Arch Enemy has just began the “Tyranny Of Evil” tour with Exodus, Arsis and Mutiny Within. At their stop in Worcester, MA, guitarist Michael Amott took moment to discuss the band’s latest release The Root Of All Evil, his excitement to record new music, and the sad state of the music industry.
The “Tyranny Of Evil Tour” has just kicked off. How has the tour been so far?
Really well. We played New York last night (January 22) and had a ton of people there. I think 1,600 people, which is our biggest headline show in New York ever. So things are looking good. It’s been fun. Good bands.
Touring with thrash legends Exodus will surely open Arch Enemy to a new, elderly or “old school” audience. What is it like being a “new-school” band playing in front of an “old-school” audience? Has your experience with Carcass prepared you at all?
Well we’ve done lots of stuff before. I mean we’ve supported bands like Megadeth, Slayer, and Iron Maiden. So we’ve done a lot, and I feel that Arch Enemy can appeal to quite a diverse crowd. We’ve got the “old school” metal elements and classic hard rock harmony guitar parts, but then we’ve got a really aggressive edge as well. So yeah, we normally have quite a varied audience anyway.
Back in October, you released The Root Of All Evil, a compilation of 12 re-recorded songs spanning the band’s first three albums. What encouraged you to go back and re-record these songs with Angela Gossow? Was this something fans were clamoring for or something you decided on your own?
The idea came from the fans. Just people telling us that they’d like to hear something like that. So that’s where we got the idea and we thought “sure lets do it!” But we never had the time because we were always forging ahead with new music and new tours, and that’s honestly more what we are all about. But we had a little window about a year ago where we actually got into the studio and cut this record. It was a fun record to make and was kind of easy in a way because its songs that have already been written and arranged back in the day so to speak. So yeah we knocked it out and it came out pretty cool.
How did you go about choosing which songs to record for the release?
We actually played all of the songs in rehearsal. We played every song that is on those three first albums. And we just kind of got down to this collection that we ended up with. We just wanted to do songs that we actually still enjoyed and could see ourselves play live in 2010, not have it be stuff that doesn’t feel relevant to what we are doing right now.
Has going through your past catalog to record The Root Of All Evil influenced any new music from the band?
In a way, I’m kind of bored looking back now, because I did the Carcass reunion and recorded The Root Of All Evil. So I’ve been pretty retrospective (sic) for a couple of years. I’m dying to get to writing new music. Which we are doing, but I am dying to get into the studio, rehearsing it and doing the demos. Just getting into that whole creative phase and making new music. The last new studio album from Arch Enemy came out in 2007, so I’m just excited about working on new material.
With the current state of the economy, is the band doing anything to cut corners to make touring more affordable?
We are using American guys in the crew, so stuff like that. And I guess we are only really playing where it’s financially viable for us in this run. You have to look at costs, sadly. If the income gets lower then you don’t want to bleed. But we are doing OK.
You currently have a line of signature guitars with Dean Guitars. With the state of the current industry, do you think we will see less endorsements and signature artist lines?
Oh I don’t know. I really don’t know. Mine are doing really well. They are up there with the Dave Mustaine and Dimebag Darrell series this year. So sales-wise they are doing well.
What made you switch to Dean Guitars?
I was just looking for a new company. I tried a lot of different guitars, and I liked Dean’s. We developed and took what they had even further and developed my own model. The whole world is at your disposal, so to speak, and you could put together whatever you want. And that’s what we did. I’ve been really happy with that.
Despite the boom in digital music purchasing, metal fans have always been know to still prefer to purchase the physical copy of a CD. Why do you think metal fans have been slower to transition from buying CD’s to digital than other genres of music?
I don’t really know if there has been such a slow transition. I mean if you look at how records are selling, metal records are selling quite badly now.
Though it always seems that metal fans have always been more dedicated to buying the actual CD. Would you disagree to that?
Well I’ve heard that a lot, but I don’t know if that is so true any more. I mean online downloading is huge, with a lot of metal blogs and sites that put up all the albums in Mediafire, Rapidshare, and LimeWire. You can see how many times our albums are downloaded and it’s a lot. It doesn’t really bother me that much, though. The record industry as we know it is dying, and the album is going to be gone soon, I guess.
Aw. That’s really depressing! Ha ha.
(Laughing) Yeah. I mean with technology, things change and there are bigger things that have to fall. Live touring has been really working out for us well. And that is why you see so many tours these days because they are always trying to make a living on the road. That’s why so many bands are touring. In fact, I think there may be too many bands touring (laughs). But I think now is a good time, because if you are a good live act, then you can do really well. I think we have been really lucky with that. We can tour all over the world, every place from China to Columbia. We can play headline shows successfully, and everything in between. So it works out for us. We’ve had a couple of the best years in our career. We are self-managed now, and a lot of great things have happened to us in the last two years. But as far as everybody else, they are all doing their own thing so I don’t really know how they run their own business or operations.
What can a signed band do to make sure they are doing their part to promote a release, either in supporting the label or independently?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to start a band now (laughing). I really wouldn’t know where to start because people expect everything for free now, which means you can’t really build capital to invest back into the band. There seems to be more and more difficulty for newer bands.
Do you feel that social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace could help new bands?
I’m sure it helps, but how many bands are really on Facebook or Twitter? I mean most of them suck. At least I’m pretty sure about that (laughs). But you know it definitely helps. We post stuff and send out bulletins like “come to the show” and stuff like that. I mean its great with how many millions of friends we got on MySpace with the band. It is great.
And we all know that you know each MySpace friend individually!
Oh yeah, they are all my friends. In fact when I’m moving houses they are all going to come around and help me paint, do the wall paper (laughs).
Is the band planning to do more touring after this current one?
Yeah we are going to do a few bits and pieces in Europe. We aren’t going anywhere crazy because we did a lot of stuff last year. We went all over Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and around Europe. Crazy stuff, crazy year. This year though it’s going to be “The Tyranny Of Evil” tour and a few European things like a week or two there. Really just short runs because we are really focusing on our new record and new music.
What can fans possibly expect from the new music?
I don’t know really. I think we have something to say again, musically, because I wrote the last record in 2006. So its been a while, and the next record should be coming out in 2011. I feel like I got a lot of stuff that I want to put out. After I put out a new record, it takes me a while to sort of feel like I got something to say, since I felt like I poured everything out afterwards. But now I think lyrically and musically I think we are hopefully going to keep it up a notch.