Amaranthe’s sophomore release Massive Addictive is by and large much different from their debut album and it quickly caught my attention. In some ways, we might just be looking at a heavier and more current version of Lacuna Coil here. I spoke to Morten (Drums) about the more groove oriented approach to the new album, as well as some of its transhumanist “warnings” so to speak. Some of us might like the idea of having their energy transferred into a machine, but to this old fogey, it sounds a little hair-brained to me. He also talked about playing in Japan and some of the things that the band might pursue in the future.
First off, tell me a little about yourselves. How did you all get together and what brought you to creating this kind of music?
I met Olof in 2007 when we were both touring together. We talked about doing some sort of project together at some point. At the same time he was also planning this project with Jake at the meantime. So when they got some songs together it felt only natural that I joined. Also Elise and Andy joined around that time when it still wasn’t a “real” band. But we soon turned it into our main priority because we felt it could really take off. It happened pretty natural too. I guess it’s just a combination of what we all were already doing individually and by coming together this was the result. The possibility of having three different vocalists is huge and we still just feel like we´ve only just scratched the surface!
How might you describe the music of Amaranthe? It seems to me a mix of melodic death metal and electronic dance music.
We don’t put a label on it ourselves. But I guess it’s a mix of all kinds of genres that we´ve all been doing individually in the past. Everything from melodic death metal and power metal to pop and even electronic music.
But if people need to put it in a box like they often do, then so be it! We let the listener decide what we are (Smiles).
Let’s talk a little bit about the new record, Massive Addictive. This record has much more of a dance-pop vibe than the previous one and it’s got more groove. It’s definitely a very catchy record.
Yes that’s true, at least with some of the songs. While other songs are more metal than anything else we have done, it’s not as fast paced as our previous two albums, and a bit more groovy. Every song is distinctively different from the others, but it’s not a concept album this time like on previous albums. Somehow I almost see the two first albums as part of a whole, while Massive Addictive is a step in a little bit of a different direction maybe… you can easily hear that this is Amaranthe, but it does contain new elements and a different approach than our earlier material.
Tell me about the writing and recording process for the album. Where did you guys record it and how long did that process take? Was it difficult to structure the instruments alongside the electronics?
We recorded with producer Jacob Hansen as we have on our previous albums, but we wanted a bit of a different production this time. The songs this time leave more room for everything to be heard, since it’s not quite as hectic as before. So we could go for a bigger and more open sound. Everything went pretty smooth actually, even though we had been touring all the time and actually had to write a big part of the album either on the road or in the studio while recording. We had a pretty clear vision of how we wanted the album to turn out, but also left room for a lot of creativity in the moment. All in all it has been a pretty rewarding experience this time!
There are several themes throughout the record, but what would you say are some of the main topics that you wanted to speak about? “Digital World” seems to talk about transhumanism, while title cut “Massive Addictive” seems to segue into that, with its observation of a world completely addicted to their cellphones, computers and tablets.
Yes, like I said earlier every song has its own theme. But you are right about your observations. But I’m afraid I cannot speak on Jake’s behalf about the lyrics too much, since he is the one who wrote them. But it is interesting to see how people live their life through a telephone and social media. It does raise a lot of questions…
What does “Trinity” refer to? Is this in reference to a religious trinity?
No, not any religious Trinity.
With a band of this nature, I’m sure that your influences must be huge. What are your top eight records of all time, and what would you say are most influential to your work in Amaranthe?
It’s hard to have to choose an exact order of albums…. But some of my all-time favorites are:
Soilwork – Stabbing The Drama
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
Scarve – Irradiant
Death – Symbolic
Metallica – Self-titled “Black Album” and Master Of Puppets
Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss
Darkane – Rusted Angel
Tool – Lateralus
Tell me a little bit about the album’s interesting cover. There are a lot of interesting symbols to be found there, as well as the band’s logo which almost looks like a triangular object of some sort. Strangely though, it reminds me of a clock. Who designed it?
It was designed by Gustavo Sazes to be honest. I don’t know what it represents, but it just looks so cool and stylish! We wanted something iconic and original that would fit the music and I think we got that.
What are your touring plans for the album and what can we expect in the future for you guys? Will you continue to use the electronics on your later albums?
As we speak we are currently touring in the states together with Within Temptation, followed by Japan and Mexico and then heading back to the states again for a short headlining tour. Next year we will tour Europe and lots of other parts of the World. Along with lots of summer festivals off course. It’s difficult to say what our next albums will sound like, because we haven’t started writing yet. But as I see it, why not? I think that the electronics work well with our sound and it would be interesting to explore them even further maybe… Who knows?
Out of all the touring you guys have done, what have been some of your most memorable experiences? On the other hand, what have been some of your less memorable moments on the road? What do you guys do for fun?
One of my most memorable experiences is touring in Japan. It’s such a different country in so many ways. Also touring in the United States is something special and something I’ve always wanted to do. As I’m writing this I’m sitting in the back lounge of our tour bus and looking at some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. Some of the least memorable… Well, I don’t remember! (Laughs) Of course travelling for days without any sleep, airports, and bus breakdowns is all stuff you want to avoid, but it’s all necessary to be able to do this.
What does Amaranthe do when they’re not playing music? Is there anything that you’d recommend to us?
We all have our lives at home. Some of us have families and children. I have an almost five year old son. Besides that I like to stay in a good shape by working out, running, weightlifting, cross fit etc. For relaxation I spend lots of time with my PlayStation.
Finally, do you think that’s its almost inevitable that we’ll being pulled into a digitally controlled society? In recent books and films like The Hunger Games, The Divergent, Elysium and The Giver we have seen these sorts of almost Orwellian ideas being pushed onto us. But the record itself seems to be against these things, against people throwing themselves headfirst into a digital world. I have actually heard that the written word might eventually no longer be taught, as people favor using a keyboard or touchpad these days.
That’s a bit frightening. I think we are already there! Any info on anyone is available for those that has the power and control over us. We give away all of our information willingly through social medias and so on and we fall for all the tricks and ideas that we are nothing more than consumers and that the goal in life is to get the newest iPhone and make as much money as possible. But at the same time we have the possibility to use that technology to our advantage. Almost any information about anything is available through the internet if you want to attain it and are critical enough to sort out the real versus the fake. But it’s difficult when you are being manipulated in certain directions. It’s not about saying no to technology, but more about how and when to use it. But I think that most people would agree that technology doesn’t make them happier, it just makes them more stressed out.
Thanks for making such a wonderfully catchy and potent record as Massive Addictive. If you guys don’t become a household name after this record, then something’s clearly wrong. I wish you the best of luck on tour! – Eric
And thank you for the interview Eric!