February 28, 2014 Interview – Fredrik Andersson of Amon Amarth
In recent years melodic death metal has seen an influx in popularity worldwide. One of the leading forces in the genre’s rise are Amon Amarth hailing from Tumba, Sweden. Together now over two decades, the metalers have released nine full-length albums, displayed a dedication to touring, and a love for metal that continues to stimulate a growing interest in Amon Amarth. After a strong run opening the main stage of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2013, Amon Amarth returned to North America in 2014, recently concluding another successful headlining tour. With contagious heavy melodies and engaging story-telling, it is no secret why these Norsemen continue to dominate. Recently we caught up with the band’s drummer, Fredrik Andersson, for a look into the humble beginnings, life on the road, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Amon Amarth has been together now over two decades. You joined in 1998, and a lot of great things have happened for Amon Amarth since then. What was it like going into recording of The Avenger album, with that being your first record with the band?
Fredrik Andersson – That was fifteen years ago. It was a little bit more different back then. We just wanted to have fun and play music. We went into the studio and the first thing we did was bought some booze. It was not very serious back then I guess.
CrypticRock.com – I imagine a lot has changed over the past fifteen years. The band has always been very consistent over the years with nine full length albums. With each album the band also becomes more well known. How does it feel all these years later to see the band reach the level it has?
Fredrik Andersson – It is good. We did not have any expectations when I joined the band. For the first couple of years we really did not have much expectations of where it would take us. In 2006, when this became our main income and we quit our day jobs, we kind of became dependent on the band. It has been progressively bigger, it is just small steps basically. There is not a big difference from one album to another. We have a steadily growing fan base and I think that is the best way to grow for a band.
CrypticRock.com – Yes and it has been a very gradual organic progression for the band. Being an extremely hard working band between 2001 and 2004, Amon Amarth recorded and released three albums in four years. That is a lot of material in that amount of time. What was that experience like?
Fredrik Andersson – At that time we did not tour as much as we do now. We did maybe one or two tours a year and that was it. Now we tour seven to nine months a year, it is more difficult to squeeze that in. It came natural when you have more time. I guess we had a lot of inspiration and the music came easy.
CrypticRock.com – That makes sense. Part of the reason for success, I believe, is the band’s dedication to touring. You have been to North America many times and as a result found yourself on the main stage of one of North America’s primary metal festivals in Mayhem Festival last summer. What was that experience like for yourself and the band?
Fredrik Andersson – It was good, we really did not know what to expect going in. A lot of people said it would be a bit of a struggle opening on the main stage as it would be a different crowd. Since we played amphitheaters, a lot of our fans were very far away, but we had really good shows every night. It was a pleasant surprise for us. Everyone was kind of surprised with how well we did on it. It was a nice experience.
CrypticRock.com – It had to be a great experience. Being part of the Swedish death metal scene as long as you have, you have seen many bands rise to fame including In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At The Gates. These bands, including Amon Amarth, are highly regarded amongst the metal scene as elitists. What I want to know, since death metal is an underground art form, does the mainstream of Sweden embrace the success of yourselves and all these bands proudly?
Fredrik Andersson – Well In Flames has been Grammy nominated many times in Sweden. They get mainstream airplay on radio. They are pretty well endorsed by everyone. I cannot say that others such as us and Dark Tranquillity really get any mainstream attention in Sweden. It is basically just In Flames.
CrypticRock.com – That is very interesting to know. You are a multi-instrument musician as you play drums and guitar. Having played both instruments with bands and in a live setting, what do you find to be the biggest difference between performing on guitar and behind the drum kit?
Fredrik Andersson – I have not played the guitar live since 1993 so it has been a while (laughs). I dabble with the guitar but I do not actively play anymore.
CrypticRock.com – As well as Amon Amarth, you are currently active with the melodic death metal band This Ending with your former band mates from A Canorous Quintet. Can we expect to hear some new material from This Ending in the future?
Fredrik Andersson – We have been trying to work on something but it is hard for everyone to get some time off. Everyone has families and jobs. It is really hard but we are working on it. It is unsure at the present moment of what will come of it.
CrypticRock.com – It will be interesting if you do so. As you said people have families and friends. Amon Amarth spends a lot of time on the road. It is difficult to be away from home so much?
Fredrik Andersson – Yes, of course, it is always difficult to be away but it is the lifestyle we have chosen. It is the life we have come to get used to. It is just a transition basically. It is what we do so you just have to accept it. It is sometimes hard to be away for such a long time, but we really do not have a choice, we have to do it. We enjoy being on stage performing and meeting our fans. Everything good comes with something bad, you just have to take it and embrace the good parts.
CrypticRock.com – Of course, you get to see the world, meet your fans and do something you love. You take the positives and negatives. I would like to know what some of your musical influences are?
Fredrik Andersson – Originally I grew up with classic heavy metal like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I progressively moved on to thrash and death metal with Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Metallica, Slayer, Carcass, Napalm Death, Entombed, and At The Gates. When At The Gates came, they became one of my main favorite bands. I pretty much stuck to that, and going back to the old stuff like Maiden and Priest and listen to that a lot. Sometimes you discover newer bands, like when I discovered Nevermore for example, I became a fan until they disbanded. Lately I re-discovered Iced Earth, I found out their latest two albums were really good, I have been listening to them a lot.
CrypticRock.com – That is a nice mix of metal. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Fredrik Andersson – I am not a huge fan per say. I spent a good time of my teenage years going through all the gore movies. I guess because everyone was watching it at that time. Movies like Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980). My all-time favorite would be the first two Alien films. I could watch those any day of the week.
CrypticRock.com – The Alien films are pretty scary. I imagine because many of the gory films were banned in Sweden, when you were a kid those films were more interesting because they were taboo.
Fredrik Andersson – Yes and no. I guess when you are that age, looking for something extreme, it does not really matter what it is. When you find something that has a little more edge than usual, you are drawn to it. It is just the nature of human beings I guess.
Be sure to check out Amon Amarth at www.amonamarth.com, on facebook, & twitter.Feature photo credit: John McMurtrie