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Amaranthe has become one of the Top Acts in Metal scene in only 6 years after their formation. Jake, Elize and Olof just were ready at the right time with the right kind of music to get the people´s attention. They showcased their Melodic Death Metal with Pop influences all over Europe, USA and Japan and have been almost nonstop on the road the past four years. A great success for the Swedes hailing from Gothenburg area. We talked to Elize and Jake At their breakfast table, while Olof, Morten and Johan dropped in some comments once in a while.
How has the tour been so far? It is your first headlining tour how big is the crowd in general? Jake: It’s awesome, it’s been great. We Co-headlined with Stratovarius last year and that was a fantastic tour, but now we do all by ourselves and it is fun but a lot of extra work. And you really have to trust your fans to come to the shows, but so far we’ve done five shows and the attendance has been really great so…everything has been going well.
So there were a lot of people at the shows? Jake: Yeah in Barcelona were about 450, I think.
How do you usually prepare for a tour like this? Johan: Get out of jail! No I am just kidding (all laugh) Jake: Morten spends half of his life in the gym, so he’s the work out machine, he is doing it for all of us. Morten Yeah last time I worked out, I did it for Jake, so he didn’t need to. Elize: I try to rest as much as possible and I also start to work out, so that I am not gonna feel like super tired when I come from stage, but usually we tour constantly, at least I have done that for the last four years, so I didn’t have to prepare, cause I have always been on tour.
Do you have to take care of something special to stay fit on tour? Elize: You always have to eat very healthy. You always have to sleep; at least I have to do that to work. So I have my special things and I think so does Johan has his loading stuff and Jake has his life, if you know what I mean?! So we all do different things. Jake: Yeah while she is resting I do all the preparations, I do all the paper work Elize: But you like to work, and I like to sleep (laughs) Jake: I do all that stuff, I do that about since three months.
You just announced that you plan to release a new album in autumn; can you already say something about it, or is it still a secret? Elize: No it’s official! Jake: We gonna jump into the studio in a month. So we go more or less directly from touring into the studio.
So you haven’t recorded anything yet? Jake: We have the demos. We polish the songs up now during the tour we have our mini studio with us.
What will be the main difference from the last two records to this upcoming one? Jake: New titles! Same songs with new titles (all laugh) Elize: Olof has been working really hard in trying to find a new sound for the next album, and I think the meaning of the new album is a little bit different than the last one, cause it was futuristic and we focused on one thing, but this one is futuristic though, cause it is very modern, but I think compared to the first two ones, where people could hear that they sounded very similar, which was also our plan, but with this one I think we will take another step further. And hopefully the listeners will like it, because I think it is much better (laughs) And I hope everybody else will think it is a step towards a better direction. Hopefully they will hear that we developed.
Do you have a story for the lyrics or a concept for this album? Jake: On the first two albums we had a story that is connected actually, but with very loose ends. We wrote the lyrics so that you can read it and interpret it in your own way. So that you can believe “Ok this is about a whale!” But it is probably about something else. And I think we try to do something like it, but not continuing on the last story, we try to create a new chapter.
In October Andy stepped back as screamer and Henrik replaced him, you do have already experience with him playing live, as he has already joined you on the last tour. How did he end up in the band? Jake: They look exactly the same ! We had this big add in all Swedish magazines “Are you the lookalike to this guy? Please call us!” Johan: Can you scream? Jake: Yeah can you scream for me Brazil.
Did you knew him before or was it just that you looked for someone? Johan: We are mutual friends, I guess. Jake: Yeah, and the actual change of members came up, cause Andy´s been struggling a little bit back and forward for a year more or less.
And Henrik was with you already on the last tour! Jake: Exactly, so when Andy finally decided to step down, we already had Henrik. He was already into the game. So we didn’t have to search for someone. Elize: We more played with Henrik than with Andy the last year. He also went with us to USA tour and all that.
And so Andy stepped back because of his family? Jake: Yeah. Johan: Family and work related. It is hard to mix family and music business. He had the priorities on his baby and that is just how it should be.
You have been playing so many shows last year in different countries, is there a place you like especially? Jake: Oh, you always long for every country. Cause every country has their special memories like here for example: We always wanna come to Z7 because the venue is great and the food is amazing, it is the best food on the whole tour! And they have a laundry machine!
Usually it is not like that right? Jake: Oh no! Johan: I think this is one out of two on the whole tour. Jake: You always have food but let’s say we love England but not for the food! When you get there, you have this croissants wrapped in plastic vacuum sealed bag and a cup of tea and that is your breakfast, go fuck yourself! Johan: You can always get a bag of oranges and chips, but there it´s here’s your thing and go fuck yourself! Jake: The only country in the world where you have to tell your children: “Eat your chips!”
So it is complicated to stay healthy on the tour? Johan: Oh yeah it is, well, it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s a bit more tricky then when you are home. Elize: Like for example I didn’t get protein for three days, so I started to feel a little weak, but now I found a shake and I was like “ROOARGH” (shows how she would jump at the shake) And then I felt like: Wow! I have energy again, you know! At home you maybe feel like: oh today I wanna have chicken and then you go to the shop and buy it, and here you have to see unless you have your own kitchen!
Is there a country where you would love to travel too, where you haven’t been yet? All Australia!!! Jake: We haven’t been to Australia yet! Johan: It’s nice and warm!....I hope…(laughs)
Not when you get there! (all laugh) Johan: Yeah first blizzard in 250 years just because I’m coming! Jake: We played Africa, Europe, Asia, Japan and the States. So we have South America left to concourse.
So you haven’t been there yet! Jake: Elize was there, but with Kamelot! Elize: Yeah it was awesome, Dubai would be something! Jake: Yeah Dubai would be something to go to! Elize: It would be nice to see how it looks like! Johan: I think we would like to go everywhere!
Everywhere. So Antarctica too! All NO!! North pole? No! Johan: I would be estranged to that fact! Elize: Me neither. We just bring plenty of warm clothes! Johan: Greenland would be some cool place to play! Highest suicidal rates in the whole world! That would be fun! Jake: Is it South or North pole where the penguins are? Johan: South pole!
Would you have thought in 2008 when you founded the band that you would become so famous so fast? Is it something you focused on, something you aimed for, or was it more like let’s found a band and see what happens? Jake: That was a funny question! Let’s know that we are going to be big, or let’s just try? (laughs)
Yeah but some bands wanna focus just to become big and others just wanna… Jake: Yeah but if you ask any band in a garage over the world, all of them have the dream to be Iron Maiden, of course!
No! Johan: Yeah but we Swedes put that a bit…. much higher, so we gonna have Iron Maiden as an opening act! (laughs) So becoming bigger then Iron Maiden! Elize: But let’s say we did sacrificed a lot of things in our private lives to be able to become something. I for example worked as a full time artist before this band, but then I had to make the decision like being poor and trying to reach something with my band, or continuing work. And usually people are not brave enough to quit their jobs and then they are not able to work as hard as we’ve been doing with our band, and everybody in the band did that!
So you were aiming to the same direction. But there are really bands that just wanna play in small clubs in their local area, that is enough for them! Elize: Yeah there are! And also bands that are not able to get good supports slots like we did! So we were happy about it that we got so many chances! Jake: I totally agree with everything Elize says there, but when we started the project from the start, when me and Olof just had the idea. We have been telling each other, because we have been playing in so many various bands before, and we said that if we gonna do this, we gonna do it for real. We gonna aim 10 times higher than we did with the other bands, the other bands had real good songs and productions and blablabla but not the support, and there are also record companies that think it is ok if the band is over here and not aim to release a new Iron Maiden style quality album.
Do you think it is still possible to become as big as Iron Maiden or any of these bands, nowadays? Jake: I absolutely do, I think it’s hard but it’s always been the same kind of, level, quality level has always been the same. And you can see now like 30 Second to Mars and bands like that, they are almost there, more or less. Olof: If you look at Muse specifically, that is definitely a band that is on the arena level, but still since the older part of the generation is going up and seeing Kiss, you don’t consider Muse to be that big. But in 15 years, cause the guys who has been growing up with Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin will never accept that Metallica is actually a lot bigger, they say that no band in the 80’s got as big as the ones in the 70’s, but still Metallica is a lot bigger, of course! Johan: I think it is a big difference for today than for example 20-30 years ago, when those bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith came up and got insanely big. Everything works out so much faster today. It goes so fast that you can actually bury your fans. You have to find the balance of not going to fast but not going too slow either, so that they will forget you.
That is true. But do you think that bands nowadays are even able to stay together for 40-50 years as a band? Johan: I don’t think so. I think a lot of bands will unfortunately break up because of the insane pressure they have of record companies and management. I think many bands will unfortunately die and in some cases I hope they will die. (all laugh) Because there are so many bad bands, I don’t mean physically die, but that the band will break up because there are actually too many shitty bands out there today. They get too much recognition for stuff they don’t deserve to get big for, that is stupid shit that has nothing to do with music. Olof:: Yeah and that has been the same thing since the 80’s, there is a lot of hype bands today, a lot of young bands, and that was absolutely true too in the 80’s with all these shitty 80’s hair metal band. In every age you have something like a trend and with us and our band we try not to be part of any current trend, there isn’t really any trend that we are jumping on with the band.
Yeah you just created something “new”. Olof: Exactly, we are creating the trend. No, I am kidding!
But it is always the matter that you have to see how long a trend lasts! How long people stay interested, the trends come and they go, it’s always been like this. Johan: You can’t stay at one trend for too long. You can’t stay with the trend until the trend dies you have to leave it before it leaves you. Cause then you risk dying yourself.
Then you have to reinvent yourself. Johan: Yes. You need to find something new. Olof: And that is the good thing about this band, I think the band could have gotten equal amount of recognition if we released our debut album 96, it would probably be a lot bigger actually. Because I don’t think that it is part of any current thing that is gonna die in 2-3 years. It is our own little world of the music business.
So which advices would you give to fresh bands, what should they take care of or what should they do? Jake: There are enough bands! Stop playing, get a regular job! Johan: Stop playing, get back to school, do your homework! Olof: Don’t let those guys answer that question! Just overhear the answer of Jake! But try to do everything alright the first time and that is a really hard thing to do when you don’t know how it works. Try to really think about the decisions that you make, like for example don’t sign a record deal without a lawyer reading it through and practice a lot, I think that is probably the best advice you could give to anyone who wants to become a musician, cause there are a lot of crappy musicians these days. Jake: If you are a new band and you are 20 years old, then I just have this to say: Every man or woman in this music business that pretends to be your best friend and they are very friendly, they have probably some other thoughts in the back of their minds. (all agree) Johan: There is one important thing that we’ve forgotten! Remember to have fun cause that is why we do this, we wanna have fun. We wanna be able to make a living out of having fun. And people forget to have fun. And that is when it starts to feel like an ordinary day job and you feel like :”Ah shit, I’m gonna play tonight, oh fuck!”
So you also should have a friendship with each other and not just a work relationship? Johan: Absolutely! I think we wouldn’t survive when we weren’t friends. You need to have fun you need to see what’s fun and you would need to sacrifice your mother to get here. So remember what you do have and be happy about it! Jake: And buy Johan’s book! Elize: Buy Johan’s book! And it is very uncool to use drugs and that will not make you last in the business for long. All (wild arguing starts within the others) Olof: Don’t do drugs and get to easy with alcohol! Johan: I have only one thing to say “Don’t buy drugs, kids, become a Rockstar and get them for free!” (all laugh) Olof: That was a joke!
You mentioned that you have to sacrifice a lot of private life . So how is it for you, Jake, you just became a father to a daughter, I think she is now about 2-3 months old, wasn’t it hard to leave her? Jake: Ah it is killing me, but I see her every day on Skype. But I think it is better to go now than to do this trip when she is four years old.
Well, you might have to do it then again… Jake: Yeah but the whole idea is to grow the band all the time, so maybe in four years we don’t have to tour 150 gigs, the idea is to compress everything, so that when you release an album and you go on tour for two months and then you do it a year later. Johan: And hopefully we will get that big that we can bring our families along. That would be great! Make then more a part of this than they actually are now! Jake: Exactly! Olof: Also, I mean I don’t have a daughter or a son, but I have a girlfriend and a cat that I both love very much and I think the nice thing is that in between the tours you can actually spend a whole lot of time, because we were home writing our new album for the last almost 4-5 months with only occasional shows.
Yeah but I guess she also has to work, so you also don’t have the days together. Olof: Yeah, but she is also working from home. So we got to spend a lot of time together. Even your boy- or girlfriend has a normal day job, you still get to spend a lot more time than if you are both working at the same time and you are just home for those two hours and you are just watching TV and don’t have any meaningful conversations. Johan: When you get home from work, you being too tired seeing the kids for two hours before they go to bed and you go before they go up and go to work and blablabla that is nothing that anyone of us would like to do. Olof: Oh and the guys from In Flames and Hammerfall who all have kids have been saying that it is actually quite a good thing to spend so many months in a row with your kid when you are actually at home. Then it sucks to go away, of course, but still..
What is about you, Elize? You once mentioned in an interview that you think that it is not possible to combine this musician life like it is now with a family life. Elize: Now it would be impossible. Right now, no! It would take away my attention.
So for you it would mean that if you become a mom, you focus on that and stop the music? Elize: At least I maybe change my career. I of course would need to discuss that with the guys, but I think it is also harder to be a girl and I mean I have these 9 months first of all on stage with a big belly and then I have to give birth and then have at least a couple of months to recover from it and being with my kid all the time. So if I am going to do that, we have to get successful, otherwise it won’t be possible. I mean otherwise I have to choose either I wanna be a miserable artist without kids or if I wanna live a normal life with family. I could still do some gigs like this boat singing and stuff. (all laugh) Or do musicals or things as there are lot of jobs in the artist industry that you can do when you have a family. But I hope that we can make it work somehow. Because I can’t wait for too long so it’s gonna be… I don’t want ‘it to be too late. You know, because my biological clock is ticking. (laughs)
Are there projects you currently working on next to Amaranthe? Jake: Yeah but we haven’t released anything for five years and Olof has Dragonland, he released an album two years ago, but all that stuff is…when you talk about projects in other bands, it is usually something you put some love to and nowadays it is just you record it ,press the Cd and release it, you don’t do anything else with it than to more or less put your sounds out there, because you have spare time to write it. I don’t know if Elize has something?
Yeah, I actually have few questions just for Elize. You’ve been lately taken part on some projects like Avalon and also Raskasta Joula, but also Nergard. How did the cooperation with Raskasta Joulua came up? Elize: I have already recorded the new Avalon things. And the Raskasta Joulua thing came up through our record company. It is the same that releases Raskasta Joulua and they asked told them that it would be a good idea if they would invite me to the project, so they get more of their artists on the same album. So it was Euge Valovirta of Spinefarm who asked you? Elize: Yeah Euge asked me (laughs)
I saw the TV Show of the Helsinki gig with Raskasta Joulua and also Erkka Korhonen looked very happy about having you on board. Elize: Yeah?? But he…well we worked very well together, so he became happy. It was a lot of fun.
There are great singers involved in this project, are you familiar with them or did you just got to know about them because of this project? Elize: Not before! But I got to know them there and I was amazed. The one who won the Finnish Idols I think, and the one who won the Voice of Finland and I thought, wow so many huge names and I did not knew that before.
What do you think about the high notes Jarkko Ahola can hit? Elize: Oh yeah I was really impressed, it is awesome.
You had the chance there to sing a song together with Marco Hietala, Ari Koivunen but also with Jarkko Ahola - was there one that you preferred? Elize: Ohoh! Johan: Don’t answer that is a tricky question! You gonna piss someone off! Elize: I know! (laughs) I like them all!
Was there one voice that you thought fits yours best? Elize: I didn’t think about it! It was nice to sing with all of them. I was thinking that I could do a duet with each of them!
During the Helsinki show one got the impression occasionally that you feel a bit lost with so many people on stage who want to get the focus on themselves. How was that for you? Was it bit too much trouble on stage or was it because you did not understand anything? Elize: Oh yeah, that was when they forgot that I was supposed to sing a solo. They were so excited that they just forgot and kept on singing. I stepped in for Tony as he wasn’t there, and then there were just too many people on stage and they were too exited, so they forgot to be quiet when I was supposed to sing. It didn’t bother me, so it was ok.
Was it different so stand on stage with so many other singers instead of only two others? Elize: Oh I don’t see it that way, it is not my band it was just a guest appearance, so I have done that plenty of times, so I am used to it and it was just a Christmas show, it was something special but different. I really appreciate it, I hope we get the chance to do it again.
You will also be part of the upcoming Avalon record & the Nergard record, but originally you are more coming from the Cabaret direction, as you have been singing and dancing before at the cabaret, are you still doing something similar or plan to do it? Do you miss it? Elize: I haven’t had time actually to do something like this. It is very hard, because I move around a lot with my boyfriend who is a hockey player and they don’t have dance schools everywhere. So I have been thinking about it to bring it up again. Maybe I could create a dance class here on tour. Yey! Jake: Yeah! (all laugh)
You could offer that to fans! Elize: Amaranthe dance class!
You still have about 15 shows to go on this tour, which place are you most looking forward too? Olof: Yeah today is gonna be awesome, for example because it is a really big venue and we played here before and it has always been great. The food is great! Prague is also a place we are looking forward to, for some reason we are really big there. But we are looking forward to all of the gigs.
Are you all from Gothenburg? Jake: More or less, Morten is from Denmark, which is another city in Sweden (kidding) Olof: Yeah! But it is only me, Jake and Johan who lives in Gothenburg, because Henrik lives in Stockholm and Elize is actually not from there. Elize: No I grew up in Jönköping and was born in Värnamo which is a small city. I lived there till I was 12 and then I lived in Gothenburg for 12 years. So I am 50/50
So you are familiar with Gothenburg and can answer too. Elize: Yeah just that I am not originally from Gothenburg Jake: Like me I am not from there either. I lived also moved there when I was 12 and also Johan is not from there. It is like that that you move when you grow up after school you move away from the small cities.
Ok we don’t do that so much in Switzerland like you in Scandinavia, it is not so common! Jake: Oh you don’t! It is very common that you do that in Sweden, you either move to Gothenburg or Stockholm. Elize: If you have a goal in your life, and you or not one of those who wanna settle down and get kids and stuff, then you have to move to achieve something. To the cities, cause that is where the things happen!
Which 5 places would you recommend people to visit when they are in Gothenburg? Jake: Depends what you are interested in, but we have some really cool museums and stuff like that. A fantastic coast line, we have an awesome archipelago with small islands and great beaches in summer Olof: That is difficult because there is a lot of nice stuff. Elize: Paddan, Liseberg, Rockbaren, Jake: Liseberg is an amusement park, the biggest in Scandinavia Elize: And Paddan is a boat that guides you around the whole city. In the canals and it is very nice. Jake: I never went on it! Elize: And then you can go to Nordstaden avenue Olof: There are lot of restaurants and Nightclubs there. And the Art museum I would recommend as there are a lot of Picassos and even a Rembrandt in it Elize: Sandholmen!
What is that? Olof: It is a beach pretty much! It’s more a rock than a beach! In the archipelago! Elize: It is beautiful with the coast the water mountains and boats and everything! Olof: I need to add some culture to this as well again the art museum! It is really worth visiting!
Last but not least: Which question would you loved to be asked in an interview but no one has asked so far? Elize: Oh that is fun! Olof: You know I would be completely out of these questions by now because I have been asked that question many times before! Elize: I’ve never heard it before! But I don’t do many interviews, so Olof: It hasn’t been often recently but more from the Dragonland times that I was asked that! It always ended with that question!
Ok then Olof is out of this as he ran out of ideas, what about the rest of you guys? All (laugh) Jake: I might have had that before too. What do you answer to that? Do you actually want to have questions in your face all the time? I don’t know! (laughs)
So for you it would be, why do we have to do interviews at all! Jake: Nono!
I’ve heard that before, so no worries! Jake: Nono! Olof: We actually like to do interviews!
Sure! Jake: Yeah but I don’t know if I want to have a specific question, cause that would be weird to do an interview and say; But I would like to ask me what is my favorite color. And you ask me what is my favorite color!
So?! Jake: Oh that is hard….(laughs) Olof: Ask me: Olof how fast can you play on the guitar? Answer…very very fast! Jake: Ask me! Ask me! How fast can I play?
Not at all?! Jake: I can play but not very fast! Olof: Elize how fast can you play on the guitar? Elize: Ehm…
Well everybody can play fast on the guitar but the might be a difference if it sounds good or not Olof: Good point! Elize: Mine would be: how many push-ups can you do?
But you have to prove whatever the answer is! All (laugh) Jake: I can do from stop to finish! Elize: Many!
Ok then thank you very much for your time All Thank you!
More information can be found at : www.amaranthe.se
Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Ville Juurikkala Date: 2014-05-02