Amon Amarth Drummer Fredrik Andersson Talks New Album "Surtur Rising"
Band Photo: Amon Amarth (?)
One of the best known names in melodic death metal, the Viking themed act Amon Amarth has now returned with "Surtur Rising," the latest foray from the band into tales of fire giants and war between gods.
As the Swedes sharpen their axes and polish off their helmets in preparation for upcoming U.S. and European invasions, drummer Fredrik Andersson spoke with Metalunderground.com about the new album "Surtur Rising" (reviewed here).
Below you can find Fredrik's thoughts on the band playing the entire album and songs from the back catalog for upcoming tour dates, how the release was recorded, and the band's stance on whether "Viking metal" is an accurate description of the music.
xFiruath: You guys are hitting the road in a few weeks to support the new album “Surtur Rising.” Tell me about where you’re heading and what the set list will be like.
Fredrik: It’s a shorter run. We had to squeeze it in between a U.K. tour and European tour, so it’s only like three weeks. We tried to squeeze in as much as possible but obviously we had to leave out a lot of places we wanted to go to. As far as the set list goes, we’re going to play the full new album in its entirety first off. That’s going to be like an hour, and then we’re going to do another set of an hour and a half where we play the other stuff. The reason for this is because the tour was on such short notice so we couldn’t really find any suitable support acts. The booker in the U.S. came up with this idea and we thought it could be something new and interesting to try. We’ll see how it goes and if it’s something we’ll pick up in the future or if it will be a one-off thing.
xFiruath: Where did all the recording take place for “Surtur Rising?”
Fredrik: Well we recorded with the same producer as the last two previous albums, Jens Bogre. Everything except the drums were recorded in his new studio, so it’s not the same studio as we recorded the last two. The drums were recorded in a studio in Stockholm because Jens doesn’t have a big drum room. The process was pretty much the same as we’ve always done, except maybe we weren’t really all in the studio for the whole time. It was a little bit more individual I would say, except for the drums, we were all there when we recorded that. We just went into the studio and worked hard every day, 10 hours per day, and this is what came out.
xFiruath: How did the writing process for the album go and when were the songs written?
Fredrik: We’re one of those old behemoths that still go to rehearsal rooms and practice. We write the song in the rehearsal room. We meet up in the morning and basically the whole day is in there writing new ideas and working on songs. I think it took us about four months to write the album, which is pretty fast for us. We were working pretty intensely though. I guess almost 70% of the album was written when we had one month left. We were a little nervous that we wouldn’t make it, but then the last couple of weeks everything came into place.
xFiruath: Fill me in on the story behind “Surtur Rising.”
Fredrik: I’m not too involved in all the stuff that Johan writes. The main goal is always to try to pick a lyrical theme for each song that fits the music. So it’s something that Johan has gotten even better at lately and he managed to pick the right mood for the lyrics. We decided pretty early the album would be about Surtur the fire giant and since we had that main concept that’s what we were working from.
xFiruath: Are there any songs that were recorded and didn’t end up on the album?
Fredrik: No, everything that’s on the album, that’s all we do. There’s nothing more. It’s always been like that. We don’t have any leftover material or something like that. Everything we make, we put it on the album.
xFiruath: Will there be a music video to go along with any of the tracks?
Fredrik: It’s not 100% decided yet. We were a little bit hesitant of doing another video, mostly because it’s very expensive to record high quality video. We’re not sure that it’s actually worth it because the only media where you can play it is YouTube. We’re paying for half of the video costs ourselves and we’ve noticed in the last couple of years that the fans are getting more and more critical and demanding of what to expect from a video. It gets to the point where we feel we’re not really able to accommodate what people want. Not with the budget we have, it’s starting to get impossible. If we do a video, it will probably be a lot simpler, maybe even a live video or something that. We’re not a film company and we can only do so much.
xFiruath: Have you heard that Slaughter of the Bluegrass cover of “Twilight of the Thunder God?”
Fredrik: Yeah, we actually used that song as an outro for the last touring season.
xFiruath: I’ve still seen lots of people arguing online about whether Amon Amarth should really be classified as a “Viking” metal band or not. Do you guys care about the argument and what are your thoughts on that label?
Fredrik: Our thoughts are that we don’t really give a shit. We don’t care at all. Whatever people want to call us is fine. I know Johan has been quoted to say that he’s opposed to it, but I know for a fact he doesn’t give a shit. When we started playing we were just playing what was called melodic death metal or Scandinavian death metal. We haven’t changed, it’s only that the genre has come with other bands and people get lumped into the same category. That’s fine with me, if people want to call us Viking metal, then go ahead. The only thing we don’t want to be connected with is the bands that use folk influences in their music. We are not one of those bands that plays umpa umpa music. We play metal.
xFiruath: How was the 70,000 tons of metal cruise?
Fredrik: It was very fun. It was a lot better than we expected. We expected it to be a lot more chaotic, but it was great and I’d happily do it again if I get the chance. It’s on the top 5 things of good experiences we’ve had with the band I’d say.
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