Together with their new record ‘Berserker’, Swedish vikingmetallers Amon Amarth came to conquer the holy grounds of Graspop Metal Meeting. We had the opportunity to talk to Ted Lundström, bass player of the band.
GRIMM: Most of the members of GRIMM are living in Ghent, you guys once played in the late venue The Frontline, a 150-people venue. Today you’re playing a stage in front of thousands of people. Except for the numbers, what’s the biggest difference between those intimate shows and the big festivals?
Club shows like that are very intense, very close to the audience, it’s very sweaty and you get an intimate feeling. A festival like Graspop you got a huge crowd, which is amazing. But the first row is like 20 meters away, so you get a different kind of connection. So many people are singing along to your music. People tend to ask what’s best, a club show or a festival show. Both are fun, because they are two completely different things, but both are really great to play.
GRIMM: When you’re on tour, do you get the chance the check some bands on the festivals you’re playing?
It depends, a lot of times you have some time left to check some bands. I usually try to see a few bands. Instead of paying for festivals, I have the luxury to see my favorite bands play at the festivals and when I go to other festivals, I get to see other bands. It’s very fun to have a look around.
GRIMM: You were talking about your favorite bands. If you got the chance to host your own festival, which bands would you put on the line-up?
I don’t know man… So many good bands. I like great big shows, so I’d love to see Iron Maiden. Maybe Rammstein, they always have good shows. Slayer is my favorite band! I could build a whole festival with all my favorite bands, so it’s tricky to say.
GRIMM: A lot of your songs are influenced by warfare. If you’ve watched Game of Thrones, what’s your idea on the battle strategies during the Battle of Winterfell?
I did watch the series, it looked like there were many different strategies. But when I watch a series like Game of Thrones, it’s more like entertainment, I’m not so much focusing on the battle strategies. We have these Viking guys that we work together with for our videos and stuff, they go more into strategies of warfare, but of course it’s on a smaller scale than Game of Thrones. They’re a couple of hundredths from all over Europe and when they meet up, they actually beat the shit out of each other. I’m more into that kind of strategies, like the shield wall and the flanks and stuff like that. So Game of Thrones is like I already said more a way of relaxation.
GRIMM: During the years that Amon Amarth has been around, lots of things have changed technology-wise. Did those changes help to make touring easier?
It’s hard to leave your family at home and leave for a two-month during tour. But at the same time internet and stuff have made it so much easier now. When we started touring, we had to go to phone booths with a bag of coins. Those were really expensive phone calls, mostly with a bad connection.
Also, if you wanted to bring music to the tour, you could choose maybe ten or fifteen of your favorite CD’s and you could bring them. Now you have your entire library on your iPod or another device. The same thing for books, I used to take one book with me when we went on tour, because bringing books gets heavy. Right now I can download those books and read them on my phone.
GRIMM: So I suppose you read a lot on tour?
Yeah sure. We get a lot of time to spend when we’re travelling on the bus. Sometimes you have a sixteen-hour-bus ride. You get to sleep for a couple hours and then you can watch a film, or you read a book… I just try to find different things to keep busy.
GRIMM: Alright, so what are you reading right now?
Like now I’m reading an old Swedish book, but I bought it again in English. In English it’s called The Longships (by Frans G. Bengtsson). It’s a book about a Viking, called Röde Orm, travelling around Europe. It’s a really good book, so if you have the time, check it out!
GRIMM: I will! Another question, do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
We don’t have a single pre-show ritual. Everybody warms up and then we usually drink a shot of Underberg together, it’s a drink like Jägermeister, that’s the thing we like to do before we go on stage.
GRIMM: You guys are here to promote your new record ‘Berserker’. If you should compare it to ‘Jomsviking’, what are the biggest differences between those two records?
The biggest difference is the fact that ‘Jomsviking’ was a concept album. So of course, we had a story that Johan, our singer, wrote a long time ago, so we had to adapt the music to the story. We had to choose which part works as a song. And also, we recorded it in England, in a small studio with Andy Sneap of Judas Priest.
With the new album, we could do whatever we wanted to do. Every song was a story of itself. It’s a bit more straight forward, more like hit oriented. And also we recorded it in LA this time, so it’s a new thing, different sound…
GRIMM: Last question, you guys are doing another European tour this fall, you’ll hit Forest National in Brussels. Can the fans expect something different compared to tonight’s show?
The first difference is that it’s going to be indoor of course. But we’re also working on some new elements for the live show. We’re going to play a lot of new songs. But we’re also going to add some fun stuff that we haven’t done before, so the people can expect something different than today’s show.
GRIMM: Alright, thank you very much for your time!