Arch Enemy - Michael Amott

Arch Enemy - Michael Amott

ARCH ENEMY are going to hit the US soil pretty soon with the 'North American Khaos Tour' and METAL KAOZ got in touch with the band's charismatic guitarist Mike Ammot to learn all the latest news and find out what will happen during the US tour. Do we have to mention how much METAL KAOZ loves ARCH ENEMY's new album title? Read the reason why...


Hey Mike, how are you?
I am good, man. We are at home, rehearsing and getting ready to hit the road on the US and Canada tour. We are preparing a special setlist for those dates. We have just played a couple of summer festival in Europe and we are preparing to go on tour again.

How many songs are you rehearsing for this upcoming tour?
In total? Hmm, I am not sure and I do not know how long the setlist will turn out. We plan to include four or five songs from the new album “Khaos Legions” and a whole bunch of other stuff so, I think it is going to be a good show. We will have some new “toys” for this tour and among them is the new video footage synchronized with the music that looks great!

Will you be changing the setlist every night or are you planning to keep it the same?
Usually, when we find a good set of songs we tend to keep it throughout the entire tour. Because when we find a good song flow we want to keep it. But, you never know there might be a few surprises here and there.

Can playing the same string of songs every night be a little bit boring for you?
No, not really. It’s like somebody asked Ritchie Blackmore if he ever got bored playing with DEEP PURPLE “Smoke On The Water”. And he said no, because it is a great a song, the fans love it and that makes it a high moment in every concert. I think in a sense it is the same way for us. We don’t really love rehearsing songs like “We Will Rise”, “Nemesis” or “Dead Eyes See No Future” but when we play them live they connect so well with the fans that it becomes a very exciting moment.

Usually, in the shows you play an instrumental track with a lot of guitar work; do you have something ready for this tour?
Yeah, we had prepared a guitar and a drum solo. This is something we love doing and I think it adds different dynamics into the show. Since we do not have ballads (laughs) there is no other way to change the flow of the show. I think adding softer instrumental tracks works in the shows.

After the US/Canada days you have one gig in Japan…
Yeah, in Japan we play in a big festival and we are co-headliners with WHITESNAKE.

Are there plans to add more shows in Japan? After all, those guys seem to love ARCH ENEMY.
Yes, we are going to get back next year with a full headlining Japan tour and other Asian countries. But these have to wait until for 2012.

So, it seems 2012 to be fully booked for you…
Yeah, 2012 will be another big ARCH ENEMY year! We are also coming to Greece and I think this is where you are calling from right?

No, in fact I am in Chicago, US.
(laughs) But Dimitris is kind of Greek right?

Yes, it is and I am from Greece but I live in the US.
Great! So, we start in Greece next year (in January I think) with a couple of shows (Athens and Thessaloniki) then we have some dates in that region before hitting a full scale European tour.

That sound awfully busy…
Yes it does but it is fun since we have a new album “Khaos Legions” and we haven’t really done a full tour for that apart from some festivals.

You do know that our site is called METAL KAOZ, right? So, I think I have to thank you for the promotion…
(laughs) Yeah, I saw that, so it seems I have to thank you also! (laughs)

The new album kind of sounds a little bit more melodic than the previous one…
Yeah, but to tell you the truth I really don’t know. I am doing a lot of interviews and some people think it is dirtier, more aggressive and some say it is softer, more melodic (laughs). But, this is the cool thing with music that is a subjective experience, isn’t it? It is different for everybody and hopefully is a good experience for most of the fans. I think the new album has all the elements that you’d expect from an ARCH ENEMY album: the drumming, the guitar work and of course Angela’s voice. I think we have written some really good songs and in fact we had some pretty good reactions to the new songs when we played them live in Europe. And that I think validates the fact that we are on the right track.

You mentioned Angela’s voice and I have to ask you: does she use any type of distortion in the studio or while onstage?
You know Andy Sneap mixed our album and he just used in her vocals the same stuff he uses with any other band; so, we are talking about some compression and some delay and nothing out of the ordinary.

You have also a signature Dean guitar model. So, what was your input in designing this model?
When I was in Tampa, Florida  - where they are based - I was invited in their HQ and met all the people, talked about the guitars and the models, visited the wood shop and talked about tones, sounds, different techniques  and about the previous guitar model I had from another company. We talked about the things that I didn’t like in my previous guitar and in the end I think we had two or three prototypes and then finalized our decision. So, I was very much involved in the process. I really love guitars and all the gear since after all these are my tools that help me create my sound.

You have also a North US competition planned giving away one of this guitar models.
Yes, that’s right we are giving away one of this new models.

So, please note down my name for that…
Ok, I will! I think we are having a little bit of corruption going on here (laughs).

Ok, so is it true that you are handling the management / booking of ARCH ENEMY?
Yes, I mean we‘ve been self-managed since 2008, we were with a massive company before called Sanctuary but I think now it’s much better. Angela’s is in charge of the management of the band and she runs the day-to-day business and she is very involved. It’s a big job, you know. But we are much happier than how we worked before. That doesn’t mean anything bad about the people that we’ve worked before but there is a real good feeling to be in control of your own future. We can plan our future the way we want and I think we got a bit lucky of course, on touring around the world, we had the opportunity to play almost in every corner of the world and that’s the touring advantage of course. We are just love doing it! We’re much happier now. Maybe too happy to play such dark music (laughs).

(laughs) Well, the new album took you almost 4 years after the previous one to be released; so, can we expect the next ARCH ENEMY album in 2015?
Hopefully a little bit earlier than 2015. This album took a while to come out because after with "Rise Of The Tyrant" we wanted to hit the road and started touring like crazy all over the place. In 2008 we separated with our management and took sometime to re-structure everything and while Angela was doing that I joined with the guys from CARCASS and - I don't know if you are aware of it - we did reunion show across the world in 2008 and 2009. When I was off that tour we really didn’t have ARCH ENEMY material at that point, so we decided to re-record old songs and we released them in “The Root Of All Evil” album which is basically ARCH ENEMY covering themselves but with the current line up. Before that we released a DVD with footage taken from our live in Japan. So we had all those releases going on but no actually brand new music. Last year (2010) we realized that really wanted to write a new album but there were some special circumstances that took longer than the usual time for us. But the next album will be released in 8 years from now (laughs)! There won't be any record industry at all (laughs)

Taking into account the current economical crisis you might be right. You mentioned CARCASS - actually we saw your show in ‘Graspop’, 2-3 years ago I think. Any news from that part? Are you going to do something with CARCASS?
CARCASS is on ice now as far as I’m concerned. Daniel, our drummer, is in CARCASS too and we are very busy now (2011) with the new ARCH ENEMY album and also we are gonna be in 2012. We have a big schedule ahead of us with ARCH ENEMY and we have to focus on that. But as far as the future goes, I don’t know. I really want to find time to play with CARCASS and it’s fun music to play. We don’t know what happens in the future.

With SPIRITUAL BEGGARS we released our new album in 2010 actually. We have a Greek 'bastard' on vocals actually (laughs) and that’s our Greek connection. We did a few shows playing in Japan, and we played in Greece actually and we did some summer festivals and played at ‘Graspop’ actually. So, now I don’t know. It’s difficult to keep that stuff going on in the same way we do with ARCH ENEMY. ARCH ENEMY is the main band and it’s very time-consuming.

You have mentioned the long touring plan and then again some time getting back to the studio; can this plan be tough on you and sometimes feeling a bit over-pressed by all these?
I think that we all need sometimes a sort of a break I mean in 2013. But for me, I’m always happy when I’m playing music, guitar, creating new stuff. It’s kinda what I live for, it’s my dream, what I’ve always wanted. Before that I did jobs which were much more physically demanding, so I think I’m really happy that I achieved to come to the point where I can do this for living. So it’s not too stressful for me personally. But maybe we’ll take a break in 2013 because we don’t want to be around all the time, people will get sick of us, man (laughs)! Also, in 2013 I don’t know if we are gonna touring but we’ll start to work on a new album at that point. So, you may not hearing from us at that time, but we will still working somewhere in a dark basement.

Great. One last question: I will be attending the Chicago show of ARCH ENEMY; what new can we expect from ARCH ENEMY onstage? We have seen you live, so what is new?
(laughs) We have a new show, new setlist, new album out of course; the shows are focused on the new album of course. I think we get more energized than the European festivals and anxious about the new material. I’m really exciting about playing in the US. Chicago is always a great show for us. We are really looking forward to it, yeah!

What about the bands you have with you in the US tour; do you have anything to do with choosing them?
Yeah, we have a booking agent in the US and he suggested some bands to Angela and she kinda said yes or no. I think Angela picked those bands. It’s DEVILDRIVER, SKELETONWITCH and CHTHONIC which actually that’s the band that Angela suggested. She wanted them on the tour. They are friends of Angela’s.

Ok, Mike, I’m done here. Thank you for your time to do this nice conversation and getting in touch with METAL KAOZ. See you here in the States and I wish the best for you.
Thank you very much! The same goes for you, man. METAL KAOZ forever!