Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt gave a long and wide-ranging interview to the Bay Area news site KTVU.com recently, in preparation for the band's show at the Fox Theater there tonight with Mastodon and Ghost. It's a very interesting conversation that covers his dissatisfaction with modern metal, his knowledge of jazz fusion, and his approach to stage banter, as well as many other subjects.
Says Mikael about the sound of the band's latest album, Heritage, "I was just gravitating towards something else when I was writing this record and ended up with an album that was a bit more rootsy. I'm tired of contemporary metal production. It sounds so f---ing slick and there's a lack of dynamics. I wanted to record in a different way too. So having that in mind, I guess the songs took shape in a different way than they have before...It's also a matter of me not listening to death metal. I haven't been listening to death metal since the early '90s. you know? Even when we did the first record [Orchid in 1994], I was more or less done with listening to metal."
When the interviewer mentions hearing touches of '70s-style jazz fusion on Heritage, Åkerfeldt replies, "I collect records and I have some Weather Report and some Billy Cobham and some Herbie Hancock and some Allan Holdsworth. And John McLaughlin of course and Mahavishnu Orchestra and all that kind of stuff. And I do like it, but I've never listened to it so much that I would get inspired to write a whole album like that. I like fusion in small doses if you know what I mean. It can be a bit tedious for me to listen to sometimes. But I do like it. And it's funny that you mention Weather Report, because we have [former WR member] Alex Acuña playing percussion on our record..."
Regarding his...atypical approach to between-song banter, Mikael says, "People are more used to going to metal shows where the front man is doing the cliche type of talk, like 'Get your horns in the air!' or 'You guys are the f-----g best!' That kind of stuff. I can't really find that in myself. I can't do that and keep a straight face. I think it's f-----g ridiculous, you know? So the way I am onstage when I talk between songs is a bit of a distorted and boosted version of me offstage I guess. And that's all it is. I'm not really funny like a comedian. But sometimes the vibe is right and it becomes a fun situation. I especially like to make fun of myself and the band members and metal in general."
Opeth tour dates continue through May 12; find a show near you!