Swedish metal icons Arch Enemy are back with their eleventh studio album Deceivers set to release July 29 on Century Media Records. The process was a bit different than usual and when trying to get to Europe to record, guitarist Jeff Loomis faced some trouble.
As the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program, guitarist Michael Amott discussed the work that went into creating the new album, as well as the troubles that the band endured while trying to create during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There were obviously those couple of years there during the pandemic it certainly proved the point that it is the worst idea ever to have an international lineup with everybody living in different corners of the world,” said Amott. “So that made a normal way of working almost impossible, but we actually got it done and Alissa [White-Gluz] could come to Europe and do her vocals there, but it was just a lot more complicated and expensive that we were quarantining. We were doing all these things, taking all these measures and it was just more complicated and a lot more paperwork involved and stuff like that, but we got it done.”
Read the full interview below.
There are expectations for bands with established history, especially when there’s a sizable catalog. What was unnerving, maybe even intimidating when you began the creative process for Deceivers?
I never really approach it like that — I just have another mindset. In the phase of writing new music, creating the demos and getting everything together, it’s a really fun and exciting time because at that point we haven’t done it for a couple of years so we’re just excited to do it.
There’s no pressure or anxiety that comes into it. At the later stage you start thinking, “Does this live up to the expectations?” But by that time it’s already done. You’ve just got to express and be creative and have a good time doing what you love. If you think too much, it’s not going to be good.
Like almost every other band, the pandemic made remote working a necessity. How did that disconnect inadvertently affect the character of the album for the better?
It certainly proved the point that it is the worst idea ever to have an international lineup with everybody living in different corners of the world. That made a normal way of working almost impossible, but we actually got it done and Alissa [White-Gluz] came to Europe to do her vocals there, but it was just a lot more complicated and expensive.
We were quarantining. We were taking all these measures and it was just more complicated and a lot more paperwork and stuff like that, but we got it done. She was over in Europe, did her vocals there with our producer and the the only member who didn’t make it over was [guitarist] Jeff Loomis.
He was coming over, we had everything booked and he tried to board a flight, but it was denied. That was a bit of a nightmare and a headache. We ended up having him do his solos in the studio in Seattle and we were FaceTiming and stuff like that.
It was not without its challenges, but it was the stuff everybody lived through as a band during those years while trying to make a record. I don’t like to really complain about the pandemic because I think a lot of people had it a lot worse than I did or we did.
When it comes to band members, geography is no longer a contributing factor. How has a multinational perspective made Arch Enemy a better band?
That’s something I haven’t really thought about. There’s different perspectives. At the core of Arch Enemy, you have myself, Daniel (Erlandsson) on drums, Charlie (D’Angelo) on bass who have been with the band for a very, very long time.
Then, with the additions of Alissa and Jeff, who are our North Americans, they bring another approach and other few fresh ideas. It’s always fun. We have a great time and we share a common sense of humor and we just have a great time doing this. There are more things that unite us than separate us.
In the timeline of metal, Arch Enemy are pivotal to the evolution of the genre. What’s your duty in terms of continuing the pedigree of older artists while being role models for up and coming bands?
You’re putting a lot of pressure on the me! [laughs]
I do feel a responsibility. I’m a big fan of metal music and of heavy music. It’s been my whole life since I was a kid and I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14 years old. I’ve been touring since I was 20 years old and I’ve been putting out records since I was around that age.
I love hearing new bands and how they put a twist on it. I get inspired by that sometimes, but we have an established sound and style that is Arch Enemy.
After a few albums, we found our way of doing things and our way of expressing ourselves. We built upon that. We take in new influences or our old stuff that we did rediscover and put that into our sound.
It’s just a journey that we’re on — creating art, creating music, lyrics, putting it all together. There is a responsibility, but it’s not like I’m deadly serious about it. The fact that we are doing it and have been a band for 25-plus years and putting out records and each one seems to get more successful than the last one… that’s a nice position to be in. I think we’re doing something right.
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The last two years will make even the most seasoned musicians second guess themselves. Why did such a prolonged break make you apprehensive about being back onstage?
It was a very unusual break for a heavy touring act such as Arch Enemy. We’re always out there doing something somewhere in some corner of the world, but this was definitely a big change of pace for us.
That first year was okay because 2020 was a planned year off for Arch Enemy. The idea was to go away and take some time off, write and maybe start recording a new album. By 2021, things were getting a little bit little bit boring and we’re sort of crawling on the walls, but we’ve been doing this for a long time.
I’ve certainly been doing this for a long time, so it felt like something was taken away from the lifestyle that I’ve grown up in and am very accustomed to.
It wasn’t all bad. There were also some positive things. There was a lot of time to work and on musical ideas and develop other things. At the end of the day, writing and recording is one thing and playing live shows is the other — it’s the yin to the yang in metal. You really need that to feed the other side of you, so we were all a little bit out of balance.
Thank you to Michael Amott for the interview. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and follow Arch Enemy on Spotify. To find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program, visit here.
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