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Deutsche VersionInterview mit Amon Amarth (15.11.2004)

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HH: Hi Johan, please let us talk a little bit about your past. When did you first get in contact with metal and rock music?

Johan: It was when I was ten years old, I was watching a TV show in Sweden. They showed a three hour heavy metal concert from England with Iron Maiden, Scorpions and so on, old big bands and after that I was totally into metal. Straight after that my father took me to a concert, the Monsters Of Rock in 1982. It was with AC/DC, Mötley Crüe and Van Halen.

HH: I'm too young for that, I was five years old at that time.

Johan: I was just ten years old.

HH: When did you take the decision to make music?

Johan: I was always interested in making music when I was a kid, but I did'nt have an opportunity because I didn't have a thing to play on. I just started to play around with my fathers tape machine and tried to do stuff with that. When I was 19 a friend came down to me, he was playing a little bit guitar and he could play a Metallica song, only the intro. And after that I was very impressed and he let me borrow his guitar and after that I bought the guitar too and then I was sitting around and I practised Metallica riffs every day.

HH: When did you start to think about Amon Amarth? When did you meet the others? Did you know them before?

Johan: I knew them before and I met the guys on a pub one day where they told me that they go on their first tour and that they didn't have a second guitar player because he had left the band. They knew that I play guitar and they just asked me to try to be in the band.

HH: What did you expect from that?

Johan: When I got into the band they already had an album and a record deal and they were just to begin a big tour all around Europe so I've never been there in the building-up-era. I got straight into big business.

HH: I think Amon Amarth grew bigger and bigger with every album, The Crusher, Versus The World and now Fate Of Norns. Did you ever expect to get this far?

Johan: Yes, I guess... but it hasn't felt like this because it has been over such a long time. So it's just small steps so we don't really notice it. It feels like in the beginning, I think.

HH: Do you think you can grow even more bigger in the future?

Johan: Yes, I think we can, but now we're just on the edge to completely live on the music. That's the plan that everybody in the band can skip the day-job and only concentrate on the music because it's too much to have the ordinary job and the band.

HH: So you still work additionally to Amon Amarth?

Johan: Yes, I work at the post company in Sweden, but I'm cutting down on time there. The time doesn't last much longer there, I just want to live on the music.

HH: You said you're on the edge to live on the music. I think that means you're selling quite a lot of records. In the past few weeks and months did you realise the file-sharing problem? Because a lot of record companies are complaining that a lot of people are downloading a lot of songs and the companies cannot sell the records anymore.

Johan: I think for us it's just commercial, free commercial. People download songs and if they like it they go and buy the album. That's just how I do. If I find something and listen to different bands and I like one, I buy that album. Otherwise I wouldn't have bought it anyway.

HH: But a lot of bands are complaining too that they don't sell a lot of records anymore, that sales are going down and tours are not so good too.

Johan: I don't think it has anything to do with downloading from the internet.

HH: Fate Of Norns, the promotional copy had these strange beeps in the songs except two songs. Do you think one can force people to buy the record by adding these beeps?

Johan: Not really. We don't want to have these beeps on the record but this is not up to us, it's the label that makes it. We can't say anything about it. There are computer programs that can cut out that beep and then you can download it anyway. You can never completely copy protect CDs. You can't listen to a completely copy protected album. If you can listen to it, you can alway copy it in an analog way.

HH: Some record companies now start to sell their albums in three different ways, a cheap version for about ten Euros, just the CD without booklet, the normal version with booklet and a deluxe version for about 18,- Euros.

Johan: I don't think this cheap version will do any good because then you can just download it. If you buy an album you want to have the booklet too. If I buy an album, I always buy the best, I buy the digipak because I want a quality feeling. But maybe that's because I grew up with vinyl. I don't know if the kids feel the same. The digipak is almost the same as vinyl, it's more for collectors.

HH: Ok, just a few questions about the new album. On Versus The World, the sister of Johan Hegg wrote some lyrics for the album. Did he write this time the lyrics on his own again?

Johan: Yes, his sister wrote the lyrics for "A Thousand Years Of Oppression", but this time he wrote all lyrics on his own. But this time I came up with one title.

HH: And who's writing the music?

Johan: It's mainly me and Olavi. He writes a little bit more than me, it's like 60% for him and 40% for me on this latest album.

HH: How much songs did you write all in all for Fate Of Norns?

Johan: We had some more riffs but we wrote just the eight songs that are on the album. But we save these riffs for the next time if they're still good.

HH: Do you write also on tour when you travel from place to place?

Johan: Some days I try to. I have this guitarbox, where you can plug in the guitar and listen to it with headphones. Sometimes I play with that and come up with something but I'm not really trying to create songs. I don't record these things because if a riff is really good, I will remember it.

HH: The limited edition of Fate Of Norns contains a bonus DVD on which you recorded a gig in Reykjavik. Did you come up with this idea or was it a decision of the label?

Johan: No, it was the decision of the record label. If we have any ideas for bonus materials they will listen to it and most certainly we put it on then. I think on the Versus The World CD it was both the record company and us who discussed what should be on there on the bonus CD.

HH: It seems that the show in Reykjavikwas recorded in a small club.

Johan: Yeah, there were about 250 - 300 people.

HH: If you compare this gig to the Wacken gig this year, what do you prefer, small clubs or big festivals?

Johan: I prefer big festivals because everything's much more professionally organized and I like it if it is professional.

HH: What Amon Amarth album would you rate your best and your worst if there's something like "the best" and "the worst"?

Johan: I don't know really, everyone in the band has a different opinion about that. I like the Fate Of Norns most actually. That's not because it's the newest. When Versus The World came out I liked The Avenger more than Versus The World but now I think I like Fate Of Norns most. Or the fist mini CD Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds, I like that one very much too. In that time I wasn't in the band so I listened to the band in another way. If you play the songs yourself you don't hear the songs in the same way as if you just listen to it.

HH: Some years ago the melodic Death Metal thing started up with In Flames and others and nowadays nearly every second band sounds like them. The same phenomenon currently happens in the so called New Wave Of American Heavy Metal or Metalcore scene. What do you think about this developpment that nearly everything sounds the same?

Johan: I don't really like that. Every band should sound different I think. Maybe there are too many bands. I can tell you if I read a magazine I only know two or three bands and the rest I don't know.

HH: You still buy records as you said before, so what was the last one you bought?

Johan: Yes I do. The last one I bought was Rammstein because it has a good production and I'm into production. So I like to screw around with sounds and stuff.

HH: Did you produce a band so far?

Johan: Only Amon Amarth but not totally by myself. Everybody in the band has a thing to say but I'm the guy in the band who is most into sound engineering and stuff.

HH: Do you plan to produce other bands in the future?

Johan: Yes, if I have the opportunity I'd like to do that.

HH: Do you think that some sounds and ideas will have influence on the sound of Amon Amarth if you produce other bands?

Johan: Yes that could be. But if I ever produce a band it will be a small band which has never done a record before. I don't really want to produce a big band.

HH: Do you have your own record studio?

Johan: At home I have a really good computer, a small mixer and guitar stuff and some drum machines. At our rehearsal place we also have a small mixer and a 24-channel hard-disk recorder so we can record when we rehearse and stuff.

HH: What do you like more, to record your music in a digital or in a analog way?

Johan: I think digital is much more easier and I think everything around should be analog. The guitars should be recorded with mircophones but the recording medium should be digital, I think the tape doesn't add much to the sound. The sound depends more on the guitars, amplifiers and mainly on the microphones. It also depends on where you put the microphones.

HH: Imagine Fate Of Norns is a plant, a flower or something, what plant would it be?

Fredrik: (from background): A real old oak tree.

Johan: Yeah, or a cactus because it's harm and sharp.

Lord Obirah

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