France's United Rock Nations recently conducted an interview with guitarist Johan Söderberg of Swedish metallers AMON AMARTH about their new live DVD/documentary "The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm". You can listen to the entire chat via the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why AMON AMARTH decided to record its live album at Germany's Summer Breeze festival:
Johan: "That comes down to one of the guys who started the Summer Breeze festival [Michael Trengert], he was almost like the sixth member of the band. He was our manager and also the guy who came up with lots of the ideas to have Viking imagery onstage. He was the guy who decided we should have a Viking ship onstage and people fighting and stuff like that. That's why we chose to have it at that location. Also, they have the T-Stage show there in his name because he died. That's why we decided to do it at Summer Breeze."
On why AMON AMARTH decided to include so many older songs in their new live DVD set:
Johan: "I think the old songs we used to play back in the day, when we toured for those albums, those were the songs we played on the tours. We just tried to remember like 'On this album, we used to play these songs,' which ones were well-received and stuff like that. It was a best-of set from the albums."
On the documentary portion of "The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm":
Johan: "That's more like how the band was formed from the start and how we became what we are today."
On whether their 2002 album "Versus The World" can be considered a turning point for AMON AMARTH:
Johan: "Yes. Before that, we really struggled. When we played shows by ourselves, not that many people showed up. But after 'Versus The World' was released, we saw a completely different response in the audience and much more people started to recognize the band. It was definitely a turning point in our career."
On whether the imagery of "Versus The World" contributed to the album's success:
Johan: "On that album, I think it was basically the songs that were well-received. That was before we had Viking imagery onstage. After that, we had some of those elements. We got some better fees on tours after that and we put that into the live show."
On the importance of Viking imagery for AMON AMARTH's live shows:
Johan: "When I was a kid, like 11, 12-years-old, I saw IRON MAIDEN, they had this big live show with all of these things. That was always the dream to have that. But it takes a long time to be able to have the finances to pull that off. Now we can do it. That's what we want to do, bring as much as possible in the live show. That's what people remember from the live shows — not which songs we play. They remember how it looked."
On the importance of cover artwork and imagery for AMON AMARTH:
Johan: "That's really important. That's also something we looked at IRON MAIDEN, they always had this cool artwork for some albums. That's also something I remember when I was a kid. It was something really impressive when you hold the album and listen to the album and you imagine this other world. I think that's an important thing on an album."
On AMON AMARTH's road to being a successful European metal band:
Johan: "It took 25 years. [Laughs] I think it's because we've always just done what we wanted to do and tried to stay consistent and do what we believe is good and just keep on doing that and it will grow more and more for each album, hopefully."
On whether AMON AMARTH has more room to grow in popularity:
Johan: "I think definitely. For each album, we have been growing a little more and making the live show bigger. I don't think that's going to change."
"The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm" was released on November 16 via Metal Blade.
AMON AMARTH has completed work on its new album at Sphere Studios in North Hollywood, California with producer Jay Ruston, who has previously worked with ANTHRAX, STEEL PANTHER, URIAH HEEP and STONE SOUR. The as-yet-untitled disc is tentatively due this spring via Metal Blade Records.
Photo credit: Tomas Giden