On this day, Arch Enemy’s new album is coming out. For this special occasion, RockUrLife had the pleasure to meet Michael Amott and Alissa White-Gluz. The singer and the guitarist told us more about “Will To Power”, the evolution of the band and their relationship with their fans.
With Alissa in Canada, Jeff in the US and the rest of the band in Sweden, how was the recording process for “Will To Power“?
Michael Amott (guitar): Alissa and Jeff flew with airplanes. (laughs) We spent a lot of time together on tour, and of course at the end of the tour, Alissa comes back to Canada, Jeff to the States and the rest of us to Sweden. But it’s easy now, we can send ideas via e-mails and talk about it via the internet. We recorded demos, Alissa has a home studio, Daniel is in charge of the demo recording, actually it’s pretty easy. For the final step, Alissa came to Sweden and we worked really intensely every day. And you know the time differences can be a problem but not with Alissa because she never sleeps. I can write her any time “what do you think about that?” I’m sure to get an answer in the minute.
Alissa White-Gluz (vocals): Yes, sometimes I get e-mails at 4am and I’m like still awake.
Isn’t it a problem on tour?
Alissa: Yes it is.
Michael: But she’s sleeping right now.
Alissa: Yeah there are strings to keep my eyes up.
In “Reason To Believe”, Alissa sings with her clean voice. Who came up with this idea? Do you plan to use it more for the future?
Michael: Recording the future, we don’t know for the moment. How did it happen on this album? Actually we just followed the song. It’s not something we’ve foreseen, we do not anticipate that kind of thing. It’s just came naturally, we used clean tones and vocals. But we talked a lot about it, how to use it the correct way. It’s just something we can do now. If we don’t get killed for it. (laughs)
No, I think the fans will be pretty happy about it because many of them were asking for clean vocals.
Alissa: Yes, I think a lot of people wanted to hear something like that. I think that after 10 albums, a band is free to go outside the box. And what is cool with “Reason To Believe” is that even tho introducing something new in an Arch Enemy song, it still sounds like Arch Enemy.
Where did you find the inspiration for this album?
Alissa: Personally I find the inspiration every day in one thing or another. You can not look for inspiration. Like you can go in a beautiful place with mountains and everything, or read a book, or watch the news and it may inspire you but not necessarily. So I rather let the inspiration tell me when I have to write. That’s why it’s important to have enough time to do it, and that’s what we did. It was cool, we had no rush to make the album. So personally, it may sound cheesy, but I let the inspiration come and go until I’m satisfied with what I did.
Can you tell us a secret or something that we would never have guessed about “Will To Power”?
Alissa: From my point of view, there are many things or sounds in the album that you do not necessarily hear from the first listenings. There are several sentences here and there that are not heard, or whispers between sentences, and underneath something else which it would take several listening to hear them. There are also things that may sound like special effects but these are actually sounds that I make with my voice. (laughs) And I think it’s pretty cool.
Michael, don’t you feel that the public of Arch Enemy has changed a little since Alissa joined the band? For example, there are two kinds of fans. Fans who know every lyrics of “War Eternal” and who love Alissa a lot. And there are also the old fans, who mostly know the old tracks with Angela.
Michael: In France, yes, definitely! Because the band has grown a lot in France. I feel it more in France than in other countries. Probably because the french fans are the first ones to really have accepted and welcomed “War Eternal” and Alissa in the band. It was a nice surprise for us by the way. We have a very good relationship with the French fans. And we welcome the new ones. And then, I think, we managed to keep our old fans.
Alissa: After more than hundred shows, I do not think there is still a divide between old and new fans. I especially think that younger fans are not really familiar with the old tracks when they come to our concerts, because we always play the old songs. Some even check the setlist before the concert, and so listen to the old songs that we play live. So I find it pretty cool. It makes young fans to listen to old songs while old fans keep listening to what we are doing now.
Alissa, is it not difficult to follow a straigh edge lifestyle when you are on the road?
Alissa: Not at all, it’s probably the easiest. (laughs) Actually I do not know, but I’ve never been interested in drugs or alcohol. I hate cigarettes, I find it gross, really I hate it. I know there are plenty of good singers who smoke, drink and party but I do not know how they do that. I am very concened about my health, my sleep, healthy food, being hydrated to be sure to be able to do a good show, or to be in the studio during 3 days non stop for an album. There is Jeff in the group also which is almost straigh edge. So I’m not the only one. But other than that, I do not have any problems with people who smoke or drink. If they smoke next to me, I would ask them to go a little further. But it does not bother me, as long as they do not do in a destructive way, I find people who drink pretty funny. (laughs) So actually, I find it simpler for me, and there’s like any temptation for me.
Do you plan to do as many concerts for this album as you did for the last one?
Michael: Yeah! (laughs). Yes, I think so. We will announce the dates soon. The “Will To Power Tour” is going to be huge, we will tour all over the world. It’s going to be cool. I’m so looking forward it.
Have you ever thought about the scenography for the future shows? Are you going to bring the pyrotechnics back?
Michael: It will be really connected with the album. This will be more than a background with the cover of the album on it. I got some messages earlier today about the light and stuff. We have a great team with us who worked, for example, on the Wacken show and it was a great show. We want to be able to play in front of 1000 people or in front of 40000 people, like it happens at the festivals. So we would like to have a stage suitable for any kind of shows, and that it always makes it as good, interesting and captivating. It pleases me to do that. I do not see it as a work, especially when we have great people who work with us. Because of course we do not do it ourselves. It’s the same as for the artwork and everything, we need talented and creative people by our side. Sometimes the ideas come from the band, but mostly we have great people in what they do. We’ll see. It will be a surprise also for the first shows. Then it will be on YouTube and people will be like “yeah I saw they were doing that”. (laughs) We’re gonna put a lot of money in for people to say “I’ve seen this before”. (laughs)
Alissa, you’re working on your solo album. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Alissa: The solo project called ALISSA is something that Angela had suggested to me. And it was a good idea. The concept of the album is to be able to express myself when I have a break with Arch Enemy. So of course, as we just launched the new era of “Will To Power”, I will not have so much time for it. So, when I have a little time, I dedicate myself to my solo project like Michael with Spirtual Beggars or Jeff with his solo projects, so I set up with a guitar and I start composing some demos. I have about an half of the album, but I still have a lot of things to do. I spent most of my time last year, on the road or in the studio, or trying to progress in singing and guitar, always trying to progress. So I will keep going on as soon as I have time. But I think it’s safer to say that it will not be released this year because we just released our DVD (“As The Stages Burn”), “Will To Power” is coming out, so I already have a lot of things done this year. (laughs) Let’s say it will come out next year.
Michael, do you plan to do a “Black Earth” tour again, as you did in Japan?
Michael: Um… no. (laughs) I do not think so. For various reasons.
For “War Eternal”, you did as a trilogy with three music videos. Will you do the same for “Will To Power”?
Michael: We have already shot two videos, now we are working on the third which is almost ready. Then we’re going to shoot others, some live. We’re planning to do a lot. Videos have always worked well for Arch Enemy. “War Eternal” is over 25 million views on YouTube. It’s another cool way to show the band. It’s not everyone who can see us often, so at least they can see us in videos. So yeah, there will be a lot of videos.
Alissa: I love doing videos and I find it very interesting to see what the band can do with a song. Especially from the point of view of the public, if you have already heard the song, it is interesting to see the visual support.
What do you think about VIP packages, Meet & Greet, fans who pay to be side stage etc?
Alissa: We do not often do that kind of things because we meet the fans all the time actually. (laughs) But sometimes it’s cool to be able to give to the fans a guarantee to meet us because it happens that fans travel hours to see us, and they want to be sure to meet us and have their stuff signed. And they do not all have the possibility to stay hours in front of the tour bus. From my perspective, I find it cool to be able to bring this guarantee to the fans. In another hand, they always ask me to do the M&G. We never do like huge M&G, we only do it with about twenty fans so they have all the time to talk, to be able to take pictures, etc. Sometimes when I talk to fans on Instagram, I tell them “tell me your Insta name when you meet me,” because I find it interesting to keep in touch with fans over the years. So I think it’s cool for us and cool for the fans. But we never put fans in the side stage, because it’s a production and it can even be dangerous when there’s pyro or whatever. And then, I do not even think it’s a good spot to watch and enjoy the show. But I always found the idea of paying to meet me rather strange. But on the other hand, the music industry has changed. And I think that the fact that musicians are increasingly accessible all the time has created more demands for that. So if people appreciate that, we will be more than happy to do that.
Michael: I agree with what you said but I do not really like the fact that it is rooted in the music industry. But it seems kind of inevitable.
Alissa: I know, it’s hard to understand. And then now, when I meet fans by the bus for free, I feel bad for those who have paid. But after we always offer “bonus” for those who have an M&G, like a bag with a lot of things in it.
Michael: We’ve charged M&G sometimes
Alissa: Yes, but we’ve never charged them so much. (laughs) Unlike other bands.
Michael: I think we did it mostly in America.
Alissa: Yes, we did. I like to do it before the show because I like to see fans that I just met in the audience during the show. After the concert, I’m exhausted.
Michael: We usually meet our fans after every shows. And sometimes we are sick or just tired, but we can’t to show it.
Alissa: I remember a M&G, it was in Switzerland I think, the morning I was in the hospital, and I thought I would have to cancel the show, but I really wanted to keep it. And then we had a M&G, but I could not talk, I even told the engineer to put the sound of the microphone louder that night, and the M&G was all about sign language. And it was super frustrating because I really wanted to answer questions from the fans.
Michael: It’s great to be able to meet fans. It’s always interesting to know their stories. I love to ask them how they knew Arch Enemy, because they all have a different story to tell us. When I started touring, I was very young, and a guy had asked me for an autograph, and I could not say “no” but I was embarrassed. Because it’s something I do not really understand, I’ve never been interested in autographs. Actually there are people who just come to see the show, and there are others who want more.
Alissa: That’s their choice, we do not force anyone. (laughs) If it’s important to them, then it’s important for us. I didn’t realize it immediately because we have a different mindset.
Michael: Yes, that’s right. We tour with huge metal bands, big influences for us. For example with Black Sabbath. I saw them again a few months ago, and I did not even try to meet them. To tell them what? That their music influenced me a lot? I did not know what to tell them.
Alissa: It’s also why M&Gs are so important to the fans because they have time to prepare it, and they know exactly what they’re going to say. Because sometimes we meet fans who do not necessarily expect it, and they just told us nothing. So I ask them “did you enjoy the show?” Because I have to start the conversation one way or another.
Michael: To put it in a nutshell… We love our fans!
Do you feel like it’s a burden to be a role model for your fans?
Michael: I do not know if we can define ourselves as models. But, I think we are still good people, we are not bad people. I am quite strict on certain things. I always try to be positive when I write songs. Even if these are dark lyrics, I always like to see a light for people to feel strong. I do not want to have destructive messages in our songs even less for young fans. And I do not want to promote drugs or alcohol.
Alissa: But it’s not even a burden, it’s who we really are. I was contacted to advertise for all kinds of shit and wanted to pay me a lot for that, but I always refused because I do not want to promote things like that. Even if it’s not something bad, even if it’s Fitea or whatever, I find it disrespectful for my fans. And I do not want to be associated with that kind of thing. As for qualifying as a model.
Michael: I think people mostly appreciate our music. And when you like a musician, we like to think that he is also a good person, with whom we would have great discussions, who could even be our best friend.
Last question, we are “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life?
Michael: The music rocks my life. I keep listening to music every day and composing it. Music has always been my obsession since I was very young.
Alissa: It may seem cheesy, but I would say animals. I love animals, that’s why I’m vegan.