Ex-ARCH ENEMY Guitarist: ‘I Needed To Step Away To Find Out What It Was I Really Wanted’

Sam Radojcin of Australia’s Loud magazine recently conducted an interview with former ARCH ENEMY guitarist Christopher Amott. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Loud: Hey Chris, how’s things? What’s happening in your world at the moment?

Christopher: Well, to start with, I have moved to the U.S. I’ve been living here since April and I actually got my green card in the mail a few weeks ago, which was cool. It took a while but now I am all settled in and can get down to business over here. So, what I’m doing right now is writing for… wait for it… a new ARMAGEDDON record! Yes! It’s true. I’ve got a brand new band together and some kick-ass material that I can’t wait to unleash on the world. To be honest, I haven’t been this excited about working on an album in about ten-plus years. This one’s gonna be 100 percent metal with loads of shred guitar and intricate compositions. I am writing the music together with Matthew Wicklund (GOD FORBID, WARREL DANE, HIMSA) who is the second guitarist in the band. The hooks and melodies we have come up with are huge. Very excited… On drums we have Van Williams (NEVERMORE). Bassist and vocalist I am not revealing yet… but I can say this much; it won’t be me singing. I’m predicting a release for this album by summer 2013.

Loud: Many people would know you from your tenure in ARCH ENEMY, but you have also had projects such as ARMAGEDDON and your solo career? What made you decide to finally step out on your own and create your own music?

Christopher: For me, the excitement and creativity had gone out of that collaboration and I needed to step away to find out what it was I really wanted. After two solo albums with various musical styles and band members, I have finally found the right outlet with the new ARMAGEDDON band and upcoming release.

Loud: Your last solo release, “Follow Your Heart”, was a very stripped back melodic and mellow effort, whereas “Impulses” heads more into the hard rock territories of your past. Was heading in this direction planned from the beginning or did it slowly come out during writing?

Christopher: I planned it that way. The reason being I felt I alienated a lot of my fans who knew me from ARCH ENEMY with “Follow Your Heart”. So, for “Impulses”, I wanted to have a bit more of a hard rock/metal edge to bring the audience with me. Also, I was excited about playing that style of guitar again. Some people like the stylistic mix, some don’t. I have heard both sides. Either way I’m very satisfied with the album and actually, I think it contains some of my best guitar performances and most unique compositions to date.

Loud: Did you find the songwriting process changed dramatically with “Impulses” and your solo work, compared to writing with ARCH ENEMY or ARMAGEDDON? Do you prefer writing alone, or collaborating with other musicians?

Christopher: Well, sure, with the solo thing, I was writing whole songs mostly on my own or sometimes with arrangement input from the drummer (Ludwig Witt). The biggest difference is that my solo material isn’t based around guitar riffs but around vocal melodies. I would write the vocal and guitar parts together, and that would be the basis upon which the rest of the music was layered. With the old band we used to piece a few riffs together and then fit the vocals on top of that.

Loud: Instead of releasing “Impulses” through a label, you have decided to release it yourself via the internet’s various digital mediums (such as iTunes and CDBaby, etc.) and have undertaken all of the promotional aspects yourself. How have you found releasing “Impulses” this way in comparison to traditional mediums? Do you think more artists should start releasing their work this way?

Christopher: For me personally, I couldn’t get the damn things released any other way! My two solo albums are simply too diverse stylistically. It would be hard for a label to find the right audience to market it to. Actually, I had two labels that were interested in putting “Impulses” out. One gave me this ridiculous old fashioned all-exclusive recording contract where I was supposed to sign all my rights away forever. He wouldn’t budge on this. Things turned kind of sour when I told him I didn’t agree with the offer and might just release it myself, at which point he threatens me with, “How are you going to get the record into the stores!??” Hello, is this 1987? What record stores? Get with the times… The other label was Favored Nations, the label Steve Vai founded. They were interested, but wanted to postpone it until next year due to a huge Steve Vai release, at which point I was thinking, “To hell with it, I’ll just release it myself again.” I just wanted to get it out there so I could start focusing on my next project.

Read the entire interview from Loud magazine.

Pictured below (left to right): Van Williams, Christopher Amott and Matt Wicklund