Vocalist Johan Hegg of Swedish death metallers AMON AMARTH was interviewed on the July 5-7 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: AMON AMARTH is on the Mayhem tour all summer long. [Johan Hegg] is here to talk about the amazing new record, "Deceiver Of The Gods". Some reviews have called the record ambitious. Going into it, Johan, was that one of the main goals? To challenge yourselves musically?
Johan: Honestly, we do that with every album. To write the best album we ever could produce. The best of the best. That's always the goal. I think, rather than — the challenging part was changing producers but when it came to writing it was kind of relaxing. Because we let go a lot of the stuff that held us back in the past. That's also why a lot of musical influences are more evident on this album than they've been before, because we kind of said, well, if it's good, we'll use it. We were much more open-minded about the music to make it work. It was actually smooth sailing writing this album, I think. Obviously first of all, recording with the new producer. Recording for the very first time outside of Sweden. That posed a lot more challenges but working with Andy Sneap, he's such a great guy. He was just so easy.
Full Metal Jackie: He's a really cool guy and a total metalhead.
Johan: That guy is a legend in the metal business anyway and a great producer. It was great working with him.
Full Metal Jackie: Johan, what is your process for getting into the right frame of mind to write about — not to mention sing so convincingly — such a bombastic subject as Norse mythology?
Johan: Well, it's something that's always — since I was very young — been a part of my life. Almost a way of thinking for me nowadays. It's not like I step in and out of it; I live it 24/7, in a way. For this album, I kind of actually took the easy way out and tried not too go to deep with double meanings. Like metaphors and stuff. I tried to think very cinematically. Like, if this was a song for a movie, what would that movie be about? Who would be the characters? What would happen to them? That was kind of, to make the song, the music go, or the lyrics go with the music in a better way. So, from that perspective, it was kind of easy to write the lyrics. Obviously, you have to have the right ideas. It came fairly easy on this one.
Full Metal Jackie: Other than AMON AMARTH, what is your favorite interpretation of Norse mythology? Music, film or books?
Johan: Well, there are plenty of books. And there are a couple of films as well that are really good. I would say the two first films of the Icelandic director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson are amazing. I think, unfortunately, the first movie is called "The Barbarians" in English, for some reason. But the correct translation would be "The Flight Of The Raven". Then the second movie is called "The Shadow Of The Raven". Those two movies are amazing, really good movies. They're from the '80s, but really good atmosphere. Good acting. Brilliant movies. But there are plenty of books, plenty of Icelandic sagas. But also I think it's become more popular to write about Vikings, generally. I know there's an English author, but I don't know his name now, unfortunately so I cannot tell you. Because I didn't read the books yet. Olavi and Ted have read the books and say they're amazing. It's like a trilogy, I think. Great books about Vikings, apparently. There's plenty of stuff there.
Full Metal Jackie: AMON AMARTH is the opening band on the main stage of this year's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. After a full day of bands, what's the trick to raising the energy level again for the headliners?
Johan: For the audience? I don't know. Like, seeing the weather out here and being in the 110s, way into the 100s. That's going to be tough for anyone. I think fans will do well to mix beer and water, actually. I would normally not say that because I think beer is good enough but
Full Metal Jackie: Stay hydrated, people.
Johan: These are extreme circumstances.
Full Metal Jackie: It's definitely going to be a hot summer.
Johan: I think it's going to be a killer tour. There are some great bands on this bill. As long as the fans are there, they're going to have a good time.
Full Metal Jackie: Tell us what can we have to look forward to for AMON AMARTH beyond the summer?
Johan: After the summer, we're going back to Europe to tour together with CARCASS and HELL. Then the way it looks now. Next year, we'll come back to the U.S. for a headlining tour. Exactly when that's going to happen or be announced? I can't tell right now. That's the plan. We'll be back soon.