Camera guy Henrik and I went to Copenhagen a few days ago to hook up with AMARANTHE, the new Swedish/Danish band whose CD has been on repeat in my car stereo for two weeks now. I simply love their sound. I get a kick from the unique concept and from the very high quality of their work, all the way from musicianship to production.When they go onstage, you don’t only get one charismatic frontman, you get three. Well, two frontmen and one frontwoman. Seeing them on stage is like an explosion of energy – they all give everything they’ve got – and with all those different personalities, it works so damn well. Though time was very limited, I managed to catch them for a short chat. They had just finished their set and it was the last day of the tour.
JAKE E. – clean vocals (in this intervew “J“)
ELIZE RYD – female vocals (in this intervew “E“)
ANDY SOLVESTROM – growl
OLOF MÖRCK – guitars & keyboards (in this intervew “O“)
JOHAN ANDREASSEN – bass (in this intervew “J.A“)
MORTEN LOVE SORENSEN – drums
D: You’re new in this constellation but you’ve been in the business in other bands before. What’s your background?O: I’ve been playing with a band called Dragonland for the past 10 years. I’ve also been playing with Nightrage for 4-5 years and done a million other things. Collaborating with these two in other constallations. J: Yeah. I originate from Dreamland. Did albums with Dignity, guesting on Dragonland, Hammerfall, was part of Dream Evil for a short while and a lot of guest stuff… E: I’m educated in singing and dancing. Not exactly musical but it’s very similar, at a performing arts school in Gothenburg. So my plan was to work, in some way, in showbusiness. I worked two years as a cabaret artist in Gothenburg, and in 2003 I met these guys, Jake and Olof. I was guest vocalist on their album. D: Which one was that? J: The first Dreamland album.
E: That was before I started my education actually. My brothers played in metal bands.
It inspired me very much and there’s been metal in the house since I was 1 year old.
The singer of Falconer came to my school and asked the teachers if they knew someone who could sing on their album and so I auditioned for them. That was the first studio job as a professional.
D: What you do is pretty unique and different from other bands. How did that whole thing even happen? O: It was kind of a coincidence, because when Jake and I started working on the project, we had the idea of doing some kind of All Star-project together with some people from the music business in Gothenburg. Basically we were talking to people from In Flames, Hammerfall and Evergrey, and they really liked the stuff that we showed them. The idea was to do some kind of Gothenburg version of Avantasia, with Jake as the lead singer. The first we tried out was Elize and Andy and we got these different voices on one song. We sat down and listened to it – and we realized that this was something quite special and unique. The idea took off from there. We made Amaranthe a priority band instead of just a project. That was basically the beginning… J: It’s funny cause now we’re on tour with Evergrey, and Rikard Zander, their keyboard player, was on the project for quite a while. He actually played on Leave Everything Behind, the first demo we did. And now we’re on the same tour. It’s a pretty small world. D: So this is a band that’s gonna stick around for a while? You’re not just gonna do this and then go back to your other bands? J: Of course, we still have our other bands, but the main focus is Amaranthe. O: Yeah, it started as a side project but now it’s the main project. J: Andy, for example, is still with Within Y. So far it works. We’ve been doing this for about two years, and as long as everything is working out, we can still play with our other bands.
We love to play music – that’s why we’re in the business.
D: How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard you before? O: I think you came up with a pretty good term in your review from Sweden Rock Magazine, I think you called it deathmetal pop? I think that’s kind of funny… I mean, we don’t really see ourselves as some kind of pop band at all, but there are some influences from that kind of music. I just find the term quite funny because it’s sure to piss off a lot of people.
In the foundation there’s definitely melodic death metal, but then we just add a lot of melodic vocals and catchy choruses and stuff like that. There’s definitely a lot of inspiration from bands like Soilwork or In Flames but then on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you’ve got… J: Joey Tempest! Haha! O: Yeah, Joey Tempest! I mean, anyone who can write a really good song… for me personally, I think that Amaranthe is a tribute to songwriting. We’re not in the business to impress some guitarist.
J: Yeah, some call us ABBAranthe. But ABBA has the most Top Ten singles on the American charts, so… We love them. They were the kings of making great choruses. E: For me they were the first big idols. I always wanted to be one of the ABBA girls. They inspired me to want to become a singer. D: You kind of stirred up a whole lot of emotions in the business. People can’t make out what you are, are you pop or are you death, then they end up hating you? J: We still consider ourselves a metal band. That’s what we are. We have our influences from a lot of stuff but mention one band today that doesn¨t have influences from other stuff. D: Has people’s attitude changed now that you’ve been out playing? Before you left, there was a lot of stuff being said on the internet… J: It’s still like that. People still think it’s either shit or the greatest thing. Me and Olof said that from the very beginning, that either you hate us – or you love us. There’s a thin line there. There’s a lot of people who really want to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I think that is cool.
O: As long as they have an opinion, they actually care. I was talking about this yesterday in a different interview… One thing that’s very important is that – people could be giving us some pretty fantastic reviews, and the comments would say the same if you went to our youtube videos but… For us it’s very divided, and that means that people who don’t like us, still care. That’s definitelty a big step up. You know that you started to matter. There have been some pretty extreme discussions on internet sites, like on Last FM for instance. There’s a lot of bitching back and forth. People have very strong opinions. I think we had over 2000 comments on Last FM in only a few weeks. People from the site basically had to tell people to shut the [beeep] up. “If you’re gonna continue this conversation, please start a forum for it”.
J: What I’m saying is that it’s so amazing to stir up that kind of emotions. It means that you’re affecting people. We’ve got our own hardcore fans. We love these fans and for everyone else that doesn’t like it… well, listen to something else!
E: What I’ve heard so far is that they hear us and… like my family for example, friends… they’re like “I don’t like the screaming…” whereas the metal fans are like: “we don’t like the chick“. “Can you remove her or remove the keyboards…?” But – that’s our thing! We are three different characters. Actually, most of them start to like it after a while. They say “I was a little bit sceptical in the beginning but now I love it”. I don’t think that you have to either like us or not like us. I think you can also start liking us – if you like music. D: But how do you handle stuff, I mean, I’ve seen some pretty degrading comments about you. How do you take that? E: In the beginning I cared a little bit but… Now I realize that there’s no point to care about it. J: But that’s like what we were talking about in our last interview as well [we met in Gothenburg a little while ago for another interview]… If this would have been our first album ever, and we had been 20 years old, and people said negative things about us, we would want to send an e-mail to these guys telling them to shut the fuck up. But now, we’ve all done like 10 CD’s each and you just don’t care as much. Like the comment I told you about last time, “Kill the guy with the dreads – other than that it’s a great band“. You know, I don’t care.
O: At the end of the day, I think that the negative voices are always gonna be there. If you look at the youtube video for Hunger for example, there’s like a 50% ratio of negative comments, people have very strong opinions. “Is this pop, is it mainstream?“, etcetera etcetera… But if you look at the staple measuring how many people actually liked it, there are maybe 2700 people whereas the dislike is maybe 150!
That means that everybody who didn’t like it actually commented on it, cause they feel so strongly about us – and to me that’s even more amazing than for us just getting straight A’s in every review. But on this tour, we’ve definitely been feeling the love from the audience. It’s quite amazing. Even in distant countries…. like for instance in Krakow, there was a phenomenal response in Krakow, they knew the songs, sang along… So, even if you had some negative comments, it’s quite mindblowing to see the response from the crowd.
E: (gets ready to leave) I have to go, I’m doing a show with Kamelot [Elize sings backing vocals for Kamelot as well]. The show starts in five minutes!
I just want to say before I go, that I really like our fans and I’m really happy about that. You need to be very open minded. Some people are like “we don’t recognize this style” or it doesn’t fit in this box or that box, But there has to be an opportunity to create new things and that’s what we wanted to do. That’s what we’ve done and our fans are open minded.
We love them! They’re awesome! D: You’ve been on tour for a while now – what are some of the highlights? J.A: I can’t pick out a specific moment, but the highlight has been the people on the tour. We’ve been getting along so good with everyone. No arguments, no nothing. Everybody’s been good friends. There haven’t been any problems at all. J: I also must say that… Evergrey have been touring around for 15 years and we shared the same bus with them. At first you’re thinking: “Okay, this is a big band“… You don’t know what to expect, but they treated us like we were in the same band. J.A: We’re equals. J: Yeah. On the bus, we’re the same guys, we shared the same catering, the same dressing room, everyone’s been great all the time. O: Obviously, we’ve been touring with Kamelot before, and they’re totally like brothers. The help and support that we’ve gotten from them on the last tour and this one has been just amazing. D: It’s gonna be really hard for you guys to go back to normality…. What are you going to be doing in a few days, Johan…? J.A: Well… I’m gonna go to work! I’m going to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, and I’m gonna get off work approximately at the same time as I used to get out of bed on the tour! So it’s gonna be quite a big changeover. So I’m probably gonna be totally fucked up for a week. J: For me and Olof it’s a bit better cause we can and we’re gonna sleep for a week probably! D: What are your plans for the rest of the year? J.A: Quick answer! World domination and Iron Maiden opening for us! That’s the first plan! O: The schedule is really full at the moment, for example, we just booked our first show in Japan, on the 1st of July, and we’re gonna play at Metaltown, Bloodstock and a lot of different festivals throughout the summer. And in the fall we will probably, most likely, do another European tour. We’re playing a lot of gigs in Finland as well. D: Headlining? J: Yeah. A few headline shows in Finland and probably around Sweden and Norway. And also, you’ll be the first ones to know that last week we were the 83rd most listened album on Spotify. Not in the metal category, but of all categories! J.A: We’re going for world domination! So Kenya, here we come! Yeah! Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris are gonna call us and say “Please can you let us open for you!“ J: Yeah, Bruce is always calling me. D: I’ll let you guys go, I know you’re dying to watch the hockey… J: Yeah, Sweden is gonna beat Finland! J.A: I know the current score! 1-0 to Sweden! Yeeeeeeeeeaah! We love Finland. [For the record – Sweden lost to Finland 1-6 in that game…..]