Swedish metallers, Amon Amarth, are well into their conquest of the UK. This tour in particular is special, due to the band playing venues that they have not normally played before. I spoke to the drummer, Fredrik Andersson, to discuss the tour, the incident whereby frontman Johan Hegg lost his voice and the band’s Viking lyrical themes.
I’m with Fredrik from Amon Amarth, I’m James with OMG. How are you doing?
Fredrik: I’m doing pretty okay. First time here in Stoke-on-Trent so it’s exciting.
You’re very much into this tour now, how has it gone so far?
Fredrik: It’s been great! Lots of cool shows and obviously not the biggest venues but it’s cool to come out to places we haven’t played before.
Yeah, because this tour is a very intimate tour, you’re playing venues you haven’t normally played before. How did that decision come about?
Fredrik: We’ve already done tours and played the bigger cities. If we come back it’s just easier to make it smaller basically. And we wanted to be intimate and get closer to the fans and do something that the fans can really appreciate.
And being on the road with Huntress and Savage Messiah, what are they like on tour?
Fredrik: We have toured with Huntress before in the States, so we knew them before and they are great people. Savage Messiah are a cool band, a cool metal band.
Of course with the Plymouth date, Johan lost his voice. When it came to that performance how was it without him doing the vocals?
Fredrik: Of course it was weird, but I mean we have rehearsed without him before so it’s like we aren’t dependant on him yknow? But it was the best we could do out of a situation, we could either cancel the whole show or play without him and we basically let the fans decide. They were able to get their refund at the door if they wanted to, but only like four people chose to not go in and that’s about it.
So when a situation like that happens, what factors come into play? Do you think like “oh we’re going to cancel or are we going to carry it on”…
Fredirk: Yeah of course. I mean that is the decision you have to make and we felt it was unfair to the fans, like if we cancel they have no choice and they would just have to turn away from the door and some people may have travelled from far and had booked hotel rooms and whatever. Also if we cancelled the support bands can’t play either, so then they are f***ed as well. So basically we thought the best decision is that we will be on stage, we will let them know in advance that Johan can’t do it so it is then their choice to either get their money back or come in and have fun.
Yeah, so you’re giving them that control?
And was it a good show without Johan?
Fredrik: It was interesting yeah. I mean it was fun and I think that towards the end everyone thought it was enjoyable.
This tour is still in support of 2013’s Deceiver of the Gods, is it difficult to balance the setlist with the newer material with all of your past records?
Fredrik: No, I think it blends pretty well to be honest and on this setlist we even brought in two classic songs that we haven’t played in a long while from the first and the second album and it just works. It fits pretty well.
And has there been any work towards a new record?
Fredrik: We haven’t started it yet but after this tour we are going to sit down and start working on new material.
The band has been going for about 23 years now, do you find it difficult to continue to write new material or is it quite an easy process now?
Fredrik: I guess that is a question more for the guitar players that write most of the riffs. But I mean obviously it’s tricky to come up with fresh ideas that still sound like Amon Amarth but how we write songs we have a formula. We know what works and how to do it so in that sense it can be fairly easy. But it all depends on if we come up with good and original guitar ideas.
Lyrically, the band has had consistent Viking themes. Does all that originate from personal interests?
Fredrik: We are all interested in it but it started with Johan’s decision about it. I think the first couple of songs were just random lyrics and then he just brought it in and it worked out.
It’s certainly a unique trait that Amon Amarth are recognised for. Do you think that it makes your band stand out from other bands in the metal scene?
Fredrik: It definitely did twenty three years ago, but I’d say the trend that came a couple of years ago, all the pagan bands and all that, maybe peaked and is on the way down. We stand out because we have a longevity, we’ve been doing the same thing and we are not really a pagan band. We are a metal band that sings about Vikings so I think that’s more timeless.
It brings a unique stage show as well, I remember seeing you at Bloodstock with all the props.
Fredrik: Yeah yeah exactly, there are a lot of ideas we can play around with.
So after this tour, what’s next for Amon Amarth?
Fredrik: Start writing a new album
Thanks for talking to me Fredrik
Fredrik: Thank you.