Amaranthe – Follow Your DreamsSunday, 15th November 2015
Of the current metal crop, one of the bands with the most potential to become a major force is that of Sweden’s Amaranthe. They’ve been enjoying some major (and deserved) success with their third and most recent album, 2014’s Massive Addictive. With a sound that can appeal to a core metal audience but still reach out into outlying areas, the success of the album’s first single “Drop Dead Cynical” (alongside that of follow-up “Digital World”) seems to indicate the band is primed to reach that next step in the musical food chain.
Currently on the heels of a B-sides special release (Breaking Point) and the release of their video for their most recent single from Massive Addictive (“True”), the band has quickly returned to North America for a second headlining run in the span of less than half a year. Before their fifth show of the tour in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, DR was able to speak with guitarist Olof Mörck, who caught us up with all of the goings-on in the Amaranthe camp, including the aforementioned video for “True,” the current tour, as well as the band’s future plans.
Dead Rhetoric: So how has the tour been going so far?
Olof Mörck: It’s been going great! It’s still very early on, but it’s interesting. We are hitting a lot of spots that we have not been to before. So there’s new experiences, new faces, and new cities to explore. New York yesterday was awesome!
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, that seemed like one of the few places on this tour that you had hit before…
Mörck: Yeah, we are going back to Toronto, Montreal, and Dallas, and that’s pretty much it for places we have been to before.
Dead Rhetoric: You just released a new video for “True.” What made you chose that song, seeing how you have done a few at this point off Massive Addictive?
Mörck: It’s a very personal song, and it has a very strong and important message I feel. It’s also one of my favorite songs, just in general. On the last few records, we always followed a certain formula. We always released an up-tempo, catchy type of song first, followed by a ballad as the second single. Then we would release another up-tempo, catchy song after that. This time [with Massive Addictive], we have already done two up-tempo, catchy songs in a row, so we felt that we wanted to do a slower song. So that left us with “Over and Done,” which is the main ballad, and “True.” We just felt that “True” had a little bit more potential to get out there. “Over and Done” is a little bit more old-school, and it fits a bit better on an album than a single I think. But “True” is probably one of my absolute favorite songs from the record.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a deeper, personal connection with the video for “True”? You’ve got ballet and hockey featured heavily – were those perhaps childhood dreams from members of the band?
Mörck: Exactly, you nailed it. We had this idea of doing that with each band member but it would have been confusing. There would have been too much going on. So we decided to focus on the singers so that the message would come across more clearly. Jake E, until he was 18, was playing hockey on a professional level. Then he damaged his hip bone so he couldn’t play anymore. So he was following his dreams, but he couldn’t do that anymore. His second dream was always to become a singer in a band and try to make it as a musician, which he ended up doing.
Elize [Ryd] was actually studying to become a professional ballet dancer and a musical artist. All of a sudden, she was dragged into this rock and roll business sort of out of coincidence ten years ago. She was friends with Jake and I, and she just tried out some vocals on one of our songs [ed. note: the band is Dragonland] – this was way before Amaranthe existed. We just realized that her voice went really well with this heavy music. So she ended up in a very different place, but the general message is quite clear. Just follow your dreams, even if it is not going to be the same goal that you had first set your sights on, it may lead you to a very cool place.
Dead Rhetoric: I think that’s actually something that Amaranthe does really well as there’s not a ton of overly positive stuff in metal. Do you think that helps you out in terms of identify since you bring a more positive message as opposed to a negative one?
Mörck: I think [a negative message] can be fine – if you are really depressed, sometimes it can really help to listen to depressive music because you can identify with that feeling. But I think that there are enough bands that chose to do those kind of lyrics. So early on, we realized it would be really nice [going in a positive direction], not only for the listener, but also for ourselves. It can be pretty tough to be out touring all the time. You are always away from home and away from your family. I have some lyrics that some of the other guys in the band have written [Olof write some lyrics, Elize writes some lyrics, and Jake writes some lyrics as well], and some of the lyrics they have written in certain spots have really helped myself. It sort of reminds you of why you are doing all this in the first place. If we can reach the listeners and create the same kind of feeling, that’s a very powerful thing I think.
Dead Rhetoric: This is the third time you’ve been across North America in a year. Do you notice a difference in terms of recognition and the number of people coming out specifically to see Amaranthe, as opposed to your first run-through with Within Temptation?
Mörck: It’s been amazing! It’s been quite a journey, since a lot of the venues that we played with Within Temptation we are playing once again as a headliner. Sometimes, it’s not super packed, like Worcester (MA), but it’s still really, really good. I think it’s a big step up from what we were doing last year. It’s pretty cool considering that the band has only existed in the United States for a little more than two years, since the first record [Amaranthe] wasn’t even released over here, and we are still playing some decent venues with some great turn outs. It’s been an amazing ride so far.
Dead Rhetoric: Going along with the fact that this is your third time through, next time you are here, will you have a new album in tow?
Mörck: I think, I’m not going to say too much, but I don’t think it would make a whole lot of sense to do another tour [before a new record]. What we are doing here on this tour – one of the ideas is to hit as many cities as possible to build up for the next record. At this point, Massive Addictive is a year old, almost to the day. I think next time we come back, it will be with a new album. I also went to Atlanta, with my other band Dragonland, a few weeks ago. So we are spending a lot of time in the States in general! I really like it, it feels like a second home to us. But it’s going to be great to let the market cool off just a little bit, then come back with a kickass record and do a full-blown super tour.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, I was honestly surprised when I saw that you were coming back so soon. It’s only been like 4-5 months since the last tour!
Mörck: We started to throw around that idea when we were on that tour. Our agent was really happy with the numbers and he had this idea in the back of his head to do these smaller cities and new markets. So we said, ‘yeah, why not.’ We had nothing scheduled in that specific window. So instead of staying at home and doing nothing…of course, there’s never any doing nothing! It just seemed like a great idea. A good excuse to come back to the States I guess.
Dead Rhetoric: I know the band is heavy on social media. Is it harder to keep at it on the same rate while you are on tour?
Mörck: Sometimes the label helps us out with the more practical stuff. If there’s a sale for the album on iTunes for example, it’s nice knowing that you don’t have to be stressed about posting it at a specific time. But when it comes to pictures with the crowds or…[pauses] did you see the latest update we did today? It’s pretty funny. It’s very black metal [shows a grim looking Henrik in Stafford Springs, CT]! Anyways, it’s kind of nice for yourself as well, and the band because you are constantly documenting wherever you go and at the end of the tour, two years later, or whenever, you can look back and see all the updates and all the fans that came out to the show, so we try to do it ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of where you go from here, do you think that in the near future you will need to jump to a larger label to reach that next step?
Mörck: I could really get fired for answering this question [laughs]! Honestly though, Spinefarm USA – that office didn’t exist a year ago. It was very different the first time we came to the US and did a proper tour, it was like super small. Their office was like the size of this lounge. And now it’s on 5th avenue [NY] and it’s really large. There’s a lot of really great people working there, like Jonas Nachsin for example. He used to be the president of Roadrunner Records. So they are growing pretty quickly and they’ve signed a lot of bands like Atreyu and Airbourne, and stuff like that…from the money they made on us! No, I’m kidding [laughs]! So I kind of feel that the band is growing together with the label. And of course a lot of the money is actually coming out of Universal as well. So there’s a lot of potential with Spinefarm, so I see no reason to abandon a concept that is working well.
Dead Rhetoric: If you look over the past few years, they’ve signed a lot more high profile bands on there…
Mörck: Yeah, and they are really aiming to become one of the bigger metal labels.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing I’ve seen lately is Elize and Jake doing some karaoke songs on the Internet, and it got me thinking…what do you think would be an interesting track for Amaranthe to cover?
Mörck: That’s super, super difficult. It’s something that we’ve talked about but have never really done. If we were to do it, it would probably not be a rock or metal song – we would probably take some sort of pop song and make it into an Amaranthe song. But there are a lot of interesting choices that we could do, maybe for the next record as a bonus song.
Dead Rhetoric: Personally speaking, what are your top three Amaranthe tracks that the band has done so far?
Mörck: That’s an interesting question. “Invincible” has been one of my favorites for a long time. For me, those lyrics have picked me up quite a few times, and it’s a great song. I really like that one. “Hunger” was that breakthrough track for us, so it has a special place in our hearts. And I would say, “Drop Dead Cynical” as well because it broke us through in the US so it’s an important song for us as well.
Dead Rhetoric: You have gotten a lot of exposure off of that song [“Drop Dead Cynical”]. I know that they had it playing in the NHL arenas for a while. Wasn’t there some other place they played it as well?
Mörck: They played it on an NFL game as well. I think it was the Broncos…that’s pretty huge. It was cool to see.
Dead Rhetoric: So outside of the potential of a new album, anything else going on for the remainder of this year or early next year?
Mörck: Not so much for the rest of this year. Of course, we are going to sit down and write music when we get back home and that’s a pretty major part but we’ve already mentioned that. Early next year, we are doing a few one-off shows here and there but the main focus is still going to be composing. But we aren’t closed to suggestions just because we are writing. We always say, when we look at the schedule – half a year or more into the future, that there’s going to be some time off or time to compose and write music. And then the months pass by and you realize that the schedule is completely full. So I’m expecting it to be completely full. We’ll see what the future holds.