Roadrunner Records recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Roadrunner Records: You played what was described as your first-ever "unplugged" show earlier this month at Union Chapel in London, but you were playing electric instruments, so how was it different from a regular OPETH gig?
Mikael: Well, none of the so-called "unplugged" shows are really unplugged, because there's always microphones [laughs], even if you've got acoustic guitars. But we just played some more mellow stuff, I guess. We've got a bunch of those songs, so it was kind of easy for us to do that. The problem we had was that the dB limit in Union Chapel, where we played, was 85 dB, so we had to have the amps on really low. That was the only problem that we noticed, really. Other than that, it was fun. It was a bit like throwing ourselves off a cliff in a way, because out of the 10 or 11 songs that we played, I think half of them were songs we'd never played before. So it was interesting. But it went really well. I was quite happy with it.
Roadrunner Records: One of the songs you played was a cover of "Var Kommer Barnen In" by HANSSON DE WOLFE UNITED, who are pretty much unknown outside of Sweden. Could you talk about that song a little?
Mikael: Well, they're not really all that well known in Sweden, either, because they were active in the early '80s, and it's a bit of an odd song — I guess a lot of people expect us to cover a KING CRIMSON song, or a VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR song or something like that, but I just love that song, you know? I guess I got the idea from Jonas [Renkse], my best friend, in KATATONIA, who played me that song. I'd heard it before, but he played it for me and said, "I'd love to cover this song," and I was like, "Ah, I want to do that too," because I loved it. So I asked him, "Are you gonna do that?" and he was like, "No, no, no, we're not gonna do it, you can do it," so we did it instead. They're not really well known — it's a bunch of geeks, basically; I'm not sure what scene they were connected to in the early '80s, but there were quite a few of those melancholic bands singing in Swedish back in those days, and they were one of them, and they were not really famous. I think they might have reunited to do a tour a couple of years back, I'm not sure what they're doing. But they're quite obscure, even in Sweden. And the reason why we did it was not to be really difficult and obscure, it was just that I love the song and everybody in the band thought we could do a really good version of it. Which I think we did. So it was fun to do one of those covers from a band that's just completely unknown, and as far as I know we've never done anything in our native language, apart from the cover that we did a while back for the "Watershed" record ["Den Ständiga Resan", by MARIE FREDRIKSSON]. We'd definitely never played anything live [in Swedish]. So that was fun.
Roadrunner Records: You're doing two more shows like this, in Germany; are you filming or recording these shows at all?
Mikael: We bought some type of rig, so we can record every show. I'm not sure if we're recording every show, but we did record the London show, and we're probably gonna continue recording whenever we can. But I'm not sure what we're doing with that stuff, to be honest. It's always good to have material, and maybe further down the line, if we have a bunch of shows recorded we can pick and choose the best segments of the shows and maybe put something out, but we don't know yet.
Roadrunner Records: Your tour ends December 9; what are your plans for 2013? Will you be returning to the U.S., or will you be writing again?
Mikael: Yeah, we're probably returning. We still have a few details to work out, but we were supposed to be in the U.S. in the fall and we didn't do it, so we're gonna be in the U.S. in the spring, I think. But it's not completely settled yet, so I'm not sure — I can't say 100 percent that we're gonna be there. But 90 percent sure, we're going on a North American tour, which will be the last lengthy tour that we do for this record. We're also doing a few shows down in Australia and Japan and perhaps South America and some summer festivals as well, but generally it's gonna wind down after May of next year.
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