Arch Enemy


18 Mai 2015



Interview Michael Amott (face to face)

Hi, Michael, thanks for letting us get an interview with you guys, it’s an honour to meet you.

Well, what is it ? Is it for a website?

Yes it is for a webzine. It’s called Aux Portes du Metal, At The Gates Of Metal.

[Michael spells it out] “OOOh porte du metalle”

I saw you several times in the USA, opening for Cradle of Filth in Los Angeles and Anaheim, headlining at The Warfield, opening for Megadeth in Oakland, headlining in San Francisco at Slim’s. But I missed you last year in December when you were in Toulouse. I couldn’t miss you guys another time. I guess we can get started. "War Eternal" came out about a year ago. Can you tell us how you feel about this record, now that it’s been played in front of thousands of fans?

It feels really good. I mean we made a fantastic album. We worked really hard on it. We took all of 2013 to prepare and write it, demo it, record it. You know we’re just going around circling around this material, fixing it to achieve what we wanted to do. It was a long process but it was a good one.

You’re coming back from a tour in Asia, now it’s Europe. Can you tell us about the tour?

We enjoyed touring everywhere. Arch Enemy is one of those fortunate bands that can tour the whole world. The fans are great everywhere.

I’ve seen you’re booked all the way through December.

We’re announcing a US tour in a few days as well. It’s gonna be July and August of this year. Then we come back to Europe. Not a lot of time off but I mean we really enjoy this opportunity to tour all over the world. It’s a fantastic experience for us. And the reaction to the album has been really phenomenal. We put a lot of work into the album. I thought maybe the band would go down a little bit. But since the album is good, the band is strong and we’ve got a fantastic singer, I thought we could reestablish the band and slowly build it up again to where we were. But that didn’t happen. What happened is we went straight up. And it seems like it’s more popular than it ever was before. I don’t know how we did that. If I knew how that happened, I would write a little book and sell it.

The Recipe for Success by Michael Amott…

Yes, I don’t know. We are very lucky with the fans' reaction.

Is it the first time you tour with Unearth? How is it going?

It is, yeah. They’re very nice guys. I wasn’t really that familiar with them before. I knew the name course. I knew they had been around since the early 2000s.

It has now been something a bit over a year since Alissa came along. How is she adapting to her walk in Angela’s shoes?

Alissa is her own thing. I think she brought her own shoes. I think she has a strong head and a true identity. I think we needed that. She had all that potential in her and we see that in her that she could be the one for becoming such a strong iconic figure like Angela was. That needed to be somebody powerful, very dynamic but also somebody who didn’t have too much experience, but still who had some experience. She was also a long time fan of the band.

Angela gave her spot to Alissa. Were you worried at all that fans would reject Alissa? How is it going for her and you guys?

No I mean, Angela suggested Alissa but it was up to us to choose who we wanted as a vocalist. Angela was leaving and she said “Please don’t quit because I’m leaving. You have so much more left in you.” It was a very strong suggestion. It felt right immediately. We checked a little bit into her online and came in contact with her. It came out that she was a very positive person. Bringing her in for this has been great. We’ve had a very interesting ride.

Is Angela coming along for touring?

No, that’s why she didn’t want this life anymore. She lives in Germany now and the rest of us live in Sweden except for Jeff (Loomis) who lives in Seattle and Alissa lives in Canada. So we’re a little bit split all over the place. We usually meet up in Frankfurt, Germany. Everybody flied into Frankfurt. And then we jump onto something like this (he points at the tour bus where we’re sitted). It’s like a tour bus and a trailer. We have a warehouse in Frankfurt where we have all our equipment, amplifiers and stuff. Most of the crew is from Germany. It’s like a German operation.

Ok, another German-run operation!

[Michael laughs] Yeah, another German war machine!

A lot of fans like her very much. As a favour to them, can you share with us some news about her?

I don’t really know that much about her. She still manages us. Our contact is strictly limited to business. She runs the day-to-day business of the band. She was already doing that before the left the band. She’s been doing that since 2008. Now she’s only managing us.

The lineup is fairly stable except for the second guitar spot in Arch Enemy which seems to be hard to fill. Your brother came in and out several times, Fredrik Akesson, Nick Cordle left, Jeff Loomis is now in. Is Jeff Loomis here for the long haul or is he more like a hired gun for touring?

When we put an announcement for the fact that Jeff was coming in to finish up the touring, we didn’t want to promise too much. We’re old friends. We’re a similar age. We’ve been friends for fifteen years. We came up in the scene at the same time and had similar experiences. We didn’t want to promise too much and say “This is the new guitar player” (Michael mimics “ta-da”). We just wanted to keep it a bit low pressure. We said “let’s have a run at it”. We’re still good friends, I don’t want us to become not friends if it doesn’t work out.  I can confirm to you today that we really did hit it off in a good way. I think we’re on a path where we’re gonna be for a while. We’re looking at writing together. We enjoy our time on-stage and off-stage which is very important.

Can we expect him to join in on the next album?

I really hope so. That’s what we’re planning to do. We haven’t really announced anything yet. Well it’s such a great fit. Apart from my brother, he’s like the one who fitted the position best. You know what I mean? He’s equal with Chris. We started the band with Chris and we’ve been together for so long. Jeff is a really strong player and he’s a great writer as well. I think he just a brings a new dynamic to the band and it’s exciting to play with him live.

You recorded a new video for "Stolen Life", with add-ons from Jeff Loomis. How did you come up with this idea?

It was going to be a while [Michael yawns wide open…] until we make a new album and put something out. We’ve got all this touring next year. People already wanted to book us through 2016. It’s a lot of live work. It’s what we want to do and it is very exciting.  At the same time, we want to go on the creative side so we’re gonna start some writing. But like I said, it’s a bit far off. So we thought we would put something out, just like a taste for the fans. Some fans like the new version. Some don’t like it. I don’t see why you wouldn’t like it because it’s just an added bonus.

Are you already working on new songs?

Yeah. I’m always writing in my head. I’m always dreaming up songs. I’m always fantasizing about ideas. We do a lot of jamming backstage. We’re gonna spend a few days in Frankfurt, just me and Jeff. Everybody else is flying home. We’ll be sitting in a hotel room, playing and recording guitars, and see what we can come up with. It’s just a starting point because we have a lot of ideas floating backstage, so we need to get this recorded and a little bit more organized. I’ve written two new songs already that I think are very promising as well. They’re like seeds, like early versions of songs that will come out later on.

Any plans of releasing an EP in between?

No plans, but I don’t know if that’s something we want to do, I’m not sure. We don’t really have plans for it. We’re filming a lot of stuff. We have a lot of shows filmed. I don’t really know how much interest there is in that kind of stuff nowadays. It seems like it’s gone away quite a lot. DVD, Bluray live shows market is gone away quite a lot. We did a couple of DVDs in the past but it seems like the interest for that is lower. I’m not sure. We might put out something anyway from this tour, I don’t know.

What are your plans for the remainder of 2015?

It’s mainly touring. I am actually going in the studio with my other project Spiritual Beggars in September I think. It’s more of a rock band. I believe we booked five days in the studio and maybe cut it live. Arch Enemy is always my main focus.

This year, it will be 20 years since you guys formed. How do you explain such a longevity?

I guess, stubbornness. I’m very stubborn, I’m very driven. It doesn’t matter who leaves, who goes. Every day I wake up and I’m doing something for the band. I’ve heard that some bands are more laid back in their approach. But I’m always driving. I’m never 100% pleased. I’m always wanting to do a better tour or a better show or a better song. That’s what keeps me moving.

Michael, can you address your fans and let them know anything else you want to tell them?

Is it gonna be in French?

Oh yeah, bring it on….[Michael laughs out loud]. No it’ll actually be published in both English and French.

Well, for the French fans, we are very pleased and excited to see how much the band has gone up from. It started up with just Paris as a French date on the tour, and then it got to Paris and Lyon. But in December, we will have played like 18 shows in France. We play in so many cities I’ve never heard before. I think the band has grown a lot in France over the last couple of years. We’ll be back with Nightwish we’ll play big shows.

Interesting match...

Yeah, we’re excited. It’s a big honor of course, they are a very big established band. And they have some balls to ask us to come join them. You know we’re not a symphonic band or something like this. It’s gonna be Amorphis, Arch Enemy and Nightwish.

Thank you Michael.

[While we exit the tour bus, Michael hands me out an Arch Enemy labeled guitar pick as a gift. Michael is a nice guy if you wondered]