The Swedish band Amaranthe released their fifth album Helix in October. We caught up with bassist Johan Andreassen, who fills us in on the album, their new vocalist, touring, his non-musical interests and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, vocalist Nils Molin, come to join the band?
Johan Andreassen: We have known Nils for quite some time after doing shows together with his other band Dynazty and also the music community ain’t that big in Sweden and everyone more or less knows everyone.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Helix compared to past albums?
It was basically the same as it has always been. Elize (Ryd, vocals) and Olof (Morck, guitar) started to work on some ideas they had and just switched on that creative part of their brains and just fired away! What might have been unique in this case was that it took only two months to write it. Nils and Henke (vocals) took part of the writing as well but I think that there weren’t any distractions for Elize and Olof this time around.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of Helix?
To me personally it was working this time more closely with Jacob Hansen, our producer. I’ve always tracked the bass with Olof, but this time it was done almost exclusively with Jacob and he is not only a monster producer but also a really funny and laid back dude so it´s easy to relax around him! And also a memorable moment was when we got to hear the album when it was done. Damn, that was spine-chilling!
Did you struggle with song order at all?
There is always a debate around things like that, but I do believe that this time it was pretty smooth sailing. We all feel very much the same for the separate songs and also for the album as a whole, so this time we really seemed to have the same vision about it!
How has the band’s sound evolved from Maximalism?
I guess you can say that we took a step back and rediscovered our roots, if you like. But we really wanted to make a heavier album, trying to explore previously uncharted ground for the Amaranthe sound but still keeping the core essence of what that is! And also incorporating other things like some “rap-ish” parts. I mean. why the heck not?! We are Amaranthe!
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
World domination and having Iron Maiden opening for us! (laughs). Seriously speaking, with this album and a new organization behind us that really is a big step up, we really want this to be the one album that will make it for us. We all have a strong feeling not only about the album but also everything around us so yes, Iron Maiden will open for us eventually. (laughs)
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
That´s an interesting question. I would like to say that I don´t really care no matter if it´s a positive or negative review because people who write reviews in my opinion are just ordinary people that get to make their voice and opinion heard! And they often hide behind their computers or what-not! There is a difference between understanding and liking, but respecting the craftmanship you can always do and that is something often forgotten! If someone would walk up to me and say something in line of “I really don´t like Amaranthe at all and it´s simply not my thing, but damn, you do it well!”
What were some of the memorable moments of your summer festival season?
Being bummed out because we got to play Wacken Open Air in Germany at 11 in the morning! I was really bummed out and disappointed when I saw that. However, that feeling disappeared as soon as we walked up on the stage and saw that the place was already packed and people were still joining the big ass crowd. That frown was pretty soon whipped off! (laughs)
What are your upcoming tour plans?
In January we continue with the second leg of the Powerwolf tour for three weeks and after that straight onto our own headlining tour across Europe, so all in all five weeks. After that some R&R and off to Russia. Don´t know too much after that (I´m a bass player you know), but it seems like we will have a busy schedule in the summer with a lot of festivals!
Any plans for a North American tour this album cycle?
We really hope so, but as far as I know there isn´t anything booked and confirmed yet, so be patient please!
What’s your favorite way to kill time on the road?
Sleep, drink beer. Personally I try to go for long runs as much as possible! And just hang out. Everyone has their own recipe for survival!
What’s the most interesting site you’ve been able to visit while on tour?
It´s difficult to say, but the Grand Canyon was amazing. Then I can switch over to extreme hi-tech and say also CERN where they have the Large Hadron Collider. That was something out of this world!!
Your songs now receive a lot of radio airplay. Do you remember the first time you heard an Amaranthe song on the radio?
I sure do. I was feeling miserable at my work at that time and our song “Hunger” came on. That turned the day around, especially since my dickhead boss always told me that I should accept his offer for steady employment. But I refused and he thought I was an idiot for doing so. Who´s laughing now, asshat!? (laughs)
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
As I stated earlier I run a lot. I like to go for as long as possible and mostly trail running. It´s really working like meditation for me and my mind gets clear and stress disappears pretty much!
I also picked up on something strange sounding but an equally really fun thing: bicycle polo! Sounds strange I know, but it is really fun and the guys I´m playing with are just the coolest and most down to earth guys ever. We get together, have a few beers and play some bike polo. Just perfect.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I went to see the Queen movie the other day so right now it´s Queen on high rotation.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I would like to thank everyone who has stuck by us and supported us. We will repay you all with great music, killer live shows and bad jokes! And I really hope we get to go to the U.S. and North America soon! Thank you all!
(interview published December 5, 2018)