Tom Valcanis of Australia’s TheAuReview.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist Angela Gossow of Swedish/German extreme metallers ARCH ENEMY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
TheAuReview.com: What’s been the fan reaction to [new record] “Khaos Legions” live?
Angela: Actually very, very good — we played four tracks from the album so far over the summer and in the clubs; people know all the words to the songs and its gotten on really really well. We like playing some of these tunes and we’re going to keep them in the set for a very long time.
TheAuReview.com: Are fans generally turned on by the new stuff or do they prefer the “classics,” in your opinion?
Angela: When we just release a new album, we only play two new tracks, right at the beginning. People obviously don’t know all the songs. If you have a back catalog like we do, people want certain songs on the setlist; that happens automatically. There are some fan favorites that you have to play. I think it gets worse for bands that have been around for twenty or thirty years, like IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST… If they don’t play “Painkiller” or “Number Of The Beast”, they get out of that show, no matter how great the rest of the show was, thinking “What the fuck?” you know? Same with METALLICA. “Why didn’t they play anything from ‘Master Of Puppets’?” or something like that, and people get really pissed off. We have that a little bit already happening to us, so that’s why we don’t offer too many new songs in the set list in the beginning. But now we put three or four new tunes in there because the album’s been out for a while, there have been videos and people know them. Our fans are always very mixed; we always get new fans that have just discovered the band and for them obviously if they just heard “Khaos Legions” and that’s the first ever album they’ve heard from ARCH ENEMY, then they want to hear those new tracks and they are in the front row going nuts. We don’t put too much emphasis on one album, we try to cover them all, so everybody is kind of happy in the end.
TheAuReview.com: On the music industry and how it has tempered her spirit for better or worse:
Angela: In terms of being a musician and surviving the music business, in the beginning I was excited, and positive and very naïve. I just jumped head-first into the cold water of being in a metal band. In around 2004-05 I was extremely disillusioned; very sad and angry about how the music industry is and how artists are being treated. Then in 2008 I kind of picked myself up again; we fired everybody [on our management team] and we took over; we manage ourselves now. I’m really on a high; I feel we do what we wanna do but we’re also in full control. Now I’m in a phase of attraction and achievement — being proud of what we do. That’s also [something] you have to do when you’re a musician. I think a lot of musicians are beaten down by that disillusion with the industry — it just kills a lot of people, I think. If you don’t have the strength or the knowledge to pick yourself up again and make it out and find a way to make it work or turn things around, to not be a victim all the time.
TheAuReview.com: Not that long ago people used to buy records and now they’re more inclined to steal it by downloading it illegally. In the face of an initial romance, then cynicism and now a renewed interest in it, how has the industry changed, and how has ARCH ENEMY adapted to it?
Angela: That’s something that actually has a huge impact on bands nowadays. We just really lucked out, because at the time, ten years ago, people actually had to go out to a record store to the CD or vinyl to get to know an album and they bought it so they could own it. Now it’s just become some sort of fast-food industry for music. You rip it from some torrent and you get this compressed, mp3 quality that you get from there and people don’t experience music the way they did. A lot of people don’t go very deep into the music, they don’t spend much time with the music. They just scroll through a file very quickly and judge whether they like it or not. It’s not like something they own and cherish and value any more. I think that’s changed a lot and it’s changed how young bands come about now; I hear a lot of bands that sound like plastic and feel like plastic because it’s extremely cheap to produce. They just use Pro Tools and people don’t bother making albums any more, it’s just EPs or singles, it’s all just tracks to put up on their MySpace and we’re in this age where they play their music from home. We do it the old school way, where we put an album together, like “Khaos Legions”, for example, we really think about the artwork, we really think about the booklet and what it will look like; the order of the songs, so you get to have a journey through the album and the music. How we present the band; we think about all of that. It comes to be one entity; one piece of art. I think that’s getting lost. The old bands do it because that’s how they grew up, you know? The newer bands are in this fast-food world of music now. That’s when packaging and quality changes. Now it’s about quantity and how much you can put out there. I think it kills a lot of quality bands too; if you start out touring; you aren’t making a lot of money on tour, you’re basically spending money on tour. If you start on a support slot you hardly make any money, you have to pay for all your own [necessities] so they don’t have any income from that side of the business. I think it kills a lot of bands and a lot of bands get even more disillusioned. For us, we got lucky because we found a way to make it work; we were a strong touring act by then; when this happened in 2005-06, we had established ourselves as a touring live act and we had a good audience that followed us and were proud to come to the shows. Instead of making money from CDs, we tour more than ever. But not many metal bands have that option, because not many metal bands can tour and have a profit at the end of it. I mean, that could because their management and a whole bunch of people taking their cut from them. My advice is to be self-managed, and try to build yourself a touring income and try to use as little money as possible to [fund] the rest of the business. I don’t know how this is all going to go but a lot of really good bands are not going to have a chance to really blossom, you know. Then we hear stuff like, “Dude, I downloaded all your albums. Why aren’t you coming around touring? I’ll totally come and see your show.” How do you think we support the finance of the flights and other stuff to get to your country if everyone has just downloaded your music? [chuckles]
Read the entire interview from TheAuReview.com.