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OPETH Frontman: We Have A Career Because We Do Whatever We Feel Like

Posted October 20, 2016 by Josh Drespling in Empire Extreme News Feed

Guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH was interviewed on the September 30 – October 2 edition of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the Podbean widget below. A few excerpts follow.

Full Metal Jackie: We’re here to celebrate the new OPETH album, the twelfth record, called “Sorceress”. What kind of album did you envision “Sorceress” when you started writing the songs?

Mikael: “Well, I was hoping for an OPETH record, and I got it in the end. You know, it’s twelve records in now with this one, so I do a lot of press right now, and I get the question pretty much, like, ‘What were you thinking? What was going through your head? Who were your influences?’ and that kind of stuff. But I just wrote. I have a home studio; I just went down there, writing, hoping for the best, and I was lucky, I guess. I have a good work ethic, so I was there every day working. And this time around, I didn’t throw away that much stuff. I didn’t write too much shit, so to speak. I was lucky. I kept everything, I think. And I didn’t have any plans or anything. In the middle of the songwriting process, I realized that the songs I had completed so far were quite diverse; there were no two songs sounding the same to me. So I continued along those lines. I wanted a diverse record. I didn’t want to have one song being… Like, if you would hear just a song from the record, I didn’t want you to know what the rest of the album was gonna sound like. So I deliberately went for a diverse collection of songs, I think.”

Full Metal Jackie: How closely does an OPETH album, specifically this one, reflect your personal life at the time you’re writing the songs?

Mikael: “Well, lyrically, I guess it’s more kind of stashed experiences and thoughts, or whatever. Musically, same thing — stashed influences. I don’t write in between songwriting. Like, songwriting, for me, is… I focus during a period of time and I write songs, and once that is done, I don’t really write until the next time, so to speak. But I guess I’m stashing influences, because I consume a lot of music. I play a lot of music, I listen to records all the time, I buy loads and loads of records all the time, different genres. So I guess I kind of stash influences for those songwriting periods. So, I guess, both musically and lyrically, [it’s] quite personal — everything [is] pretty much taken from my private life. But it’s kind of… I’ll bring influences up afterwards. So it’s not usually… Like, if I was to write a lyric about my current state of mind, they would all be happy lyrics, so to speak, because I’m in a good place right now. And ‘happy’ and OPETH doesn’t really go hand in hand, generally. So I prefer to bring up some kind of moody or more kind of bleak memories or experience from the past, lyrically. And musically, it’s a little bit all over the place, but generally I consume music with a bit of… what we would say in Sweden ‘nerve.’ I don’t like happy music; I want it to be a bit bleak, I want to be a bit… I wanna sit up straight when I hear music. I don’t like Muzak, so to speak, I don’t like elevator music. It needs to be something substantial.”

Full Metal Jackie: OPETH really evolves and changes from album to album. What’s been the biggest challenge about being creatively fearless?

Mikael: “Well, I am quite fearless when it comes to… Like, I am now anyways. I guess there was a time in our career, so to speak, where I was a bit more wary about what people might think. Perhaps part of me wanted us to build a fanbase or something like that, or I was hoping that we [would] become more popular and I was hoping that everybody was gonna like whatever we were doing. But I don’t really care so much anymore, and I think that’s good for me. It would be very difficult for me to write music if I was adjusting my creativity to fit the taste of the listener, so to speak. I don’t believe in public opinion when it comes to this band or what we should do. So I just write. And over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for being unpredictable; you know, this band has gotten a lot of criticism for being unpredictable and not delivering what some fans think that they’ve earned or what they need or whatever. But I think the essence of OPETH is just to write music that we think is good for the time as opposed to building a career. I mean, we have a career thanks to that, I think; we have a career just because of the fact that we refuse to adjust — we do whatever we feel like. I think that’s the reason why we have a career, to be honest.”

Full Metal Jackie: Do you ever get creative and write on the road?

Mikael: “Never. There’s kind of a romantic aura around that, like musicians writing a masterpiece in Massachusetts. But I can’t. Maybe I’ve tried, but after the show, I’m gonna drink beer and drink wine, and when I wake up in the morning, I’m gonna go out hunting for records. And then it’s the soundchecks and the meet-and-greets, and whatever you’re doing. So there’s little time for that. And I need complete privacy, and I need an uncluttered calendar, if I’m gonna be able to write, because once I start, I wanna keep going and I don’t want any interruptions, which is why I never really gave it a go — like, writing on tour. I simply can’t see it being possible for me.”

Full Metal Jackie: And what you guys are writing, it’s complex. It’s not simple music.

Mikael: “No, it’s not simple music. But even if we were writing simple rock stuff with three chords or whatever, I’m not sure if I could make anything… if I could write anything relevant on tour. You need to sit down, I need to live with the music, I need to be kind of one with the music, if you know what I mean, because I do step into some type of bubble when I’m in a creative space and I get tunnel vision and all that kind of stuff. That can’t be interrupted by beer and people.”

To see a full list of stations carrying Full Metal Jackie‘s program and when it airs, go to

Full Metal Jackie also hosts “Whiplash”, which airs every Monday night from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on the Los Angeles radio station 95.5 KLOS. The show can be heard on the KLOS web site at or you can listen in on the KLOS channel on iHeartRadio.

Source: Blabbermouth NEW
OPETH Frontman: We Have A Career Because We Do Whatever We Feel Like
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About the Author

Josh Drespling

Josh is the Publisher and creator of Empire Extreme and it's sister publication Kingdom Extreme Magazine. He is an accomplished writer, photographer and graphic designer. He is always conjuring up new ideas and has a amazing passion for the music industry and all the things that surround it.


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