AMON AMARTH drummer Jocke Wallgren recently spoke with Jake Patton of Metal Wani. The full conversation can be streamed. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On new album, "Berserker", which marks his recording debut with the group:
Jocke: "I'm really stoked. I was more spooked earlier on when we started with the 'Jomsviking' touring cycle, because back then, I knew that I had to live to expectations. Now, [after] we did tour for two and a half years, I kind of grew into my role. I'm still as stoked, but I'm not as nervous about the release as I thought I would be. It's going to be fun to hear the fan reaction."
On the meaning behind the album's title:
Jocke: "They are the most fierce warrior, and the most brutal ones. We wanted to do a brutal album — not in the fast, aggressive way, but in a heavy way, since the band is getting more and more into heavy metal than just quick and fast death metal. We wanted to mirror the berserker aura to the album, and that's pretty much what we did, I think".
On the band's musical growth:
Jocke: "We didn't really talk about it very much — about the change of going towards heavy metal. It just happened. The band is really influenced by IRON MAIDEN and all those heavy metal bands, and we wanted to not do a heavy metal record, but that's how it evolved, pretty much. It still has the same AMON AMARTH feeling with the harmonies and the fast parts as well."
On recording the album remotely:
Jocke: "It was kind of hard, because first I took the guitar riffs that I got, and then I took it to my studio and played along with it. Then I recorded it on my computer and transferred the real drums to MIDI drums, and then I tried to adapt them with the foundation that I did to the songs for the riffs, and then I tried to spice it up on the computer to see what's going to sound best, if this rhythm is the best one, if a faster rhythm is better or whatever. Then I tried to see what's actually working and what's realistic to play. It's kind of hard to see the other guys' reaction when you don't actually see them. If we were to play in a rehearsal room together, then I could see the guys' reaction to this particular part in this particular song. We didn't do that, and they just reacted to my program [sic] the drums, which could be a bit hard because it's really hard to say over the phone or say in writing, 'Try to change this in another way.' Then it's like, 'What other way?' I think it turned out fine, because we did two pre-production recordings of this album — one in Stockholm and one at Peter Tägtgren's studio up in the north of Sweden — so we had a chance to actually play the songs together, of course. By then, I could see people's reaction, but by then, my muscle memory was quite set to this particular part. I had to start all over again pretty much is something was off or wrong."
On how much he contributed to the album's writing process:
Jocke: "They were very open about my input. They said from the beginning, 'Everyone is one-fifth of the band, so everyone has equally much to say. Even though you are the new guy, you still have your share of opinions.' That's very nice, because that's also reflected to my input in the songs... They listened to [my suggestions], and that's real nice."
On which AMON AMARTH song was the "hardest" for him to learn:
Jocke: "[1998's] 'Victorious March'. I know how to play the song; I know what the song sounds like; but I can never learn that song. It's just really hard, every fucking time — but it works out."
"Berserker" — produced by Jay Ruston (ANTHRAX, STONE SOUR), and released via Metal Blade on May 3 — debuted at No. 1 in Germany and Switzerland in addition to cracking the Top 5 in Austria, Finland and the band's home country of Sweden.
AMON AMARTH is currently touring America with SLAYER, LAMB OF GOD and CANNIBAL CORPSE. The group will headline the U.S. this fall on a tour that will also feature fellow Swedes ARCH ENEMY, AT THE GATES and GRAND MAGUS.