DATE OF INTERVIEW:
14th August 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: What are your impressions of Bloodstock so far?
JAKE: My impression of Bloodstock so far is actually there are a lot of journalists here! The only thing I’ve been doing is interviews!
(Jake E on Amaranthe's polyvocal approach)
"That was not something we decided when we started the band, like “hey, let’s get three singers”. It was something that was total coincidence."
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Amaranthe MySpace:
Official Amaranthe Facebook:
Thanks to Camila Di Civita for arranging the interview
Featuring personnel from both Sweden and Denmark, Amaranthe stormed onto the scene earlier this year with their self-titled debut album, a riveting fusion of power, death, and melodic metal with pop sensibilities. With no less than three singers in their ranks, the trio of vocalists each add something different to the overall sound with Elize Ryd and Jake E. Lundberg providing clean female/male vocals and Andreas Solveström death growls, accentuating the pop, power and death elements respectively. Over in the UK to perform at the prestigious Bloodstock Open Air on the festival's second stage, Jake spoke to Metal Discovery a couple of hours before Amaranthe's performance to explain, amongst other things, why this new venture has become the primary focus of all members, despite their involvement with other bands...
Jake E. Lundberg in the press area at Bloodstock Open Air, UK, 14th August 2011
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
JAKE E. LUNDBERG
MD: So you’ve not had a chance to check out any bands?
JAKE: No, not at all. I really wanted to see Hammerfall, our friends, but they were just finishing off here. Other than that, I haven’t seen anything. I heard Napalm Death in the background before but, since then, I’ve been standing here in the VIP section doing interviews.
MD: I gather you had to change the band name from Avalanche but how did you arrive at the name Amaranthe?
JAKE: I guess that was actually Olof’s idea but we were sued by another band called Avalanche which played cover tunes and were fifty-plus.
MD: Actually sued in that you had to pay them money?
JAKE: No, we didn’t actually have to pay money because, back then, it was three years ago and we didn’t have anything out. We’d posted one song on MySpace and got a lot of followers, I think we had a few thousand plays with that song, and someone took the opportunity to think - “oh, I can get money out of this”. But we hadn’t earned a single coin. The band was not even formed then. So we just spoke with our lawyers and contacts, and stuff like that, and we just said, “okay, we’ll change the name”. They couldn’t do anything. Then we wanted to have some kind of band name that was representative and almost sounded like Avalanche.
MD: Have you ever had any confusion with the Swedish band who split up a few years ago called Amaran? Because the first time I heard your band name, I thought maybe Amaran had reformed!
JAKE: No, I’ve never heard of them. The only thing we get mistaken for sometimes is…we didn’t know when we switched the band name that Nightwish had a song called ‘Amaranth’ but without the “e” on the end. But that doesn’t matter because people misspell the name on YouTube and find us instead!
MD: It confused me when I saw Kamelot in London last year and their backing singer got announced as so and so from what I thought I heard as Amaran and I was like , “oh cool, is the old Amaran singer here?”, then someone told me it was Amaranthe.
JAKE: I was on that tour as well as a backup singer.
MD: It was the Koko gig I was at.
JAKE: Yeah, the Koko…it was fucking awesome.
MD: Your debut album came out fairly recently…
JAKE: Yeah, four months ago.
MD: I’ve read some people criticise it for sounding a bit “over-produced” which surely should be a compliment in that they mean the production just sounds very polished…
JAKE: The thing is that I love the production. Jacob Hansen has been doing a terrific job. What people don’t know is that Morten, the drummer, what he plays on that album is almost non-edited at all. He plays like a fucking god and I think that’s why he’s twenty five years old and released twenty albums. So people can think whatever they want but “over-produced”…I don’t know if that’s the right word to use. It’s really well produced.
MD: That’s what I would say. Maybe people that have criticised it are maybe used to hearing something more lo-fi.
JAKE: Yeah, and also another thing is that there’s one thing to do an over-produced album and then when you play live it sounds like shit. But we know we sound the same live as we do on CD.
MD: So do you have your own sound guy here today?
JAKE: Not today actually; this is a pure promotion gig for us, otherwise we have a whole crew of four or five people.
MD: So you’ll be using one of the Bloodstock house engineers?
JAKE: Today, yeah.
MD: Obviously you’re a fairly new band but you have some very experienced players because you’ve all been in, and still are, other bands as well. Did each musician bring different musical influences into the songwriting?
JAKE: Yeah, absolutely. Most of the songs have been written by me and Olof and…
MD: There’s several different sounds in there, like death, power and pop.
JAKE: Yeah, exactly, yeah. Elize is contributing with the poppy influences, like the wailing parts and the Beyoncé ideas. But all of us have totally different tastes in music. Some guys like the brutal Napalm Death thing and I like Bon Jovi so, you know…
MD: Yeah, there’s a really good balance there and mix of styles. Is Amaranthe the primary focus of all members or a side-project for some?
JAKE: No, absolutely not; it’s Amaranthe for two hundred per cent. We couldn’t do it otherwise because we all have different bands and stuff like that. These old bands we’ve been touring with for ten years, we find the ladder for the first couple of steps and then we released the Amaranthe album and went half way up the ladder directly! We have to put all our efforts into this band and this band is in my heart as well.
MD: Is there ever a conflict of interests with the other bands with touring schedules, festival bookings, etc.
JAKE: It happened one time because I was in Dreamland and we’d just released an album and had some festival shows booked but got offered to do some Amaranthe shows as well. But that’s the only time when that has occurred.
MD: You toured with Kamelot this year so Elize was doing an Amaranthe set then getting back out there with Kamelot – that must’ve been quite a tiring thing to do?
JAKE: Yeah, I know. When we toured with Kamelot last year as well, the only thing was that Amaranthe was just part of the second leg of that tour but me and Elize did the whole tour as backup singers so I know how she feels. You’re doing your own show, then you’re switching clothes, if you have any time you take a shower, then you go out and do another show. But it’s a great experience in doing that; you learn a lot.
MD: I’m sure you get asked this all the time but it’s quite unusual for a band to have three dedicated vocalists, although you obviously all do different things in the band, but do you think that helps Amaranthe stand out from the pack and gets you a bit more attention?
JAKE: That was not something we decided when we started the band, like “hey, let’s get three singers”. It was something that was total coincidence. From the beginning, the band started out with just me and Olof writing songs for some kind of old school project. That turned into asking Andreas and Elize to participate on one song. When we heard that song it was like, “shit, this is cool, no-one’s done this before”. So it was pure coincidence and then we decided to form a band out of it.
MD: So it kind of evolved more naturally into what you are now then?
JAKE: Yeah, absolutely.
MD: You have quite an epic-looking, cinematic style video for ‘Hunger’ – how was the experience of filming that?
JAKE: That was awesome.
MD: It looked like it with the big flames and explosions behind you…
JAKE: The explosion was really cool; that was my idea. We just had one shot of doing that…but it turned out really, really well. It took almost a month to film the video.
MD: Did Spinefarm give you a big budget to film it?
JAKE: Yeah, absolutely, you need to be able to promote yourself as a band. That’s one of the reasons why we picked Spinefarm/Universal because they came to us and said they’re going to try to put as much effort in breaking us as possible. And they’ve done a fantastic job.
MD: You’re playing the Female Metal Voices Fest in Belgium in October. Do you actually regard yourselves as part of the “female-fronted metal” scene?
JAKE: Not really, no, not at all.
MD: You’re more “mixed-gender-fronted metal” with two guys singing and one girl!
JAKE: Yeah, we’re not “female metal”…I think we’re melodic metal. But if you have a festival like that and it’s been going on for a few years, they need to have fresh blood. They can’t have Epica all the time! You have Within Temptation and Evanescence who are really female-fronted metal but then there’s a lot of bands that have a female in the band. You couldn’t put Sonic Syndicate on that festival as well because they have a female bass player.
MD: Yeah, exactly. And you’re also due to play something called the Rockbitch Boat at the end of October in Estonia?
JAKE: Yeah, but we actually cancelled that because we’re going on tour with Hammerfall in October. We’ve been discussing this with Hammerfall for four months or something like that. So we booked shows but let them know in the contract that we might not do this so they already knew about it from the beginning. It wasn’t official and we only just released the Hammerfall tour two days ago. That’s gonna be awesome!
MD: What is the Rockbitch Boat out of interest? That just sounds a bit weird!
JAKE: I don’t know where it was going but it was a boat filled with metal, like 70,000 tons of metal. Right before the Female Voices, we’re going back to Japan so that week is going to be a real hangover when it comes to time differentials, I guess! [laughs]
MD: Definitely! Okay, so my final question – for people who have never heard of Amaranthe before and will be taking a look at this interview, what would you say to recommend that they go check you out?
JAKE: If you like melodic metal, if you like death metal, if you like power metal and don’t want to listen to five different albums, just take a look at our album and a lot of it is the same thing!
MD: Yeah, you’re ten bands in one!
JAKE: Yeah, and if you like catchy music and catchy metal then totally check us out.
MD: Cool. Thank you very much for your time.
JAKE: Thank you very much, yeah, absolutely.