With the release of the sixth studio album “Manifest” (here our review), Amaranthe came back like never before, with enthusiasm and energy, catching the eye of all alternative metal lovers and more. With the success that the band has been experiencing during these last weeks, we had the great pleasure of interviewing via Skype the guitarist and co-founder Olof Mörck, already active in Dragonland and Nightrage.
Enjoy the reading and may the metal (the alternative one too) be with you!
Hi Olof, welcome! It’s so nice to meet you and have you here with us. How are you?
Hi Federico! Thank you, nice to meet you. Something chill while we can’t tour but it’s very good!
I see you’re from Savona!
Yes, I’m from Savona, do you know it?
Yes, It’s Liguria if I’m not mistaken.
Yes! How do you know it?!
There is a red wine called Rossese! Very very nice, like italian wine in general! (laughs)
Oh wow, thank you! So, let’s start by talking about your band. For many years you’ve been proposing a sound that is very different from the classical metal canons. It’s possible to find thousands of influences coming from almost every genre. Where does the idea of proposing these particular sounds come from?
Well, I think we are all people with a wide range of different music tastes. Obviously Elize has very different influences from our bass player Johan, who listens to punk music, but both me and Elize love metal music and grew up with it so that’s our foundation. Elize has also been a lot into dance music and pop music but I also like this kind of music as well because I think that the songwriting and the production are really good. So me and Elize write all the music basically, but then we have all the other band members who always come with their opinions. Everybody in the band listens to completely different music styles and it’s really cool to put all these different influences together.
Now a question about your latest album, “Manifest”. It comes from a very negative period for the world of music, especially live music. How did you manage to write and record the songs despite all the logistical pandemic difficulties?
Well, considering how bad everything got, we’ve been pretty lucky at the beginning of the year as we managed to do the entire tour with Sabaton between the middle of January and the middle of February, but we were already starting to hear about the cases in the middle of February in Milan. So we were a little bit afraid that we would have had to interrupt the tour. And after the tour we had about a month and half to finish up the album and it was in this time that we started to realize how bad things were getting around the world. Just a couple of days before we were supposed to leave for Denmark, our drummer called us and said that they were about to close the border to Denmark the day after, when we were set to record the album, so we had to pack everything really quickly, leave at 6:30 in the morning and pass the border 40 minutes before they closed the border. It was a little bit chaotic but once we started to record the album we were in isolation, a lot of people had to do quarantine but when you record music albums you’re basically in quarantine anyway so at least it worked out for us.
And as regards personal difficulties, have these months been hard for you? Are they now too?
We were very busy with the making of the video for the album, photo sessions, the promo and we were also doing interviews so things have been pretty busy for us. We were supposed to go on U.S. tour at the beginning of August and we were also supposed to start our European tour at the beginning of November. Now that we are having a little bit less to do with the album, we can start to feel a little bit more how different things are.
“Manifest” represents perhaps the highest point the band has ever reached so far. Thanks to your latest lineup you seem to have found a perfect balance. Is this the more mature period for the band? Do you feel like you are much more aware of yourself than before?
Yes, definitely. There were a couple of line up changes of course. We also spent most of the last 10 years touring all the time and when you spend so much time travelling together you get to know each other in different ways. It’s like I know this band members almost better than my own family. In a sense we can grow together, we started to go more and more in the same direction with the last two albums. Though we hadn’t any fights, anything like that before, I think that now we are much more confident of what the Amaranthe sound should be and this is exactly what we were trying to portrait with the latest album where we figured what Amaranthe should be in 2020. So I definitely think it’s a maturing process.
Ok Olof, satisfy my curiosity It might seem a weird question but why does the song “BOOM!1” have the number 1 after the first exclamation mark?
You’re one of the first to ask! (laughs) When we were hanging out with Nils and GG6, the growler, and we were writing down the title in the document, Nils was typing very fast and he wrote 1 instead of exclamation mark because it’s in the same position on the keyboard. I thought it looked really cool like that, it’s like someone was writing very angrily and quickly, so we just dropped it.
Also in “BOOM!1” I recently read in the CD booklet that the female growl part is done by Heidi Sheperd (Butcher Babies), isn’t it? Because I was totally convinced it was Elize’s, which made me think about possible future songs with some of her growl/scream. Could it ever happen?
Well it’s actually Elize who does the short growl part. She says: “Hey let me try it” and then she does the growl “Boom” part. Heidi was just doing the talking and that’s because we’re very good friends with the Butcher Babies, as we went on tour with them in 2015. So the thing is that we were doing a lot of demos for the latest three albums and quite often Elize does the demo growls. For example in the song called “Drop Dead Cynical” she was actually doing the demo growl. So who knows maybe one day she’ll growl a bit more.
If you propose, as I hope, “BOOM!1” live, will Elize do the female growl part?
Well, I don’t know but we have to talk about this! But I hope so, and one thing I can say for sure is that we will definitely play “BOOM!1” live because it’s a definitely a live kind of song especially, you know, if we can play the song at the festivals with fire, flames and stuff like that. It would fit perfectly! And I can also say that in just a couple of weeks there will be a really awesome video for the song as well.
Fantastic! Now, tell us a couple of strengths and weaknesses for every member of the band, including you.
I would say for myself, I’ve been pretty good with writing songs (laughs) and beating this band in many different ways, but sometimes when we have to go to airports or meet people I can be a little bit late, that is one my bad sides!
Elize, she’s obvioulsy a fantastic songwriter as well as a fantastic vocalist and a very good friend but sometimes she can have problems with making decisions, what to eat, what kind of wine, what song title, these type of things, you know.
About Henrik “GG6”, he is a very fun guy, he likes the party which is both his strenght and sometimes this can be a weakness because the day after a show he can be very tired! (laughs)
And when we comes to Nils, he is obviously a fenomenal singer but he’s also a great reader and a very smart guy as well, I have to say. When it comes to weaknesses, well, he can be a little bit introvert, so sometimes we have to pull him out of the shell.
And we have Morten, besides being a fantastic drummer he’s also extremely good with all kind of weightlifting and gymnastic things, he’s actually an educated personal trainer and when it comes to downsides he needs to eat every hour more or less.
And finally we have Johan, a fantastic guy, he has an absolute talent for sailing, not many people know this, and as a drawback he is a little bit too much into punk music, for my taste! (laughs)
How many hours do the band usually work per day for the Amaranthe project and how do you spend these hours?
It really depends actually, it very much up and down for me it’s usually it’s between full time job and all hours waking hours of the day but it depends sometimes especially now, you know, with covid-19 situation there was at least a couple of two-three days maybe even four days last week that I didn’t do any work at all besides a few emails here and there. But typically with a whole band where either in the studio or we’re touring so it depends a little bit on how you define work, because when you wake up in the morning and you prepare for doing a show on the same day you don’t really have a lot of few time, because it takes a lot of mental preparation and stuff like that. So when it’s not Covid-19 situation we’re pretty much busy all the time.
Did some difficult moments happen with the band? How did you manage to overcome them?
Oh yes, for example both when Andy and Jake left, we got little bit scare because obviously we started the band together and when somebody leaves is always a little bit like breaking up a relationship. You continue to be friends, but it will change the dynamics of the corporation in the band. But both this times we just simply overcame by getting some new fantastic people basecally.
What are the changes that the music market has brought about in recent years in your opinion?
I think when it comes to stream for example, or with the digital platform, in way of consuming music in these days, it would have been difficult for band like Amaranthe to grow quickly. Already with the first demo that was released on Myspace back in 2008/2009 we were able to reach a lot of people in a very short amount of time. If we had been in the 90s, we’d have had to go to the first record label and try to convince the label that we could sell with that heavy metal combined with pop and dance music. I think it’s been really beneficial for Amaranthe in these sense also that… take for example the covid-19 situation, if it wasn’t for Spotify we probably had to get no more job now, but we’re getting good supports with a personal finances from Spotify.
What was the best moment you experienced with Amaranthe?
Oh, there has been a lot of them actually! It depends a little bit, I think for example the first time we play in a really large stage when Amaranthe was in Japan at Loud Park Festival in 2011. It was an indoor show in front of 50.000 people, you know, just a few weeks after we relesed the first album, so that was huge, a big step up. But I mean, as recently as when we released the “Manifest” album, we had the best selling and best streaming weekly numbers in our entire career, which was very exciting for us! There’s a lot of ups and downs and most of them are actually ups!
I was enchanted by your wedding filmed for the video of “Endlessly”and, besides my congratulations, I would like to ask you: what can I do to have you as guests at mine? I mean, I want the same fucking wedding!
Well, let’s say it like this: send me an invitation, if me and my wife can come to a Ligurian wedding, we will! (laughs)
Oh wow, I will do!
I’m looking forward to it!
Have you ever come to Italy just for holidays? Where have you been and what did you like?
Well, actually speaking about a wedding, me and my wife actually went to Toscana for our honeymoon! I like to visit the major places of interest during the tours, but we went to this kind of small town called Poggibonsi and we stated in an old castle of the 12th century called Castello di Badia, absolutely fenomenal! Beside that, I been on vacation in Venezia and two times in Firenze, yes, I’ve been mainly in Veneto and Toscana, and obviously also in Rome! My favourite things by Italy is that, you know, everybody mentions the architecture, obviously the wine, the food… but under these things it’s also the people! People are usually really open, really nice and really friendly!
Oh, thank you! Now, can you explain us the Amaranthe’s symbol? I guess it’s an “A”, but is there any particular meaning behind it, or is it just a stylistic choice?
Most of it is an aesthetic choice but the reason why I want it to be a bit more than that is because it’s “pyramid A” that also represents the concept of Amaranthe with three singers. You can see on the previous record that there are a lot of pyramids, also on the “Manifest” album, so that is the dual meaning: it’s the “A” for “Amaranthe” and a pyramid that stands for three.
Besides music, what are your greatest passions and those of the other guys?
I love to cook food in general, I’m really nerdy about it and most of all Italian and french food. Besides that I’m really into history, painting, writing poetry a lot of different things, stuff that I had the time to do now with the Covid-19 situation.
And the other guys, like I said Morten loves working out and playing video games, Niels likes to travel but he probably doesn’t do a lot of that at the moment and he also likes playing video games. The growler, Enrik, he likes to do karaoke in a rock bar in Stockholm for fun and that’s what he does when he has time. Elize, she’s into going to restaurants, having nice wines and she’s also a huge fan of Italian wines actually! Johan, he loves sailing and he’s also very into tattoos and cultural ones, he just got a tattoo on his neck today!
Which other artists would you like to collaborate with in an Amaranthe project?
I think a Rammstein-Amaranthe collaboration would be really kickass! The Rammstein electronic sound is one of my favourites.
If you could choose to play as co-headliner with a band, which one would you choose?
I would say either Rammstein or Metallica. I was a fan of Metallica sound when I was 6-7 years old. I never met them. We were supposed to play with them a couple of years ago but they cancelled the show. We were supposed to play the same day at the Graspop Metal Meeting, I was very disappointed.
I am convinced that music evolves over the years and that’s the way it should be. You certainly bring something new and different to the world of metal music, just a gust of fresh air to the metal scene with your modern sound, but this is not always appreciated, especially by the more nostalgic of the classic 80s metal. Give to these “metal purists” three good reasons to listen to Amaranthe.
First of all, It’s metal at the end of the day! I will incorporate the first answer by saying that metal has always developed, if metal hadn’t developed from its inception every band would sound like Black Sabbath, and not even the big purists would like that either.
The second reason is that we’re a fun band to listen to and we represent entertainment, you don’t always have to be serious or depressed just because you listen metal music.
Number three is that we’re also, from my perspective, a fun live band even if somebody don’t like our music. I’ve heard people who actually said: “I don’t like the music but that was a really fun show to see”.
Which young band would you recommend to discover to rock/metal lovers?
I really love Dynazty, their latest album “The Dark Delight” is maybe one of the best releases of the year, featuring our own Nils Molin on vocals. I really recommend them to everybody, not just because he’s singing but because I love the band.
Thank you Olof for your answers and for your time, I wish you and the band all best with “Manifest”, hoping to see you on stage as soon as possible!
Grazie mille! See you at the wedding! (laughs)
Take care and have a great evening!