It’s been six years since Arch Enemy have travelled Down Under with their crushing brand of melodic Death Metal, and 2018 will mark the first time they’ve been here with frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz, who replaced former vocalist Angela Gossow. Arch Enemy will be hitting Australia for Download Festival Melbourne, along with a number of sideshows. Given the long wait, White-Gluz reflects, “We’re really excited to get there, and having Download Festival as the main festival drawing us over there is great because it gives us the opportunity to take the time either before or after to play some other shows while we’re there. So I know there’s been a lot of demand and a lot of people really just wondering when we’re going to come back, so I’m glad I finally have an answer to that, and I’m glad we’re finally able to make it down there and get to play, because it’s been too long for all of us,” she chuckles wryly. “We’re all really excited.
“You know, sometimes the fans don’t understand that if we don’t play somewhere, it’s definitely – and this goes for all bands – it’s not because we don’t want to play there. We always want to play everywhere, but sometimes it’s just not possible. And really, there’s so many moving parts that go into making a show possible, especially when it comes to, shall we say,” she grins, “the more geographically remote areas of the world, you know? Which I think Australia falls into the category of simply because it’s not Central Europe or North America where most of the bands that we would tour with are from, so it’s great that we have this opportunity finally and we’re all really looking forward to it.”
Arch Enemy have been performing songs from their latest album Will to Power, and White-Gluz says of the fan responses, “The songs from Will to Power seem to be getting the best reaction, and that would be closely seconded by the songs from War Eternal, so for us it’s a very difficult thing to make a setlist, especially with a festival type situation where we maybe only have an hour, or an hour and 15 minutes as opposed to 90 minutes or more that we could play when we’re headlining. So it’s hard to find enough time to play all the songs we’d want to play. But we try to make a really nice, balanced setlist with a lot of songs from Will to Power, plenty of songs from War Eternal and still keep some classics in there too. So far the reaction has been amazing. We’ve been starting our set with ‘The World is Yours,’ which is great.
“It’s hard. Our mastermind for the setlist is our bass player, Sharlee D’Angelo. He has a really crazy memory and is really good at remembering, ‘What did we play last time?’ and which songs go well with which songs. So we let him take the reins when it comes to putting together the setlist. We usually like to try to have a few extra songs in our back pocket in case we want to mix something up or whatever it may be, but all in all there’s dozens and dozens and dozens of songs that we could play, so it makes it difficult when we only have time to play maybe 15 or 20 songs max.”
White-Gluz is well known for her healthy lifestyle in spite of the vicissitudes of touring. She reflects, “For me it’s not hard at all because the temptations [of drinking, drugs and poor diet] are not temptations at all for me. I have no interest in drugs, I have no interest in alcohol, I have no interest in consuming cruelty whether it be in the form of food, drink or anything else. So it’s extremely easy to be vegan and straight edge,” she says emphatically. “Extremely easy. I don’t even think about it. It’s second nature. It’s just who I am through and through. Seriously, I know many people think vegans must be like, secretly craving meat or something, but it’s the complete opposite. It’s gross to us. We don’t want to be anywhere near it, I don’t want to smell it, I don’t want to see it. It’s disgusting to me, so I don’t want anything to do with that. And when it comes to drugs and alcohol, I’ve never been into that, just never been interested in it. I don’t mind if other people want to party like that around me, as long as it’s not harming them in any way, or harming anyone else. Unfortunately we’ve seen far too many times, even just yesterday we had the news of Warrel Dane passing away, and I think it’s safe to say if he would have been able to live a more healthy lifestyle, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. So it’s really sad to see our friends and our peers pass away from things like this, and I’m just so happy that within my band, everybody is quite healthy, actually. Even though they’ll party, and sometimes I’ll party with them, just drinking water or whatever, but nobody prioritises anything except for the shows and the tours. So we’re all very professional in that sense, and I’m very happy about that. But yeah, I think there’s quite a few more vegans and straight edge people in the Metal world than people know about, actually. I mean, Jeff [Loomis] is straight edge, Michael [Amott] is practically vegan, Sharlee doesn’t eat any meat, Angela was also vegan, my predecessor. Even within the crew we have a vegan, we have another person who’s also straight edge. It’s quite common actually, so it’s very, very easy.
“I’ve definitely been in situations where I was the lone wolf, and it doesn’t make drugs or alcohol any more appealing to me, just it does make it more socially difficult of course, but that being said, touring is very difficult not only for the downtime in between shows, but it takes a psychological toll on you. You actually have to kind of have two worlds that you live in, because you’re momentarily at home with your friends and family let’s say, and then most of the time you’re just in the moving bus or in a plane with like, 12 other people who are like your other family, the other world’s family. It definitely takes its toll physically, it’s exhausting physically and emotionally and mentally and psychologically because it’s not just like a clinical, ‘Okay, now we’re going on stage, now we play this, now we play that.’ Every show we do, every song we do, we do with a lot of passion and we’re our hardest critics, so it definitely takes a lot of focus and energy, and although I think that maybe alcohol helps some people numb the discomfort or pain of touring, for me I just think it would make me lose focus and I don’t want to do that. None of us want to do that, so I think we’re very lucky. One of the reasons Arch Enemy is able to tour nine or ten months of the year is because we all have that pride and that focus.”
With regard to the stage show for the upcoming Australian tour, White-Gluz reveals, “We do as much as we can to make our production really exciting and grandiose. We’re all very firm believers in the show actually being a full experience. If people just want to hear the music, of course they can just listen to the albums, but we want them to not only listen to the music but hear it in a live entity, it’s its own thing live, and a visual experience too, which is a really cool experience for the fans and of course for us as well. But it all depends on logistics. So we’ve also done plenty of shows with little to no production because that’s how we sometimes roll with festivals, and that’s always a lot of fun and they’re great too.”
As Australian fans eagerly await Arch Enemy’s 2018 tour, White-Gluz has some final words. “Thank you for your support and for being so patient, for getting Will to Power charting in Australia. We see all the comments and requests on Instagram and Facebook and stuff, requesting us to play in Australia, and we hear you, and we’re doing our best to get over there and finally we are getting over there. I hope that that’s just opened the door to us being able to tour Australia hopefully just as often as we tour everywhere else.”