Interview by Jen Rees, Jordan Sibberas and Kit Lindsey.
Hi Fredrick, Congrats on the success you have had with Pale Communion, Thank you very much Jen. I was on your website before and one award I noticed was that you were number one album in Prog Magazine’s Critics’ Choice of 2014. How important are the awards like this to you as a band and personally? Of course it is flattering if we get number one in the awards, it is proof that somebody likes us! The main thing for us is that we feel that when we are done in the studio that we have that feeling that it was the best we could do right now. Of course it is very nice for us. I have noticed on your Facebook page that some fans had negative reactions to Pail communion how do you deal with negativity about something that you have worked so hard on? I don’t read it actually. Good idea! That is one way of dealing with it. I don’t pay much attention to it. Even though it is very important the social media of course. It has always been like that, the negative comments with Opeth even our older albums even when we were death metal we got negative feedback on everything.The main thing is that we do what we do right now and we are happy about it because it was the best we could of done. I guess that is the way it is. A few of my teenage kids adore you guys and I when I listened to you guys I thought that I would not like your music as they are into heavy metal bands but I was blown away by your album and how good it was. Well thank you! I think when we did the album Watershed, it had more of a extreme metal element because it always has been there. it is kinda and on and off thing. But now in a different way I think what Mikael did was take extreme metal to its peak, when we did the last album ‘Heritage’ the band needed something different.We are lucky in that way, we can experiment a lot and of course there is always some haters but still a lot of people come to our shows. I think it is important for us to do slightly different kind of albums. But then again it depends on what kind of state of mind Mikael is in as he writes the majority of the songs. If he has a vision it is up to the guys in the band to back it up. I think my fav song off your new record is Elysian Woe, I think it is the guitars as well as the lyrics. In particular a verse stood out to me, Are we nursing destruction? Pursuing a dream we once had Was it our intention to follow this road ’til the end Even if the end is a world of sorrow? As this kind of sums up my first marriage. When I listened to the lyrics I thought wow this could of been written for me and touch a nerve, and I thought wow that was brilliant. Do you have a song that your connect to the most? Do you mean the lyrics or just in general? Well my first favorite was the song ‘Below’ the fourth track of the album, I think because it is heavier that the others and I am a bit of a metal head.(both Laughing) So that is actually my favorite from the beginning but I thing about this album is that every song is so different from each other. It is really like a journey from the top to the end.Elysian Woe we are playing live now and it is working really well.If you are going to see one of the shows you will see us play that live. You have co written some songs on previous albums, have you on Pail Comparison? No, I just came up with the guitar solos, small stuff like that. I did record some ideas that Mikael fancied but he was very enclosed when he wrote the last album, we did not sit down many times together to work on the album like we did on the previous one. I think that Mikael had this album in his system that he had to get out. That sounds very therapeutic. Yeah. (laughing) After I have listened to the album a few times there does not seem to be a lyrical theme to the whole album only in each individual song, is that correct? Yeah it is not like a story line that is connected I think all the lyrics are separated in a way and also they are really person to Mikael and he does not like me to talk about them actually. That’s fair. Yeah I can understand though. I think everyone has to come up with their own thoughts and images which is kinda fun. It is like reading a book as well, making up your own pictures in your head. Have you been touring a lot lately? I could not find any information on that, I know you are going to Japan and then here. We did tour quiet a lot before, we did an European tour, then Canada, the the US with In flames and did a tour right before Christmas then we have been off for 3 months but a few weeks back we played 2 shows in Greece and 2 shows in Turkey. That is a good thing as now we are warmed up to play our Australian shows. That makes sense now. It has been good for me as I have a little daughter now and it is good to be back home for her. We are looking for touring a lot after Japan and Australia, we are doing a bunch of festivals, and we will tour South America in the Summer and there is quite a lot planned for the Fall, we are going to do a 25th year anniversary tour. There will be a few of those. I am not sure if you are familiar but we did a Royal Albert Hall show, kinda similar thing to that, we play a 3 hour set list. Wow! This time we are going to do our album Ghost Reveries in it’s entirety. We tried to pick places that are theatre like and get an extra cool vibe, so that is going to happen in the Fall.We are going to be busy this whole year. Yes you are! So next year we will hopefully come back to Australia. That would be nice. Maybe for Soundwave? Yeah Why not! Travis Smith designed the cover of Pale Communion can you explain the meaning of the Latin words for example Don’t you know my son etc….. I would say them in Latin sorry I cant speak latin….haha or is that a bit more of a Mikeal question. Yes it is more for him, he was very involved in the cover, him and Travis worked hard together and Travis managed to get his ideas out, which was great for us, he has done the last two covers but this one is slightly different. It has a painting kinda vibe which is really cool. I guess it is the journey of life I guess is the concept of the album in a way, life and death that is what they symbolize. I learnt the Latin words but I forgot about them.I don’t have any deep stuff to say about that I am sorry. I know that one of the quotes is from a Swedish guy. Which I can’t remember the name of! Well to me the words “Don’t you know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?” mean a lot as in Australia our government has gone completely insane and we have an idiot of a prime minister. So those words struck a cord with me. Some one might talk about him when you come here, I think you will hear more about that! Sorry to hear that but it comes a lot with power in the world I think, it could be aimed at so many unjustices in the world. How many times have you toured in Australia? Me personally this is the 5th time with Opeth, but I’ve been there twice with Arch Enemy so that counts to 7 times. I love to come out, it is a great place to play, great crowds and great food and the nature is very exotic to us. Yeah I get a lot of bands saying that the people are very welcoming. Absolutely the people are very friendly. Will you have the same set lists for all of the shows? Well sometimes we go on jamming some songs, I think we will stick to the same set list as we like this one. We try to pick a song from each album, we have 2 and a half hours, it is quite a long time.Of course we want to promote this latest album so we play three songs of that one. So it is basically one song from each other album. How has the numerous lineup changes altered how you view performing older pieces live? Do you try to recreate, or allow the new members their own interpretations? We try to recreate, I mean you always have your individual type of playing in small details how you hit the drum or hit the string, this of course affects the sound a little bit. Peter’s solos I usually play note by note, i don’t think there is any old school fans that want it not to be Paul’s solo. I want to treat the old material with respect. When it comes to keyboards for instance there was not much keyboards in older songs so we try and add different things, we try to play new stuff without it interfering with the old stuff. One of the things we do is get an acoustic sound from the electric guitar as well and that works really good with both the new stuff because we go from the new stuff because we go from a more distorted heavy sound to acoustic in a very short time. It gives the older stuff a new dimension. It is a little thing that we came up with. You usually do some heavy songs at the end, but lately you’re only doing a few growling songs, is this so Mikael doesn’t damage his voice? No actually in this set list that we are playing now is 60% him growling vocals and he actually told me that it is easier for him to sing in that style than it is to sing with a clean voice. Somehow he has this technique with his growl that he can keep on doing it as long as he likes. It sounds really harsh when he sings but it does not affect his vocal cords. I guess that is why he is so good at it. We pushed that a little bit on the Heritage tour because we did want to work with any growls at all. it was just the older material that has no growls and we felt that our old school fans, will still enjoy those kind of songs. They deserve to hear it if they come to see us live. We want to please the old school fans as well. I guess with 25 years you would have some pretty hardcore old school fans. This is more a Mikael question but I’ll ask it anyway, Is there a possibility of a biography of you or the band in the works? There’s a lot of interest in the personal and wider inspiration behind your works and their lyrics. Yeah I think that he is already started writing on that actually. He has come a long way with it, nothing has been decided yet when it is going to be out or anything. It is an ongoing process I guess. Sure. But we are going to release another book, a coffee table book this year, which contains in-depth interviews and which is going to be made by Don Lawson. So that is something that is going to happen. We are also working on a photo book that is going to be out anytime soon, this year I guess. Sweet as! It will have photos, back stage photos not posing type of photos, pics of us on the road basically. Bonus type of pictures. We had a lady travel with us to a few different places in the world. So we are putting that together, it is going to be mainly photos. So you have three projects in the works! That is impressive! However I think the biography will be later on. There will be some fun stories that we have not experienced yet. Will you have some time off her in Australia? We only have one day off and it is in Brisbane this time. Here is where the operator tells us we have to wrap it up. See you in Melbourne Jen Thanks for talking to me. Thank you for the interview Fredrik. Thanks to Jordan Sibberas and Kit Lindsey for their assistance.