DATE OF INTERVIEW:
25th July 2010
Having finally attained the success that many would consider they were denied throughout their career, extreme prog metallers Opeth are enjoying their time in the upper echelons of metal since signing with Roadrunner Records five years ago. 2010 is a particularly relaxed year for them with simply a handful of festival appearances (including headlining Bloodstock Open Air after Heaven and Hell had to step down from the position following the passing of legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio), a six date 20th anniversary show, inclusive of a date at London's internationally prestigious Royal Albert Hall and inclusion on the 'God of War III' video game soundtrack. Keyboard player Per Wiberg quickly fills in Metal Discovery on the details of the Swedes' less hectic endeavours this year at the inaugural High Voltage festival in London.
METAL DISCOVERY: Per, how are you?
PER WIBERG: I'm fine. We just flew in from Sweden because we're not on a tour. This is a one off gig and we just got here. We haven't had the time to check the festival out. We want to say hi to a couple of friends.
(Per Wiberg on Opeth's reasons for opting to film the Royal Albert Hall show for a live DVD release)
"...it means a lot to everyone in the band as well because it's such a classic venue and I don't think it's a venue you count on coming back to."
Per Wiberg onstage with Opeth in Nottingham Rock City, 22nd November 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview by Elena Francis
Opeth Official Website:
Opeth Official MySpace:
My Arms, Your Hearse (1998)
Still Life (1999)
Thanks to Michelle Kerr for arranging the interview.
Ghost Reveries (2005)
The Roundhouse Tapes (2007)
Blackwater Park (2001)
MD: Are there any bands you're looking forward to seeing?
PW: You can go and watch bands after you play yourself because there's so much to do, especially when it's just a couple of hours away but High on Fire I'd love to see because they're good friends and they're a good band. Clutch, I'm gonna play a couple of songs with them.
MD: Excellent. Now Opeth are playing Bloodstock in a few weeks time. How do you feel about replacing Heaven and Hell?
PW: Obviously it's an honour but it's also sad. I guess we're going to try and do as good as we can. I wouldn't say it's a matter of replacing a band like that. When the festival asked us if we wanted to do it, of course we said yes. It's a tragic event but I guess we're just going to try and give our best.
MD: Do you plan on doing anything special?
PW: We'll see. Since it's a special thing with the circumstances, there might be some kind of tribute thing going on. It depends on how much we rehearse before the gig!
MD: You're not giving anything away then?
PW: No, but we really would like to do some songs that Ronnie sang on. I don't want to say what kind. I guess we have to see what sounds good.
MD: Awesome. 'The Throat of Winter' single that came out for the 'God of War III' game soundtrack - how did you get involved in this project? Is it a Roadrunner thing?
PW: My answer to that is...I have no idea [laughs]!. I have no idea, to be honest. Let me think...there are more bands from Roadrunner on that soundtrack?
MD: Yeah, Dream Theater are on there.
PW: Then it's definitely a Roadrunner thing. I wasn't too aware of that. Mikael called and said "Hey, they want us to make a song."
MD: I know Mikael wrote the song himself. Do you know if he wrote it specifically in mind for the game or if he just did a song?
PW: I think he just did a song. It came out.
MD: You recently played at the Royal Albert Hall which is a very prestigious venue. How did the show go?
PW: Very well. It's one of those shows that's so different compared to where you're playing normally. When you walk into that place during the day when no people are there except for the people working on stage and so on, I didn't realise how big it was. Obviously I've seen DVDs and concerts on television and they never film up [laughs] and it's a very high ceiling...just huge. I knew that it was a big place but it felt so much bigger when you looked up.
MD: It must have felt amazing for a band like Opeth.
PW: It did! I don't think that's a venue when you start a rock band you expect to play. It's one of those venues that exist and that from most organisation point of view, a historical landmark. It's definitely not a place you think, yeah, we're gonna play Royal Albert Hall, especially when you think of the roots this band has.
MD: It's amazing. I think Judas Priest were the first metal band to play there.
PW: I didn't know that.
MD: Now Porcupine Tree are playing there. Do you think you opened a door maybe for similar bands?
PW: Yeah, hopefully. There are plenty of good artists out there.
MD: And you filmed this show. Why did you decide to choose this one as opposed to any of the other dates you played?
PW: Because it's the Royal Albert Hall.
MD: I thought you were playing equally prestigious venues elsewhere?
PW: Yeah, but it means a lot to everyone in the band as well because it's such a classic venue and I don't think it's a venue you count on coming back to.
MD: Three DVDs in London!
PW: Yeah [laughs]. No, it's a bit weird actually!
MD: It's good to know you love us so much.
PW: It's always good to play in London.
MD: You were on the Progressive Nation Tour with Dream Theater last year. How did you find that experience?
PW: It was cool, easy tour, very easy. We only played for one hour and no soundchecks or anything. You just hang out basically. It's very different from when you do your own headlining tour. When you're supporting someone like a bigger band like Dream Theater, you just hang out and eat sandwiches [laughs]! That's what you do!
MD: Was it strange? Opeth, for the last few years, have been doing headlining tours. Was it strange to step down and support a band, playing only for an hour?
PW: No, I don't have a problem with that. Sometimes it's just good to do different things, to keep a good spirit going. I think it's good to be the support band because you have a different mindset. For me, it's like you're going to win some people over to your camp or whatever. Maybe a different attitude compared to a headlining show.
MD: Overall, a great positive experience?
PW: I think so. We did a tour with them in '08, the Progressive Nation U.S. so that was the second tour with them. Great guys.
MD: And the other bands you toured with, Unexpect and Bigelf?
PW: Bigelf spent a lot of time in Sweden back in the day; they lived there so I've seen them plenty of times live in Sweden in the '90s and met them several times over the years as well but this was the first tour we did as well.
MD: Excellent. Mike and Axe are in Bloodbath. How do they balance that with Opeth? It seems you are so busy these days.
PW: Actually, this year we said more or less that we'd have a break. Obviously, those anniversary shows in April, that was a short run, only ten days and we're only doing ten festivals this summer with Opeth so I don't think it's too hard for them to play in Bloodbath as well. Axe also plays in Witchery so that's another band to do in the middle of it all as well.
MD: After the summer, what are Opeth's plans?
PW: Erm...nothing [laughs]! Write new music, I guess. There's no deadline as such; it's just about coming up with new material and getting stuff recorded.
MD: Good to hear! Thanks for your time, for the interview and good luck.
PW: No problem and thank you.