Bangalore Mirror conducted an interview with vocalist Angela Gossow of Swedish/German extreme metallers ARCH ENEMY. The question-and-answer session follows in its entirety below.
Bangalore Mirror: Your childhood and teens seems to be a very bumpy ride. Not to forget your health issues. Yet you did rise. How did you manage to do that? And also can you tell us a little about "wild rollercoaster ride" in life?
Angela: I think most people experience a rough time as teenagers. It is not easy waking up to this world. Society, parents, teachers and even your peers everybody is pulling at you. You have to deliver in school, be skinny, pretty and part of the "in" mob, do what your parents expect from you but all you want is to discover yourself. And that's when the rebel years start. It takes a tough fight to break free and most kids lose out in one way or another. I am very individualistic and personal freedom is my thing. I broke free by discovering music, metal it spoke directly to my heart, it was very different and it goes against any sort of social mainstream. But I had to pay a price as well and I struggled hard with eating disorders for a while. The goal is to overcome such self-destruction. I found my way out, I was never prone to suicide, I always fight 'till I come out on top. Not everybody is born a fighter, though, but one can aspire to become one. I believe heavy metal is a good soundtrack for that sort of spirit. It also helps to channel frustration and aggression so you don't have to turn it all against yourself. Life is never easy, no matter what age you are in. We live in a very crowded and vile world where the weak ones get run over and cast aside. I feel protecting the helpless ones, especially children and animals, from the "beast of man" is a very important task. I also want to give hope and strength [to] those who struggle with my words and with our music. Many teens have nobody who listens or to lean on music can be a very powerful support for them.
Bangalore Mirror: What bands did you listen to while growing up?
Angela: I am a child of the late thrash and early death metal period in the '90s. I grew up on SLAYER, TESTAMENT, MEGADETH, CARCASS, MORBID ANGEL, DISMEMBER, ENTOMBED, etc., and still to this day these are my fave bands to listen to.
Bangalore Mirror: From a fan to the vocalist of the band. How would you describe this transformation?
Angela: I started singing in a death metal band in 1991. I joined ARCH ENEMY in 2001 so I have been a vocalist before ARCH ENEMY even released their first album, "Black Earth", in 1996. I was a big CARCASS fan, and I followed their members closely after their disbanded. Michael Amott was the only one who picked up where CARCASS left he formed a death metal band ARCH ENEMY. I loved the albums and its pretty surreal still to this day that I got to join them after they parted ways with the former singer. That is life you never know what it has in store for you. I was always very driven to turn my dreams into reality. I fought hard for everything I got. And I kept that spirit when joining ARCH ENEMY. Thus we went from being an insider tip to one of the most successful extreme metal bands from Sweden today.
Bangalore Mirror: How does it feel to be one of the most successful female growlers around?
Angela: It is very rewarding. It shows that hard work, dedication and passion pays off in the end. Don't dream your life live your dream. That's my motto. And it has worked out. It has been a roller coaster ride and very hard at times being the singer and the manager of a band means a brutal amount of work but the end result is to live the life I want to live, to be my own master and to create my own destiny. It makes me feel very content and in charge of my own luck. It is very powerful.
Bangalore Mirror: So does the style of music put a frequent strain on your voice?
Angela: Yes, of course. We tour a lot, play many, many shows. I cannot party and I have to take great care of my voice and my general health. I am a vegan, I eat very healthy, I exercise a lot, I do not drink at all and I do not smoke. My life is dedicated to keeping my voice and the band strong. There is no room for error, excess or weakness. I have to be a 100% disciplined at all times.
Bangalore Mirror: You write lyrics for ARCH ENEMY. What goes on in your mind while penning down the lyrics? What inspires you? What do the themes and topics revolve around? Do the topics tend to change over time?
Angela: The lyrics I write deal with the topics I think about, things that move me. They are inspired by the reality we live in, social injustice, the strive for independence and personal freedom. Freedom from society, from fear, from governments, from religion, from tradition. I also feel very strong about environmental and animal protection, so some lyrics (for example "Night Falls Fast" from "Rise Of The Tyrant" or "Cruelty Without Beauty" from "Khaos Legions") deal with those topics. I am an outspoken atheist and a liberal, green anarchist you will find many of those philosophies in my lyrics.
Bangalore Mirror: What do you do aside from the band?
Angela: Nothing. Everything I do revolves around the band. I work out hard to stay fit. I am very interested in healthy eating and living, I keep up with the current Zeitgeist and developments in the world so I can put this into ARCH ENEMY. I manage ARCH ENEMY, I am involved in everything from contractual obligations, to finances, tour booking, live production, artwork, merchandise so I have to master a big workload every day.
Bangalore Mirror: What comes to your mind when you hear India?
Angela: I spent three weeks in Kerala, experiencing the real India very closely. It was not a luxurious holiday resort but a very simple, traditional Ayurveda clinic I lived in. I got to talk to many Indian people, especially women. Kerala is one of the most advanced regions in India in regards to education. Yet the women I spoke to said they don't have much of a chance to have a career after their studies because tradition still dictates them to get married, have children and stop working but there was a strong sense of change there. India is a very fast-developing country, It is huge, many different religions and traditions clash. It is a place in constant change and full of beauty, resources and possibilities. I think India's women are very strong and I believe they will have achieved equality in the near future. I am sure you find the most advanced social balance in the big cities like Mumbai. We will play in India in November (19th) and I am very much looking forward to get to know it a little. I just hope there won't be any terrorist attacks from Muslim extremists. It makes me sad that religion still brings so much pain and suffering to innocent people in this day and age.
Bangalore Mirror: Are you aware of any Indian bands?
Angela: No, not really. They don't get any exposure over here in Europe. But I am will do some research online now see if I can discover some. I also hope to get to see some live when we come over for the show in November in India!
Bangalore Mirror: Any message for your fans?
Angela: Fight for your dreams and your freedom. Treat each other with respect and love. Question all authorities and never give up hope. If you feel down, chat with fellow metal fans or listen to your favorite record. This has always helped me in times of darkness. We hope to meet you all one day and get to play live for you. Until then stay pure fucking metal!