Amaranthe – Going Viral

Sunday, 13th September 2020

With new management, a new label, and a new album in tow, there’s a lot of excitement in the Amaranthe camp. Even in light of rescheduled and/or cancelled tours across the globe, the band has been staying quite active and expanding their horizons, such as providing music in Adult Swim’s 12oz Mouse show and having an Amaranthe-based comic book, as well as maintaining a positive outlook. Then there’s the new album of course, which sees them in top form, with a combination of massive metal riffs, pulsating electronics, and a trio of voices done in the way that only Amaranthe can deliver on. So we happily took the opportunity to chat with vocalist Elize Ryd, who filled us on all things Manifest, how Olof’s wedding video became the music video for“Endlessly,” podcasts, cover songs, and even being crowned the ‘queen of sleep’ by Jennifer Haben of Beyond the Black.

Dead Rhetoric: Was it nice to not have any line-up issues coming up with Manifest? Is everyone on the same page, as far as the band and touring goes?

Elize Ryd: Absolutely. It’s a very nice feeling that, like you said, everyone is on the same page. Everyone’s in a good place and we have a good back up [team] in terms of new management, new record label. Amaranthe is in a great mood. It helped to create the new album too, with there being no other distractions so to speak.

Dead Rhetoric: How important is the relationship between the band members, particularly between yourself and Olof [Mörck]?

Ryd: We have been through a lot together [laughs]. We have a very strong relationship. We never really doubted our faith in working together. No matter what would happen with the band, we would always work together [in some way]. I think we have become even stronger as a team. Our relationship with the whole band, I’ve said in a previous interview, that it’s like in sports – when you have a strong team you can collaborate well together. You have the possibility to reach even higher.

Dead Rhetoric: What is Manifest to you, as the sixth Amaranthe release?

Ryd: It’s a little bit of a new beginning, but it also brings back the core of what Amaranthe stands for as a band, sound wise and lyrically as well.

Dead Rhetoric: The recording occurred during COVID-19’s onset, did any of those feelings carry over into the music?

Ryd: I think so, yes. It’s very hard to deny circumstances. I think that’s common for artists in general, and all kinds of creative people. You can’t not be affected by these things, at least for me. I think that was the main inspiration – what’s going on around the world. It was both positive, because you feel like it’s a now or never opportunity. You are frustrated but on the other hand you are also very grateful. Other bands were in a more chaotic situation – like the ones that had just started a tour and they had to pack their bags and return home. I couldn’t even imagine that situation.

The only problem we had was that we had to leave early to leave Sweden to cross the border into Denmark. When we were there, we didn’t know if Henrik [Englund Wilhelmsson] and Nils [Molin] would be able to come. Johan [Andreassen] had already recorded the bass, but yeah, there were a lot of question marks. But the overall mood, and the need to create and realize that this is something that we can still do even though the whole world is falling apart – it made sense to us that for once we were in a really good position. We usually feel like the odd kids, isolating ourselves. Now everyone was in isolation. So there wasn’t much of a difference between us and other people. People online were giving us a lot of inspiration and positive feedback. People were more active than usual and it gave us more of an opportunity to reflect over life and music.

Dead Rhetoric: Have you reached the point with the band that you feel you can do exactly what you want in an album, such as tossing in a breakdown for instance, without fear of alienating people?

Ryd: I feel that way. I feel like we have grown more and more confident every year. Doing something a little different and now realizing that we have a lot of people who love what we do and our career didn’t end. That was the feeling that we had for about 10 years, but I now feel like we can be proud and happy of what we have achieved and we can create music with a positive mindset. It’s like pure joy at the moment. We have overcome a lot of ups and downs, which makes you stronger in the end. That’s actually one of the reasons for the song “Stronger;” I was very inspired by that.

Dead Rhetoric: Is there a cinematic bar that needs to be met when you do a music video? To make sure that the next was is at least as good as the last one?

Ryd: I feel that way, personally. I think the rest of the band feels the same way too. Like, “Oh God, this was so great! How can we make it even better next time?” But on the other hand, you can’t also be completely blinded by that aspect. The videos are only one part that we want to present to the fans. When you come and see a live show, you realize that it’s a pure rock and roll show. It’s a very nice form of art that you can create a script, like you were making a movie.

It’s something that we have always done and it’s easy to feel like we have to make things bigger and better – more is more – but for example, the “Stronger” video is a bit simplified, but the feeling is still there. We are trying to create something that is entertaining for the fans, regardless of the budget. But I have to say, the next video that isn’t out yet, might be the best ever [laughs]! After recording that, we went to Poland two weeks ago to record another video, and I did actually feel like, “Oh no, how are we going to make an even better video?” It’ll be interesting to see what people think.

But as with life itself, when you reach a great day, you think that you won’t get that feeling again, like it’s the best day of your life. But then, there’s another day that you can feel the same way. You can grow into these different situations. The most important thing is to not lose your solid ground. Stay positive, stay grateful, and don’t take everything too seriously.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s funny that you mention the budget aspect, because I was just thinking of the “Endlessly” video you released earlier this year. It was really gorgeous and it’s just Olof’s wedding.

Ryd: It’s a very nice video. That was part of their wedding documentary. That’s a fairly common thing in Romania, where he had his wedding [in Transylvania]. There was a guy filming and cutting stuff together. I sang “Endlessly” as their first dance and they said later on, it would be nice if they could cut something together from the wedding for that song. The video was originally something to keep for themselves to remember. Then they saw it, and they thought it felt like a music video! So they asked the band and we thought “Of course!” It’s very nice to share these kind of moments with the fans as well. It was too good to hide, which is why it was released. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with the new album since it was released three years ago, but it was a little treat for people.

Dead Rhetoric: What was it like to get involved with the 12oz Mouse show, as well as have an Amaranthe comic book? Is it cool to see yourself in these expanding avenues for the band?

Ryd: Yes, it’s amazing! I’ve always wanted that [laughs], and now it finally happened. It’s a fun twist, and everybody loves it. This was a Nuclear Blast idea. Its things like this that are happening to the band that have never happened in the past. There’s so many interesting and exciting things happening.

Dead Rhetoric: Amaranthe is one of the friendliest metal acts I’ve encountered. Do you view fans as a part of the family?

Ryd: Absolutely, that’s exactly how I’d like to see it. I like the fact that there are like-minded people out there that we can connect to and that connect to us. We want to create a free zone for people where they can be themselves. They can be anyone that they want to be. They are our family and we love them. It’s a nice feeling, and it’s easier to see nowadays, with social media. In the past, I don’t know how people made contact with their fans other than after a show or a meet and greet or something. It’s really nice to get these daily messages from fans and they can stay in touch, as if they are your family.

Dead Rhetoric: On the other side, does it ever get overwhelming in trying to chat with fans, be it after a show or through social media, as Amaranthe’s popularity has soared?

Ryd: I think that people have a better understanding now that the band has been growing a bit. They can see that there are more fans. They don’t get sad or feel offended if you don’t respond to a question. There’s more understanding now. In the past, I was busy writing people as much as I could every day, because I really wanted to stay in touch with them.

I wanted to give everyone a few of my minutes, which turned into hours, when you realize the number of people who wanted a question answered or something. So it’s harder, but on the other hand, the fans started talking more to each other. I’ve seen more pages and groups for people to have conversations with each other. Sometimes I’m even invited into these groups and it’s nice to check in once in a while.

Dead Rhetoric: A few months ago, I talked with Jen [Haben] from Beyond the Black and your spot on their last album. She had lots of positive stuff to say about you, and also she jokingly referred to you as the ‘queen of sleeping.’ So I wanted to follow up on that with you.

Ryd: How did she know that [laughs]? That is so true! I love sleep. I sleep the longest of anyone ever on a tour, and people don’t understand how it’s possible. But I lay in bed – I can’t fall asleep after a show. I don’t stay up and party but lately I’ve been able to enjoy a glass of red wine since we have better and nicer wines on the rider [laughs], which is both good and bad. Then I go to bed. But I love to lay in my bunk and listen to some podcasts or some music that I haven’t heard in a while. It’s also a problem, but a good problem that you have endless amounts of music in your phone. There’s millions of podcasts you can listen to.

I don’t fall asleep until like 5-6 AM on tour, which of course makes me sleep longer. Of course, I sleep better when the bus is standing still and it’s parked. Usually when we get somewhere around like 8AM and you can feel the bus park and the engine shuts off, I can totally relax. I wake up at like 3PM or so and go straight to sound check. So people don’t see me much on tour, because I’m mostly sleeping [laughs], while everyone else is running around doing things, eating breakfast, taking a tour of a city. But I’m more of a night person, I’ve always been one.

Dead Rhetoric: Obviously before the album is released is a busy time for the band, but with quarantine have you had any opportunities to pick up any hobbies?

Ryd: We’ve been busy, which has been good and healthy for us. But yes, the podcasts would be my new hobby. I listen to trials, which have been recorded from real crimes. I got very addicted to it. I know everything about how that works now. I’ve been educating myself. My cousin is educating herself in criminology so we have had these jokes about how we feel that subject is interesting. But it’s something that maybe I wouldn’t listen to usually, if I didn’t have this much time. But it’s one hobby that I have started. I also have plans to paint again, because I haven’t had a lot of time to do that. I hope to get that together soon and do some oil paintings, maybe this autumn. I can’t wait!

Dead Rhetoric: All of this podcast talk, any shot that you’ll start your own?

Ryd: Oh! This is also very funny. That could be a funny thing, especially when Olof and I are sitting and speaking. We have spent a lot of time together. I went to his summer house a few weeks ago, which might sound weird because I don’t know how other bands do it. But we feel like we have a need to hang out as friends. You don’t get put together to do stuff all the time, but you can choose to. When I’m sitting at home, I sometimes want to go see Olof. When we have been talking and talking for hours about things, I was thinking it would be fun if we could record those subjects, because in my opinion, it’s really interesting [laughs]. Why not? It would be awesome! But we are speaking in Swedish, which is my home language and I’m faster speaking in Swedish. So it would probably be a podcast in Swedish.

I was also speaking with Olof’s wife, Catalina, who is the flute player in Haggard, so she also has a lot of experience in touring and these things. We thought maybe we could start a podcast, with a female perspective, talking about everything that people have questions about. I don’t know if it’ll happen, but the thought has been there. Let’s see [laughs]! It’s a wonderful concept [podcasts]. When I go to sleep I listen to these nonsense ones about stuff that you don’t need to get emotionally involved with, and it’s nice to fall asleep to. But then there are more interesting ones – I think the concept of them is great!

Dead Rhetoric: In some previous conversations we’ve had, you’ve mentioned the idea of doing a solo project. Is that something you’d still consider or does Amaranthe take up too much time still?

Ryd: It’s funny you mention it, as I had forgotten about it for a while but I was just thinking about it yesterday [laughs]. This is something that I have had in the back of my head since I was 15 years old. Lately, Amaranthe has been eating up everything and I write songs a lot, but they end up on Amaranthe albums. I’m happy about that because there are so many listeners there. I would still consider making a solo album where I could do something different. I have so much material that hasn’t been used yet. Not that it would be like some sort of B-sides or leftover Amaranthe songs.

So yes, I’m still having a wish and a dream, and a passion to do that. I need to be fast! Maybe I can do it in November or December [laughs]. I still don’t know about next year. If next year would be cancelled, maybe I could make a solo album. Then we could do a covers album with Amaranthe – we have been talking about releasing some old demos too, all that kind of stuff.

Dead Rhetoric: I know Amaranthe didn’t do covers for the longest time. Is there a song or artist that you would like to cover?

Ryd: We realized that doing the covers was so much fun. We had talked about it many years ago, maybe 5-6 years ago, to put a cover on an album. But we wrote so many original songs we couldn’t fit any. So there are a bunch of songs on a list that we’d love to cover. I hope that we can do it – it would be all sorts of songs from different genres. Songs that inspired us, basically.

Dead Rhetoric: I still remember that karaoke video from long ago with you and Jake doing the Aladdin cover.

Ryd: That’s right! That was in the US. It was in some karaoke bar and we went in there and picked songs to sing. The sound was really dry but it was so fun. That’s definitely something that we would do. I’ll ask Nils, and maybe we can do something together.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s planned for Amaranthe next year? Any hopes of a rescheduled US tour?

Ryd: I really hope so. We have rescheduled most of our things [Beyond the Black co-headline tour], but when it came to the US, it was not our choice but it was impossible to reschedule. It was so hard to get information from there. We don’t know how you guys are going to continue with this [virus], so we had to just cancel. It was terrible, but as soon as we get more information, we will try to reschedule it.

We are waiting for answers most of the time, but we have a plan B. We in constant contact with Angela [Gossow], our manager, and we have Nuclear Blast and they have been extremely driven and creative. Like I was saying, we have been discussing doing a cover album or making some sort of side release. But a live stream is maybe something that could suit us. We would love to do something extra if we get the chance, to get such a recording. We have been talking about that, and we thought we might record some extra music videos because of the current situation, since there is nothing else to do at the moment. But for next year, we decided that we will fill the year with stuff to do. We will not accept being stagnant, so our plan will be to stay active.

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