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25th November 2010
Genre heavyweights Arch Enemy are, and have been for years, one of the hardest touring bands on the live circuit, thrilling audiences across the globe with the intense force of their compelling metal discharge. Precision fretboard virtuosity courtesy of Michael and Chris Amott combines with the bass talents of Sharlee D'Angelo and drumming powerhouse Daniel Erlandsson to create a sonic might that strikes a refined balance between extreme metal ferocity and melodic euphony. Add to that mix the potently guttural vocal delivery and ever-authoritative stage presence of frontwoman Angela Gossow, and you have one of the scene's most dynamic, exciting bands to grace a stage during the past decade. Over in the UK towards the end of 2010 for a short run of four shows postponed from April, and just ahead of entering the studio to record a new album, Sharlee D'Angelo spoke to Metal Discovery an hour or so before their performance in Wolverhampton's Wulfrun Hall. Standing in smallest of small backstage rooms, discussions commence...
METAL DISCOVERY: This current run of four UK shows was originally scheduled for April, of course, but you cancelled them because of the ash cloud…
(Sharlee D'Angelo on pre-production for the new Arch Enemy album)
"I think we’re more well prepared this time than we’ve ever been."
Sharlee D'Angelo backstage at the Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK, 25th November 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: And you didn’t want to risk coming over?
SD: Day by day it was different reports, like this, that and the other…“oh no, we can’t fly…now we can fly…oh, now we’re not flying…you might go over Holland, but you can’t go in over England”. So, at some point, we had to say, for everybody’s sake, for the promoters and everything, “okay, we need to pull out now.” Also for Chthonic, before they got on a plane…
MD: Oh yeah, a long way for them to travel. Plus I guess you had other touring commitments so didn’t want to get stranded in the UK.
SD: Well, we couldn’t even get over in the first place!
MD: So how have the shows been so far in Manchester and Glasgow?
SD: Glasgow was really good. Manchester was pretty good too but I think it was us being a little rusty having been off the road for a week and a half or whatever it was…[laughs]
MD: You’ve been off the road for around a month I think, so do you find it hard to get back into the vibe for the first couple of shows?
SD: It always takes one. It doesn’t matter because there’s always a first. It doesn’t really mean that it’s gonna be really bad or anything but it just takes a little bit to get into the swing of things. It’s also because we’re spending a lot of our time at home now writing the new album and your head space is somewhere else.
MD: You have an off day tomorrow in your schedule before the London show – how do you plan on spending your off day, out of interest?
SD: In bed, I think! [laughs] It’s been pretty long drives and none of us, especially the crew, really got very much sleep at all on this little run. But we’ll see what’s around and if I find the energy to actually go into London and do some shopping, or whatever’s around. I think rest is the main thing.
MD: Not a good time of year to go shopping in London with it being nearly Christmas!
SD: Yeah, I know, you don’t want to go anywhere near Oxford Street!
MD: Yeah, exactly, you know London then!
MD: I have to ask what happened with the Sabbat support because, originally, they were due to support you in April and then they got announced for these shows, but then got removed from the tour. The press release I got through seemed to blame Arch Enemy rather than the promoter for kicking them off?
SD: As far as I know it was the promoter for this tour; since they were doing their own tour, the promoter didn’t think they were…I don’t really know the ins and outs of that. At first, I thought Sneap was gonna be a little bit pissed off but we sold that whole thing and…I think he’s here tonight, actually.
MD: Yeah, I did find it a bit odd because I know you’re mates with Andy Sneap, and the press release I had did blame Arch Enemy but it’s usually the promoter that would make those kind of decisions as they’re the ones that will lose the money, not the band.
SD: Exactly, and we’re not the ones putting the whole package together for this tour, so it wasn’t us. You know, we’re Sabbat fans as well.
MD: Obviously the promoter was scapegoating and blaming you. You’re due to record the new album next month?
SD: Yeah.
MD: Are all the songs written and ready to go or do you also develop some of the material while in the studio?
SD: No, not at all. Everything will be ready; it will have to be ready before we enter the studio but we’re still, as late as last week, we were still writing songs. There were a few riffs lying around and it’s like “okay, that one didn’t make that song” but you keep on playing it with bits and pieces and, all of a sudden, you keep on putting new songs together. And then it’s like okay, we’re gonna have to say stop at some point and, the last week before we go into the studio, try to fine tune the songs we have. Once you get twelve or thirteen songs, that’s gonna be enough anyway. You know, we won’t have time to record any more than that. But it’s always once you get on a roll, you just want to get creative and the rest of it’s just the boring stuff, like go in and look at little bits and pieces of details. You just wanna go – “yeahhh, broad strokes here….great!”…[laughs]
MD: And studio time costs money as well so you need to refine what you’ll be recording.
SD: Exactly. I think we’re more well prepared this time than we’ve ever been. It’ll be good to keep it that way so we can be lean and mean in the studio and not waste much time. The release schedules and everything are pretty set with a deadline; we can’t afford to go past the deadline with this one. Everything is sort of hung up on it – the release date will be followed by the first couple of shows and festivals.
MD: So it definitely needs to be out there by a particular time.
SD: Yeah, exactly, everything will fall to pieces if we don’t meet this deadline! [laughs]
MD: It seems quite rare that you receive a songwriting credit on an Arch Enemy album, but have you composed anything this time?
SD: A lot more than the last album at least. I seem to be the chorus guy! [laughs] That’s the thing that I’ve done the most actually.
MD: The hooklines.
SD: Yeah, if there are any major hits then it’s gonna be my responsibility! [laughs] No, the thing is, some of the songs are quite hard to say who wrote them because there’s so much collaboration.
MD: So do any songs come out of just jamming at all?
SD: Yeah, they do, and it’s usually we’ll bring in stuff that we write ourselves. Nobody’s written a whole song and brought it into the band. It’s just like “I’ve got this riff and I’ve got that riff…ohhh, we worked on that thing a while ago so we’ll put that together with that”, and then we try it out and it’s like building Lego.
MD: A Frankenstein approach to songwriting maybe, like bits and pieces from here and there.
SD: Yeah, absolutely, and then some of the first songs that we did, they don’t exist anymore but we stole them and stripped them for parts, and put those into other songs. That means other things get left over, some bits and pieces that we actually like, which is why we tend to just keep on writing now.
MD: So you’re writing up until the moment you go into the studio?
SD: Yeah, which we shouldn’t really do! We just need time to get it all together and get in shape!
MD: Because of your heavy touring schedule, is some of the material ever written while on the road?
SD: Yeah, it is.
MD: Would you say that gives the music a different vibe when it’s written on the road?
SD: It’s hard to say actually, if it does or not. I think lots of the things that are written on the road are written out of sheer boredom! [laughs] I don’t think you can pinpoint it like that. You know, whatever comes out, comes out no matter where it’s written.
MD: I remember reading ages ago that a lot of ‘Anthems of Rebellion’ was written on the move which led to the nature of that material – more kind of raw and ready rather than lots of refined riffs that you’d associate with Arch Enemy.
SD: That’s true. Yeah, that was very true on that album and I think it was also because that was the first time that we’d done any serious heavy touring for a longer period of time and I think that left a big mark on the material on that album. Most of the songs were really straightforward and some of them didn’t even have guitar solos. We thought that’s a fresh thing to have, but we’re never gonna do that again! [laughs]