Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Well the Vikings were back in town,and while the mode of transport may have changed from longship to tourbus-they were still set to raise a storm in the country of Ireland.Playing gigs in both Dublin and Belfast I caught up with Amon Amarth drummer Fredrik on the bands tour bus ahead of their Belfast show.
Afternoon Fredrik-the bands recent album “Deceiver of the Gods”has attained great global chart placings all over the world. Its been the highest charting album in the bands long history. Why do you feel that it has achieved such success?
Fredrik”I guess because its that the band are progressively getting bigger for every album. Small steps at a time. We haven’t rocketed….”
Well sound wise-its not a complete departure from the bands other releases.
Fredrik”No, I don’t think so. We have always done our own thing, so its always sounded like Amon Amarth. There has been progress and there has been development but ….
The band didn’t do anything different on this album then? In terms of song writing, recording?I note that you had Andy Sneep as a producer on the album. Did he bring something different that maybe previous producers perhaps didn’t?
Fredrik”Pretty not much at all, he let us do everything and he just did the recording and producing. He didn’t write any songs or anything. He had some ideas here and there but no big things.”
It has become a feature on several of your albums that Amon have had guests appearing. This time on “Deceiver” you have former Candlemass vocalist Messiah who appears on the track ”Hel” How did that come about? Were Candlemass a band that you guys were all fans of?
Fredrik”we are all fans of old-school Candlemass . Our singer met him many years ago, we also met him. They randomly talked about doing it-something musically together. We played a show in Stockholm a couple of years ago and he ended up on the bus afterwards and we had some beers and we talked about it more. Then we wrote this song and we just thought it would be cool and fit with his vocal style. We called him up and he sad”yes”
As I touched on earlier Amon Amarth have been in existence for over twenty years now. How have they survived through all the changes in the music industry. Particularly in recent years these have been particularly significant, for example the demise of the record companies.
Fredrik”I think that obviously there is a lot of different reasons behind everything. You cant explain everything but one reason is that we never went into it expecting to ever get anything back. For the first couple of albums we recorded, we just did it for the love of the music and because of having fun and playing live. We ever had any like …Obviously we thought that we were good but we never expected to become a big band or anything like that. We kind of just took everything gradually one step at a time and progressively got more and more popular I guess. When we even started making a living out of it, out of music the record sales had already started dropping significantly. So we have never seen how it might have been or how it used to be or something like that. For us it has actually been like we have always sold more albums on every record that we have released.”
I have talked to a few guys in bands that have been around as long as Amon Amarth. When they are off the road they have had to get secondary jobs to support their families.
Fredrik”We had regular/secondary jobs up until 2006. Then we said that we don’t have time for jobs anymore because we need to be touring everywhere. Basically we just took a leap of faith and hoped that it would work. We said that we would do it for as long as it works and we can always work later .You can always do that,but you cant be in a band forever.”
Any sort of stand out high and low points over the years with Amon Amarth. Perhaps a particular album release, a festival..or indeed maybe just something else?
Fredrik”No there are highs and lows, like all the time-different. I think that one point when we realised that things were actually turning or changing significantly was when we played Wacken. I guess it was 2004 maybe and it was the first time that we played”Vikings” live…
Do you prefer those bigger stages on festival dates?-I saw your set at Bloodstock recently.
Fredrik”They both have their charms, we love playing intimate shows like this as well because you get such a good connection with the crowd. It is sweaty and its like a fucking warzone. Then of course with big festivals you have a huge crowd and a bigger production and its fun too.”
Fans are always very demanding when it comes to wanting their favourite bands to be releasing new music. Given that ”Deceiver of the Gods” was just released last year, and the band have been on the road-are you working on any new music? Do you record ideas while on the road, or is that something solely reserved for the studio?
Fredrik”We haven’t started writing anything but as a songwriter of course you always get new ideas and you get riffs. I think that the two main songwriters have some stuff that they are fiddling about with. We don’t actually rehearse anything ..we want to sit down and work on it when the touring is done.”
The last time that I saw you in Belfast was on a triple bill with In Solitude and Grand Magus. Are there any bands that you haven’t yet toured with that perhaps you would like to? Perhaps a similarity in music/audience? Or have you ticked all your personal boxes over the years?
Fredrik”No, no definitely not. That is actually a huge dilemma for us we don’t really know which other bands suits us to tour with.-like from a fan perspective. We always try to find support bands or bands that tour with us that are compatible. We are definitely not in the death metal scene so Cannibal Corpse doesn’t really fit with us. We are not really in the power metal scene so its difficult”
Would you prefer to go our touring with somebody that you have something in common or even different to offer a challenge? Perhaps on a joint-headlining tour..?
Fredrik”I think that we did that when we supported Slayer a couple of years ago. Their fans are known for being the most hardcore crowd, that you can ever play for. We actually had a good response pretty much every night. That was a good thing.”
Just a couple of final questions..How do you spend your spare time when you are not touring or recording with Amon Amarth? Hobbies or sports?
Fredrik”I do some work out”I am not interested in sports. From when I was maybe 11 music has been the biggest thing in my life. So to imagine not having that I don’t know what I would do.
If you were not a musician what job would you have done?
Fredrik”Probably just a regular job, I worked for the post office before this. I never finished school or anything, so I don’t have any education to fall back on.”
Just a final question, what in your life are you most proud of? Either personally or musically?
Fredrik”I am proud of being where I am right now. I mean when I grew up I am pretty sure that most people knowing me like in school they thought that I would be dead by now. At least we are a pretty drug-free band. No one really does any hardcore drugs we drink. I think we try to do it right. When we are reaching forty everybody realizes that you cant party every night. You can have a couple of beers but you cant drink until you drop. The first tours that we did I didn’t even sleep in my bunk one night on my first tour. I slept in a corridor,or on a sofa or…”
What about the set then tonight? Will we see anything different from the Bloodstock set?
Fredrik”Its a bit longer, we play for ninety minutes. We try to mix in old and new but its so hard when we have nine albums you cant please everybody. We try to play some new songs on every tour that we do. We have a couple of sets that we rotate depends on what mood that we are in in that day.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Fredrik, have a great show.
Fredrik”Thanks, hope you enjoy the show.”