Opeth guitarist Fredrik Åkesson jumped straight into the deep end of the pool “I’m making pancakes for my daughter, it’s important to maintain good nutrition”. I knew my job was done and the interview was over.
If you don’t care much for good nutrition, then perhaps you’d like to know that Åkesson has had a long and prolific musical career transcendentally working with the who’s who from multiple genres within rock and metal. “I’ve been in many bands over the years but the band I’ve been in the longest has been Opeth, next year it’s going to be twelve years. When I was 19 I played in a band with Jeff Scott Soto who was the singer of Rising Force, Yngwie Malmsteen’s first band. It was melodic hard rock stuff and there were tons of solos, it was a positive learning experience really. After that I played with a Doom Metal band called Krux which has members from Entombed and Candlemass. I was wanting to get more into heavier stuff or psychedelic doom metal. After that I was in Arch Enemy for a while and played in Australia with them two times as well as Tiamat, I was only touring with them. I had another band called Southpaw that I released one album with that had Mats Levin singing on it which was just kinda underground. Oh I played a few solos on Human Clays album and the newest Ihsahn album, I have a lot of respect for and admire him.”
One would require a contortionist approach to be able to comfortably segue from style to style, luckily Åkesson proclaims that he “loves to play in different styles, I’ve always been interested in playing in different ways and that’s what I like especially about being a part of Opeth. They’re definitely the most diverse band I’ve ever played in.”
The band is set to release a new live DVD and album entitled “Garden of the Titans (Opeth Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre)” which sees the band playing songs off Sorceress, Ghost Reveries, My Arms Your Hearse, Pale Communion, Heritage, Damnation at the beautiful Red Rocks venue in Colorado. “The venue is spectacular, it’s a geological phenomenon. When you’re standing on that stage and looking at those red cliffs, and the crowd that was there. I think it was over seven thousand people, you will certainly remember a night like that. I mean, it was quite recent so there is that, but all the other live releases have been indoors and it was cool to do something different outdoors and it was a magical night apart from it being freezing cold. I think it was 0 degrees while we played, during the day it was a comfortable temperature but when we played it was freezing and after a couple of songs a storm blew over which you can see in the DVD, the wind picks up and starts blowing heavily. We had a screen up behind the drum kit that was playing movies and stuff and a couple of guys on the crew had to grab and hang off it otherwise it would’ve blown away (laughs). It was intense actually! I think that if you watch the DVD you can tell we were struggling. While we were on stage we were like, this is too typical that we’re going to get this weather after we invest in a camera and audio crew. When we watched the result, we thought it was pretty good so thank god… or rather… thank SATAN (laughs)”
During an intermission, Åkerfeldt informs the crowd that may of the mistakes will “magically disappear” on the live album, after a good chuckle Åkesson says “He was definitely being sarcastic there.”, I thought to myself, when is Åkerfeldt EVER sarcastic? Anyway, he continues “We wanted to do an honest recording and not do any shading, we had to fix a couple of things like one guitar being a little out of tune. But nothing was bad and we figured that we couldn’t fix things without being too prestigious. I actually wanted to redo a guitar solo but Mikael said no you can’t, but he was right because it doesn’t matter if a note slips a little here or there, it just adds a bit of energy. Usually when you stand on stage you experience mistakes in a way that seems way bigger than they are to the listener. When you hear it back you usually think oh, that wasn’t as bad as I experienced. If it’s a big mistake though, you’ll remember it (laughs).”
I ask in jest, You would have encountered such a predicament, to which he responds “no, that’s never happened.” I respond, I think you’re lying to me… “(silence)…..Um, Yeah….”, we proceed to lose our collective shit.
“It was actually my guitar that went out of tune, it was a short section actually. We have gaps in a few songs where we can take time to tune and it was during “Ghost of Perdition” *plays a section on guitar* those chugging riffs. I probably shouldn’t have told you but honesty is best.” I ask if it’s okay to keep that in the interview “It’s not a big deal, it’s not a prestigious kind of thing I mean, it was just a little section so it’s fine.” Sometimes if a guitar goes from one temperature climate to another, it can mess with its stability, Åkersson confirms “Yeah it was my guitar actually and we had them on stage all day. This song has a drop tuning as well which can be sensitive and the guitar technician needs to play the string the same way I would or it’ll respond differently. But this was at the beginning of the song so it was my fault (laughs). Otherwise we’re perfectionists, every show should be the best you can do. Like, I think that every note you play should feel like the last note you play before you die.”
Pick up your copy of Garden of the Titans on CD, DVD and LP HERE