Opeth - Interview
Sweden's Opeth have really made huge progress in the metal world over the last few years. From coming out of relative obscurity with the commercial success of their 2001 release "Blackwater Park" to the current success of their two new albums "Deliverance" and "Damnation," they have now taken their place as one of the most well known and respected current extreme metal bands with their now famous unique blend of folk music, melody and heaviness. I was lucky enough to catch up with guitarist Peter Lindgren just prior to Opeth hitting the stage at the Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia on 13.04.03.
Congratulations on two new albums. "Deliverance" and "Damnation."
Thanks very much.
Opeth have always been known for their diversity on each album, what made you choose to release two separate albums instead of including both sounds on one?
Well originally we were going to record I guess what you would call a normal Opeth heavy album; there was never any plans for anything else. Then Mike had all these extra riffs that we wanted to use but we weren't sure what to do with them. It was actually a friend of ours who suggested we release two albums, I guess we liked the idea and decided to go with it.
Are the two styles now too different to be together on one album in the future?
Oh no, not at all. We really can't keep releasing two albums at once you know? This isn't going to be an ongoing thing with us. I suppose "Deliverance" is the more classic Opeth album with both heavy and light parts, its just this time there aren't so many light sections because we put them on another record. Releasing two albums at once is just an idea for now; we don't plan on doing it again.
Tell me about your writing process; was it different this time around?
Not really. Mike pretty much writes everything [laughs]. I mean if any of us come up with something and it's good we'll use it, but he's the main songwriter I guess. He has a little studio setup in his house, so often he'll get down the basic idea and show it to us and then we'll record the drums bass and guitars. It's good writing this way because once we have the basic idea down, we can really start working with it and experimenting with it before we go into the studio.
"Deliverance" has been the bands best selling album to date, what do you put this down to?
Has it? [Laughs]
That's what it says on my press release!
[Laughs] Well I know it's been our fastest selling album, but if that's true then that's very cool! Why? I don't know really. Every album that we have released so far has sold more than the last. The biggest jump we made was with "Blackwater Park," there was something about that album that many people seemed to like and it really pushed us forward a lot compared to where we were when we released "Still Life". We've also been touring a lot more. Up until now we were never what I'd call a touring band, but with every album we played more and more shows in more and more countries and it paid off cause each album would sell better than the last. We did the most touring we have ever done for "Blackwater Park" so I guess that could be the reason why "Deliverance" is doing so well.
Congratulations on winning the Hard Rock category at the Swedish Grammy's. Do you think support is gaining worldwide for more extreme metal?
Oh cool thanks. I think things always go in cycles. I mean in the 80's metal was huge, I mean bands like Poison and Motley Crue were selling millions of albums, then things kinda died in the early 90's with grunge and music like that. I mean that was still kinda heavy but it wasn't the same and metal went underground. But recently the music in the charts and on the radio has been getting heavier and heavier again. I mean I don't really like nu metal all that much, but they are helping the more extreme bands by exposing the fans to heavier music. I guess a lot of people hear the nu metal on the radio and then they get a bit bored so they look for something heavier and find bands like Opeth. It's all helping to bring metal back out from the underground.
This is your first time to Australia, how has the audience reaction been so far? What were you expecting?
It's been amazing. I mean we knew that we had a fan base down here because we had sold records, but the shows have been crazy. Just the other night we played a show in Melbourne and it was incredible. Martin [points at Martin who smiles] our drummer said that he thinks it is one of his top 5 Opeth shows we have ever done. The reaction was amazing. I think we have sold out 2 or 3 of our shows so far, it's been really great, we are really blown away.
Have you had a chance to see any of Australia yet?
We've seen some airports and hotels yeah [laughs]. Not really, it's been a very tight schedule since we arrived. We did get one day off in Brisbane which was nice, we had a look around the place and [shows me his arm] I got a bit sun burnt [laughs]
Sun burnt? But it's so cold right now!
Cold? Are you kidding? [Laughs] This is like summer to us! It's so nice! When we left Sweden to come here it was like -6° and snowing. That's actually not that common at this time of year because it's meant to be getting warmer but it happens, so the weather here is a really nice change for us!
You are about to commence a big Us tour with Lacuna Coil. How is the support for Opeth and metal in general over there?
Yeah, well it's not a huge one, more like a continuation of the tour we did there earlier in the year to cover the places we didn't get a chance to play last time. Well the support is great over there, the US is our biggest market and we get to play some great shows there so I'm looking forward to it. Playing with Lacuna Coil will be great.
Do you do any work on new material while on tour?
Ahh, not really. I mean sometimes one of us might come up with something and we try to remember it, but we don't bring any kind of recording equipment with us so anything we were to work on would probably get forgotten anyway so we tend not to. Most of our writing happens at home when we have the time we want to put into it.
The Swedish metal scene is now viewed as at the forefront of extreme metal worldwide at the moment. What do you put this down to?
Well Sweden has always been big in Europe I suppose, I mean bands like Entombed have been big in the death metal scene for a long time, but that's mainly in Europe I guess. To be honest I don't really know. I man Sweden has a population of about 9 million I think and Norway is like half that so its not like we have a lot of people either. I think because metal is big here and especially in Europe a lot of people get into it and it's a chain reaction. But to be honest I really don't know. [Laughs]
What are you listening to at the moment?
Well what I listen to on tour is different to what I listen to at home. I'm listening to a lot of old singer/songwriter music from the 60's and 70's, more folk stuff. But because most of that is on vinyl I can't listen to it while I'm on tour so, it's usually more current music. I've been listening to a lot of The Porcupine Tree and Bjork recently. Umm... I'm not sure what else.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to say that this tour we are doing now is for "Deliverance" and not for "Damnation". Of course we will be playing a lot of older songs too, but we are not including any material from "Damnation" on this tour. We are planning on doing a separate tour for that record. So tonight is going to be heavy! [Laughs]
Thanks very much for your time Peter, have a great show tonight and best of luck with the rest of the tour and the new records!
No problems, thank you!
In Cauda Venenum
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Boxed Set (2010)
The Candlelight Years
Boxed Set (2008)
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The Roundhouse Tapes
Collector's Edition Slipcase
Boxed Set (2006)
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