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Amon Amarth Interview

A Conversation With Vocalist Johan Hegg

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Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth

Metal Blade Records
Updated September 29, 2008
Viking metallers Amon Amarth return with a new CD, Twilight Of The Thunder God. Like their last CD, it was produced by Jens Bogren. Frontman Johan Hegg discusses the new album, their upcoming tour with Slayer, and Bloodshed Over Bochum, where they’ll be playing their early albums in their entirety.

Chad Bowar: Amon Amarth’s sound doesn’t change dramatically from CD to CD, but what’s different about Twilight Of The Thunder God?
Johan Hegg: The most significant difference on this album is that we lifted the melodies. They’ve always been there, but we lifted them in the production and gave them more space.

With the success of your last CD, did you feel any added pressure going into the studio to record this one?
Not really. Obviously there’s always pressure, but most of it comes from ourselves. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. If anything, it was more inspiring than anything else.

For the first time ever you had guest musicians. How did you hook up with L.G. Petrov from Entombed?
L.G. was quite easy. We know him, and he lives here in Stockholm. We met him at a bar in Stockholm. We were drunk, of course. We asked him if he was willing to sing on the album, and he said sure. We went from there.

You also had Roope Latvala from Children Of Bodom do a guitar solo.
We toured with Children Of Bodom, so we know Roope quite well. He’s a good friend. We asked him and he said yes.

The most unique guest musicians on the album are the metal cellists Apocalyptica. That’s not something you’d expect from Amon Amarth.
That’s something different. It’s an idea we’ve had for quite a while, to use cellos on one of our songs. We never really had the opportunity to actually try that idea out. Originally it wasn’t really intended to be Apocalyptica, but we asked them if they were willing to do it. We felt that they understand metal more than a normal cellist. It was important for us to have someone who knew about the music we play so they could contribute with something special. Rather than telling somebody what to do, we wanted them to come up with their own ideas.

You also worked with producer Jens Bogren again on this CD. You must have been happy with his work on the last album.
Definitely. Jens was great to work with on the last album, and he did a great job again. There was no question about it. We wanted to work with him again because we felt very comfortable last time. It was an easy choice. Also since With Oden On Our Side turned out to be such a great album it was easy to make that choice.

One of the deluxe editions of the CD comes with Amon Amarth bobbleheads. How cool is it to have your own bobblehead?
Actually at first I was quite skeptical. But when I had the actual bobblehead in my hand, I loved it. It’s great.

Does it look anything like you?
I think mine is fairly close to resembling me. I know Ted (Lundstrom, the bass player) is not as happy with the version of him. They modeled it after a strange picture of him, so he looks kind of weird.

You also have a comic book that corresponds with the album.
Originally it was an idea from the label to promote the album with a comic book. Their idea was to have the comic be about the band. We didn’t like that, and wanted the comic to be more explanatory about the mythology behind the title track. That’s why we went for the story about Thor and the serpent, the story that goes along with the title track. We didn’t want it to just be a promotional thing, we wanted to have it as a bonus on the actual disc.

Are you happy with how it turned out?
I think it turned out great. We were looking for an artist they we felt could portray this in a good way. I think we found the perfect guy. It worked out brilliantly.

You also shot a video for the title track. Is that something you enjoy, or is it just a necessary promotional evil?
A little bit of both. It’s tough work shooting a video, but it’s still fun to have a cool video to go along with the music. I kind of enjoy it, but it’s a pain in the (butt) shooting them. We shot this one in Poland on the Baltic Sea. They have a Viking village that we got to use.

What tours do you having coming up?
We’re heading out next week on a headlining tour in the United States to support the album. We start in Anaheim, California on the second of October and finish in Springfield, Virginia on the 21st. Then we have a tour coming up in Europe. We’re supporting Slayer on the Unholy Alliance tour, which I’m sure is going to be a great show. We’re really looking forward to that. Slayer are legends, and it is a great opportunity for us to be playing with them.

Do you have any concerns about Slayer’s crowd, which has known to be a bit rough on opening acts?
If we didn’t believe that we could contribute to this tour, we wouldn’t be on the tour. We wouldn’t have said yes. We’re confident that we have something to bring to the package, and I think that it’s a great opportunity to present our stuff to a wider audience. If anything, I think our music may suit the tour package a bit better than Trivium and Mastodon, but that’s speculating. You never know what’s going to happen. I think it’s a great bill and we’ll have a good tour with Slayer and those guys.

Right after Christmas you’re doing Bloodshed Over Bochum, where you play four shows, doing an entire album for each show. How did you decide to do this?
The idea was originally to do a small club tour and play songs from the old albums, because we always get a lot of fans who want to hear the old stuff, and it’s hard to play that stuff. We have seven albums, and the most popular albums are the latest ones, so it’s hard to take all these requests and put them into the set. We do try to mix it up as much as possible, but the old stuff suffers. It was difficult to pull off a tour like that financially, because it’s a lot of money to do such a tour. Somebody came up with the idea to do a four day event where we play all the old albums back to back. I think that’s a brilliant idea. It’s perfect. I’m sure it’s going to be a great event. We have people coming from the United States, Australia, Canada, from all over to see the shows.

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