Ten Questions with Christopher and Michael Amott of Arch Enemy
In the world of melodic death metal, you'd be hard pressed to find a more influential band than Arch Enemy. Musically, the inception of what would become Arch Enemy dates back to 1988. Michael and Johan (Livan - who would become Arch Enemy's lead singer) form Carnage, so technically they sit atop this musicial pyramid, so to speak. From there, you get Arch Enemy (obviously) but also Spiritual Beggars, Carcass, Mercyful Fate, Armageddon, and a number of others that clearly influenced dozens of other players and bands at the same time but you get the point. In 2001, Arch Enemy brought on Angela Gossow, a powerhouse front with a messo-soprano range but a gnarly growl just this side of thunder. But that together with the reunion of the Brothers Amott, and you once again, created a firestorm of talent.
Guitar.com spoke with Christopher and Michael regarding there never ending tour, new music and their gear. Let's see what they're up to -
Guitar.com: Michael, Christopher, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. It's been a while since we last spoke. Michael, it's also been a ]while now since your brother rejoined the band, Does it seem as though he never left at this point?
Michael Amott: Yes, totally. Chris was gone for 2 years (2005-2007). But now that’s a period of the band that seems quite brief when looking back. What me and Chris have together as a guitar team is something special and unique.
Guitar.com: Over the course of that period, did anything change (songwriting approach, sonic quality, etc) from the time you recorded The Root of all Evil to your new album Khaos Legions?
Michael: I definitely feel we achived a higher standard of material as well as sonic quality on ’Khaos Legions’. We spent more time on this one, in every aspect...writing, pre-production and the actual recording and mixing too. I think that really payed off and we have a piece of art that we are all very pleased with.
Guitar.com: We also saw that you now have your own signature series guitar with Dean Guitars, “The Tyrant”. What can you tell us about it?
Michael: My signature series with Dean is a spin on the classic “V” but with specs that make it perfect for my style of playing. I signed on with Dean in 2008 and I haven’t touched another brand of guitar since, on stage or in the studio. My signature V’s are what I used for all my rhythm and lead tracks on ‘Khaos Legions’, it sounds great and plays great and looks awesome. The ones I play have a mahogany top / body, 24-3/4" scale, set mahogany neck and an ebony fingerboard. My signature DMT pickup does a great job in this axe too.
Guitar.com: Is this available in a neck thru and bolt-on neck versions?
Michael: Yes, that is correct. My guitars are available in quite a few different configurations. And there will be more cool stuff coming! Check them out here: http://www.deanguitars.com/michaelamott_tyrant_series.php
Guitar.com: Did you design the pickups or was it a collaboration with Dean?
Michael: When I first started playing Dean guitars they informed me that they’d started wiring and putting together their own pickups in the USA. I was with another pickup company at the time but I said I’d throw in a couple of theirs and see how they sound. I was very impressed and from that point on we proceeded to develop my own signature pickup that really is a first-rate piece of gear. I was very involved in that process of course and we had a lot of prototypes going back and forth across the pond! It’s now available separately on it’s own too, not only in my signature guitars. Check it out here:
Guitar.com: Christopher, sorry didn't mean to ignore you. Let's talk a bit about your current release, Khaos Legions. You went back and re-recorded, re-energized a great number of your earlier tracks. How many did you record for this release? Was there a song that you really wanted to put on this release that didn’t quite make it?
Christopher Amott: We recorded 21 tracks in total, and some of the songs did not make it onto the album. Yes, as always we had a hard time finding the perfect track listing and it was necessary to omit certain tracks to make the album flow better as a whole. Hopefully we will release these tracks in some way sooner or later, possibly on a future album.
Michael: Yes, there’s quite a few things left over from the ”Khaos Legions” sessions – we’ll see what we do with that, we haven’t decided yet! On the ”Root Of All Evil” we released everything that was recorded, nothing left over from those sessions.
Guitar.com: Khaos Legions is your ninth studio album. How do you feel you've evolved as musicians over the years, and how did this knowledge contribute to the final product?
Christopher: We have definitely gotten better at our instruments, and hopefully better at composing too. It takes us longer because we are more meticulous now, which can be good and bad. We analyze the songwriting a lot more than we used to. We record our rehearsals and when it comes to the solos, I usually go back to those recordings and see what I played when the song was still fresh to my ears. Overthinking it can be bad too.
Michael: Oh yeah. I’m still learning. I work on little details, but you know, you’re not making those big leaps as a musician anymore, like when you’re a kid. When you start out, you make these big jumps from year to year, because obviously, you’re learning the basics. Now, when you get to my age and have been playing for as many years as I have, it’s smaller things. It’s stuff I can hear. I can hear that I’m a better player now on ”Khaos Legions” than I was on ”Rise Of The Tyrant” in 2007. I can hear that; I don’t know if anybody else can!
Guitar.com: That's a good point to note. Pay attention to that all you beginners out there. There's wisdom in those words.You seem to tour relentlessly – how much time do you get off from the road? And when you are off – what do you do in your free time?
Michael: We rehearse quite frequently with the band, and we never really stop writing new music. We’re also self managed so there’s always something to do, I am never bored.
Christopher:Work out, compose, and spend time with my wife.
Guitar.com: Many artists will point to one significant recording, either from when they were growing up or during the early part of their music maturation. Do both of you have such a recording that you constantly go back to?
Christopher: Not really, no. The influence is in the back of my mind, but I'm not usually listening to the records that I used to at that age. There's no reason to go back to it despite the fact that I might still be drawing influence subconsciously, due to the nature of Arch Enemy's music. It has changed over the years, there are some albums I will always be able to listen to. I take influence from many different musical styles, and I think it is better to go to something fresh.
Michael: I still get a kick out of the records that got me into heavy music at a young age. Slayer’s ”Reign In Blood” will always be a source of inspiration to me. The same goes for Mercyful Fate’s ”Don’t Break The Oath”.
Guitar.com: Chris, Michael, thanks for taking the time. It's been a pleasure and we're sure to see you out on the road somewhere this summer. For more information on Arch Enemy, please be sure to visit them @ Arch Enemy.net
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