Swedish death metal band AMON AMARTH was founded in 1992. The band lineup is: vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson. AMON AMARTH has released eight studio albums, the latest one “Surtur Rising” came out on March 25, 2011, via Metal Blade Records. In May and the fall, AMON AMARTH will hit the road, with headlining tour. Johan Hegg commented: “Hopefully we can take some new steps in our career and reach another level as a band. We want to play places we haven’t played yet and reach a wider audience without sacrificing what it is we do best. We’ve always mainly made music for ourselves so as long as we like it, it’s ok. Of course it’s better if other people like it too.”
Couple of weeks ago, before the release, I had a chat with band’s bassist, Ted Lundström…
Hi Ted, I’m Tarja. Welcome to Metal Shock! Let’s start talking about your genre. Your singer, Johan has said that you’ve never called yourselves Viking metal and that you just don’t like to put labels on yourselves. But how would you describe your sound to someone who doesn’t know you yet?
Well we don’t mind if people call us Viking metal but when I hear the term Viking metal I personally think about bands with a more ”pagan” sound, we are a melodic death metal band that have viking lyrics.
You started as Scum in 1988, then, some years later, you renamed yourselves Amon Amarth… can you tell us about this name and what does it mean?
Scum was Olavis old band and after many member changes we decided to start new with a new direction and a new name. It is tough to find a name for your band that is not already taken and I read alot of tolkien books at the time, in one of the books I found the name Amon Amarth. Amon means Mountain and amarth is something like doom, Mount doom.
Could you describe your band members giving 3 adjectives to each of you?
I would prefer not to, it would just end in a big mess
In these years you’ve toured the world widely. Maybe it’s difficult, but can you say which act has been the most significant, so far, for your carreer? and why?
I can’t name one specific event that has meant alot for our carreer since there are many pieces that has made the band what it is. In US for example we did a support tour with Children of Bodom and Trivium and we got to play for bigger crowds than usual and it helped us get to the level where we could tour by ourselves more easily. Playng Loudpark in Japan was a big dream come true for us since it was our first show in Japan but I don’t know how much it gave us in terms of growing recordsales or future tours.
Your last album “Twilight of the Thunder God” was released in 2008, and now, on March 25 you’ll release your 8th full-length “Surtur Rising” via Metal Blade, including 10 strong songs. The album has gained already in advance great expectations. How would you describe the album? I mean, how it’s different from your earlier album/s?
The new album is a little bit more wide than our previous ones. It’s not like anybody will be surprised by the songs but we’ve tried to make the fast songs faster and the epic songs more epic. We also worked alot in the studio to make the sound a bit more organic or accoustic.
And what about it’s lyrical themes? and Why did you choose to tell about the firegiant Surtur?
We choose Surtur as a starting point beacuse he is a very cool caracter in the mythology, we always had fire as our element and he is the head of the firegiants. We don’t base the whole album around him, just a few songs but it’s easier to have something to aim for when you write songs and designs covers. I guess it is only two songs that sorrounds Surtur himself, obviously Destroyer of the universe which is about Surtur destroying the world with fire but also Last stand of Frej which tells almost the same story but from another perspective.
Tell us about the album’s songwriting process, how were you organized? and some details while recording it?
After we stopped touring for the Twilight album we had a few months off, where we gathered riffs and ideas. Today when everybody has computers it’s really easy to exchange ideas and stuff. Then we came togeather in the rehearsalroom to start the songwriting. After writing about half the album we took some time off again to gather some more inspiration and we also sent all our demos to our producer Jens Bogren so he could give his thoughts. When everything was finished we entered the studio and started the recordings.
The release of Surtur Rising will be followed by headlining tours in May and the fall. Do you know already which countries it’ll hit?
We have some places already planned and others are under construction. Can’t say too much about the autumn right now. We’ll start of with a short trip with Children of Bodom in UK and then we leave for a few weeks in USA before returning to Europe to do a few weeks here. The summer will be quite calm for us since we decided to skip the normal festival route, the only festival we have planned this summer is Tuska Festival.
What are your expectations from these tours?
We hope they will be great and I think they will since the feedback of the new album has been so good. We’re going to try something different for the US tour, there will be no opening acts, just us playing the whole evening starting off with the whole Surtur album from start till the end and then we have a short break before returning with another full set of songs.
By the way, before going on stage do you have any rites or traditions to gain the write mood? and while playing on stage, what is your message to your audience?
Not any special rites except for the traditional drinking of an Underberg whenever we have the possibillity, other that that we just try to warm up, maybe have a few beers to get the adrenaline pumping. We try to give it all for the audience, a lot of energy is supposed to be released when we play both from our side and from the audience.
Besides the release and the tour, what are your next plans?
We have no other plans right now besides touring, we have entered touring mode and will only take a break to maybe record some sort of video in the near future..
Now the last question, which are your greetings to your fans and to those who will read this interview?
I would like to say cheers to everybody that keeps metal alive by coming to shows and bying albums. See you all next time we’re in your town. Kippis!
Thanks to you Ted, see you on the road! Skål och klunk! \m/
Interview by Tarja Virmakari
Amon Amarth “War of the Gods” (Surtur Rising)