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Interview With Arch Enemy

  • Interview by: Krishna Ravi
  • Date: October 1, 2011

Interviews can be pretty awesome sometimes, especially if you’re a kid from India meeting one of your favorite international metal bands. I’m excited and a little nervous before my interview with Michael Amott and Sharlee D’Angelo of Arch Enemy at Club Nokia a couple of hours before their Khaos Legions show in Los Angeles. I’m a lot calmer though when I enter the press room to see the two men waiting on the couch. They grab a couple of Red Bulls and it’s down to business.

I ask them how the tour’s been so far, and Michael says, “The tour’s been great, we did San Francisco last night, and I think it was the best show of the whole tour. We haven’t really found the right tracks to play but yesterday we just got it. I’m excited to be in LA – we’ve always had amazing shows here. Actually we played our first ever show with Angela here almost ten years ago at the Troubadour so it’s kinda like coming home in a way. We’ve always had great crowds here. We started the tour in New Jersey, after that it was New York and then we went to Canada for almost two weeks, and then down the west coast. Good vibes backstage, the bands are really cool, there’s a lot of hanging out in dressing rooms and talking about metal all the time.”

About the crowd’s response to the new album Khaos Legions, Sharlee says, “The crowd’s taking to the new album well. It’s different songs in different places. Like here in America, Bloodstained Cross is the one that’s going down the best. Over the festivals in Europe, it seems like No Gods No Masters has been probably like a crowd favorite, but here it’s Bloodstained Cross, maybe it’s better for people who just want to get the mosh pit going. People like to get involved here.”

Michael then brings out his Dean Signature Tyrant Bloodstorm guitar and starts warming up. We joke that he’s writing material for the next album, and that I got to hear it first! On a more serious note, Sharlee tells me that the songwriting is a constant process. “You have to stop writing at some point because you have to enter the studio, but you still have the creative juices flowing. Michael came up with loads of riffs ever since and there was stuff left over from the last album that never made it to a finished song. Five months before we get into the studio we start to seriously get into rehearsal and put songs together. Micheal is usually the one to come up with a song that’s completely mapped out but then we bounce ideas off each other. It’s just a ball that keeps on rolling, and it’s sometimes hard to stop!” But that’s only musically, what about lyrically, and the concepts of the album? “It’s mostly Angela, and a little bit of Micheal as well. The stuff that Angela’s writing about is definitely something that I can stand behind a hundred percent.”

I ask them a tricky question about how they manage to keep their music innovative and not experiment with their sound, probably become softer and bring in a new set of fans, and Micheal takes this one. “If anything, I’d like to go more extreme. For us it’s never been about having the most fans or having commercial success. We do what we love and people come along for the ride. We have some pretty crazy elements in our music. We know we’re never going to be the biggest band in the world and we’re not interested in that. We try and raise the bar and we try to write good songs but we want to stay true to our core.”

What bands have they enjoyed touring with over the past? “We’ve been pretty lucky in being able to have toured with some of our heroes. We’ve been out with Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus and Destruction – they’re all heroes of ours. We’re yet to tour with Judas Priest though,” says Sharlee when I point out that the legendary British band is on their final tour, and suggest in jest that they should probably hit Judas Priest up for the next show.

I’m coming to the end of my interview now and I ask them about their plans to tour India. I had been told by their tour manager Dirk that the band was offered contracts for shows by organizers in India, but the band never received an advance as promised. Micheal says, “We’d love to come and play shows in India. We played Maldives last year and in my mind, India’s a little bit similar, but obviously much bigger. We’ve heard a lot about India from friends in Opeth and Amon Amarth. I know we’re a bit late for the party but we want to come over and do it. It’s just a matter of finding a good promoter. One of the things that we do in Arch Enemy is that we go to countries that probably a lot of other bands don’t go to.” Sharlee adds, “Get your people to call our people!”

That’s my last question for the guys from Arch Enemy so I thank them for the interview and wish them a good show. I watch them tear the club away later that night. I have three songs at the photo pit where I’m hoping the band would slow down so I can take some good pictures, but they’re relentless in their aggression. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t interview Angela but I’m two feet away from her as she destroys Los Angeles. All in all – one fantastic evening!

Check out my photos from the show here.