This is perhaps the biggest band I’ve interviewed so far, with a huge fanbase stretching from the metal scene all the way to the folk scene to the goth-industrial scene. And Mikael, the singer and leader of the group, is one of the most down to earth and laid back people I’ve had the honor of interviewing, even taking a minute or two to teach me some Swedish (which I sound horrid trying to speak!). By the way, congratulations on your marriage if you’re reading this! The group, for those unfamiliar, combines many facets of doom and death metal (in their older works) with elements of dark folk ala Current 93 (though a bit more technical), prog-rock, and a strong air of gothic atmosphere. The new CD concentrates completely on the dark prog-folk elements, as does their latest tour. Hope you enjoy!
Chain D.L.K.: How are you enjoying the tour in America so far?
Opeth: Good, good, little hung over but I’m good. The gigs have been great, and we are touring with a great band (Porcupine Tree) who are good friends of our’s. The response has been great, too.
Chain D.L.K.: What is Porcupine Tree like? This will be my first time hearing them.
Opeth: Like a mix of Rush, Radiohead and Opeth. He’s a great producer and one of the best bands in the world. He produces a lot of our CD’s as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Like Dream Theater minus the cheesiness?
Opeth: Haha, no.
Chain D.L.K.: What was behind your decision to make one whole CD more death metal and one completely progressive and folk?
Opeth: Pretty much the challenge of doing two CD’s at the same time, one having that 60’s and 70’s influence (Damnation), and one being more metal and death metal (Deliverance). We wanted to get closer to that 60’s influence, and have that classic 60’s sound.
Chain D.L.K.: When I hear some of the acoustic parts of your songs, I feel a little bit of a Flamenco/Fada style of playing. Would I be correct in saying that? And are your folk parts more inspired by European folk, American folk or even death-folk such as Death In June or Current 93?
Opeth: I’ve heard of Current 93 and Death In June, not really my sort of thing. We’re more into psychedelic folk like Metal Candle, stuff like that. Most of our influence is from rock and metal, but there is a certain ethnic feel to it. We live not far from the Stockholm ghettos (not in the American sense of the word), so some of that influence is in there on the guitar playing. Lebanese music, like Ebu, simply blew me away. But, overall, it’s rock influence.
Chain D.L.K.: With some of the similarities, like the mentioning of Melinda, are Still Life and My Arms Your Hearse related at all?
Opeth: Nope, no relation. Both are concepts, yes, but no relation at all. I have my certain favorite subjects, but those two have no connection.
Chain D.L.K.: Those familiar to Opeth’s sound know that you balance some pretty heavy extremes musically, going from death metal to prog rock to dark folk. Do you have trouble ever shifting from mood to mood when changing styles in a song, or do you consider it all one universal mood? What made you believe that such a daring and seemingly impossible mix could work? When I heard about the Opeth sound at first, I was like “that would never work, that’s way too polar! ” haha!
Opeth: It’s been our style since the 90’s, combining the two. There was that style from the start, more made from feeling that anything. When we play a song, I don’t think of “Ok, there’s a metal part coming up”, I just feel it. I don’t think when we play, I feel.
Chain D.L.K.: Any more plans for concept albums down the line? What would be some ideas that would interest you or that you have been bouncing around in your head?
Opeth: Yes. I’ve been thinking on doing one about the occult, nothing written yet though. We’ve been on tour too much to really start writing anything down yet. I’m going to start reading up and study some occult literature. Musically, I want it to sound very evil, but with our old feel.
Chain D.L.K.: So what are some of the future plans for you guys once the tour is over with?
Opeth: I’m getting married!
(I start joking with him about how Erica, our proofreader, keeps asking me to marry her haha, “I’m too young to think of marriage! ” I tell him).
Haha, yeah, but we’ve been together for a while, I’m 29 and she’s 29, so it’s good. I’m taking about a month or so off to relax and have time with her. Next tour will probably be around next September, because we’ve been on tour non-stop for a while.
Chain D.L.K.: Ok, fun little game before we go! I want to hear each one of you say the name of your favorite alcohol in the best death metal or black metal voice you can do, then you do one unified death/black metal voice in Swedish.
Opeth: *Laughs and does deep death metal voice* Beer!
Chain D.L.K.: (I laugh and growl out “Heinekin! “)
Anything else you’d like to add before we leave? Feel weird being interviewed by a goth-industrial (amongst other things of course! ) magazine for a change? Haha!
Opeth: Didn’t even know you were with a goth-industrial magazine! Haven’t gotten too much influence from that genre outside of Throbbing Gristle. The first time I heard them, it was so fucking intense I almost wanted to throw up. They are fucking nuts! It’s pretty intense, but doesn’t satisfy my tastes as a musician. I’m a fan, but not. We do have a lot of fans in the goth metal scene and in the goth scene as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for your time, the concert and the always expanding music!
Opeth: Thanks! See you at the concert later tonight.
Visit Opeth on the web at:
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Beyer]