Interview: Amaranthe – Olof Mörck

The Swedes seem to know what they’re doing when it comes down to creating controversy within the metal scene, particularly Amaranthe, who are the perfect blend of power metal, melodic death metal, pop, and electronic, which typically wouldn’t work at first glance. With a new album on the loose, I was keen to catch up with the band’s main man – composer and lead guitarist, Olof Mörck. Hi Olof, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So… you’re back with a new album, ‘Maximalism’! It’s early days, but how well do you think it’s been received so far? “I must say that I’m quite overwhelmed with the response. I mean like, all the way from the comments on social media and the reviews that we’ve been getting – it’s exciting times. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve released an album now, so it’s really cool actually now with starting a compilation of European tours as well.” That Song’ is the lead single. What made you decide on that particular track to release first? “Because we really like to do a controversial thing [laughs] No, I’m just kidding. It was, I would say myself, pretty controversial single choice because it’s quite different from what we’ve done before and not only that, it’s also pretty different from what we did on the rest of album as well. Everybody was really into having the song as the single – from the record label and people from the band. For me, I really love the song and I was writing it together with Elize so when people were enthusiastic about it I was like “ok, why not try it?”. There’s gonna be a lot of reactions but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Obviously with the first album we made in 2011, we created a lot of attention through controversy so I guess we sort of did the same thing again.” You’ve just said about ‘That Song’ being a bit different. Can you talk us through the writing process for the whole album? “I think one major difference with this album when we started working on it back in December, would be that we sat down and said from the beginning that we wanted something noticeably different and that it was a big step forward instead of just releasing a quick follow-up to our latest record because that would probably work in the short-term commercially but in the long run you want to  develop as an artist and challenge the fans’ expectation. What we did was take about four to five and a half months off from touring so long and other activities to be able to focus on the writing process. It really gave me and also Elize and Jake as well a lot of time to really elaborate on what we wanted to do musically and to really have a lot of writing sessions in general. We’d sit down together a lot and just write down a load of ideas but I guess ‘That Song’ is like a typical example of just jamming between friends, experimenting and coming up with something that we all enjoyed – even if it was quite different. It’s been relaxed, it’s been challenging and it’s been really fun.” I noticed that there seems to be more of a focus on each individual vocalist this time around than previously. Of course, you still have those flawless harmonies- especially on ‘Supersonic’, but was this intended, or did it just work out that way? “I think that with the first couple of albums we really wanted the singers to be presented as three completely separate singers doing their own thing but after growing up around it, it really becomes interesting to try out especially when you know that they can hold their own and not necessarily be dependant on the other vocalists coming in every other second or every other verse. ‘Endlessly’, the last track on the album is the only Elize featured and ‘Fury’ is pretty much only Henrik, ‘Break Down and Cry’ is literally the only Jake so it’s really great to have their personalities and their characters when they sing because after that, when they do come together again you have more of an idea of who is doing, what their styles are and what their strengths are. It was a really fun thing especially on ‘Fury’ and ‘Endlessly’ and ‘Break Down and Cry’; it’s sort of a different so it was definitely a challenge as a composer, that’s all.” With Henrik replacing your previous growler, did he have much involvement in the writing process on ‘Maximalism? “I mean, not necessarily in terms of composing, but Henrik had a lot of really good ideas and we have a lot of similar ideas and visions for the music in general. When we have a new idea of composing, me and Elize and Jake, I’ve been sending a lot of it to Henrik just for his input and even ideas and of course his style in particular is very inspirational because he has a very modern way of growling. It’s very rhythmical and not so old-school so that sort of effects the writing process. So yes, he is certainly an influence for the album and he might even contribute to it with some music on the next album.” So you’re already thinking about the next one? Always thinking ahead – that’s what I do [laughs]” Blimey! Are there any particular songs that you’re especially proud of onMaximalism? “I’m really proud of the whole album, but there’s a few tracks that might stick out a little bit. For me, as a songwriter, I think ‘Boomerang’ is probably a very perfect, condensed example of Amaranthe’s music in general so I think that’s a proud moment because it’s very catchy, it’s very intense, it’s very poppy but it’s also very diverse and heavy at the same time. So that’s a proud moment.” I know you’ve only just started kicking off your European tour, but which new songs seem to be fan favourites? “I think that from the singles (as we actually released three songs before the album) it seems to be ‘Maxamize’. I think for a lot of people, it might be a little bit easier to get into because it’s a little bit more towards the classic Amaranthe style but I would say from what I’ve seen on YouTube and Facebook comments, it’s probably our first song – maybe ‘Boomerang’. ‘Endlessly’ has gotten a lot of attention as well and so did ‘Fury’ so either one of those tracks.” And you’ve definitely come along way in the past five years from your self-titled album to ‘Maximalism . You’ve got four albums under your belt now, how does that feel? “Yup, went pretty quick [laughs]. I mean, the whole ride has been pretty intense to be honest in a very, very good way of course but also it’s been a lot of work! From my own perspective, from the time that  we recorded and finished the recording of ‘Massive Addictive’ which was in summer of 2014 until we started recording the new album which was fall/winter of 2015 – that’s almost a year of not writing any new music so from my perspective, it’s not that we’re composing all the time and that year or a year and two to three months is definitely enough time to develop a lot of cravings for writing music and also a lot of inspiration as well.” On the record, you’ve got ‘21’ and On the Rocks’ – they’re pretty big party songs. Is there anything else that inspired you when you were writing the album? “I think, in terms of lyrics, we were trying to be diverse so we have everything from, you know, there’s a song called ‘Faster’ which is pretty much about the police and planet resources and how we deal with them as a species to ‘On the Rocks’ which is just a straight up party song to ‘Endlessly’ which is a song that’s obviously about love and great, mixed emotion. There’s a lot of different themes that we are dealing with from very serious ones to more entertaining one and I think that, for us, it’s just important in general that the lyrics are uplifting and energising. There’s hundreds of these depressive, negative metal bands with all dark lyrics – which is really cool for the style but I don’t think the world needs another one.” Speaking of energy, your shows are always so energetic. Is it like that for the whole tour? On the bus as well? “Of course! [laughs] I’ll take that as a compliment [laughs] But seriously, that’s one of the most important things for us as a live band. We always step it up in terms of energy; it’s something that we’ve been working a lot on on our ‘Maximalism’ tour with the new lighting set up and stage crew.” You’ve got quite a few dates for your European tour, but do you have any plans to come back to the UK at all? “Absolutely! It wasn’t really possible in the time frame to do it as part of the European tour this time around, but we will definitely be back as soon as possible. We played London a couple of months ago, but we really want to come back and do like a proper UK tour and maybe one or two of the summer festivals as well, hopefully.” Which festival would you like to play as we’ve got a few – Bloodstock and Download as well? “We played Bloodstock back in 2011, if I’m not mistaken. I think it was one of the very first summer festivals that we played ever actually and I mean, Bloodstock is great but obviously Download would be a very cool thing as well so let’s see what happens…” Interview: Naomi Rigley]]>

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