AMARANTHE – Finding the Perfect Musical DNA

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Olof Mörck

Amaranthe started in 2008 with a different approach as a three-voiced metal band with pop, metalcore and rap influences establishing them as a unique breed from the beginning.  They’re often taken as a symphonic metal band with Elize Ryd supplying female vocals with Nils Molin and Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson supplying clean male vocals and growls respectively.  Though, they’re nothing close to the symphony as seen in older videos and new single 365.

Guitarist Olof Mörck talks origins, “We came up with the sound and crystalized the ideas,” he says.  “We didn’t want to be a Nightwish clone.  We wanted to do something more modern, slightly, more heavy but a bit more poppy or whatever you want to call it.”

Their schematic was always three singers, “I guess, at least from a very early point,” he says.  “We talked about doing something different with Elize and Jake.  We came up with a musical concept then invited different singers to try out.  When we listened to the first demo we were like, these singers work well together so why not just go with that.”

The band’s original name was Avalanche, “Some guy in North Sweden had the copyrights and wanted 300,000 or something to give up the name.  Amaranthe was actually a name I had for a song title.”  Amaranthe is ancient Greek, meaning something that stays fresh and doesn’t grow old.  “I thought it was a pretty fitting description of the music.”

At first, stage space was cramped, “The first live shows, back in 2009, were a complete mess,” he remembers. “I never experienced that amount of singers on stage.  It was confusing to say the least.”

They wanted Helix to be an Amaranthe album, “There’s no story or anything like that,” he says.  “We’ve been exploring different paths and directions where we could take things to the extreme.  For this album we wanted something recognizably us.  Like the center and very core of what we wanted to create.  The name means joining of DNA in a spiral, finding the true DNA of what the band’s about musically.”

They used a firetruck for the water in the 365 video, “It was cool, we’re working with Patric Ullaeus (Within Temptation, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames).”  We’ve done all our videos except one with him.  This one’s a bit more band centered and not a lot of special effects.  It’s more gritty and down to earth.  I was expecting maybe a small warehouse and small open field.  That place was just like, humongous.  It’s 10 huge warehouses with so many different things and places you can go and shoot.  We actually filmed our new video there just a few weeks ago.”  The video for Countdown comes mid-October just before the album release.

The video for Digital World from Massive Addictive is a bit ironic, “The band has a lot of digital elements and influences,” he says.  “It’s a commentary and critique, but also discussing the double edged nature of the fantastic technology we have available.  Everyone has a smart phone these days and access to knowledge that would baffle Einstein and Newton.  You have the world’s information at your fingertips and we’re using it to watch funny cat videos.  We forget about human interaction.”

Drop Dead Cynical brought out their inner gladiator, “Our bass player has done that stuff [MMA] since he was a kid,” Mörck says.  “It’s something he’s still passionate about.  There was something about the song when we listened to it.  We liked the final result and the mix.  Made us think about wrestling.  Like a professional wrestler when he enters the ring.  It’s a big thing that’s playing.  We connected it to mixed martial arts.  It emphasized the power in the song.”

They’re looking at a U.S. tour in the spring, “We always made sure that the U.S. tour takes place close to the album release.  Instead of doing a headlining tour in Europe we wanted a main support tour.  So we’re touring with Powerwolf in Europe which made it difficult in the time frame to plan for the U.S.  We’re definitely coming back to the U.S. as soon as we can.”

Their first time in the U.S. was 2012 at a festival in Atlanta, first headline tour was 2013. “I guess we’ve done four or five U.S. tours since. We’ve been to the states quite a bit but it’s been awhile.”

Some of their songs merge the nightclub vibe with metal, with Wilhelmsson’s growls sounding a bit like Max Cavalera at the mic, “When we started on the very first songs it was exciting to realize these influences come from vastly different areas and genres.  What happens when you put them together?  I was listening to the result and, at least in my head, this makes perfect sense even if it hasn’t been done before, at least not like this.  I guess, it’s pretty accurate, Max Cavalera coming to a nightclub, taking over the mic and doing his thing.”

If he had to pick a genre, “I’d refer to it as modern melodic metal or something along those lines,” he says.  “Initially people put us in the symphonic or power metal category.  People see the lead singer and the look of the band and draw their conclusions from there.  We’re definitely a metal band.  That much you can say and a bit of a modern take on it.”

That Song from Maximalism was designed to raise eyebrows, “That song is partly but not entirely constructed to be controversial.” They wanted to attack complacency.  “We wanted something a little bit out of our comfort zone and outside the box,” he says.  “What would happen if we took a We Will Rock You Queen vibe, combined with more contemporary elements with a metal foundation?  We were digging the result.  It was a little controversial when we released it to say the least.  Maybe we took it too far but I’m glad we were there to do it.”

Experimentation can be scary and rewarding, “If you have an idea, try it.  Obviously it’s our life and livelihood.  If you become too complacent and scared to try new things it becomes stale and stagnant.  The funny thing about, That Song is all the comments it received.   It put a spotlight on the band.  Everybody wanted to check out what was going on.”

Live, they want everyone to have the best time possible, “If I paid good money to see a show I would make damn sure I’m having a good time.  If you want to experience the whole show through your cell phone, fine.  It’s a learning experience to watch YouTube clips.  You can hear how the audience and band sounded.  Some people have strong opinions but it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s part of the digital world.”

He grew up on the metal of the late ‘80s, “It was something I got mesmerized and enthralled by as soon as I started to play the guitar.   As far as I can remember it was the only thing I ever wanted to be or do.”

Another side of Mörck’s musical personality, power metal band Dragonland has been going since ’99. They’re touring Japan while he’s doing press for Helix.  “I’ve been in the band for 18-19 years.  It’s a shame I can’t come with them.”  He doesn’t feel locked in a specific genre music wise.  “I think it’s really cool to try out different things.”  He’s done a double bill of Dragonland and Amaranthe before and is open to future possibilities. “The more you do it the more you improve your endurance.  It would be a good workout.” He’s been to Japan many times and finds their culture, history and customs intriguing, “That country still puzzles me, in a good way.”

A dream show would be to open for Metallica, festival, show or tour.  “They played lots of European festivals we’ve been on but never the same day or stage.”  He puts over Rammstein as the most kickass show he’s seen.

He’s toured and played with many idols and legends, including Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.  Though he didn’t have much personal contact with them, being around them in the same area was always surreal.  “It’s an actual person not just someone on stage.”

Road adventures, good and bad, happen constantly, “What sticks out to me was 10 months ago we did our first Latin America tour and we Scandinavians aren’t attuned to their bacteria culture.  The whole band got extremely sick half a day after we stepped on Brazilian soil.  We did everything we could to basically survive.  After the show in Buenos Aries, we were involved in a rough motorcycle crash.  The motorcycle hit our car and the car behind us, completely demolished the front of the vehicle.  The other guys in the car were OK but the motorcycle driver not [so much].  Then we had the most extreme flight and turbulence I’ve experienced in my life, quite the ordeal.”

They’re itching to get back on American soil, “We’re massively looking forward to coming back to the U.S., the sooner the better and thank you for your ongoing support.”

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