AMON AMARTH vocalist Johan Hegg recently spoke with France's Loud TV. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's new live DVD/documentary, "The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm":
Johan: "It's kind of a big project that we wanted to put together and give fans of a bit of insight in what AMON AMARTH is and how we've progressed as both people and musicians, and as a band. We did a special show at [the German festival] Summer Breeze last year. The former part-owner of that festival was a very good friend of ours who passed away a few years back — Michael Trengert. He was as close as you'll get to a sixth member of this band. I don't think you can overestimate his importance in the history of this band. I think it's fair to say that without him, we would not be where we are today, definitely not. For us, losing him — losing such a good friend and an important part of our band, in a way, it was difficult, and we wanted to honor him at Summer Breeze for our own sake, and for the sake of his friends and family."
On whether he's surprised at the group's level of success:
Johan: "Yes and no. We're not mainstream. They don't play AMON AMARTH on the radio. But it's been such a slow and steady progress for us. We've been in this business for 25 years, and it's been so gradual, you almost didn't notice that you grew at first. It's only the last couple of albums where it actually started growing quicker and quicker, but by then, you're kind of expecting it. Not to say that you think you deserve to grow — it depends on what you produce, and you still have to put in the work. But it's been growing faster and faster with each album, so it doesn't really come as a surprise anymore when you do grow. But looking back, if somebody would have told me [that] we would be here where we are now 10, 15 years ago, I wouldn't have believed them. The first years were difficult. On the other hand, they were also simpler in some way, because now, the difficulty is that this is a huge apparatus. To make all the wheels of this thing work, you have to pay attention to everything. We've always been a band that's very hands-on. We like to be in control of what's going on. We don't want to leave everything to anyone else. We want to be in charge. I also think that's a a major part of our success, because that means we care about the business, we care about our business. It is a job, and you need to be on top of things. In a sense, in the beginning, you're just happy if you could play for a case of beer. It's changed slightly. [Laughs] It's crazy to see those old photos and videos, because it's hard to even understand that it's the same guy in those pictures. You hardly even recognize yourself... I'm not a very sentimental guy. I have a lot of photos and stuff, but I never look at them, so when I went back to revisit some of that stuff – and also, some of the places, like the youth club where we started out rehearsing – it was surprisingly emotional to be in that place, because it meant to much to us in the beginning. It's weird to see all that stuff, but cool at the same time."
On whether he remembers the difficult moments along the way:
Johan: "I have to say that most of the hard stuff in our career is nonsense, really. It feels hard at the time, but we've always helped each other through it, and when we go through it, we come out stronger in the other end, because we always learn from stuff like that. I would argue that the most difficult period was when Michael died. That was difficult, because there was so much stuff we had planned with him that we wanted to do and how we wanted to make this band continue that we now had to scrap and kind of start over. We had to do that without him. He was such a driving force. That was difficult, and I think that took us a little bit of time. It took us hard when he disappeared, not only from a professional point of view, but also as a friend. Otherwise, all these hard times have always been something that we've come out stronger from, and we learned from it and we moved on. I think that's how any progress works, really. It's the mistakes that make you stronger, not the success. I think Olavi [Mikkonen, guitarist] says it really well in the documentary — he says, 'Most of all, I still have passion for this.' I think that goes for all of us. We love what we do, and we can't think of anything we'd rather do for a living than this. We're having the time of our lives, really. I think the past couple of years have probably been better than anything, really, so we're in a really good spot right now."
"The Pursuit Of Vikings: 25 Years In The Eye Of The Storm" was released on November 16 via Metal Blade.