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Johan Hegg Amon Amarth - Interview
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Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth have been leaders of the melodic metal scene for a number of years now, churning out classic albums like "The Avenger", "Twilight Of The Thundergod" and "Surtur Rising". Dubbed 'Viking Metal" for their references to their native viking culture and their jovial singalong songs that can almost be taken as folk metal in some ways, Amon Amarth continue to dominate in their field and conquer the world with their latest album "Jomsviking" which is a concept album with a storyline that fits the epic nature of the band's sound. Vocalist Johan Hegg speaks to The Rockpit about the new songs and some of the interesting aspects that can be found on the album.



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Andrew: Hello, how's it going?

Johan: Good, how are you man?

Andrew: I'm doing very well! How's your year been so far?

Johan: Not too bad, not too shabby.

Andrew: You have the new album coming out in March, we had a preview of the album earlier today and what a belter it is! Fantastic stuff, you must be happy with how the songs have turned out.

Johan: Yeah I think we're all very happy with how the album turned out. I guess somehow you always feel that way about a new album but in many ways I think we all agree that this might be the best album we've done so far, so I hope the fans feel the same.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. Obviously it has the trademark Amon Amarth sound and there's some really cool stuff on here but I guess one of the most interesting things that I found out about it is that it's a bit of a concept album.

Johan: Yeah when we sat down to talk about what to do for the next album, we kind of tossed a few ideas around and I had this story that I was working on, on the side and I said we could do like a concept album of it. So I shared my story with the guys and they liked it and so we started working on it because we had never really done anything like that before so it was a good challenge for us I think.

Andrew: Where did the idea for the story come from?

Johan: It was an idea that I was tossing around for a while in my head, just to write something of an epic story about a young man who falls out of favor and then joins the jomsvikings. The idea has been around for a while but I never really thought about doing anything about it but then I had some inspiration and I started writing the story and everything started falling into place I guess.

Andrew: Was the lyrics difficult to write because of the concept that you were trying to achieve?

Johan: Yes and no. In some ways it was easy because you had a fixed topic but on the other hand, that kind of made it difficult because you had a fixed topic. You couldn't just change in the middle of the song, you had to kind of stick with your guns and follow the storyline. So it was tricky in some ways but it all worked out in the end and I think it came out really good.

Andrew: One of my favorite songs on this album is "Raise Your Horns" because it has such a great singalong. I can imagine these songs would play out live to the crowd pretty well I would think.

Johan: I totally agree and the funny thing about that song is it was meant to be a bonus song on the album and then we felt it was too good to be just a bonus song [laughs].


Andrew: [laughs] The other thing I wanted to ask you about this album was the guest singer on the song "A Dream That Cannot Be" who is the well known Doro Pesch who is a fantastic singer. How did that all come about?

Johan: In the concept story there is a conflict between a young man and a young woman and the whole story starts with him trying to run away with her but she doesn't want to do that and in this process, he kills a man and has to flee for his life. And then he comes back many years later and tries to convince her to come back to him and that's kind of where the song comes back into it where we have Doro. So it's written as a conversation between the two characters but they're talking but not talking to each other, they are talking basically for themselves so it's really a sad story between two people living in completely different worlds. Anyway for this we needed a voice that was strong with a real rock n' roll attitude that would fit the music, that would be powerful and charismatic and really portraying an independant and strong woman and we felt that Doro was the perfect match for that. So we asked her if she wanted to do it and she said yes.

Andrew: And is she aware of your band and the music?

Johan: Yeah we met Doro several times before and during our last show at Wacken, she was standing on the side watching the show so she's very much aware of Amon Amarth. I mean she's metal through and through that lady, she's awesome!

Andrew: The unfortunate news that we got last year was that your drummer (Fredrik Andersson) left the band and now you have a new drummer on the new album right?

Johan: Well we only had a new drummer for the writing and recording of the album, we are still working on getting a permanent replacement for Fredrik. But for the writing process and recording, we enlisted the help of Tobias Gustafsson from Vomitory and Cut Up and he's an old friend and we know he's a good drummer and has many creative talents so we felt that it would be a good thing to work with him on this album. So that's who's playing on the album.

Andrew: Where abouts are you as far as finding a permanent drummer?

Johan: We've been doing some auditioning and there's one guy now that we're probably going to go with for the start of the touring season and see how it works out. But it's a tricky thing because we felt that we had to start writing an album, that's why we went with Tobias because we didn't want the hassle of trying to find a permanent replacement and then halfway through the writing process realizing that it doesn't work out. So it's very important for us that the person is a good fit for the band as well as being able to play the stuff, so in that aspect we're going to take our time and give this guy that we're kind of, almost decided - going to give him a chance for a few months and if we feel comfortable with him and he feels comfortable with us, we might continue working with him.

Andrew: I don't know the whole story but what was the reasons that Fredrik is no longer part of the band?

Johan: Like with any relationship, sometimes they end, you know? It was just time, so there was no specific reason. We went our separate ways and that's it.

Andrew: Well it's unfortunate as he was a great drummer and we're sad to see him go.

Johan: Oh he's a great drummer, a really good drummer.

Andrew: Obviously you will be taking these new songs out on the road so what do you have as far as tour plans for this year?

Johan: We have a bunch of stuff lined up, we're goig on a tour in the Spring to the United States which will be announced when the album is announced (The band have since announced a US tour for April-May) and then we're doing a bunch of festivals in Europe this summer. And there will be more touring!

Andrew: Hopefully Australia can be included in that! I think you were over here last for Soundwave Festival a couple of years ago.

Johan: Yes and we are definitely working on it. But it's just become trickier now that the guys behind Soundwave have kind of disappeared [laughs].

Andrew: Yeah big news over here! I think you were part of the very last Soundwave over in the west coast of the country as after that it was only an east coast thing. But how was the experience for you?

Johan: I loved it, I thought it was a great opportunity for us to play to a bigger crowd in Australia. We had a really good time with the other bands and the fans so yeah, it was brilliant.

Andrew: Well hopefully you can come back to Australia for a headlining tour, we would love to see it.

Johan: We would love that and we are definitely working on something to be able to go to Australia. I think it would be terrible if we missed that opportunity.

Andrew: Yeah I think the fans would agree with that! Anyway the album sounds fantastic, congratulations on the new songs and good luck on the tour! It's been a pleasure speaking to you today.

Johan: Thank you very much, the pleasure was all mine!


Catch Amon Amarth on tour in Europe & the U.S., tour details can be found at HERE.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on January 21st 2016