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Interviews Amaran

Interview with Mikael Andersson (bass)

Interview conducted by Michel Renaud

Date online: July 15, 2001

Amaran is a new melodic metal band hailing from Sweden. Their freshly released 4-song promo CD has received good press so far and they look determined to get their name out there and take their well-deserved place in the metal world. The band's bassist and all-around good guy, Mikael Andersson, answered a few questions. Had I known that he would be the one answering this, I'd probably have added a few more questions to corner this stalker of metal message boards worldwide! ;)

Amaran is a very young band, a little over a year old. Most of you were previously in various bands, not all of them metal. How did your paths cross, were you friends or did some members come through audition? How did the decision to create Amaran come about?

Basically, Ronnie and Kari met when both were studying at Stockholm University. They soon noticed that they had a lot of musical interests in common, so they decided to start a band. About the same time as they startedRobin Bergh looking for additional members, I (Mikael) put out an ad, looking for a new band to play with. I was hoping to find a band with ambitions, and that's exactly what I found. The first one to answer my ad was Kari, and it took us about 30 minutes to realize that we had played together seven years ago, before he left to focus on his band Mourning Sign.

Johanna became a nice addition, We were putting out ads looking for vocalists, but no one seemed to fit. Then One day Kari phoned me, saying that the perfect vocalist was found. He let me listen to Johanna singing "Imperfect" over the phone, and I had to agree. Johanna was the best to try out for us, Robin joined the band in a slightly different way. We were supposed to audition another guy, but when he couldn't make it, Kari contacted Robin for an audition, and everyone thought he was a perfect choice. A drummer with both experience and the ability to work with other people.

Robin was the last needed element to the band. A drummer with a mind of his own, but with enough sense to think for himself, adding his point of view to music already written.

Each member has a different background when it comes to music. Could you expand on each member's previous experiences?

Kari has probably been into music the longest. . He had a career going on with the death metal band Mourning sign, but their record company screwed them.(company = godhead). I can't speak on Ronnie's behalf, but as far Ronnie Backlundas I know, he's been deep into metal for a long time. He's also worked as a live sound engineer for other metal bands, such as Entombed, and Amon amarth.

I have played Funk and Jazz in school. Johanna has experience from singing blues and hip-hop.

Robin has played in various bands before joining Amaran. Most notably Gorement and Piper's dawn.

The fact that all members have slightly different backgrounds is something we feel makes us stronger.

Your biography states that you aim at taking the concept of metal into the 21st century. Could you explain exactly what you mean by that? Do you consider that metal isn't transitioning well into the new century?

The problem with most modern metal bands is that they either focus upon satisfying other musicians, or satisfying the general public. We feel that anyone can relate to our music. You don't have to be a musician to Johanna DePierreunderstand it, but you will experience a little more if you are.

The main goal of our music is not creating anything new, but to best make use of what has been made before us, and maybe create a new combination while doing that.

We are not out to create a totally new composition of music, we just want to perform songs we feel haven't been performed before.

Robin Bergh (drums) didn't play on the the promo. Who did the drum work on it? When did Robin come aboard?

Robin became a member of the band in the middle of recording "Promo 2001". We felt that it was important to finish the promo, in order to send it out to labels, reviewers and gig-promoters. All drumming was performed through the use of a drum-machine. We spent a few days concentrating on getting the drums the way we wanted them. Since then, Robin has applied his views to the songs, and changes have been made, but at the time we chose to finish the promo using the sound we had at that time.

Can you tell me more about the recording of your promo CD? I noticed that the sound was quite "unequal", especially the beginning of the first song sounds a bit like a mess. Where was it recorded and using what kind of equipment? How long were you in studio?

I'm not sure about the recording time, but we broke our own recording schedule pretty fast. Our worst problem was not knowing about everyone's spare time. All of it was recorded on a computer, using Cubase software. Any Kari Kainulainenirregularities should come from the fact that most tracks were recorded in one piece, thus making it hard to get a clear sound throughout the disc. It is actually easier to get a coherent sound with separate takes, but we wanted to do it all in as long takes as possible.

The promo CD contains four songs. Do you already have more material, or are you working on new material? Is a self- released full-length a possibility?

At the latest count, we had something about 10 completely rehearsed songs, with approx. one new song per month rehearsed. We were debating a while before recording, which songs would be included, so we basically started out with a few songs too choose between. We have songs enough to get us through a live set. A self-release might become a necessity if we don't get any serious discussions going with labels.

We are currently planning on making a new recording this year, with Robin on drums. This new recording will contain three or four new tracks. We have talked about making a self-financed full-length, but nothing has been decided.

Have you started playing live gigs, and if yes, where? Any more planned this year?

We're actually still waiting for our live debut. Everyone in the band has live experience, so we're no strangers to the stage, but gigs aren't something easily found. The Promo was finished too late to get us any gigs at festivals this summer, and solo gigs aren't easy to get even for slightly bigger bands.

We are waiting to hear from a few more festivals, and we are also exploring the possibility of playing a few gigs or a short tour together with other bands.

Who does the songwriting? Is there a main music writer and lyrics writer, or is this a group effort?

Most of the music is written by Kari, with various contributions from the rest of us. Kari is basically the "father" of most songs, so he has become a central part of the songwriting. Every new song, lyric or riff goes through him. Mikael Andersson Everyone adds his/her part to the songs, but Kari is the "nerve center" of the songwriting. But everyone has contributed with songs/lyrics/parts/melodies.

Your music is quite melodic. Do you intend to pretty much stay on the same path for future material, or are you also considering more aggressive (or energetic?) compositions as well? How do you see the band's sound evolving in the short term?

We actually ARE more aggressive… And less aggressive… Just like the songs on Promo 2001 differ from each other, so do our other songs. They are all melodic, but the basics range from very soft to very hard. We don't want to get stuck in one sound, and so far I don't think we have. Every song adds a new element to the Amaran sound.

Some freak in your band claims he can outdrink all the other members. Is he for real? :)

Newsflash: guess who's answering this :) (Damn! - ed) I actually never claimed I could outdrink anyone in the band (hmmm... right. But *I* can outdrink you! -ed), but I do make a conscious effort to get as drunk as possible. "It's not enough to play an instrument, you also have to BE a rockstar"…

What are your thoughts on today's metal scene? Do you follow most of the scene or do you stick to the more melodic genres?

Today's metal scene seems to be going in a number of different ways. There are 80's bands that wouldn't change even if someone put a gun against their heads. Then there are bands that think the only way to be a good metal band is to get on Empty V.

In the middle of these two extremes you can find most of the "regular" metal nowadays. It doesn't matter what kind of metal it is. If it doesn't fit in one of the two first categories, it's probably "regular" metal. Unfortunately, this is the kind of metal mostly forgotten, and that's where we belong. We're not an 80's band trying not to go beyond 1990, and we're not a band trying to make a name for ourselves only because of the size of our pants. We are trying to create something where both music and lyrics means something. Not as in example #1 and #2 where neither music nor lyrics are important. Unlike some other bands, we are not afraid to care about our listeners.

How has the response to your CD been so far? I saw on the web site that you got some pretty positive reviews. What kind of promotion have you done so far? Have you started contacting labels yet?

We haven't seen a bad review yet, and hopefully we won't (<runs out to write bad review> ;)-ed.) All of our promotion has been/is being handled through submitting CD's to labels and e-zines/metal-sites. We have also done a lot of promotion on internet forums, and such. Quite a few copies of Promo 2001 have been sold. Mostly to friends, but also to unexpecting people who had no idea what they would get.

We have submitted the Promo to various labels, some being interested, and some not. There are still a few labels that haven't replied, and maybe they won't, but we're always checking our mailboxes.

I'm pretty much out of questions, thanks for your time! Could you tell us what's on the agenda for Amaran, and, well, standard ending, would you like to add anything else?

Amaran's immediate future: Starting to play live, making a new recording, finding a record deal worth signing.
Anything to add?: BUY OUR PROMO!!! :)

Other information about Amaran on this site
Review: Promo 2001
Review: A World Depraved

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