Interview With Amon Amarth
Band Photo: Amon Amarth (?)
For the 3 years that I’ve been going to The Palladium in Worcester, MA, rarely have I seen the venue as full as this past Saturday night. I’ve also never seen 98% of the crowd show up for the opening band and cheer as much as they would the main act. Stripped to the waist and drinking out of a horn, Johan Hegg presented a formidable sight. Amon Amarth solidly delivered all the rigour and intensity that fans who had not yet seen them live were hoping for. The Swedes blasted out a furious start to a night that will now be the archetype of a great metal show in the collective consciousness of all the fans present.
Trivium’s performance was plagued by screeching feedback but nonetheless the set was powerful. They managed to unite the crown by doing a fragment of Pantera’s “Walk” and had every single soul sing and headbang vigorously. Children Of Bodom stirred up some confusion by showing up on stage under the sounds of Twist And Shout which I assume was simply a vivid display of humour. The Finns offered a long and inspiring set including Silent Night, Bodom Night, Needled 24/7, Follow The Reaper and Are You Dead Yet.
Before the show, I caught up with Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg. Here’s what he had to say about Norse Mythology, drinking and why he never wears a shirt.
Gothique: This is one of the last dates from the American tour, how do you compare this one to your previous tour with Nile and Vader in 2003?
Johan: This is obviously a bigger tour, definitely. I mean virtually every show has been sold out, we’re playing bigger venues throughout the States. It’s only a couple of venues like this one, otherwise it’s been bigger venues.
Gothique: Wow, I’ve always thought The Palladium is a pretty good size venue for a metal show.
Johan: It’s not bad but we’ve been playing bigger venues on this tour.
Gothique: Your album is called “Fate Of The Norns”. Who are the Norns?
Johan: They are the 3 goddesses of fate in Scandinavian mythology. They weave the fate of men. They sit at the root of the big World Tree as the Vikings see it and they weave of everyone, they determine how long you will live.
Gothique: How did you get into the Viking Mythology? I mean, apart from the fact that you’re Scandinavian.
Johan [laughs]: Well, of course it is my heritage and all that but apart from reading about it in school of course, my sister has a big part in it, she was really interested so this got me into it as well when I was 9 or 10 years old.
Gothique: Is she older?
Johan: Yeah, she’s 5 years older that I am.
Gotique: What are the inspiration for your lyrics and are the lyrics written in a fictional sense or are they revised from a personal level?
Johan: It’s a bit of both actually. A lot of it is personal stuff that I write, and other times it’s just I come up with a good story and I write it down, you know. I try to find good stories that I can use, like old Viking legends and all that stuff but I don’t do that all the time. Sometimes I try to use stuff that’s going on in my life- either personal or with the band or in the world in general. And I try to use the Viking mythology too, as a metaphor of all this- to make it fit us as a band but also make it interesting.
Gothique: How do you write the music? Do you compose together or individually?
Johan: It’s all different. Normally what we’ve done is that we write some stuff at home and bring it to the rehearsal place when we have some ideas and try to jam to get everything together, (get it to )work together. Now when we get back home, we’re gonna start working on new material and we’re gonna go a bit differently. We’re all gonna be at the rehearsal place 5 days a week, sort of 9 to 5 thing and we’re gonna work on stuff and write music and lyrics together. We’ve never done it that way before.
Gothique: What about day jobs? You don’t have day jobs?
Johan: Most of us have jobs, I don’t actually, not at the moment.
Gothique: Good for you. [laughs]
Johan: Yeah, I might get one later on but during this month we’re gonna take the month off and really focus on the our album.
Gothique: Let’s get back to your last album. You scored great numbers on the European charts with “Faith Of The Norns”. Did you expect that or was it a total surprise?
Johan: We knew it was gonna sell good but we didn’t expect it to chart that high as it did. I mean, I think in Germany it went in at number 31 the first week, and in Austria it was 46 or something like that. In Sweden it was number 7 on the metal charts and number 77 on the official charts. Yeah, especially Sweden that was a big surprise for us, bacause Sweden has never really been a big market for us as a band.
Johan: Yeah, it’s Central Europe basically, and even Western Europe like France and stuff. It’s really weird, I mean, in Sweden the scene has been pretty lame for a couple of years, with bands and stuff. There have been a lot of bands, but not enough fans. So the fans who were there, they didn’t really notice us but now we gain more and more support, both from old fans and new ones. We played a festival in Sweden this year [ Gates Of Metal] and it felt like everybody at the festival was there to see us. I mean, the festival was only like 3-4000 people and it was like 3000 people watching us.
Gothique: Speaking of live performances, I know that you filmed some shows over the summer for your first dvd. What’s the progress on this one?
Johan: Well, at the moment we’re trying to put everything together. We’re trying to make it as special as possible. We’ll try to do like a 3 or 4 disc dvd and we recorded a special show in Cologne for this which is gonna be like the main thing. It’s like a 2 hour and 20 min set. And a couple of months back we played the Metalblade Europe anniversary party and we recorded that one as well, and that’s also gonna be on the dvd. The set was mainly old songs that we haven’t played for years so that’s’ gonna be cool.
Gothique: Why do you always perform shirtless?
Johan: I sweat too much [laughs]. No, I mean, I’ve always done it. Sometimes I haven't, though, but sometimes it's like, you know, why do I put pants on in the morning? [laughs]
Gothique: Being proud Scandinavians, you guys are notorious for drinking too much.
Johan: Where did you hear that? [laughs]
Gothique: Right now you tour with a Finnish band, do you get drunk quite often?
Johan: I wish we could [laughs]. I mean, normally when you do, like we do, a 30 min set per night, sure thing. I mean, if we were on a tour bus, we’d share the bus and I’d probably be drunk every night but on this tour we’re traveling in a van so we pretty much have to stay cool on this one [laughs]. But otherwise, we probably would have… had a couple of drinks.
I mean, we’ve had a couple of …. things on this tour as well. Like, after Washington I don’t really remember what happened that night. I remember going out of the venue, putting my stuff in the van and then I walked to the Bodom bus to talk to them, just say hi and I was there for maybe 5 min. The last thing I remember is that Alexi comes up to me and says “here, take this” and he gives me a bottle of Jim Beam. And I know I walked out of the bus and went back to our van. The day after I hear I’ve been drinking Jim Beam I look at the bottle and… it wasn’t empty but 3/4ths of it were gone. I probably just guzzled it down. So, that same night, I had stepped out of the van and gone into the Trivium bus and started doing some obnoxious shit like drinking beer and playing soccer and the bouncers at the club were like “ what the fuck is going on?”
Gothique: Well, that’s how it is in America, unfortunately. What about the Trivium guys, are they able to keep up ( with the drinking)?
Johan: Well, 2 of them don’t drink at all because they don’t have the age.
Gothique: So what? Nobody’s asking for their ID on the bus.
Johan: Well, yes they are. They’ve had a couple of incidents where they were almost not allowed to be backstage. The US is fucked up, in Europe nobody cares. [laughs]
Gothique: Yes, trust me I know.
Johan: Yeah. [laughs]
Gothique: I know that you said that the Swedish scene is kinda coming back right now. How was it when you first started playing? You started with Scum back in ’88.
Joahn: It was pretty good actually. We played a couple of shows that were sold out. Back then everybody was supporting each other, it was crazy.
Gothique: So what happened?
Johan: Pretty much what happened was Black metal. Of course there are other reasons, the metal in general was doing down on a slope in the early ‘90s. But definitely Black metal did a lot of damage to the scene. It used to be like the bands supporting each other, going to each other’s shows. But when Black metal came, it sort of became a competition who was the most true, who was the most evil. Death metal fans, we’ve always been supporting each other but in the black metal scene, at least the way I see it in Sweden, I can’s say that about Norway, but in Sweden there were a lot of enemies like “ I wouldn’t support them and blah-blah”. So it is really sad, but it’s starting to turn around again, like it was before. Because that’s what we need, you know, to support each other.
Gothique: OK, that’ll be all. Thank you very much for doing this interview.
Please share this article if you found it interesting.
1 Comment on "Interview With Amon Amarth"
To minimize comment spam/abuse, you cannot post comments on articles over a month old. Please check the sidebar to the right or the related band pages for recent related news articles.