With only three albums to their name, Amaranthe are quickly becoming a household name in not just their hometown of Sweden, but in America too. Their just-released third album, Massive Addictive, just debuted in the top 100 here in the States, and the sextet are just wrapping up a headlining tour here as well. We recently went to Spinefarm’s offices to chat with vocalists Elize Ryd and Jake E. and guitarist Olof Morck about what the American audience means to them, elements of pop and EDM in their brand of metal, and whether audiences are still sexist.
Let’s talk a little bit about the new record. You went through a lineup change, right?
Olof: Andy left because he recently has become a father, and he is the kind of guy who really enjoys common work and not travelling the world all the time. He made the decision to step down, and we really respect that.
Could you tell throughout all the touring that he wasn’t really 100%?
Jake: Yeah, Henrik, the new guy we have in the band now, he stepped in for Andy over the period of a year. He did some tours, and then we needed a replacement, because he had to go home to work and be with his family and then he came back and then we put in Henrik again. When he then decided to say he will step down, we more or less had that feeling for some time.
How did you find Henrik?
Jake: Henrik is a friend of ours we’ve had for some time but we didn’t really know well. We asked him to fill in for Andy in the first place and he did and we became friends. He was the first choice.
How does the new record differ from the last record, which was pretty much America’s introduction to Amaranthe?
Elize: We bought new keyboards! We have more experience now, and as we get older, we have more confidence in what we want to achieve, and I think that shows in the upcoming album.
I think I saw your first performance in America. Was the New York one your first?
Jake: We played one show before that, at Prog Power, but it was the first time we did a proper tour.
So I saw the first tour. How important is America to you?
Elize: Extremely, I would say. If you want to make it big as an artist in anyway, then America is a necessity of course. I think it’s super exciting to see that the response has been so well on this tour. We were super excited when we were able to headline in America last year. That’s a really exciting thing, and we’ll keep coming back as long as people keep coming to our shows.
So how has the tour been going so far?
Olof: Fantastic. It’s always hectic and stressful for some reason. It’s been fun. The Within Temptation guys have been treating us well and have been really nice, and the audience was there for us as much as they were for Within Temptation and that means a lot.
That’s great. You said America is very important to you. After this tour, are you planning on doing more shows in America?
Olof: We’re flying to Tokyo in a couple days, then Mexico City, and then we fly back to the US again. We start our headlining tour in Dallas the 21st of October. The same day as the album comes out, actually.
You’re much larger back home, so what’s it like from going to being extremely popular there to playing here and having to prove yourself every show?
Jake: I think we’re still up and coming in both markets. Of course it’s bigger in Sweden and gets more mainstream radio airplay, but I think it’s starting to happen in America and being able to headline is something that is very valuable to us. It’s not like we come over here and everything is bad compared to back home. The band has existed officially for three and a half years.
Let’s talk about your videos. They’re kind of like action movies. How much thought and preparation goes into them?
Olof: A lot of work goes into them, but we said from the beginning before we signed a deal that it was a big part for us to have a substantial budget for videos. In this era we live in now with internet, the way to promote yourself is to go through the internet forums. You don’t have MTV anymore, but you have YouTube which is the new MTV. So we put a lot of effort and thought and work into the videos, and so far they’ve all been really appreciated by the fans.
You’ve toured with Within Temptation. Do you want to keep touring with bands that are like-minded, female fronted symphonic metal type bands? Who would your dream tour be with?
Olof: We’ve been touring with a lot of different bands. We opened up for Hammerfall, Kamelot, Stratovarius and Within Temptation. We’ve been playing in different genre,s but I think we all have different dream bands to support. Our dream of course is to come over here. Now we did this tour because we couldn’t stand on our two feet but we released this album and could play for a bigger audience and attract new fans before the CD comes out. Metallica is one of the bands I want to tour with… they can open up for us!
Elize: I think it’s always an amazing feeling when you tour with a band that you feel like you have a similar audience which I felt with Within Temptation. I knew already from the beginning that people appreciate female vocalists, which I felt was a problem before when we opened for male-dominated bands. I think that the response has been amazing. There are not so many bands with females in it. I would like to open for Rammstein and bands like that. Nickelback, if they’re still around. I just heard one of their new songs coming out recently.
Elize: I feel that there is, but I think it’s a personal thing that men haven’t started to respect women equally. We had an issue some years ago, and it still lives on especially in some religions and some people. It’s just something that comes natural for some men. It doesn’t have anything to do with music, it’s just more like they feel this is a manly dominated genre and you don’t belong here and if you’re a girl you are only about good looks and you want to show off. Everything you do, even if I wear mostly clothes in the video and guys only wear underwear, still I hear I’m showing my body, which is awful for me to hear, because I’m not. That is a problem, I think.
Do you go out of your way to not show your body?
Elize: No. I think I should do it even more because I am not ashamed of it and we are allowed to show ourselves the same way as men are. I can flash my boobs without feeling embarrassed because I think my boobs look really good, but I don’t think the environment can handle that at the moment. Why can guys show their nipples and no one cares?
Have you noticed a change at all?
Elize: I have actually. I have noticed a big change, which is very positive I think. It’s not that rare anymore, and I see female bands popping up, or bands with females in it. It’s not that rare anymore. I think there is a new era where females in general are getting more respect and also politically, with feminist ideas of being equal. Companies should hire the same amount of women as men. It’s everywhere, and I think it’s very good. I hope a good result comes from it, and we have to prove what we can do. And that’s what I’m doing right now as much as I can with the kind of job I have.
You have some elements of EDM in your music. Is that more popular in Sweden? There’s not a ton of it over here, with the combination of heavy music and dance.
Jake: There was more of it in the ’90s. We’ve taken some ideas and been inspired by artists we listened to when we grew up. You now have artists like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia. But a band like Amaranthe, we get some metal things, we get some pop things, and we get some EDM things. We combine them in our cement mixer and out comes Amaranthe! We don’t really care if something’s popular or not. We take that part from music that we like.
Would you collaborate with someone like Avicii?
Olof: Absolutely that would be fantastic!
Elize: We just talked about it, to make a remix of one of the songs from the new album and to work together with the guy that made a remix like Swedish House Mafia. That would be cool. I don’t know if we should write a song like that to begin with. Maybe for the next album!
It kind of lends itself. It’s heavy music but it’s kind of poppy at the same time.
Olof: You’re crossing borders, and I think that’s fun with music because there are bands that have been around for so many years. They were big 20 years ago and they do the same things they did 20 years ago and some people forget they’re not playing for the same fans anymore. People get older, people start listening to different stuff, and then come in new people. You need to mix up your music a little bit to keep it updated. That’s what we’ve been doing without having that thought in mind at all. We’re not only focusing on one group of people. 80% of our music is metal, but we’re putting in a little bit of everything.
Elize: That’s a coincidence, because we are so different people but we’re still friends. When we started making music together, it just kind of created Amaranthe.
Would you play or tour with pop artists and EDM artists?
Jake: Sure. Why not? We don’t close our minds to anything specific, so if we had Lady Gaga asking us if we wanted to tour with her, then we’d do it of course. That’s the Amaranthe way. We follow our hearts outside of the genre boundaries. That is the number one question we get asked the most. “What genre do you belong to?” I say we don’t belong to a genre. It doesn’t need to be either metal or pop or rock or labelled anything. We are doing our own thing and following our own heart.
Olof: Apparently it’s very important for the fans to have a stamp on their own music.
What’s it like being on Spinefarm?
Olof: They’ve been doing a fantastic job and with the setup of this US office, everything has been going very smoothly. They’re doing a great job.
Elize: It’s very fun also that they’re making an effort to build their label. We are a part of it. We’re doing this together, and it’s very inspiring.
And this time, your album is coming out at the same time worldwide. Was that the deal with your last album?
Jake: The last one was released in Europe and Japan and somewhere else at the same time, but the US had to wait two months.
Do you think you lost record sales by that?
Jake: Of course, but on the other hand we had no promotion over here. So you can invent the wheel in Europe and wait 200 years and release it here. If no one has a phone or a plane or a boat no one would care about it being released 200 years later. They would just be happy when it comes out. Now we have the proper marketing tools over here as well. I think that we are going to see on the record sales on the first week that there is an office here that is doing their job compared to the last album because there was only one guy sitting here.
photos: Patric Ullaeus