Arch Enemy for a while… Do you think the fact that you play several different instruments helps you when you create Arch Enemy songs?
MA: You know, I’m not really a multi-instrumentalist, really, I just try to… I really try just to stick with the guitar, you know, it’s enough for me. But you know, I can play a bit of bass, a bit of this and that, but not something that sounds great. I can do some demos at home and things like that, but you know… I have such great musicians in Arch Enemy, that I don’t really need to think about playing any other instrument. When we do keyboards, we tend to get Per Wiberg, who plays with me in Spiritual Beggars, and he also played with Opeth for many years, he’s a fantastic keyboard player, so we tend to get him to play the keyboards if we need anyone.
W (DD): And since you mentioned “Spiritual Beggars”, can you talk a little bit about the future plans? Is there any new album coming out next year?
MA: There is, yeah. We’re actually recording it right now, I’m recording guitar solos this week, I’ve been recording all week guitars. So yeah, it’s a brand new studio album, celebrating 20 years… 20th anniversary as a band next year, and we’re going to be doing a few shows next year. Because Arch Enemy’s going to have a bit of a break in the beginning of next year, so I can do something else. And yeah, I’m going to be doing a little bit of Spiritual Beggars here and there, so I know it’s going to be fun. A new studio album is going to be released in the Spring next year.
W (NM): Great, and talking about the show in São Paulo, on the 25th of November…
MA: A complete Armaggedon, I guess… It’s going to be crazy. We’ve always had such amazing tours in Brazil, and Latin America as a whole, really. We’ve done two tours down there, and it’s always been such a really awesome experience, you know. The energy of the fans, the dedication, the knowledge they have about our music, you know, we can play any song from our discography and they really react to it, you know, they really listen to our music… Just really dedicated and fantastic fans, and they sing “Make a lot of noise”, which is awesome. So it’s a lot of fun, we love those energetic crowds, and we’ll put some of that on our next DVD that we’re going to be working on next year.
W (NM): That’s great to hear, I’m sure our listeners will love to be part of that, and we’ll be there for sure, as well.
W (DD): And, Michael, if you could think of one moment of your career that you will never forget which one would that be?
MA: Oh… Probably, you know, I’ve been very fortunate to have an amazing career, really, in music, so I have a lot of those moments, really. I guess sometimes, when you play a country for the very first time, somewhere very far away. I remember the first time I played in Japan, in 1997, and I’d never played Japan, and I was just real excited about it… I just remember it was a very special feeling: being onstage and playing in front of fans that were so far away from Sweden, but they still knew my music, so that was a special feeling. But, you know, I’ve had a lot of really, really cool experiences. I tend to… I don’t know, but we have a lot of very cool experiences, you know, we’re kind of spoiled, you know, we have a lot of… So many awesome fans all over the globe, really. So yeah, a lot of cool moments, a lot of good stories for the grandchildren, I guess, if I can remember them at that time.
W (NM): And we’d like to listen to another song now, this time, I’ll ask you to choose an Arch Enemy song that you are really proud of, so we can listen to it right now on Wikimetal?
MA: OK, cool. Let’s play my favorite song of our recent album “Khaos Legions”, which is a song called “Bloodstained Cross”.
W (DD): Since you mentioned “Bloodstained Cross”, let me ask you, the video shows Arch Enemy doing really great in many different countries around the world. What are the most important markets for metal in the world today? Can we say that metal is living a very special moment regarding popularity in many different places?
MA: Yeah, I mean… We’ve seen, over the last few years, with Arch Enemy, we’ve seen that the places that we can go to are just spreading, you know, we can go to so many crazy places. We started the “Khaos Legions World Tour” last year in Morocco, in North Africa. I mean, who would have thought? I think that’s just crazy to me, you know. Like, ten years ago, that was never something that you would have thought was going to happen. We played in a bunch of countries that I never thought we’d ever go to, that I’d ever visit. And I think, yeah, Metal’s just so worldwide now, and it’s all really thanks to the internet, I guess, that we can all connect, you know, and we can all, you know, the band, and artist, and the fans can connect, and you know, fans can really get into music, all kinds of music. They just type it in and find the music that they’re into. And yeah, it’s really… It’s a beautiful thing. And you know, thanks to people like you, of course, spreading the word as well.
You can be great in your bedroom, shredding away, looking at YouTube clips, and stuff… But really interacting with other musicians is the key.”
W (NM): Thank you, I appreciate it. And Michael, having Angela as the lead singer of your band, do you believe that even in 2012 there is still any prejudice towards women in heavy metal, you think?
MA: I think as long as there are people, there will always be some prejudice, you know, but we haven’t really… When she first joined the band, I thought it was going to be like 50/50, you know. I thought 50% were going to be anti having a woman on vocals, and 50% were going to be pro, and really into it. But it actually turned out to be 90% really positive about it, and 10% were not so positive. And I think that we have less and less of it, I guess, but, you know, there are always going to be close minded people, and you know, close minded people are… You know, life’s too short, it’s way too short to concern yourself with a few close minded people that can’t get their head around it, or don’t want to… It’s not an issue for us, really, we don’t really care either way. We have so many fans that are really awesome, and really support the band. We don’t really need everybody to love us, for whatever reason. They might think my guitar playing sucks, or they hate the fact that Angela’s a woman, and can scream… Who cares? You know, we have so many fantastic fans, that it’s really… it’s enough for us. We stay positive.
W (DD): Those are very wise words, Michael. We are almost reaching the end of our interview, but before we let you go, we’d like to ask you what would be your advice for a young kid that’s thinking of putting up a band and starting a career or maybe playing guitar on a rock band?
MA: Yeah… I mean, I get that question a lot, so I should really have a ready to go answer for that, but I don’t, of course… I just think you should just play the kind of music that you love, that you’re into, you know. Don’t really try to fit into any trends or anything like that, because I think it’s just better to follow your heart in music, you know. I think that’s what I’ve always done, no matter… Through the whole 90s, I was playing my style, you know, with guitar solos, and harmonies, and stuff, and everybody was laughing at it, because it was just not popular at all, you know, nobody was having guitar solos. DJs were the guitar heroes in the 90s, right? And new Metal and all that stuff. But then it came back, you know, and then people started liking what I was doing again, so I think it just helps to really stay true to yourself as a musician, and other than that practical advice, I don’t know… I mean, just find some friends who also want to play stuff, and form a band as soon as you can, because I think you can learn a lot from playing with other musicians, playing with your friends… That’s how I did it, you know? You can be great in your bedroom, shredding away, looking at YouTube clips, and stuff… But really interacting with other musicians is the key, I think.
W (NM): And let me ask you Michael: how did the European tour go, and what did it mean to you to… What was is like to have VoiVod as an opening act for some of your shows?
MA: It was a really successful European tour, we really enjoy it, we had a great time. And some of the shows were just totally epic, like Paris – we had a sold out show there, at a big venue, it was quite special. Almost as loud as the Brazilian fans, but not quite. And for the end of the tour, we had a… We were joined by VoiVod, you know, Canadian legends. That was great, that was really, really cool talking to them and hanging out with them, and watching them play, and everything. I was a fan in the 80s, you know, I was listening to their records… “Killing Technology”, especially, was an album that I loved at the time. So it was just a really beautiful thing. I’ve been very lucky, I’ve played with a lot of my old heroes, you know… I’ve hung out with Dave Mustaine, and played shows with him, I’ve toured with Slayer, I’ve toured with Iron Maiden, I’ve toured with VoiVod now, you know. Bands that I really grew up listening to, so it’s a really cool, and one of the things that I really enjoy is that I get to look back and think like “Wow, it’s all coming full circle” you know?
W (DD): Michael, thanks so much for your time and your patience… Can you please leave a final message to all the Wikimetal fans that are listening?
MA: Yeah, I mean, thanks for the interview, thank you for the interest in Arch Enemy, and, you know, hale to all the Wikimetal listeners… The band… We’ve been on tour now for almost two years, the band is on fire.
W (NM): That’s great, thank you so much, Mr. Michael Amott, from Arch Enemy, on Wikimetal. It was really nice talking to you, it was a great interview.
MA: Sounds good, thank you.
W (DD): Thanks, bye bye Michael.
MA: Cheers, bye.
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