Mike Amott

Arch Enemy

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the better extreme Metal guitar players, Mike Amott of Arch Enemy. It was a unique experience especially when I found him watching some show about New Wave on VH-1 Classic. Here are his thoughts on their latest album and Inter-species sex...
By Ian Kaatz
December 8, 2005
Mike Amott (Arch Enemy) interview
How is the tour going?

Pretty good, it's good to be back in the U.S. Headlining is always fun, you get to play a bit longer and play more songs. Reactions have been good, so it's been fun.

That's awesome; you are getting the good reactions in America. I know that Metal is not as big as it should be in America, but we are working on it.

It is definitely growing.

I read online that Arch Enemy just returned from Australia. How did that go?

It was amazing. It was our first time out there, so it was kind of a new experience. We had some pretty big crowds.

That's great.

It's a nice place as well.

I bet it's a lot warmer than it is here right now. It's pretty cold here. I read that your brother, Chris, is no longer playing with you guys. Isn't it because he was going back to school or something along those lines?

Well, that is what we heard initially. Right now he is working. He really just didn't want to tour anymore, wanted to do something different.

I can understand that. Your current guitar player, Fredrik, is he a temporary replacement or is he permanent?

Well, we hope that he is going to be permanent. It is working really well. We have been going at this for a while now and you don't just hire someone without trying them out. Right now is a trial period, but everything is going really well so it is looking good.

I also know that you guys were on Ozzfest. I unfortunately didn't get to see you play because the fest didn't come within nine hours of here. Gus G. from Firewind was your replacement, who happens to be one of my favorite guitar players as I am a huge Power Metal fan. How was that and how did you get hooked up with him?

Gus is somebody I have known for quite some time. He used to live in Sweden and he was somebody I knew and was able to play with us at Ozzfest.

Well, that's cool, you got to play with someone you knew and have a good time with rather than just a hired hand. Doomsday Machine debuted at #88 on the U.S. charts. How did that feel to have your record debut so high for a Metal album?

Uhh...It was fun. It doesn't really mean anything in a way to us. We just do what we do and everything that happens off that is [plays guitar] out of your hands. It was just really positive news.

You recorded the last album with Andy Sneap. How was it recording with him? And what do you think separates him from other producers that gives him that sound that he has?

Actually, the new album we didn't record with him.

Oh really, my mistake I must have read incorrectly, I apologize.

That's okay, it's fine. We actually recorded with this guy in Sweden, but we had Andy do the mix. He just has a real good... well, he is a Metal fan. He likes really extreme stuff and he can handle it and make it sound good. Make everything sound really clear and punchy.

Yeah, he does have a flare for the Extreme Metal style. I mean he was in Sabbat and what not.

Yeah, we really shouldn't talk about that.

Oh, I am not real familiar with Sabbat's history; I have only heard a couple of albums.

That's all they did, I think, two albums.

With the recording of Angela's vocals, I have kind of noticed a change in the way they sound from Wages Of Sin (2001) to the latest Doomsday Machine (2005). I don't know if you had any straight input to the way it sounded but what made you change the way it sounded on the record?

She is just developing. I think that her voice just changes, I mean she has been doing so much research on singing and working with vocal coaches. She has just discovered that she can do different things. Then that comes out in the music and on the albums.

I totally understand the progression because you don't wanna do the same album more than once. I would think that it would just get boring.

I wish I could make the same album twice but I don't know how to do that. [All Laugh] Some bands can do that really well. They make the same album every time, pretty much. The progression in the music, I guess just comes naturally.

You recorded a video for the song Nemesis. How was that and did you have any input for the concept of the video?

Videos are just a way to present the band in a cool way.

Just a promotional type thing...

Yeah, it is just a way to showcase the album with that song, it's really no deeper than that.

I realize you guys just released the album over the summer but are you doing any songwriting while on the road?

Yeah, we got a Pro-Tools rig on the bus here. We just record riffs, melodies and stuff like that and we work on them when we get back home. I don't really know when that is [All Laugh], but when we eventually do get home, we'll combine it all and try to make songs out of them for the next album.

I personally am really excited. I really enjoyed Doomsday Machine.

Yeah, so do I. [All Laugh]

To try and get away from the album and what's going on right now, when you were growing up, what did you listen to and what influence does that have on your music now?

Yeah, everything gives you influence you one way or another. Stuff like...what really happened was when Metallica's first album came out back 1983 and I was just a kid and it had a huge impact on me. I heard a lot of fast extreme music, you know, like Motorhead, Venom and some Hardcore bands but nothing that sounded so precise.

I guess that's kind of what Pantera's Great Southern Trendkill did for me because that's really the album that blew open the Metal door for me.

Yeah, everyone has that album but it's like suddenly everything falls into place.

I didn't research the reason why you split with Johan but would there be a chance that you would do a one off gig with him?

I don't think so, no, he doesn't want to tour. [Continues warming up for the concert]

So he just wants to record?

Well, he has his own little band but they don't play live.

Yeah, I definitely have all of Hearse's albums.

Yeah, they just don't really play live and that's the way he likes it. He has a normal life, with a day job and he just prefers that way of life. I don't see what the point... Arch Enemy was a very small band when he was in it and now it is a very big band. I mean in the extreme Metal sense, we are one of the biggest in the extreme Metal scene.

Totally, debuting so high on the charts.

Playing The Bottleneck in Kansas [All Laugh].

That doesn't really mean anything. It isn't exactly a top quality venue but it brings in the bands that people like you and me like to go see and that's what counts. To kind of tap back into history, you were in Carcass before Arch Enemy and now that band is kind of looked as a legendary type status as far as extreme Metal goes. How does it feel to be known from that band or would you prefer to be known mainly for your present work?

Oh, I am pretty lucky. I mean a lot of people have been in shitty bands and I was in good band. It is cool that we influenced a lot of people. We were all pretty young when we were in that band, we were all about 19-20 years old.

Did you hear that Jeff (Walker) is doing a country album?

Yup. Yeah, I know about that. I talk to him sometimes. I am still in touch with guys on and off.

That pretty much does it for the serious questions. I brought some fun questions that are kind of out of the ordinary. If you were a super hero, what kind of special power would you have?


It is kind of funny how the other questions just fall into place and then you get an oddball question.

Yeah, I don't know? What would be evil? What do you call it when you have x-ray vision?

I think it is just x-ray vision.

Yeah, that would cool.

All right, last one, what would do if you saw an elephant having sex with a pig?

I would watch. I wouldn't partake but I definitely watch. [All Laugh]

Any last words for the magazine; anything important I missed?

Never trust a guitar player. [All Laugh]

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