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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – OPETH

Posted by simon On November - 7 - 2011

Opeth have rolled off the US leg of their Heritage tour to take on UK fans still debating the switch from growling death metal to user-friendly prog rock.

Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth talked exclusively with founder member and driving force Mike Akerfeldt

rushonrock: Was Heritage an easy album to record or were there times when you doubted yourself?

Mikael Akerfeldt: I did write a couple of songs just trying to find my feet and they were metal sounding songs and not very good songs. So I started again from scratch. I came up with an idea for The Lines Of My Hand straight away and that set the tone. It was 180 degrees from what I was writing before but once I’d written that song I felt I could do anything and the album was completed in six months.

rushonrock: As a body of work does Heritage stand up to the very best of Opeth’s back catalogue?

MA: First of all I love playing the new songs live. Maybe it’s just because they’re newer than the other songs we’re playing but they feel so much fun. We’re having a really good time playing these songs and they seem to go down well with the fans. In terms of the atmosphere at the shows it doesn’t feel any different than it has done in the past.

rushonrock: How do you incorporate the new material into the set?

MA: We mix the new songs in from time to time rather than play a bunch together. But we’ve chosen older songs that go well with the new material. There’s clean singing all the time – no screaming. We have a fair number of songs that fit together well from across our career. We have 25 songs for this tour and we play 12 or 13 each night. Five or six of them are from the new album.

rushonrock: Is it the end as far as Opeth and screaming and/or growling vocals are concerned?

MA: I can’t say really. I’ve never turned my back on anything and I’m not going to start now. It’s not like I don’t like that style of vocal delivery any more. But I just can’t develop any more as a singer if I keep on screaming. In fact I think I got worse at that as the years went by. But if the future songs require those vocals then that’s what I’ll deliver. It seems like a long shot at this stage.

rushonrock: How important is a Steven Wilson mix to Opeth?

MA: Steven just happens to be a good friend of mine as well as a very good engineer and producer. I haven’t met anyone who can touch him in that respect. We get along great and he’s always done a great job with Opeth in the past. He’s been a huge help to us but maybe a little less so with Heritage. He wasn’t actually getting into the songs as much this time. But he’s hugely influential to me. I suppose the biggest tribute I can pay to him is that Steven Wilson is the only guy I would ever let tamper with my work!

rushonrock: All the talk before the release of Heritage was that it would be the album that divided Opeth fans. Have you seen evidence of that?

MA: It has been very well received by the people who’ve come out to the shows. On the net I’d say the opposite is true but that’s no surprise. On the net people are hating Heritage but I’ve stopped trying to seek approval for my work altogether. It probably has divided the fan base a little. But I’m hoping Opeth fans are a little more open minded than they’re being portrayed. We’ve been out seven weeks on this tour so far and there haven’t been too many heckles: we do hear the odd ‘play something fucking heavy’ chant but I don’t listen to any of that. I look at where the record is in the charts around the world and I’m not complaining. Of course I’d like everyone to buy the record but if they don’t then the main thing is that everyone in the band is very proud of Heritage. If you’re looking at where the album’s charted then I suppose you’d say it’s been a success but t doesn’t mean that much to me.

rushonrock: How do you plan to deliver the more technical songs from Heritage in the live show?

MA: I thought that might be a problem. But it’s not been difficult at all. The live versions of the new songs sound closer to the originals than many of the other songs. We have a new keyboard player who’s really into the different sounds we create and he’s got lots of kit. When he plays it’s like he has four arms. He’s doing a lot to make sure the current live show is something very special. But we’d never record anything that we didn’t think we could pull off live.

rushonrock: Is Sweden the most creative and productive rock and metal nation in the world right now?

MA: Probably. There are a lot of bands across all genres making good records right now. I’m not too much into the scene over there but I do hear about this band and that band and the impact they’re having. We have a long history of great metal bands in Sweden – as a country it’s always spawned a lot of good bands and that’s the same to this day. I can’t really say that the quality is top notch all of the time but if you go looking it’s not difficult to find something to like!

rushonrock: Of the British bands you’ve listened to down the years which have influenced you the most?

MA: I listen to some British bands on a daily basis. I’m a huge fan of early Judas Priest and all things Sabbath and Purple. When Iron Maiden first burst onto the scene I was a huge fan for a time. I loved Angel Witch, Saxon and all of that NWOBHM stuff. In 1980 I was only six-years-old but I’d bought my first Maiden album – The Number Of The Beast – when I was eight.

rushonrock: It sounds as if you were more than just a casual fan of metal…

MA: I was already a fan of Maiden by the time I had that record. I grew up in a small community and there were only three streets but I had lots of friends who had older brothers and who were into metal. One of my friend’s brothers gave me his entire Judas Priest collection and I think they enjoyed the fact that they were schooling me in metal. I recorded everything I could get my hands on onto cassette tape and I built myself a tidy little collection. Records were so expensive when you were just a kid and so I was part of a group of friends who’d pool our resources as best we could.

Catch Opeth with support Pain Of Salvation across the UK at the following venues:

08 Nov 2011 O2 Academy Bristol

09 Nov 2011 O2 Academy Newcastle

11 Nov 2011 Manchester Academy

12 Nov 2011 O2 Academy Birmingham

13 Nov 2011 O2 Academy Brixton

Tickets available via: www.livenation.co.uk

Read the RUSHONROCK review of Opeth live in Newcastle right here:

http://rushonrock.com/2011/11/10/review-opeth/

Read the RUSHONROCK review of Heritage right here:

http://rushonrock.com/2011/09/18/reviews-new-music-54/

 

 

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8 Responses

  1. MetalPaths – The Guiding Light to Extreme Music » Blog Archive » Opeth Frontman: ‘I Just Can’t Develop Any More As A Singer If I Keep On Screaming’ Says:

    [...] RushOnRock.com editor Simon Rushworth recently conducted an interview with vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. [...]

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

  2. OPETH Frontman: ‘I Just Can’t Develop Any More As A Singer If I Keep On Screaming’ « Metal Shock Finland Says:

    [...] RushOnRock.com editor Simon Rushworth recently conducted an interview with vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. [...]

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  3. Opeth - "Death metal sound is over" - Page 19 - Ultimate Metal Forum Says:

    [...] Rushonrock.com interview: RushOnRock.com: Is it the end as far as OPETH and screaming and/or growling vocals are concerned? [...]

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  4. OPETH's Mikael Åkerfeldt Addresses His Lack of Growling | Latest News | Metal Injection Says:

    [...] footage of Mikael with his Bloodbath brethren at the final stop of the tour can cheer you up. [ RushonRock via GunShyAssassin [...]

    Posted on November 11th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

  5. Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt Talks Vocals In New Interview | MPUBLICIST Says:

    [...] frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt was recently interviewed by the website RushOnRock, and talked about the recent change in his vocal style (you may have noticed there are no death [...]

    Posted on November 12th, 2011 at 10:14 pm

  6. Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth, defiende el cambio estilístico de su grupo Says:

    [...] Suele decirse que el que avisa no es traidor y Åkerfeldt avisó con tiempo que Heritage iba a ser un disco diametralmente opuesto a lo que Opeth habían venido ofreciéndole a los fans. Para algunos este trabajo es una obra maestra y para otros un bandazo estilístico que el propio cantante intentó explicarle a los compañeros de Rush on Rock. [...]

    Posted on November 17th, 2011 at 8:04 am

  7. Opeth regresa a Chile en marzo de 2012 | RockNvivo.com Says:

    [...] lo que hemos hecho en el pasado.”, señaló Åkerfeldt sobre el nuevo material en vivo en una reciente entrevista, agregando que como mínimo cinco canciones de cada show pertenecen a su último [...]

    Posted on November 17th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

  8. The end of harsh vocals for Opeth? « Dischordant Forms Says:

    [...] Simon Rushworth, editor of Rushonrock.com.  Feel free to check out the interview in its entirety here.  The interview contains several general questions about the tour, the record, the band, and metal [...]

    Posted on December 8th, 2011 at 8:19 pm

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