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Interview with Amorphis

After almost three decades of existence, the legendary Amorphis are back with their 13th studio album ‘Queen of Time’ which will be released on the 18th of May. Metal Imperium Magazine talked with the drummer, Jan Rechberger. Let’s find out more…

M.I. - Your 13th album 'Queen of time' will be released next Friday. How did this name come up? 
J. - Well, you know, there's a song called 'The Golden Elk' which is somehow representing the Queen of Time and then obviously some cult of bee. In the cover, there's a bee. It’s a metaphor for the queen bee, also the queen of diamonds. It is not that deep. It's not a concept album, in my opinion, a particular queen or stuff like that but it just suits the album cover and some of the lyrics very well, so it was pretty obvious choice, you know, simple title. 

M.I. - How was the album recording process featuring Olli-Pekka replacing Niclas? 
J. - Well, it was very easy-going, you know. Bass players tend to be pretty easy-going and Niclas is very easy-going and Pekka is also very easy-going. He is an original member of the band and we’ve known him for 30 years or something like that, so it was pretty easy. It was probably difficult for him (…), couple of days rehearsing and then, to take control of 20 new songs and go straight on tour. But the recording was easy. He was really into the process and he brought a lot of good ideas and lot of competitions, couple of songs and it was very, very nice to work with him again.

M.I. - Your lyrics are related to society (the rise and fall of civilization). Could you tell us more about them? 
J. - Well, it’s gonna be hard because I'm not the one doing the lyrics but I’ll try my best. Yeah, I mean, we have a separated guy doing the lyrics, so, yeah, the rise and fall of the mankind is, I think, a brief explanation maybe. It's something like that. But every song has, perhaps, a deeper meaning so I would highly encourage everyone to read the lyrics and actually, you know, see how it feels. For me, they represent different things every time I read them, you know. They tend to have a meaning but also lots of “sub meanings”, if you know what I mean. So, yeah, when the album comes, buy the album, read the lyrics and enjoy

M.I. - The new album is really consistent and creative. Please let us know more about the new elements, musically speaking, and about your guests. 
J. - Yeah, I mean, my opinion is: it is, perhaps musically, the richest album we have done so far. There are certain key elements that Amorphis is known for, but there's also a lot of new elements like orchestra, some choirs and lots of guest musicians and appearances and it is something that, we kind of took another step forward with that because we have a keyboard, flutes, percussion and stuff like that but it’s the first time that we have a massive amount of appearances and guests and that it’s taking the album to the next level, in my opinion. And, you know, having massive stuff like choirs and orchestra. It’s making it sound bigger than it used to be. Yeah. Pretty much all of them. The idea, the guy behind the idea, of having those, was basically our producer (…) and there were lots of additional people arranging and recording in several studios all over the world and stuff like that. In our scale, in our massive production, I would say I’m pretty happy with the result. It certainly brings something new to the table, I mean, if you’re playing that, you know, like many people said ‘Under the Red Cloud’ was the top, the top album. How can you possibly do anything like new? Yes, you can. Easily. Just keep your mind open and try…

M. I. - With lot of work…
J. - Yeah, you know, it's just don't hesitate to try new things, don't be scared. (…) But, this time, we ended up having pretty much everything, so was recorded. I’m personally very happy with the result.

M.I. - Now, what can you tell us about the metal festival Karmoygeddon? 
J. - Well, it was great. We played there many times, I think. It’s the third or fourth time already or something. It's a kind of small festival, in the south of Norway and it's pretty good, you know. People are drunk, people are having fun. The Scandinavian style. But, yeah, it was fun. It was kind of exciting for us because we had basically been on a tour break for eight months already. So, in a way, we played a couple of new songs like for the first time and it was kind of interesting. Very good. Sold-out and all in all, it was a great experience.

M.I. - What are your expectations about the upcoming shows, festivals and American tour? 
J. - Well, I can't wait. As I said, I’ve been sitting on my ass for eight months. We are very used to constant touring and we are really working hard all the time. For me, obviously, we made the album and then the promotion, the interviews, video shoot, mixing, mastering and everything. You know, that relates to making an album, so when touring two years in a row or something, once we get used to it and then when it ends, it is just waiting for something to happen, so I can’t wait. I’m pretty excited. 

M.I. - Your album ‘Tales from the Thousand Lakes’ was epic. How do you see Amorphis in the mid 90's compared to now?
J. - How was the mid 90’s compared to now? Way different, way different. I mean, you know, it was our second album. Obviously, it was a milestone album for the band because pretty much sort of broke through, if you know what I mean, but you know, we were young. Everything happened so fast and started our tour in expansion and stuff like that, so it was crazy and it happened. It was not very professional. When we played live and we were not prepared. Lot of things, if I think back, there are lots of things I would do differently now. Obviously, it’s a pretty common thing. Yeah but you know… Back then, even though festivals pretty successful but still was more like a hobby. It wasn't a profession in that sense, we didn’t make a living out of this. Nowadays, it’s our full time job. So obviously, it is different and certainly we take it more seriously and… 

M.I. - But that’s great. There’s an evolution.
J. - Yes, it is, it is. Of course. And, you know, as time goes by, we make more albums and make more music and obviously evolve. Yeah. Yeah. Way different but the scene kind of remains the same. In a way metal fans are loyal metal fans. (…) For us, it’s kind of weird to see generations of people in the audience. There are fathers of kids and they might be a grandpa or something like that. So, it's nice to see that people are following us through these generations, you know, it’s nice to kind of recognize that the feeling is alive and the fans are there, because of the fact that the music business is kind of pretty difficult. Maybe you don't sell many records because everything is streaming, everybody is streaming and nobody is willing to pay for the music and stuff like that. So, it made our life kind of more busy because we have to tour all the time. I mean you can’t rely an album for sale, you just have to go out on a road to make a living. But that way you see that the fans are there and the old fans that we met 20 years ago they are still there. And their kids are there. So, I think it's great.

M.I. - Any future plans? What about a tour down to Portugal?
J. - I think we're coming to Portugal, you know. (…) I like Portugal. We played lots of times in Lisbon and Porto and couple of festivals and stuff. But there will be shows in Portugal. This is not going to be the only European tour. We probably do two tours anyway, so... Next Summer, not this Summer but the next one, there’ll be festivals, I promise, eventually we will come. 

M.I. - Great! OK. And now I guess that’s all. Thank you so much for your time. 
J. - Thank you very much. Obrigado. Muito obrigado. 

M.I. - Please leave a message to the Portuguese fans.
J. - ‘The Queen of Time’ is out next week, so go get it and then hope you guys enjoy it and keep it real!

For portuguese version click here

Questions by Dora Coelho