Interview with Mikael Akerfeldt
Interview by Waspman
Live Photos by Mark Coatsworth of jollyrogerinc.com
The last time Opeth came through
Toronto I had the chance to speak with Mikael Akerfeldt about many
different things in the realm of Opeth. This time, the band's third stop
in Toronto in the last two years, we chatted about Deliverance,
Damnation, the new headlining tour, and lots of other Opeth-related
Well, I guess I'll get started by asking you about the tour. How's it
been going so far?
It's been going great! We've broken percentage every time out, and
we've had a bunch of sellouts so far.
Has there been a particular highlight thus far?
Well, they've all been great shows and the fans of been great, but
I'd say Worcester was especially awesome. The venue was huge, and it was
packed. The fans were just crazy, it was awesome.
How does it feel to be on tour with a legendary band like Paradise
Lost? Have you had much of a chance to hang out with those guys at all?
Oh yeah, we share the tour bus with them, so we see them all the
time. We party with them, they're great guys. We're mates with them now.
It's a real honour to be touring with them. They're a band that I grew
up listening to, so it's a thrill to have them open up for us on the
This is your second full tour of North America, and your second stop
through Toronto. You're becoming a North American band! (laughs)
(laughs) Yeah! We've actually toured more over here than in Europe!
We were together for years before we ever played our first show back
home. It's fun touring over here.
Will you, or have you, played any material from the upcoming
DAMNATION album on this tour?
No, no. We're going to be keeping those songs a secret until the
album is out. I can't wait to play them though! We're going to be doing
a lot of touring in the next year, so we'll definitely get the chance to
get those songs out on the road.
How has the DELVERIANCE material gone over so far?
Great, the fans seem to really be getting into it, and like hearing
the songs live.
From reading about the new album on the Internet, it seems that the
song "Deliverance" is really becoming something of a fan
Oh yeah, for sure. We see it too, especially live. Most fans seem to
really be into the last outro riff of that song.
Is there a chance that you'll come out with a live album? The last
time we spoke you weren't sure you liked the idea.
No, I don't think we'll do one. I just don't like live albums, I find
them boring. We're kind of planning a live DVD, but I'm not all that
interested in it. The company wants to do it, and we will, but like I
say, I find them boring.
Also, the last time we spoke you mentioned that you were planning a
video release. What is the status of that, or is the live DVD taking the
place of that?
Yeah, that'll be the live DVD. We did do a video for
"Harvest" for the reissue of BLACKWATER PARK. It was a kind of
documentary video, done by a friend of ours who filmed a bunch of in
studio and backstage stuff. It's kind of like "Nothing Else
Matters" in that way.
Cool. I recall you mentioning that you had that footage before. Now,
you've never done a video before this, do you think you'll get a chance
to make any more in the future?
Well, we'll see! It all depends on the company and if we've got time.
If we do, it probably won't be for another year or two.
Moving to your great new album, DELIVERANCE was initially planned to
be a double release. What prompted the switch to releasing two albums?
Well, the plan was actually to have two releases, but to release them
at the same time. The record company made the decision to release them
at different times. I don't mind really, because this gives the fans,
and us, a chance to digest DELIVERANCE before getting into DAMNATION. I
can't wait for it to come out! (laughs)
Me neither! (laughs) DELIVERANCE is clearly your heaviest, angriest
release to date. Was there anything that inspired you to create such a
No, not really. Basically it was just me and what I've been listening
to lately. I've really been into a new Swedish band Patos lately.
They've just released they're debut album, but it kicks ass! Also, I'm a
collector, and I'm always buying old stuff on Ebay. The new Porcupine
Tree is amazing too. Plus I'm always listening to the classic death
metal stuff, old Morbid Angel and things. We stole a bit from Morbid
Angel for this album. (laughs)
(laughs) In a way, I see DELIVERANCE as a bridge between your ORCHID
era and your more recent releases like STILL LIFE, in that it's heavy
and immediate like your newer stuff, but also kind of goes back to the
much longer song structures of your older material. How do you view the
That's tough for me to say actually. I guess it is like that. There
wasn't a real conscious decision to make the album that way, but...yeah,
it's tough for me to say because I'm so involved with it.
Fair enough. On BLACKWATER PARK you had the opportunity to work with
not only Steven Wilson, but also Fredrik Nordstrom. Now, on this album,
you got to add Andy Sneap into the mix. How did you manage to bring all
three of these great producers together for this project?
Well, it wasn't too hard actually. Steven was really the only actual
producer on the album. Fredrik was always in the studio, but he was
mostly just in the mixing booth and doing the technical stuff. As far as
Andy goes, we just sent the album to him for mixing once it was done, so
he wasn't really involved creatively. We were just lucky to have
Anyone who has read your website knows how you met with Steven
Wilson, and may have also seen that you wrote how you wished he were not
in another band. Would the door be open to have Steven join Opeth on a
full-time basis if possible?
Um...probably not. Steven is a great, talented guy, and a good
friend, but I don't think he'd fit in Opeth. We like the current Opeth
lineup, it's stable and we all know how to work together so I don't
think that we want to tamper with it. Plus, I like Porcupine Tree's
music too much to have them break up or anything! Actually, Steven and I
are planning to work together on a project sometime in the future.
Have you had a chance to sit down and work on any songs with him as
Not really, not yet. We haven't done anything for the project because
we've both been so busy lately. I think it would be best if we wrote
songs separately, and then brought all of our ideas together in the
studio. That would be the ideal way for me. There are a couple of songs
left over from Porcupine Tree's latest sessions that got left out
because the other guys in the band didn't really like them, so we might
use a couple of those. I've heard one of the songs and it's really
Going back to your website for a minute, it is one of the best band
websites that I've seen, and you personally put a lot of effort into it.
Is there someone who runs the site for you? How important is the website
to the band?
Yeah, it's great. The one who runs it is actually my girlfriend. I
never told anyone that before, because I wanted the website to come
across as unbiased as possible, but I just don't care anymore. (laughs)
She takes care of the whole thing for us. As far as the importance of it
goes, I think it's very important! I'd say that our name and popularity
surged after the website went up. I think the website is a great way to
help get out name out there and for the fans to quickly learn about us,
and other great bands.
What made you switch from the shrill vocals of ORCHID and MORNIGRISE
to the more guttural growls of the more recent albums?
Yeah, that was a conscious decision. To me the vocals sounded weak,
and I didn't like that. I wanted to have vocals that sounded powerful,
not weak. I also made the choice to make Opeth into a more death metal
band, rather than black metal-ish.
Can you predict where the Opeth musical path will take you next?
No, I can't really. There's not writing planned or done at this
point, and we'll be touring for the next year to year and a half.
Do you think you'll get a chance to write while you're on the road?
No, probably not. I tend not to write while I'm on tour, I just don't
have the inspiration when I'm out there. There's too much to do on tour
as well! Partying, hanging out, talking to fans, doing interviews. This
tour, there's also too many people on the bus with us and the Paradise
Lost guys. Plus, I've got to find time to get married this year too! I
really don't think I'm going to have any time to write this year at all.
Yet Opeth albums seem to come out on a fairly steady year and a half
basis, and now you're going to have two albums in less than a year. How
do you manage to come up with such complex material in so short a time?
Well, I'm really lazy, so what I do is give myself a deadline. I book
the studio time as a reminder. That way I force myself to sit down in
really write. Of course, I'm still usually not done by the time we get
in the studio anyway. (laughs)
(laughs) Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to leave?
No, I don't have any other news really. I'm just excited to be out on
tour and can't wait for DAMNATION to come out! It's the best Opeth album
ever, extremely melodic, mellow, acoustic. We're really proud of it.
How do you think the fans will react to DAMNATION? It seems to me
that Opeth is in the unique position to have a broad enough fanbase that
a mellow album will still be as popular as your heavy stuff.
Yeah, I think so. Really though, I honestly don't care how well it
sells. I'm proud of it. Sure, I think that some will love it, some will
think it's too pussy sounding.
The closed-minded ones.
Yeah, exactly. I'll still think that it's the best album we've done.
Well, I'll be waiting impatiently for it! Anyway, that's all I had to
ask you, so thanks for taking the time to do this.
You're welcome! Thank you!
Good luck with the show tonight!