At the recent Metal Hammer – Defenders Of The Faith IV show in Manchester, I caught up with Fredrik Andersson, drummer with headline act Amon Amarth for a quick word. We talked about the latest album “Deceiver of the Gods,” cover artwork, the writing process, touring and much, much more…
You are only a few dates into this tour, how is it going so far?
Brilliantly. We did four shows in mainland Europe before coming to the UK, but it’s going really great, got good crowd reactions, people seem to be enjoying this package, so it’s really good.
I didn’t realise that your most recent album “Deceiver of the Gods” is the bands ninth album. Now it has been released and the dust has settled, how does it fit in and compare with the rest of the bands output?
Personally, I think it blends in pretty nicely, it’s got a little bit of the old school sound with a newer sound as well so it all fits together quite well.
I did notice that the last few albums have quite a uniform look about them, with the band using the same artists (Tom Thiel). How does this work, when does Tom get involved in the creative process?
We usually have an idea of what we want the cover to look like and in this particular case we had exactly the idea of how we wanted it to look. We felt that in the past that Tom can visualise it the way we want it, and we think he did another good job on this album. I think we aim for that continuity of it being something you should be able to recognise about the music and the artwork.
In a similar way, the line up of the band has been the same since 1998. There were changes after the first album. Does being so familiar bring its own challenges, or does it make it easier knowing what everyone brings to the table in terms of writing?
I think with the last album, it was a much easier process than ever before, and we have started to get to the point where we really know each other and know pretty much which directions we are going to go. It has become that familiar and become really easy. When you live with someone for twenty years you really know if they like their eggs fried or sunny side up, it makes it easier, when it come to creating something new being with people you know.
In the summer, I noticed that your shows had a much bigger production, with the Viking Longboat making an appearance. How do the bigger shows compare with your usual club shows?
I don’t think it really matters that much, it’s a good show when you get that crowd interaction and that atmosphere is really good regardless of the venue or size of crowd. Of course, when you do bring in that big production, it does feel a little bit special, it feels like you’re Iron Maiden running around on the stage. So, it’s pretty cool and there is a different feeling to it, but it’s always more important to have good crowd interaction than the props.
Scandinavia has consistently brought out generations of decent metal bands over the years. Considering the small population compared to the UK or US, why do you think metal does so well over there?
When we grew up it was very easy to get into music, first of all from third or fourth grade you have to pick an instrument, and then you have classes every week. I think they still do that in school. If you wanted to start a band, (this was in the 80’s obviously when the economy was great) there was government funded rehearsal spaces and they even you could send in your receipts for instruments and you would get them refunded from the government because they wanted you to have activities as kids.
Obviously, being a musician at the time was really easy and I think that’s one of the reasons you found so many bands popping up, not just metal, every genre of music was thriving. I do believe that it is still easily accessible and promoted to become a musician in Sweden even though now they don’t give you the instruments for free.
Is it much more open in Scandinavia. I always remember seeing bands like Dimmu Borgir winning 3 Norwegian Grammy Awards, which would never happen over here.
I guess the metal scene has always been strong in Scandinavia, Iron Maiden always have Stockholm as one of the biggest shows on their tours, they pull 40,000 for one show in Sweden and they don’t get that anywhere in Europe, except maybe England. I think it’s very strong, we do have national radio stations 24/7, so it is a little easier and more accessible and more accepted.
I have a feeling maybe that the mainstream bands over in the UK get so much bigger, compared to a Swedish mainstream band don’t get much bigger than your average international metal band, so it’s a different scene.
With the bill containing Hell, Carcass and Amon Amarth, there is a lot of experience on show tonight. Who do you see coming through over the next 12 months, who do you think deserves to get a push?
That’s a tricky question, I guess no one deserves help being promoted. I’ve never been a big believer of bands that become really big quickly. The bands that have worked there way up to any level deserves to be there. I also get the feeling that some of the bands that pop up today have the ambition to become the biggest new band, and that’s the wrong approach.
We got together because we loved the music and we loved playing together and we were having fun. Of course, you dream of becoming a rock star as a kid but we never had that intention. A lot of new bands don’t have that originality to become the next big thing. But I haven’t heard all of them so its hard to pick out a few grains out of everything thats released and the media putting everything in your face.
What does 2014 hold for Amon Amarth?
Touring, there is a lot more european territories we have been to yet with this album, still have to do north america, south america, asia. We are just concentrating on that for the next 12 months, there will be some festivals too, one in the UK (a couple of days after this interview took place, the band was announced for the BloodStock Open Air Festival 2014).