Mike Bax of Lithium Magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Lithium Magazine: “Heritage” will be your tenth album, and your third album on Roadrunner Records. Did you have anything different in mind that you really wanted to accomplish on this tenth album?
Mikael: I just wanted it to be different. I had a pretty strong urge to do it differently and not be stuck in a rut, so to speak. I’d like to think that every album we’ve done has been an album that reflects what we really wanted to do at the time. This time around, when I started writing, I was a bit disillusioned with what I wanted to do and what we should do as a band. I didn’t want us to get stuck with a sound. I get restless and when that happens it’s just time to move on and try something different, and that’s what we did with this album. We just wrote eleven or twelve songs that sounded like stuff that I would want to listen to now, rather than writing stuff that sounds like things we’ve already done before. We have always tried to do records that we want to hear. There’s no exception to that rule with “Heritage”, but it’s a different-sounding album than our previous ones.
Lithium Magazine: If I’m reading my Internet bits correctly, “The Devil’s Orchard” is set to be your first single, correct? Are you going to pop that online to give fans a taste of the new material?
Mikael: We don’t know yet. The album is coming in September sometime. I’m assuming there will be a preview around that time. If I could choose, we wouldn’t put anything out until the album release date. That’s one thing that we want to rebel against. Maybe me more than the others in OPETH, but I want to rebel against the whole Internet-based thing with music. Updates from the bands in the studio, Twitter pictures of recording sessions, and pre-released singles all seem to be the norm on the Internet. I don’t want our music to be first heard like that, you know? I’m a YouTube consumer, too… but I don’t want our stuff to get an advance release and sound bad. I understand the business model for music has changed, and that is just how it works these days, but I’m really not into the whole Internet hype for new albums.
Lithium Magazine: Would you do anything for your fans on your website – something exclusive for fans who pre-order “Heritage”? Limited artwork, or autographed versions?
Mikael: I’m not sure about that. That’s more up to the label. I don’t think in terms of promotion when it comes to music. For me, once the album is done, my work is pretty much done. I don’t think in terms of how to sell it once it’s done. There’s guys in bands that do that and they are entrepreneurs in a way, which is good for them. I’m just a rocking dude, you know? The work feels like it’s done once I have produced an album. Then we will go out on tour which is also my type of work, you know? Everything surrounding a release and promotion and interviews and bundles and packages for selling albums, that’s the record labels and management’s job. I’m kind of shooting my load all over the making of the record. I don’t really have much else to offer after that.
Lithium Magazine: At what point during your discography do you feel OPETH really hit its stride, Mikael? Do you feel that this album is the one fans enjoy the most as well?
Mikael: I think we were pretty well prepared on our first album. We’d been around for a while before we recorded our first album. I think we were pretty much done by the time we did our first album. I can’t say that we’ve been working our way to up to certain albums or anything. I think at the time, when the first album came out, that is what we wanted to do. It was a collection of songs that we had been playing for a couple of years, and we did that album well. It’s not like we were learning much at the recording of that album. I think we were pretty much done establishing our sound at that point. But obviously, things happened in the late nineties and early in the new millennium with “Blackwater Park”. That album catapulted us into a different level, and all of a sudden we were a professional band on a global scale, touring more than we ever had. That’s when we became professional musicians, I guess. Musically, I don’t particularly think “Blackwater Park” is better than any of our other albums, you know? It just seemed to be more appealing to our audience, I guess.
Read the entire interview from Lithium Magazine.
Photo below courtesy of the French edition of Rock Hard magazine.