October 4, 2009

Robert Gray of conducted an interview with ARCH ENEMY/CARCASS guitarist Michael Amott on August 10, 2009. A few excerpts from the chat follow below. For those who're unfamiliar with "The Root of All Evil", could you provide some background information on that forthcoming release?

Amott: Yeah (laughs). "The Root of All Evil" is a compilation album, an album made out of three albums. ARCH ENEMY's first three albums featured another vocalist, so our current lineup totally re-recorded a collection of songs from those three records. "The Root of All Evil" is kind of a new album, but features old songs. Why did ARCH ENEMY opt to re-record tracks from the group's first three albums?

Amott: Why? Re-recording those tracks was a request from our fans, basically. Our fans kept leaving messages on our websites, saying they'd love to hear ARCH ENEMY's current lineup playing and performing some of those old songs. We thought that was a cool idea, and started thinking about pursuing the project roughly three years ago. In January, we finally got the time to enter the studio, and knock it out. How did ARCH ENEMY approach selecting which tracks to re-record from the group's initial three studio albums?

Amott: Five of us are in ARCH ENEMY. Everyone's had different favorites from that era of the band, so it was a case of arguing about it (laughs). Once we got in and started rehearsing those songs, some tracks didn't really work that well anymore, and some tracks really sounded great — tracks we didn't think would possibly sound so great. It was a matter of trying those songs out in rehearsal really, and jamming on them. Some songs we've actually played live in the past with Angela [Gossow, vocals], like "The Immortal", "Bridge of Destiny", and some songs like that. We knew they would be songs we wanted to perform again, and knew that they would work. Some others we had to fine tune a bit more, and find the right ones. Obviously, cynical people always exist. Some people have said "The Root of All Evil" is a cash-in, that the album has been released to fulfill contractual obligations, and that the album has been released as ARCH ENEMY cannot be bothered to write new music. Do statements like that piss you off?

Amott: Not really, no. I don't pay attention to stuff like that really (laughs). (Laughs) I don't blame you, to be honest.

Amott: I'm always working. I'm living the dream. I'm living my dream; playing guitar for a living, and being in a metal band, writing music and performing live. It takes up a lot of my time — we're very busy. I think I'm very, very lucky, and am one of the lucky ones really. I don't spend much time reflecting on things like that. We're writing a new record for people that want to know. We have new material, but we'll take our time with that material. We'll make something special, and will work on that next year. Thus far, how is CARCASS' reunion progressing?

Amott: Last year, 2008, we did a lot of shows, and very quickly, we did the shortest world tour as we called it. We were all over the place within the space of a couple of months, in all corners of the globe. We did a lot of European festivals, and things like that, but this year, there hasn't been as much. Just a few select dates, and some festivals. We're actually playing on Friday at the Bloodstock festival in Derbyshire, and so is ARCH ENEMY actually. It'll be a bit of a double bill. Beyond Bloodstock festival, are there any other CARCASS plans?

Amott: Just one more show this year in Moscow, Russia in September. Other than that, no. We're looking at possibly scheduling some more shows next year, but nothing's written in stone. We haven't discussed any new recording plans, or any writing plans, or anything like that. It's been a blast though, I have to say. It's been really, really cool to be reunited with those guys, and get back to that music. It's been a lot of fun, and I've enjoyed it very much. Would you personally like to record a new CARCASS album?

Amott: Making a new record is something different. Playing live and getting back together after all those years is one thing, but to actually get into a creative frame of mind with these guys after so many years is a different story. That would take a lot of work I think, and it would be something quite... I mean, I wouldn't be against trying, but we haven't gone there yet (laughs). So if CARCASS wanted to try recording a new album, the group would enter the studio, see how writing sessions turn out, and if the written material was good, the group would proceed? But if the written material wasn't good, the group would just leave things there?

Amott: Yeah, exactly. If we do try to write some new songs, we probably won't tell anyone about that until we've actually tried (laughs). So technically, CARCASS could be writing new songs as we speak, and we wouldn't know (laughs).

Amott: (Laughs) That's right. How do you juggle commitments with ARCH ENEMY and CARCASS? Is CARCASS more of a secondary group for you?

Amott: ARCH ENEMY is and always will be my main thing. I formed the band, and have pursued it for all these years. ARCH ENEMY is very close to my heart, and is the music that I want to play with the people that I want to play it with. It's a great thing, and is something that I'm very happy about. The CARCASS reunion just came out of the blue, and was an opportunity that was too cool to turn down. It was very exciting, so I made room in my schedule for that of course. I don't think it would take over from what I do with ARCH ENEMY. As you mentioned, ARCH ENEMY will record new material in 2010. At the moment, is any new ARCH ENEMY material written?

Amott: Yeah. We've written riffs, melodies, and parts of songs, but nothing that we've really put together into one song. I'd say we have a lot of different ideas, but we just need to mix pieces together into real songs. We'll spend our time on that next year. Compared to "Rise of the Tyrant", how would you musically describe these initial ideas?

Amott: These ideas are more like Lionel Ritchie / Michael Bolton, and move into that direction. I don't think so (laughs).

Amott: (Laughs) I can't say. It's too early to say. The music is very heavy, with some fast parts, some slow parts, some mid-tempo parts, melodic parts, unmelodic parts — all kinds of things. It's too early to say. We always mess around with our material so much in terms of all the details, layering of ideas, and things like that. It's hard to say exactly what the material will be until it's finished. Are there any new areas you'd like to venture in with ARCH ENEMY?

Amott: I don't know. We've covered a lot of ground so far, but I think there's room to grow as a songwriter. I still feel that I'm improving, and I think the other guys have great ideas as well. We'll put all those ideas together. That's a super exciting phase of a band, writing and piecing all the ideas together, and seeing what comes out. You put someone's idea on top of your own idea, or vice versa, you mix it all up, and it comes out as this whole different animal. I still think there's a lot of things to be done with ARCH ENEMY. I have ideas that I'm not going to tell you about, because I've got cool ideas that I don't think any extreme metal band has ever done before. I won't tell you what they are though, because then somebody will rip them off and use them before our next album comes out. Where would you like to venture with ARCH ENEMY?

Amott: I'm quite happy with what we're doing. We've had a very organic growth, and from album to album, we've become a little bigger. It's been a slow rise, and we're seeing some rewards with that, like a very dedicated fanbase all around the world. We can play everywhere basically, and headline, and play great shows. That's one of the biggest things about being in a band. Having that fanbase is amazing, so I'm really happy with where ARCH ENEMY is going, and how things are moving along.

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