Opeth to head down under next week

Opeth will head down under next week. Most of the shows are already sold out so hurry if you still want to get in. Tickets are on sale at www.metropolistouring.com.au

Sunday 3rd May: SYDNEY Enmore Theatre

Monday 4th May: ADELAIDE The Gov

Wednesday 6th May: BRISBANE Eatons Hill

Thursday 7th May: MELBOURNE The Forum

Friday 8th May: PERTH Astor Theatre

I had the chance to catch up with Frederik Akesson.

Marc: Your tour in Australia will start in a few days. You bring your new album ‘Pale Communion’ with you. You have played the material live already. How did that work?

Frederik: I think the new stuff goes along well with the old stuff. We play three songs from ‘Pale Communion’ in this live set. We play ‘Cusp Of Eternity’ and ‘Eternal Rains’. We connect those two in the show. It works really well. The response is pretty good I think. Although it is pretty different from the older stuff – we play a lot of the old school stuff as well – it somehow relates with the older stuff. The newer material comes out a bit heavier live than on the album.

Marc: There has certainly been a lot of talk about you changing your style. As you already said you play a lot of the old material. Is that what your fans expect?

Frederik: We still enjoy playing that stuff. Some people might think we shy away from it but it is part of the Opeth sound. Creatively the band is in a different state but when it comes to a live situation we are still a metal band. When you see us you will definitely call us a metal band. We try to play a song from each album in the set. It’s quite long. We play for two hours and fifteen minutes. Some of the older stuff we play in the set I haven’t played in Australia before. I enjoy playing the old stuff but actually it’s more challenging to play the new stuff. We sing all those harmonies at the same time. So there are a lot of delicate parts in it.

‘When it comes to a live situation we are still a metal band’

Marc: What has actually taken you on that journey to change your sound? Has that happened deliberately and planned? Or was it an outcome of your creative process?

Frederik: A bit of both I think. At first it was Mike. He had taken extreme metal to its peak. So the band needed to do something new when we did the ‘Heritage’ album. It was like a different format. But also it was the way the songs turned out. Growl vocals on song where they didn’t belong would have been cheesy. It would have been a gimmick. It has a lot to do with the fact that Opeth doesn’t like to repeat itself. A lot of bands put out albums that are a bit similar to each other in order to maintain a business I guess. And that’s cool, some bands should do that. I guess we should feel lucky that we can experiment as much as we do. I understand some people wonder how we can change that much. I think it has to do with both things that you mentioned. Then again I think that the latest album and ‘Heritage’ go along quite well even though they are different. So for the future we don’t know what’s going to happen. It might be that we do something brutal again. It’s not ruled out for the future.

Opeth Australian Tour

Marc: How do you actually write and record songs these days?

Frederik: The latest album was mostly written by Mikael. I came up with some solos and stuff that I worked on in my home studio. Mikael makes these really good demos. Then we all learn the songs. Then we worked together and decide on all the different sounds. Everybody has a say in the studio environment. That’s basically how the creative process is. We recorded at the Rockfield Studios which is very good for us. It is a residential studio. So we could record like 14 hours a day. That made the recording very efficient. What we do is that we basically use the demos as a click track when we record. So Martin [Mendez, bass] and Axe [Martin Axenrot, drums] play live with the demo alongside as a click track. Then we add the other stuff on top of it. We wanted to do this type of production which is more a live feeling. Some parts we need to again but it has more energy in a way if you don’t over-polish things.

Marc: Now you are on tour. You will play a couple of gigs in Japan before you had over to Australia. Some shows are already sold out. Why do you think you are so popular in Australia?

Frederik: I guess the fans are very open-minded. They like that we experiment. We always try to do our best when we play a show. That’s very important. I think our fans know that and respect that. We are really thrilled about that great support of Australia. It gives us great energy to be able to come down and play there. There are definitely more energetic crowds than in other countries. Maybe it has to do that in other places there are more bands coming through.

Marc: You became a band member in 2007. How did that actually happen?

Frederik: I knew Mike before. He saw me playing in a pub in Stockholm. I played King Diamond and Judas Priest covers and that kind of stuff. He like the way I played. He approached me and asked me to sit down and play together. That was in 2004. Then I was in Arch Enemy for a while. We played the Gigant tour in the US that Dave Mustaine had. We were on the same bill with Lamb Of God and Overkill as well. We did hang out a lot. After that tour was done in late 2006 I was asked to leave Arch Enemy because Mike Amott asked Chris [Amott] to come back to the band. That was a reason good enough. Blood is thicker than water. So, ok, it was goodbye. A couple of months later Mikael called me and asked me to come to his house to jam a little bit. Maybe he kind of secretly auditioned me. Then he told me that Peter was about to leave the band.  A couple of months after that he called me again and asked me if I wanted to join the band which was amazing because I was a big fan of the band before. It was a bit like a fairy tale story at that time.

‘We are talking about a show with an orchestra and a choir in an amphitheatre.’

Marc: What do you actually do on a day when one of your albums is released? Have you developed a routine?

Frederik: Usually we go out and have a couple of beers and celebrate. That’s probably the most obvious thing that happens. It’s always fun to read reviews right after the album is released. You are hungry for some feedback. When you work on the album for three months or so I can’t listen to it. I have to shy away from it to get an objective perspective. Of course you are always keen to hear some reactions. I’m not too much of a Facebook guy. I don’t watch it all the time. I try not to get addicted to it although social media is very important for bands.

Marc: Can you run me through your touring cycle for the rest of the year?

Frederik: The next thing after Australia is the Sweden Rock festival. We are going to do 8 or 9 summer festivals. In the middle of the summer we will go to South America to do 7 shows at least. Then back home for some more festivals. Then we are going to do this 25th anniversary show. The Palladium show in London was released a while back and it’s already sold out. It’s basically us playing the entire ‘Ghost Reveries’ album and then a mixed set on top of that. It will be a bit similar to what we did on the Royal Albert Hall DVD but a different album and a different mix of songs. That’s going to be 6 or 7 shows, a couple of shows in Germany, one in Stockholm, a couple of shows in Norway and the show in London and one in New York and one in LA. After that we are looking at doing another tour in the US. That’s pretty much up to Christmas. What is next we don’t know yet. We probably start working on a new album. Mikael has started writing new stuff already but there is no confirmed date when we’re going to record. I think there’s gonna be some more touring in 2016.

Marc: Can your fans expect a new DVD from your anniversary shows?

Frederik: That has not been confirmed. I brought it up lately that we should do another DVD. There is also another special show that might happen. It’s only gonna be a one-off show. I’m not sure if I can talk about it. We are talking about a show with an orchestra and a choir in an amphitheatre. Maybe that is even cooler to record. It’s not totally confirmed yet.