– Hello, thanks for taking the time. What are you guys currently up to?
Michael Amott – We have just arrived in New York to start our ”North America Khaos 2011” tour, this trek will take us around U.S. and CANADA over the next few weeks with support bands DEVILDRIVER, SKELETONWITCH, CHTHONIC. Looking forward to it!
– You recently released your latest album, «Khaos Legions». I think this is your most different sounding album so far; maybe did have something to do with this the 4 years that passed between «Rise of the Tyrant» and this new release?
Michael Amott – Tes, the almost four year long break between ““Rise Of The Tyrant” and “Khaos Legions”, meant we were very eager and excited to get into the studio and record all our musical ideas that we’d been writing and talking about these last few years. We had a great time in the studio, we
needed to do this album – the time was right.
– And how has the feedback been so far?
Michael Amott – Really quite amazing feedback! I am very proud of the album and I think it is the very best we could do at that point in time – and that’s all you can ask of yourself I believe! We know that we have a large worldwide audience and fanbase but you never know how people are going to react to what you put out there, so yeah – great to see ”Khaos Legions” being received so well!
– Before getting deeper into its sound, I would like to start with the album’s title. What are those «khaos legions» you are refering to? I guess it may also have something to do with our current society…
Michael Amott – ‘Khaos’ is the beginning of the universe not only in the Greek mythology but also in our belief – an atheistic view of the world and its creation. Chaos is a very creative and fertile state and anything can emerge from that. Chaos also has a political meaning as in ‘anarchy’ – a state where there are no laws and rules and society can start anew. We feel the world and its belief systems today have become stagnant and very oppressive. The modern world is not free at all, despite our vast knowledge, science and many accessible open channels of education and information. Governments, multinational corporations and strong lobbyists plus religious terror and
fear-inducing superstition are ruling supreme. We need to destroy these systems of terror, throw the modern world into chaos so to speak and then build something new and better. The ‘Khaos Legions’ are the forces of revolution and renewal, of anarchy and atheism. No gods, no masters!
– And how does fit with the main lyrical ideas behind this full-length? As each single track seems to deal with fighting in different ways.
Michael Amott – Yes – the whole album is lyrically very influenced by the current happenings and the general Zeitgeist. There is a youth growing up in all these repressively governed places that is willing to fight and even sacrifice their lives to get the freedom they hunger for. These times are extreme and very exciting and very much resonate with our general message of freedom, revolution and rebellion. It’s more up to date than ever –
although we have focused on such issues already on ’Anthems Of Rebellion’ back in 2003 for example.
– The album’s artwork was crafted by Brent Elliot-White and it features a photo of the band cartooned in skeletons. What could you comment on this? How did you come up with this original idea?
Michael Amott – The artwork is influenced by the French painting ‘Liberty Leading The People’. A woman is leading the French revolution, raising the flag up high. We wanted to have a strong revolutionary theme on the cover,
incorporating us and our fans in it and what is actually happening in the world right now. We wanted an iconic and brutal artwork image that captures the lyrical and musical message of the album and shows the ‘Khaos Legions’ in action. Brent Elliot-White did an amazing job – It looks exactly the way we pictured it and portrays an apocalyptic scene of destruction, revolution and ultimately, victory.
– You shot a video for «Yesterday Is Dead and Gone»; what could you tell us about it?
Michael Amott – We wanted the first video and impression of ”Khaos Legions” to be a strong one and a very signature style Arch Enemy song!
the whole album is lyrically very influenced by the current happenings and the general Zeitgeist. There is a youth growing up in all these repressively governed places that is willing to fight and even sacrifice their lives to get the
freedom they hunger for. These times are extreme and very exciting and very much resonate with our general message of freedom, revolution and rebellion. It’s more up to date than ever – although we have focused on such issues already on ’Anthems Of Rebellion’ back in 2003 for example. We filmed the video in Gothenburg, Sweden with director Patric Ullaeus.
– The deluxe edition of the album features a bonus CD with several cover songs. I would like you to tell us a bit about it; how did you come up with the idea, why did you choose those concrete songs, etc.
Michael Amott – Actually, those cover songs were recorded in different sessions, three of them were done back in 2007 and the DISCHARGE cover („Warning“) was done during the „Khaos Legions“ sessions. We chose these songs , as we (or someone in the band atleast) enjoys them!
– And is there any other tune you would like to cover?
Michael Amott – Yes, sure. There are so many great songs that would be interesting to do with Arch Enemy and interpret in our way. No specific songs/titles at the moment… Let’s see what the future holds…
– Once more, you produced the album next to Rickard Bengtsson, so I guess you may be satisfied with this working team…
Michael Amott – We had worked with Rickard before and that had resulted in a good production („Doomsday Machine“, 2005). Now he has built a new studio in an old barn just outside our hometown. The big room sounds great on drums. Rickard has a good understanding of acoustics and he really helped us get a great drum sound on the album, which is an important foundation on any rock / metal album in my opinion. Actually the album is co-produced by Arch Enemy and Rickard Bengtsson. At this stage we didn’t want the influence of an outside producer. We know what we want as band now and we just need a good engineer and cool studio. We did most of the engineering ourselves, for example Sharlee D’Angelo (bass) recorded all my guitar tracks.
– In fact, this time production plays an important role as the whole
album is way heavier than your previous efforts, and this playing style, with a bad production behind it, can make things sound blurred, but it doesn’t. Was this heavier sound something you aimed for?
Michael Amott – Yes, I agree. All in all, it was a pretty smooth recording process in Sweden and then we took the recordings to the UK and had Andy Sneap mix the album which was awesome, he really took it to the next level sonically, Andy is responsible for the crystal clear yet super heavy mix!
– «Khaos Legions» is, as well, a quite varied CD so, due to this, I would like what are the band members main musical influences, as I imagine this dynamic sound has something to do with your different tastes?
Michael Amott – Arch Enemy has always encompassed a wide spectrum of influences. We have influences from Thrash and Death Metal, but also classic Metal / hard rock and beyond. The idea from the very beginning of the band was to blend heavy and extreme sounds with a lot of melody. I had so many guitar ideas for this album it was just a matter of getting everything to fit together and make good songs out of all the riffs and melodies that we had been collecting over a four year period. There are some new sounds on “Khaos Legions” – and I am really happy about that! We don’t want to
become to predictable as band. We want to continuously progress, yet remain true to our ‘core sound’.
– Proof of this diversity are the different instrumental parts we can find in the album; is this a way to keep things interesting both for you and your listeners?
Michael Amott – My personal influences cover a wide spectrum of music styles and genres. Of course I have the Metal influences that you’d expect, but I grew up listening to a lot of music that might seem like an strange fit for a band like Arch Enemy. But as we all know, there are only two kinds of music – good and bad! And that’s an extremely subjective thing anyway… I try to paint with all colors that are available to me… And the instrumental interludes we do are a part of that.
– And, is it easy to keep on being refreshing after all these years?
Michael Amott – Well, the riffs and musical ideas just keep coming! I never really stop writing , I’m always playing guitar and coming up with new ideas backstage before a show or on the bus or in a hotel room or at home… The music never stops for me. I feel more inspired now in 2011 than I did ten years ago, so I am hopeful that I have more good things to offer in the future!
– As I said, you’ve been into this for a while now; what have been the best and worst shows you have played?
Michael Amott – That’s a tough question! I tend to conveniently forget that bad ones quickly and move on… I have played so many shows that have been very special to me. Times on stage where I felt I was really truly at one with the music and the audience.
– In these tough years for the music industry; do you feel much pressure living exclusively for and from music?
Michael Amott – These are tough times in this industry, that is true. I have
been fortunate enough to be able to do music full-time for 20+ years.
I have not always made a lot of money with music, but money was never my driving force anyway.
«Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life» is a famous quote I like a lot…
With Arch Enemy it’s been a gradual process of releasing albums and touring extensively and globally for many years. I have to add that one of the most satisfying aspects of what we have achieved as a band is that we’ve done it completely on our own terms, no artistic compromises. Since 2008 we’re a self managed band and we run our business completely in-house, which makes it all so much better as well.
– Finally, what are your near-future plans (beside touring)?
Michael Amott – Really, it’s all touring now… We start a North American tour tomorrow. And then, Japan and Europe for the rest of 2011. We continue touring the world in 2012… I have been working on some new guitar ideas with DEAN GUITARS and I have a new signature ”effects pedal” with ZOOM coming out and also finally a signature set of guitar strings with ROTOSUND about to become available on the market! But for the most part, we will be on the road, touring with Arch Enemy…
– That’s all, thanks once more for your time. If you would like to add some final words; last lines are yours.
Michael Amott – To all our amazing Spanish fans; thank you all for listening to the music and coming to the shows! We hope to reach Spain sometime again soon!