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Interview med Ted Lundström - Amon Amarth

Ted Lundström Nikolaj Bransholm

I forbindelse med deres koncert på Copenhell, fik vi os en sludder med Amon Amarths bassist, Ted Lundström, om deres nye album, fritidsinteresser, at spille dødsmetal efter de 30, og hvorfor de bliver ved med at komme tilbage til Copenhell.

Sammenlignet med jeres ældre albums såsom ”Twilight of the Thunder God” eller ”With Oden on Our Side”, så er ”Berserker” et meget mere melodisk album med akustiske guitarer og keyboards. Var der en årsag til den tilgang?

Næ, jeg tror bare, det er bandets naturlige udvikling, du ved. Vi bliver ældre, og vi gik ligesom tilbage til den slags musik, vi voksede op med. Man kan høre en masse Iron Maiden og Judas Priest-indflydelse med en mere heavy metal-orienteret lyd og melodier.

Apropos ældre bands som Iron Maiden og Judas Priest, så er deres indflydelse ret klar på ”Berserker”. Var det bevidst eller bare noget, der skete i studiet?

Næh jeg tror bare… måske var det lidt bevidst… Men selvfølgelig, du ved, man lytter meget til den slags musik, man har lyttet til hele sit liv, så jeg tror at det… Men, du ved at komme ind i et nyt studie, man prøver de nye forstærkere, de nye guitarer, som har en mere old school-lyd, 80’er heavy metal-lyd. Så det er en kombination af, at man har den lyd, og så sker den slags naturligt. Så det var en kombination af mange forskellige faktorer.

Da I skrev “Jomsviking” var det klart, det var et konceptalbum, mens ”Berserker” mere var retur til de gamle albums. Men hvordan var skriveprocessen for ”Berserker” sammenlignet med at skrive et konceptalbum?

Jeg tror, rent musikmæssigt, at det var nemmere, fordi man kunne, hvis man havde en ide til en sang, så kunne man bare fokusere på det. Du behøvede ikke at sørge for, det passede ind i en historie. ”Jomsviking” var en sjov og kreativ ting, men man var nødt til at følge bestemte, du ved, man ville skabe en stemning igennem hele albummet: nogle gange går det op, nogle gange går det ned. Det her var i bund og grund, som når man skriver individuelle sange, så kan man ignorere alt det andet, så det er nemmere. Bare fokuser på den ene sang, det omkvæd – så ja, som du sagde, det var tilbage til rødderne. Begge erfaringer var sjove, men det ene var nemmere på en måde.

Er der en chance for endnu et konceptalbum, ikke nødvendigvis ”Jomsviking 2”, men noget i den retning?

Det ville vi ikke have noget imod. Hvis vi en dag kom på en historie, som vi mener fortjener et helt album, så ville vi klart gøre det igen. Men lige nu har vi ikke nogen planer for den slags, men måske i fremtiden ja – det kunne klart ske.

Det her er 3. gang i spiller på Copenhell. Hvad er der så specielt ved denne festival, siden I bliver ved med at komme igen?

Tja jeg synes, det er en fed festival. Jeg elsker det her, der er en fed stemning så ja, en fed festival, som man altid vil tilbage til. Det er en kombination af publikum, organisationen, bands – der er mange faktorer. Så ja, vi kan virkeligt godt lide den.

Publikum elsker tydeligvis jeres koncerter – det går totalt amok. Apropos, når I beslutter jer for en sætliste, hvordan foregår det så, og hvem bestemmer den?

I bund og grund så sætter vi os ned, du ved, hvor meget tid har vi? Hvad har vi lyst til? Vi har det nye album, hvor mange sange vil vi spille fra det? Afhængigt af hvor meget tid vi har osv. Måske man har lyst til at spille noget af de ældre. Man prøver at lave en sætliste, man synes er sjov, og som publikum vil kunne lide. Det er en noget-for-noget situation. Fordi hvis man har et tilfreds publikum så gør det ens optræden så meget sjovere. Så vi prøver at brainstorme sammen, og så kommer vi på en sætliste, der virker.

Når I ikke er på tour eller indspiller, hvad laver du så? Jeg ved fx, at Johan Hegg har Grimfrost, men hvad med dig?

Meget af min tid går med bandet, også selvom vi ikke er på tour. Planlægning og den slags. Men resten af tiden, altså jeg har en familie derhjemme, så jeg prøver at bruge så meget tid med dem, som jeg kan, fordi man jo er meget væk fra dem. Jeg kan godt lide, du ved, at vandre, fiske og gå ture i skoven, det er meget afslappende mellem turneerne.

Hvad inspirerede dig til at samle bassen op?

Da jeg voksede op og så bands som KISS og Iron Maiden, der spillede de store shows, det var nok det, der fik mig til at interessere mig for musik i det hele taget. Men årsagen til, at jeg egentligt samlede instrumentet op, var nok den spirende dødsmetalscene i Florida og Stockholm. Halvdelen af ens venner spillede i band, så det var en voksende ting, man ville være en del af, fordi man jo gik til alle deres koncerter, og man selv ville spille. Så jeg startede med at spille guitar i et band, men kort tid efter blev jeg bedt om at spille bas i et andet. Så jeg faldt ligesom ind i rollen.

“The Avenger” fylder 20 år i år. Har I overvejet at lave noget specielt for at fejre det?

Ikke rigtigt. Vi spiller et par sange fra albummet, når vi har længere sets denne summer, bare for at fejre det en smule. Men vi har ikke nogen specielle planer, vi har genudgivet albummet for længe siden, så vi fokuserer på det nye album.

Amon Amarth er blevet synonymt med perfekt udført synkroniseret headbanging. Var det noget, I nogensinde øvede?

Det var faktisk aldrig noget, vi planlagde. I begyndelse headbangede vi hele tiden, men synkroniseringen var noget, der bare skete, og vi tænkte ”wow det er fedt! Hvorfor gør vi ikke det mere!?”. Så det var noget, der startede som et tilfælde. Vi syntes, det var fedt, så vi byggede ovenpå, og nu sidder det ligesom fast

Hvad ville dit råd være til 1992-Amon Amarth?

Jeg er faktisk ret tilfreds med alt det, som er sket indtil videre. Hvis man er i et band, så har man sine op- og nedture. Nogle ting virker, og andre ting virker ikke. Jeg tror, at Amon Amarth i dag er, hvad det er, pga. alt det som er sket. Så jeg tror ikke, jeg ville sige til mig selv, at han skulle gøre noget andet. Hav det sjovt, slap af, og hvis det sker, så sker det, og hvis ikke, så havde du det i det mindste sjovt.

Hvis 1992-Amon Amarth kunne se jer i dag, ville de så blive glade?

Ja! Jeg mener, jeg troede ikke engang, at jeg ville spille musik, når jeg var så gammel! Jeg kan huske, da vi tænkte, ”at hvis du er 30 og spiller dødsmetal, så er du gammel!”. Man var bare glad for at spille og for hvert mål, man nåede, satte man et nyt. Så hvis 30-år-siden mig kunne se mig nu, så tror jeg, han ville blive imponeret og meget glad.

I har allerede turneret i meget af verden og spillet med mange af de store bands, så hvor ser I Amon Amarth om fem år?

Godt spørgsmål! Jeg mener, vi vil fortsætte med at arbejde, prøve at spille flere shows, større shows, flere lande. Vi elsker det det her, så vi vil bare gerne gøre det mere og gøre det større, så forhåbentligt om fem år så gør vi det samme med et nyt album – bare større!

Altid stræbe efter at gøre noget mere, aldrig slå sig til tåls, aldrig tænk ”nu er det godt nok” – altid prøv at skubbe sig selv, så det er måske noget jeg ville sige til mit yngre jeg! Arbejd, hav det sjovt, men fokuser!

Er der et land I ikke har spillet i nu, som I ville elske at spille i?

Der er mange lande, men det er måske lidt svært. Vi har ikke spillet nogle steder i Afrika. Jeg ville elske at tage til Sydafrika, Taiwan… Indonesien, Thailand. Vi elsker at spille nye steder, det er faktisk ikke vigtigt, hvor det er.

Hvad kan fans forvente af jeres koncert her på Copenhell ’19

Forvent et vikingegilde! Vi har tænkt os at gøre så meget som muligt. Vi har en time, vi har taget hele vores produktion med, pyroteknik, fællessang, eksplosioner. Vi har to lastbiler fyldt med ting, så folk kan virkelig forvente et show!

Compared to older albums such as “Twilight of the Thunder God” or “With Oden on Our Side”, “Berserker” is a much more melodic record with acoustic guitars and keyboard. Was there a reason to this approach?

Nah I think it’s just a natural progress of the band, you know. We are getting older, and we’re kinda like going back to the kind of music we grow up with. You can hear a lot of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest influences and more heavy metal oriented sound and melodies mostly.

Speaking of the older bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, those influences are quite clear on “Berserker”. Was that intentional or something that just happened in the studio?

Nah I think.. maybe it was a little bit intentional.. Of course, you know you listen a lot to that kind of music, and when you’ve been listening to that kind of music for your whole life basically, so I think that’s… But also, you know, entering a new studio trying out some new guitar amps, new guitars with a bit more old school, 80’s-heavy metal sound, so it’s a combination of you having that sound and that thing just kinda naturally happens. So, it’s a combination of many different factors.

When you wrote “Jomsviking”, it was clear that it was a concept album whereas “Berserker” was more of a return to the old-style albums. But how was the writing process of “Berserker” compared to writing a concept album?

Well I think musicwise, this was much easier because you could, if you had an idea for a song, you could just focus on that. You didn’t have to make it fit into a story. “Jomsviking” was a fun, creative thing, but you really had to follow certain, you know, you want to create a mood through the whole album; sometimes it goes up and down. This was basically more like when you write individual songs, you don’t have to care about other stuff, you know, it’s kinda easier. Just focus on that song, that chorus – so yeah, like you said, a bit more back to the basic stuff. Both experiences were fun, but this was easier in a way.

Could we see another concept album? I’m not saying “Jomsviking 2”, but something along those lines?

We wouldn’t mind. If we one day came up with a story, that we think deserves a whole album, we would definitely do it again. But right now, we don’t have any plans for that so, maybe in the future yeah – it could possibly happen.

This is the 3rd time, you are playing at Copenhell. What’s so special about this festival, that makes you coming back to it?

Well, I think it’s a great festival, I love it here. It’s a great atmosphere, so yeah, a great festival, you always want to come back to. It’s a combination of audience, organization, bands – many factors that goes into it. So yeah, we really like it.

That crowd obviously loves your concerts, they go totally amok. Speaking of which, when you decide on the setlist – how does it work and who decides on the setlist?

Basically, we sit down and think, you know, how much time do we have, what do we want to do now, we have the new album, how many songs do we wanna put in here from it – depending on the set length and stuff. You wanna maybe do some older stuff. You try to make a setlist that you think is fun, and also that the audience is gonna like because it’s a give-and-take. Because if you have a happy audience, it makes your performance much more fun. So, we try to brainstorm together, and we come up with a setlist that works.

When you are not touring or recording, what’s your hobbies then? I know Johan Hegg has Grimfrost, but what about you?

A lot of my time, besides touring, is still being involved with the band, planning and such. But the rest of the time, I’ve got a family back home, so I try to spend a lot of time with them because you are away so much. I like to, you know, go hiking, fishing and going out in the forest which is relaxing between tours

What inspired you to pick up the bass in the first place?

Growing up, seeing all these bands like KISS and Iron Maiden doing big shows – that was kinda what got me into music in the first place. But the reason to actually pick up the instrument was probably the rise of the death metal scene in Florida and Stockholm. Half of your friends had a band, so it was a growing thing, and you wanted to be a part of that, because you were going to all the concerts, and you also wanted to play. So, I started playing guitar in one band, but shortly after I was asked to play bass in another band. So, I just happened to fall into this role.

“The Avenger” turns 20 this year - have you considered doing something special to celebrate the album?

Not really. We are playing a couple of songs from the album, when we have longer sets this summer just to celebrate a little bit. But we don’t have any special plans. We’ve done the re-release of the album way back. We are focusing on the new album.

Amon Amarth has become synonymous with perfectly executed, synchronized headbanging. Was that ever something you guys practiced?

It was never something we planned on. In the beginning of the band, we would just headbang all the time. But the synchronizing was just something that happened, and we were like “wow that’s cool, why don’t we do that some more?!”. So, it was something that happened by accident, we thought it was cool, so we started building on that, and then it just kinda stuck.

What would your advice be to the 1992-Amon Amarth?

I’m pretty happy with all the stuff that has happened so far. If you are in a band, you will have ups and downs, some things that doesn’t go your way and somethings that does go your way. I think Amon Amarth today is what is, because of everything that happened, so I don’t think I would tell myself to do anything different. Just have fun and relax. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t? Well at least you had fun along the way.

If the 1992-Amon Amarth could see you today, would they be pleased?

Yeah! I mean, I didn’t even think, I was going to be playing music, when I was this old! I remember, when we were thinking “If you are 30 and playing death metal, you are old!”. You were happy just to play shows, and for each goal you reached, you set a new goal. So, if 30-years-ago me could see myself now, I think he would be impressed and very happy.

You’ve already toured much of the world, played with a lot of the big bands, so where is Amon Amarth in five years?

Good question! I mean, we’ll just continue working, trying to play more shows, bigger shows, more countries. We love doing this, so we just wanna do more and bigger. So hopefully in five years, we’ll do the same thing, with a new album – just bigger! Always strive to do something more, never settle, never think “this is enough” – always try to push yourself, so that’s maybe something I would tell my younger self! Work, have fun, but focus!

Is there a country you haven’t played in yet, that you would love to play in?

There are a lot of countries, but it’s going to be tricky. We haven’t played anywhere in Africa, I would love to go to South Africa, Taiwan… Indonesia, Thailand. We love to play new places, doesn’t really matter where it is.

What can the fans expect of your concert here at Copenhell ’19?

Expect a viking feast! We are going to try to do as much as possible. We have one hour, we’ll bring our full production, pyros, sing-a-longs, explosions. We have like two trucks full of stuff, so people can expect a show really!

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