Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Arch Enemy
Interview By Luxi Lahtinen & Marko Syrjälä
Intro and Live Pics by Luxi Lahtinen
Transcription by Cid

This was the very first time ever when we Finnish Thrash bangers, Death Metal mongers, Black Metal trolls and people alike, got an opportunity to see Arch Enemy here in Finland and spreading their own metallic plague over us like true doom angels of diseases. Arch Enemy was booked for Sunday 13th of July at Tuska 2003 festival and was definitely one of the first priorities for us as far as the whole Sunday´s menu of live acts was concerned at that day. Take a note that the band´s latest album ANTHEMS OF REBELLION wasn´t even out a few months when these popular Swedish metallers conquered the stage during the Tuska 2003, and this particular interview we pulled through with both Sharlee and Michael was done a couple of hours before prior to the Arch Enemy´s show-time at so-called “Sue -stage” at 4.45PM in the afternoon. Sharlee and Michael, the true gentlemen of the band, answered politely and a bit jokingly to our questions about the forth-coming Arch Enemy album titled ANTHEMS OF REBELLION and so on and … well, you have got a pair of sharp and healthy eyes for yourself in your head, so just allow them to wander around a little bit in order to find out what they had to say about the album and some other things in general, will ya? 

Interview with Arch Enemy’s Sharlee D’Angelo

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So what can you tell us about the new album, “Anthems of Rebellion”?

It’s sort of a round, shiny, silver thing (uh!)… that you put in your CD player…



(*laughs*) Really?! Are you kidding us, he-he..!!

It’s a new concept we came up with… no, well…, you know, this is actually a very hard question because there’s like so much and so little you can say about it, so it’d be better if you went into specifics.



Ok then, as you requested… How would you actually compare it to your previous one, WAGES OF SIN? What are the main musical differences with that new album and with this new album?

Well, if you look pretty much at all our previous albums there’s always like a certain amount of progress from album to album. There always a little bit of a difference between them, but I think there’s not so much difference between WAGES… to this one as there was from say BURNING BRIDGES to WAGES. There is still the same thing, it still sounds very much like Arch Enemy, but, I mean there was something we started a little bit on WAGES, was to have some more straight forward songs and not so much like… not so complex… not so much like instrumental masturbation and all that, so just try to concentrate a little bit more on the songs you know, as most bands do when they grow up.


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An amount of the keyboard sound has been added to this new album… or so I´ve been told?

Yeah, it’s not as much as you know, like we would need a keyboard player, it’s more like… it’s more like adding some weird sounds here and there to spice things up a little bit. I don’t know whether we’ll be doing that live in the future or not, it’s hard to say, but yeah, there are a little bit more sounds, a little of “metaltron” and things like that. And you know… just to add to the vibe of the whole thing so…



Like creating more atmospheres behind your songs and making a more thick sound for the album that way and stuff…?

Exactly, but you don’t want a keyboard player on stage, no…



Why not? Every band seems to have a keyboard player nowadays onstage, so why don´t you add one into your live line-up then…?

HELL NO!! Unless you’re like you know, Deep Purple or something…


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But basically what we’re trying to say is that those keyboards out there are just creating more atmospheres for your songs and that´s the way they are probably always going to be for Arch Enemy, right?

Exactly, so it’s not like big chords here and there. It’s more like a bunch weird sounds and those types of things…



And you are not trying to sound either too polished or commercial by having more of that keyboard in your sound?

Yeah, no… it’ could be very Bon Jovi then, he-he!!


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I was wondering, how did you end up choosing this title “Anthems of Rebellion” for the album in the first place?

It’s a title that Angela came up with actually quite a while ago, and it seemed like a good theme to write songs around. Because as opposed to let´s say WAGES, where all the lyrics were more about ´abstract evil´, like within or outside somewhere, about the things that you feel, but you can’t really touch. So here, it’s more concrete stuff things that happen. Things are much more based on reality and it’s about most things that you do, I mean you do rebel against everything that’s around you and society in your own little way even if you don’t start a riot or... In everything you do, you try to change things a little bit, you know, personally. So I think that’s what it’s more rooted on reality a lot more than it has been before.



What kind of touring plans do you have after the album has been released?

We still have a few festivals to do now, but as soon as the album comes out I think we’re going to do a short headline tour in the US and then after that we’re going to do a bit in Europe along with Nevermore, and then after that I think we’re going to do a bit more European touring and then go back to the states and then in January it could be Japan, Australia and…



And maybe in Scandinavia and a show or two in Finland, too…?!

I don’t know if the Nevermore tour is going through Scandinavia. I don’t know if it’s going to come to Finland. There’s always a problem there because like there’s always some extra cost of taking several buses and trucks on the ferry over and then do only one gig and that’s always a problem with Finland.


Yeah, I know. That´s the way it used to be in the past when bands were trying to arrange some gigs to Finland, but we do have some new cool venues here in Finland, so I guess if you ever come to Finland for doing gigs again, you should get more than just one-off gig to Finland in order to make it a bit more profitable for you in the first place…

Exactly!! Sometimes it’s hard to get to gigs. I don’t know, but hopefully… there are still gigs being added to that tour, so you never know.


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As for playing more ´obscure´ countries… have you ever considered playing, let´s say f.ex. in Russia some day?

That would be good, yeah ‘cause I met some from Russia last night who came here specifically to see us, so it would be a time for us to go to Russia… that would be a good little trip.


By the way, this is a little off-topic question, but what is the current situation with Mercyful Fate and Witchery at the moment?

I think that was Mallorca… (!) Yeah, Mercyful fate… I think King just wants to concentrate on his own stuff right now, so… We’re being attacked by Brazilians… even though he’s from L.A., but I mean (*laughs*). So yeah, the King just wants to do his own stuff right now, so I don’t know, we haven’t done anything with Mercyful Fate since ’99. So I don’t know when it’s going to happen again, we’ll just wait and see. As far as Witchery goes, we have an album in the plans, so we just need time ‘cause some are super busy with The Haunted and I haven’t done anything but this for the past 2 years.



How was it to open for Iron Maiden in Oslo? You had 2 dates with them there as far as I can remember…

It was great!! It was just fantastic!!! I was dreading it a little bit just because of the Maiden crowd. There are a couple of bands like Metallica or Kiss or Maiden where it’s hard to open up for them because the crowd seems to go for one band and one band only, so I thought… uhhh... they are probably going to throw stuff at us or ´something´, heh! Or so I was thinking anyway, you know. I was thinking to go onstage with a helmet on (*laughs*). But they were really great actually! Out of like 9000 people I think there were like 200 people who knew who we were from the beginning, but I think we won a few over for our side, making some new Arch Enemy fans in those two certain gigs there. Because we worked hard for them, so it was a good thing. Especially the second night because you could tell that there were a lot of people who came there both nights. And when they came back, they came early because they had told their friends “you gotta see this band”, so we had a better pit going on the 2nd night.


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I read from somewhere you’re going to have a special edition for this new CD coming out, too…?

As a matter of fact, yes, we will.



A double CD with some extras in it, in a digi-pack format and everything…?

Yeah, there’s an extra disc with something like 4… yeah, 4 live tracks from different places all over the world and there’s also 4 songs off the album that are the 5.1 mix. So this is a little something for the people who have like their own home theatres…



Is this a special format for the European markets only or for everywhere?

It´s gonna be for everywhere. There’s no difference between f.ex. a Japanese edition and American edition, whatsoever. It will be the same for everywhere else, too.



I heard the vinyl version is also coming out. Is there going to be anything extra on it?

No, I don’t think so. There’s probably going to be less (*laughs*), but I think we could fit the whole record in one album if recorded it for a vinyl. Otherwise sometimes, they just take a song away to be able to squeeze it all in one disc, y´know.


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Are you going to do some sort of promotional video for this new album, too?

Yes, we actually finished shooting at 6 o’clock last… when it was... uhh? Yesterday! Yeah and after that we just took the ferry here.



You had Andy Sneap producing the album. He is known as a damn talented and professional producer, demanding of musicians a lot while being stuck with him in a recording studio. Is that correct?

Absolutely, yeah!! I couldn´t agree with you more. He really is…!! I mean, he won’t settle for second best. You have to do it again and again if he’s not satisfied. And sometimes it is like he doesn’t even know what it is that he’s after, he’s just like: “Yeah, there you have it…!” and you go: “What? Where’s the difference…?!”. But then he explains you this and that and you´ll realize eventually that he still was right. It was this little ´extra edge´ that he was after, and it’s like... It’s not like it’s going to be perfectly played in that way. He’s just after a certain feeling, a certain impression in the playing and all that stuff. He’s got a very weird way of getting that out of a band and doing that, he pisses people off. And then so you get more aggressive, so I think that’s part of his tricks (*laughs*).



So you could say you’re all very pleased with his production on ANTHEMS OF REBELLION?

Absolutely, yeah…!! Also, he’s very good at what he’s doing, you know as an engineer he knows his equipment so well, so he’s super fast!! You don’t have to wait for him to sit and fiddle with it.


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How do you personally like the first album of Sinergy, after four years of its release, where you played the bass?

Well, I mean, now in hindsight, I liked a lot better right after it was done. But now…I´m pleased with it any more. You know, I had never done anything like that before, but it was certainly fun thing to do anyway.



Have you heard their other albums, too?

Yeah, I have indeed!! I thought some of their songs are quite good actually. Their second one was good, too. I thought it was a lot better than that first one. But that was sort of an experiment and I have good memories of that, so…


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Ok, thanks for your time Sharlee. It was a pleasure to talking to you. See ya at your gig!!

Thanks guys!! See ya soon…


Interview with Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott


Hello Mike… we are Luxi and Marko from Metal-Rules.com…

Sharlee: They want the facts… NOW!! (*laughs*)

Michael: So, this was like a deadline for Sharlee then… (*laughs*)

(*laughs*) Kind of… yeah, I guess. Ok Michael, your turn for ´those facts...´

Ok guys... go for it!


We have the very same question for you as a starter that we just asked Sharlee a little while ago. How do you like the new album, overall the outcome for it? What are your personal feelings about it right now?

I’m actually really pleased with it. I’m very excited about it. I mean, I always am about the latest album. It’s the latest piece of work we’ve done, so… We were working on it for a long time; worked hard and it came out really good. I mean, I don’t listen to it because, it’s our album, you work so hard… it’s the same as with everybody else, I guess. You work so hard on something and now it’s coming out and it’s like, y´know, in the beginning when you do rehearsals and writing the songs and pre-production, demos… I don’t know. Also when you’re in the studio you’re recording your albums are like they’re your babies, you know. But now it’s all grown up and you just give it to the public… and everybody goes and kills the baby. (*laughs*)


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(*laughs*) Are you afraid of what some critics may say about your ´new-born baby´ then?

No, I mean, it’s not like that, I don’t feel that personal about it. It’s just about getting it out there and everybody has an opinion about it. It’s kinda cool when you’re actually writing a record because it’s only a small circle of people that actually write the album, y´know.



You recently played a couple of gigs together with Iron Maiden. How was that from your own point of view?

Well… I guess you can imagine how it was. That was simply amazing!! We were surprised that so many Maiden fans really liked our stuff which is quite different to Maiden, of course!!


Have you been able to do any promotion for this forth-coming album yet?

Actually we were in promotion in America a couple of weeks ago. We went to see this female cover band called the Iron Maidens in New York. That was pretty funny.

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Sharlee just told us that Andy Sneap was producing your album and he was indeed quite demanding person with you guys…

Yeah, I think he was relatively easy guy to work with us after all. I think we sometimes fall into sort of “Uh, this habit of being a little bit too…” you know, I mean, we’re pretty good when we’ve been playing a long time. We’re pretty good, we can play pretty much… we can make it sound good pretty easily I think. It’s not like when I started out playing when it was a real struggle to get it to sound tight and all that stuff. Now it’s more like you just... I mean, BURNING BRIDGES for instance and BLACK EARTH we made them pretty quickly and they still sound pretty good I think. Andy went just to raise the bar, you know. He wants us to get to the next level you know what I´m saying. And for that you have to work hard and I guess that was a new experience for us. Recording in Gothenburg, at Studio Friedman, Fredrick would just set the sounds, the basic sounds and then he’d kind of come and go and we’d be like there alone recording a lot of guitar parts. This time Andy was there ALL the time just watching you playing and you really… nothing really slips through you know?



Yeah, but weren’t you getting nervous at least a bit when he was there kind of keeping an eye on you guys when you were playing certain single instruments, solos, etc. for the album?

Yeah well, we were initially, but not really after all. I mean, I’ve done a little bit of work with him before, like he mixed WAGES OF SIN, so I knew him a little bit. The other guys were a little bit more, may I say ´prepared´, you know because like bringing in the new guy into the band for a few months and well, what happened was that he came over to Sweden first and we did some demos in our rehearsing room and stuff like that and that worked out really well, I think.



Is there, however, any chance for you that you might work with Fredrick again in the future?

Oh yeah, I mean, I’m not closing any doors, but we just opened a new one for us, you know? See what it was like to work with somebody else. I think we made a few albums and I was personally working with Spiritual Beggars, I don’t know, I did probably 5 or 6 albums with Fredrick within the 90s. So you just want to try something new every once in a while.



I assume you have heard Fredrick´s own band called Dream Evil at least a little bit, too?

Yes, I have heard them... I think they are pretty cool. I mean, I’m happy for him that he’s doing something fun, you know. I heard the first one ‘cause he was working on it for a long time and I think it’s a good piece of work.


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You have also played live one song from your new album (“We Will Rise”). How was the response from your audiences for that song?

Good…!! I mean, we’ve had such weird audiences. For example we were playing in the front of Maiden’s audiences a few nights ago, so the reaction was pretty much the same for all the songs… pretty good actually. A lot better than what we thought first, but they didn’t really know our music and then you play big festivals like we played the Donington one and we played “The Fields of Rock” with Metallica and it’s sooo big… You can’t really see the audience, just to the horizon basically and you just play, well, you know what it’s like with those big festivals. Hard to judge really what the reaction is actually… it’s pretty good, I think. We’re going to be playing today so… hopefully everybody’s going like: “Fuck that new shit…!!” (*laughs*)



(*laughs*) You haven’t played any songs off the STIGMATA album for a while… why?

Ahhh… well, last year we played “Beast of a Man” a few times and we played “Diva Satanica” that kinda came out on the … on the BURNING BRIDGES album I think, but in Japan that was on the STIGMATA album. But you’re right, I mean, we haven’t played much of that stuff because we wrote that material and we went into a bit of a more technical direction or progressive or whatever and it’s just fucking boring to play live. I mean, it REALLY IS FUCKING BORING!! (*laughs*) It’s just the longest songs and… well, it doesn’t have the same energy to it and live I just wanna kick ass basically. I don’t wanna have my guitar up here and have people go like: “Oh he’s such a great guitar virtuosity, blah-blah-blaa…” - I just fuckin´ don’t care about that kind of shit”!! I just wanna reload energy and… of course we have solos and you know and some technical… well, what I am trying to say is that our music isn’t technical for us at all. Sometimes people say you know: “Oh you guys are really so damn technical…”, but to us it’s not technical at all, it’s just music that flows naturally. I think with STIGMATA that was a bit constructed album; it was kind of premeditated album, so it was kind of a step into the wrong direction as we felt afterwards. So we went back to something simpler on the next album, you know. I think every album has been a little bit different from each other.


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How about your old band Carcass? I heard some rumours that Jeff is maybe doing some music again? Are you still in contact with any of those guys?

Is he..!? Hmm… I don’t know about that. I don’t know anything about it at all…



What about the rest of the guys from Carcass then? Have you been keeping in touch with them?

I’m in contact with the other guys. I know Bill Steers is doing his Firebird band nowadays.



That’s right, so we have heard, too…

Any more questions? (*laughs*) Tape’s over? Or are we still rolling..?


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(*laughs*) Nope, we are finished with you ´coz the tape finished with us just a couple of seconds ago… (*laughs*) But thanks a lot Mike for sharing a little bit of your time with us and all the best for your gig later this afternoon!!

Thank you fellows!! See you guys later…


Check out our 2002 interview with Michael Amott!

Band Website:  www.archenemy.net

Label Website:  www.centurymedia.com