Interview by Tony CannellaThe Swedish metal band Amaranthe recently embarked on their first ever U.S. tour. They are out supporting their excellent sophomore effort “The Nexus” and have been showing the North American fans what they are capable of in a live setting. Recently, prior to their excellent show in Cambridge, Mass. two of the vocalists Elize Ryd and Jake E. were kind enough to take some time following their sound check to discuss a variety of topics. Here is what they had to say… The new album, “The Nexus” is out. Could you please tell us a little about it?
Elize: Yeah, this is Amaranthe’s second album actually. The first one was not released here in the United States, so for the U.S. market this is our first album. There’s a lot more of everything, I think, we took it a step further compared to the first one. We have a lot of different kinds of songs. We are very satisfied with the results and it’s been received very well.Musically, “The Nexus” kind of goes off into different directions. How would you describe your sound?
Elize: The sound is like a mixture of different sounds and genres. We have of course metal, we have a taste of techno, and we have a taste of death metal. Some vocal melodies are pop music inspired. We have three vocalists representing these different sounds.That’s kind of unique to have three singers with three distinctive voices. How does that work when you’re writing songs?
Elize: It works pretty well. Jake and Olof started the project. They had this all star project in mind and they invited me to contribute, because we were really good friends. I was collaborating with them on their previous band. Also, they invited Andy to do guest vocals. It was only a demo, but they put it out on MySpace – it was only two songs – and it got a lot of attention because of the different sounds and also the thing with all of us having different kind of vocals, so they decided to keep us as part of the band. When I heard the first two songs, I really felt like this is my kind of music and that I can add something writing wise. This was something that I wanted to dig deeper into and be a part of.How do you feel “The Nexus” differs from your first album?
Elize: The first one, I think we also got some really good reviews and we got a lot of fans on the first album and we got more confident as a band. We wanted to do it even more clear – not saving anything – just go and continue with what we thought really worked, so we worked a little bit extra on that part, like dividing the styles.How have the reactions been from the fans and media?
Elize: It’s been very, very good. It’s been great!Is this your first time touring North America?
Elize: Yes with Amaranthe, it is our first tour of the United States.You also toured the U.S. as one of the female singers for Kamelot. What was that experience like?
Elize: Oh yeah. I did one headlining tour with Kamelot and one support tour where Kamelot supported Nightwish. It was so amazing because when I came here the first time, I was so excited to come here because it’s been a big dream since I was a kid. I got to see a lot of really nice things and get to know the American fans. The tours were great. It was a great experience, but of course it is a little extra amazing to be here with your own band with songs you have been a part of writing and something you have been working on from scratch, its different when you are a part of something that already exists. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.So this is the third date of the current North American tour. How has it gone so far?
Elize: It’s very hard to expect something but it’s gone over my expectations. It’s been amazing. The New York show was something totally fantastic. The audience was great and the second one as well – there were a lot of people yesterday in Westchester. We’re very happy and we hope it’s going to continue this way.
How many shows are you doing on this run?
Elize: It’s eleven in total.Let’s talk about your videos. They are some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Elize: Thank you! That’s nice to hear.They’re like mini-movies and they are always such fresh and unique ideas. Who comes up with the concepts?
Elize: We work with a director named Patric Ulleaus. The concepts come from Jake and Olof mostly.
Jake E: Yeah, the cinematic ideas come from me mostly, how the scene should be and the storyboard. I write the story board from the lyrics mostly, like on “The Hunger” and “The Nexus” videos. Me and Patric collaborate our thoughts around it and then we check it with the band and see what they think, and everyone has their input, of course. It’s usually me that works on the basic idea and gets the story going and getting locations…
Elize: It’s something you really want to do if you get the chance is to make a great video. Also the label supported us so we are able to do a great expensive video.
Jake E: One thing we said when we had contract offers from different labels, one of our biggest demands was to get real budgets for videos because we simply said that it was something that we really wanted to do, so that was a priority for us.
Elize: Which was a really good idea, I think. And of course, now afterwards you realize how important it is to have a good video, now we have to keep the level up for every video we do.They’re eye catching too. Once you see them, you don’t forget them.
Elize: That’s cool. I like that, thank you. We’re going to do our third single video from “The Nexus” album in the United States in one week, in Las Vegas and L.A.Elize, you had the unique experience of doing lead vocals for Nightwish at that show in Colorado after their singer got sick in the middle of the tour. How strange of a situation was that?
Elize: Yeah, in Denver. Everything got recorded. The Nightwish film director just arrived that day, so they filmed everything which is going to be out on a Nightwish DVD. I guess everybody is going to see kind of how it happened. First we thought they were going to cancel the show, so we (Kamelot) kept on playing more and more songs. Then they changed their mind and we finished the show. They said, ‘we would be really happy if you could help us out if you know any of the songs, do you know any of the songs?’ I tried to think fast and then suddenly I couldn’t remember any songs. Then I was like where is the set list? I did actually some recordings a long time ago where I sang three of the songs so they were still in my memory. I helped them out with some songs. It was pretty indescribable. I was in the moment and I didn’t think about what everyone else was going to think about it, outside of the people who were in the venue.How did you feel when it was done? Was it a huge relief?
Elize: It’s really hard to remember exactly. I was happy they liked it, the audience was really supportive, they could have booed me out or whatever, because they wanted to have the regular singer there of course, but they were so supportive and they were so nice to me personally and the band was really grateful. We really connected. The Nightwish guys are really special to me now. We’re really good friends.The first album isn’t available in the States yet. Do you think it will be made available in the future?
Elize: Oh god, I really, really hope so, but I haven’t got any information.
Jake E: Physically, I don’t really know. I guess it depends on the sales of this one and how many people actually demand to get it. You can still get it from Amazon and stuff like that if you order it. I know that some stores here in the States have ordered it, and you can still get it on iTunes. It’s been released on iTunes since it first came out. I don’t really know. Maybe when we release the third album, they will probably re-push the first two as well.What are your plans following the completion of the North American dates?
Elize: Our plan is to go back home and we’re going to start working on our third album pretty soon. We are going to start working on hopefully coming back to the United States. In the spring we’re going to start touring again all over in Europe. Hopefully we’re going to go to Japan before this year ends.Have you been to Japan before?
Elize: Yeah, we’ve been there. We played Loud Park and then we had our own headlining tour, as well.
Jake E: Three times we’ve been there. Before we start the new album we will fly directly from L.A. to do two more festivals in Finland. I think we’ve got ten more festivals to do before summers end.Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. In conclusion, is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans?
Elize: I always want to say thank you so much for the support. We really, really enjoy being here and I hope we can come back soon.
Photos by Ville Juurikkala