Mikael Åkerfeldt - Opeth

May 4, 2005

Tell me a bit about the band for people who are now just getting into you guys.

We're a Swedish band from Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. We've been playing together for 15 years now. Unbelievable. We're working on our eighth album as we speak. Basically we're I guess some type of progressive metal band. Death metal band maybe. It's hard to describe our music but you can probably say it's progressive, extreme metal with some mellow parts in there. That's probably about it.

You guys have what's described as a symphonic, progressive sound to your music.

Yeah, you could probably say that. We started out as a pure death metal band like Morbid Angel or somebody like that. Then I got into the whole progressive rock thing. Bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis and stuff like that. I started collecting that type of music and of more obscure bands of the '60s and '70s. I started getting into jazz and singing/songwriting stuff and soul. It all found its place in our own music as well. We have a mishmash of everything starting out from death metal.

I think that's cool when people take different styles of music and mix it together into something of their own.

If we like something and get interested by some music, it doesn't matter what type of music it is. If it works and sounds good, then we're going to use it. It doesn't matter if it sounds like Marvin Gaye or Morbid Angel.

Back in February you released your Lamentations DVD.

Yeah, it's a thing that we filmed in London. We did it in a place called Shepherd's Bush which is a nice venue in central London. The gig we did was two different sets. There was one set where we only played mellow songs because we had just done an album called Damnation which sounded almost like it was done in the '70s. It was mellow, progressive rock. We played that album the whole way through and a couple of extra tracks. Then we came back and did a heavy set where we played an hour's worth of only heavy material. Both of those sets are on that DVD and we also shot a documentary that was filmed in New York when we recorded the last two albums. That's on the DVD as well. It's good I think. It's selling well. We actually got a gold record for that DVD in Canada.

That's really cool. That's the first DVD you guys put out.

Yeah, it's the only DVD we've done.

You guys are going to be on the Sounds Of The Underground tour. How did you guys get hooked up with that?

I don't know. I think it was our American agent who is involved in that festival. He decided to put us on it. We've never done a thing like that before. The lineup is quite interesting because I don't know any of those bands apart from a few. I know Strapping Young Lad and Clutch. The rest I don't know really. I guess it's a good thing for us to do because we're going to be doing that tour before we put out the album so it's a chance for us to maybe find some new fans. It's great to promote for the album. It's a bit different. We're used to doing our own headlining tours. We play a proper length set. This time we're a support band playing a shorter set. It's going to be cool.

I think it's going to be awesome because a lot of the bands on it are really good bands and it's different types of metal. Are you guys doing any major festivals this summer?

We're doing a couple. Not many. We're not hot right now because we haven't put out a new album. We got quite a few offers for festivals actually but we're only doing a handful I guess because we're right now busy recording the new album and next thing is that we're going to be promoting and doing interviews for the album. We won't have time to do other festivals. I think we're going to do all of them next summer so we're just doing a few this summer.

You're busy working on the new album and you have nine songs done I think?

Yeah, we're working on nine songs. None of them are done yet. Right now we're working on keyboards. But yeah, we're in the studio right now.

You're releasing it in late August or early September.

Yeah, I hope that we don't delay it so much.

On the new album, is that going to be different from Damnation or are you going to have a similar theme?

It's going to be heavier than Damnation. There are also going to be some songs that you could say are influenced by what we did on Damnation. A couple of songs are more similar to that album. Overall it's much, much heavier and we also have a new member in the band with more vintage keyboards and we now sound like a death metal version of Uriah Heep.

He was touring with you guys since your Damnation album.

Yeah, he was supposed to play on Damnation as well. He forgot it and he went to parties. He toured with us and we love the guy and he's a great musician. I asked him early on if he wanted to join the band. He also plays in a Swedish band called Spiritual Beggars and he was basically with them and he wasn't sure what they were doing next. Now he's actually joined Opeth. He's great.

You guys are also doing a U.S. tour.

Yes, I talked to our manager the other day and he said that we were looking at maybe four additional tours of North America. We're going to be there quite a lot.

You guys will be busy beavers.

Yeah, that's what we have to do and we love touring obviously. We look forward to going out and playing.

You're getting ready to do some European dates as well.

Yeah, we have some. We're just doing 10 gigs or something around Europe and Scandinavia and then we're going to do at least one or two proper long headlining tours of Europe as well.

Any other thoughts or comments?

No, not really. You're the boss.