Mikhail Madnani of IndianRockMP3.com conducted an interview with guitarist Fredrik Åkesson of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH one day before the band’s February 5 performance at the “Summer Storm” festival in Bangalore, India. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
IndianRockMP3.com: After you did your toured with ARCH ENEMY (featured on their DVD) and you joined OPETH, how has the transition been from that band to OPETH?
Fredrik: It was different, but luckily for me, I got to join the band in the writing process for “Watershed”, which was a good thing. So if I compare it to ARCH ENEMY, I was basically playing Chris Amott‘s parts [in ARCH ENEMY], but in OPETH I got to be part of the band and more involved. Of course, music is very different. OPETH demands different styles of guitar playing and I had to practice to learn Mikael‘s [Åkerfeldt, OPETH guitarist/vocalist] style of guitar playing. I was a fan of the band before, but it is a different thing listening and playing music. Now I have been in the band almost five years, so I feel very comfortable with this style.
IndianRockMP3.com: OPETH‘s been going in an obvious old school prog direction with a few songs on “Watershed” and completely on “Heritage”. Have you had any input into this or is it all Mikael?
Fredrik: I would say it is mostly Mikael. I do like the progressive parts. So many different elements of prog music. I think it is mainly the way Mikael feels when he starts writing a new album. I remember when I heard stuff that he wasn’t gonna do any growls, I was a bit worried and asked if he was sure about it. When I heard the songs, I really liked them and there wasn’t any room for death metal vocals on these songs. Some people think that he can’t do it anymore, but that’s bullshit. We’ve rehearsed and we’re gonna play some of the heavy stuff tomorrow. The band does not want to repeat itself to maintain sales or anything. Many bands do the same thing to keep things rolling. I’m fortunate to be in a band where we sometimes make bold steps aside from the routine. But I still think the new album sounds like OPETH and it is definitely dark and moody.
IndianRockMP3.com: When Roadrunner released the final album artwork, there were mixed opinions because it is very different from all the other OPETH album covers, including “Watershed”. Who came up with the concept for the artwork?
Fredrik: Our manager, Andy [Farrow], actually came up with the concept of the tree. He said I see a tree. It was collaboration between him and Mikael. He had a dream. Travis Smith did the artwork; he has done all the artwork since “Still Life”, I believe. I think it connects with the ’70s prog rock feel that the music on the album has. It is more like an oil painting design. It is a bit fun, but it is also dark. There’s symbolism in there. The burning city and the nine stars in the sky which represent the other OPETH albums. The sun is the 10th, which is “Heritage”. You have the death metal roots with the devil and hell at the bottom.
Read the entire interview from IndianRockMP3.com.