I had the honor to talk with Olof Morck the lead guitarist, co-founder and main composer along with Elize Ryd of Amaranthe. I had a chance to talk with Morck at a show in Argentina last year and it was great to catch up again. We discussed Amarnathe’s new album “Helix”, what it is like to write songs with three singers, their awesome music videos and some other interesting topics. Morck is always easy going and a pleasure to talk with. I want to thank him for his time and really look forward to the next time I get to see Amaranthe live! On to the interview.
Morck started by talking about the new album a bit, “It is really exciting for us that people are starting to get to listen to the album and everything. I guess its been like 8 months since we started writing the album, so it is really exciting to see what people think of it.”
Since this will be Amaranthe’s fifth studio album, we talked some about Morck’s musical influences growing up, the idea of making a band with three vocalists and that pop metal sound they have perfected. Morck had this to say, “My influences growing up were quite wide. I would listen to pretty much everything between classical music to Michael Jackson and heavy metal at an early age. I think that is why you find such a range of genres that are reflected in Amaranthe’s music. When we started out in 2008, in fact it is almost ten years to the day that we started fiddling around with the music. We wanted something that was a lot more diverse. At that point from my perspective, the metal scene had become a bit repetitive and I think it is even more like that today. We wanted something that acted as a counter point to the music that was out there. We wanted to incorporate everything from the heaviest metal to pop influences too. We did not want to limit ourselves musically and keep an open mind to as many interesting ideas as possible.”
Next Morck talked about the differences between Amaranthe’s last album “Maximalism” and the new album “Helix”. He addressed it this way, “I think “Maximalism” was about taking certain elements and explore them a little bit further to see where it would lead. I think with “Helix” the influences in general and the scope of things was a bit more wide this time around. The last album was a bit more of working on certain pieces, where “Helix” was about trying to encapsulate the entire career of Amaranthe and all the different ideas we have had from the beginning. We tried to make the ultimate Amaranthe album. Sometimes you go a little bit deeper, but this time we went a little bit wider which meant bring back a few elements from the first couple of albums. “Helix” is definitely a heavier album and it is definitely my favorite album so far and I haven’t really said that before and that is a cool thing.”
Morck also talked about the incredible high-quality videos that Amaranthe puts out, including the new video for their first single 365 from “Helix”. I think the videos have really helped them grow as a band and fans really look forward to when the band releases new videos. Morck had this to say, “Since day one it has always been a collaboration with Patrick Ullaeus who has done videos for Dimmu Borgir, In Flames and Within Temptation. He has been a friend of the band even before the first video. We had never worked with him with any of our other bands because we couldn’t afford him (laughs) at that point. We told him as soon as we sign our record deal with our new band Amaranthe, we would definitely be able to work together. It was something we pushed for very hard with the first record deal. We needed to have a proper video because we had so many visual ideas that we wanted to realize along with the music. The really cool thing was that even from the very first album, we started to think in visual terms as we were composing. When we were working on a song like Hunger for example, we even envisioned it needed to start with an explosion and it needs all these different elements to really enhance the music. Obviously, You Tube is such a big thing for the music industry at this point. Ten years ago, everyone was predicting it was the end of the music video era. When MTV was airing anything but music videos basically, that would be the end. It is cool to see the idea of the music video has really had a resurgence that every band uses. Even the smallest bands find a way to do music videos. It is really cool to put some emphasis on videos because it is a great way to express yourself creatively.”
Amaranthe has a new vocalist Nils Molin who has replaced Jake E as the clean male vocals. Morck talked about that, “It was a little bit strange I have to say, because Nils joined the band on tour. It was March of last year and it was not a lot of time to be in the band before it was time to start recording “Helix”. First of all, I had great faith in Nils from what I had heard from his Dynazty records which is his other band. Expectations were high from that point. I was listening to one of the Dynazty albums around the time Jake started talking about not touring and potentially leaving in the future. I started thinking Molin would fit in really well. It was a different thing though, with me and Elize writing vocal lines for him and how does he sound together with Elize when singing these lines at the same time. There are a lot of elements that need to click. I had been hearing his voice on the older Amaranthe songs on three different tours, so I was already used to the concept of how this would work. One or two songs in on “Helix” he sounded completely natural to me and he is a great fit in every way. As a person, the way he interacts with the band is great and he is a smart guy as well. It feels like he has been in the band a lot longer than he has.”
Another interesting topic Morck talked about was the song writing for “Helix”, “It is definitely an interesting process. It is something that really comes natural for us. On this album to be perfectly honest, we were really pushing ourselves quite a bit in terms of the time scope. We were touring until mid-December of last year. After that I got together with Elize around January 5th and then we went into the studio on March 5th. It took two months to compose the entire album from scratch. We did not have a single idea recorded at that point. I told myself and Elize lets try this, I think it will be very interesting to be knee deep into the process the entire time. We will work 10-12 hours every day except Sundays from January 5th to March 5th. We did not take any breaks, didn’t do any tours and were in the creative zone the entire time. For Elize and I, we have so much experience working together over the last 12 year or so, it just fell together naturally. It really never happened where we would sit down and try to compose something, and nothing would come out. We went into the studio with a lot more ideas then what we needed. It was an insanely creative process and a whole lot of fun as well to be in that zone so intensely.”
Amaranthe will be touring around Europe through the end of this year. Morck touched a bit on the plans for 2019, “(Laughs) Keeping very busy as always. Early in 2019 we are playing some shows in Finland that will be our first arena headline shows ever. It is going to be like six-thousand seat venues and they have already sold quite a large portion of those tickets so that is incredibly exciting for the band. Beyond that we will try to come back to the US again, definitely go to Japan, later in 2019 we will do another European tour and all the summer festivals. 2019 is going to be a busy year and we will try to cover as much of the world as we can.”
Pre-order the album HERE.