zrock exclusive! Opeth : Peter Lindgren Interview
by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
Opeth, winner of the 2003 Swedish Grammy for best heavy metal/rock performance, performed in Houston on February 7, 2004 in support of the upcoming DVD Lamentations: Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2003. I visited with guitarist Peter Lindgren prior to the show.
Zrock: Hello Peter, how’s the tour going so far?
Peter: Fine. We had a lot of problems in the start when Martin went back home and we started the first few gigs without a drummer actually. Martin was on his way, so we had Damon the drum tech he did a few Damnation songs with us. In Vancouver, we had Dean hogeland come down and did a few songs with us. That was only two shows though. Since then, it’s been going real good.
Zrock: You guys won the Swedish Grammy last year. Is that announced in conjunction with the US Grammys or is it at a separate time?
Peter: No it’s separate. When is the US Grammys?
Zrock: The US is tomorrow.
Peter: Tomorrow? Ours is probably today. We’re nominated again this year. Maybe I need to make a phone call to see if we won again. We are nominated for Damnation this year in the heavy metal category.
Zrock: The first time they had the US metal Grammy category Jethro Tull won.
Peter: Jethro Tull? (laughs)
Zrock: They had Metallica play live for one of their first television network performances, then they give the heavy metal Grammy to Jethro Tull.
Peter: Jethro Tull, and fifteen years too late.
Zrock: Most people were shocked that they gave the heavy metal Grammy to a flute player. Do they have a big ceremony for the Swedish Grammys?
Peter: They used to, now it’s gone down a bit and not that much coverage. Last year when we won it was the first year they didn’t send it to TV. We were in the US anyway, but it would have been a nice thing to be announced on television.
Zrock: Good luck this year. I hope you win again.
Peter: We won’t win this year because we didn’t put out a heavy metal album.
Zrock: You don’t think you will win?
Peter: We won for Deliverance, but now for Damnation it will be strange it we win, since it’s not a metal album.
Zrock: What size venues do you play in the homeland?
Peter: Venues like this tonight. We play bigger venues in general in the US than we do in Europe and Sweden. Sweden is one of our worst countries when it comes to audiences and recognition.
Zrock: That’s interesting. Some of the bands that I know from Austin go to Europe and Japan and draw bigger crowds than they do in the States.
Peter: For us being Swede, the Swedish crowds don’t look upon us as being exotic or anything. We’re just guys from the neighborhood. Whereas when we come here, we’re Swede we’re different. Well, we have been struggling. There are a few bands getting recognition, like In Flames, for example, or Entombed and all those people are more famous than we are in Sweden for some reason.
Zrock: How interesting was it to have two albums come out of one studio session?
Peter: That was nightmare. Basically, because the record label didn’t want to do it because they thought we wanted these albums to count as two in the contract. So, in order to do it, we had to offer them both albums just as one. Which meant we only had studio budget for one record. We only had eight weeks of recording, which is what we generally use for one album. We wanted to do it, but we needed to work twice as hard. Things started to go wrong in the studio with the equipment, so we ended up going back to our old studio, Tremond, were we used to record, and tried to save what could be saved. So all in all, we slept on air mattresses in the studio, worked for sixteen hour days for eight weeks with no breaks nothing. I’m proud of what we did, but we’re never going to do it again. It was a nightmare. We were close to splitting up the band. Because all of the joy in making music was just gone in the end. But now, looking back, you seem to forget about the hard times and remember the good times.
Zrock: Was it a different experience shooting the DVD?
Peter: The DVD was shot in one night. It was one show out of the one hundred fifty maybe we did last year. Only that we were super nervous because we knew they were recording. Have you seen it?
Peter: I think its pretty good actually.
Zrock: I was very happy with it. Sometimes live DVD’s don’t really capture the essence of the band. Either the band had an off night, bad engineering, or camera angles. But this is very nice. It sounds great, the audience seems to be having a great time, and they captured a great amount of raw energy.
Peter: We had a great audience. It was sold out, and people were screaming when we got onstage and still screaming when we got off stage.
Zrock: How long have you be touring with the other two bands that are on tonight’s bill?
Peter: It’s just this tour, and tomorrow we’ve finished the third week.
Zrock: After you finish this run, will you go back overseas?
Peter: We go to Europe Hungary which we haven’t played in eight years. Greece (two shows), and then we go to Jordan a show that we cancelled in December. And then Australia for two weeks. And that is the last part of this fucking extensive tour that we’ve done.
Zrock: How long have you been on the road?
Peter: We started before the last Super Bowl. We’ve been on tour for a year. When we finish it off it’s going to be fifteen months. We basically went on tour straight after the recording and the mixing. We started recording summer of 2002 and have been gone from home since. That makes almost two years.
Zrock: After that will you have a good break?
Peter: We’re going to have a break, but we also know that the record label is going to push us to put out a new album. But we’re not going to let us be stressed out again this time. We’re going to take a break, then start rehearsing and writing, and then be fully prepared when we finally enter the studio. There’s probably going to be a record at the end of this year.
Zrock: Any plans for festivals?
Peter: There’s probably going to be a few festivals, only that most of them don’t decide so early in the year. They make offers and then negotiations. and then probably decide in April. Only one festival in Sweden – it’s called Sweden Rock they do a lot of old school comeback bands. They wanted a decision in early January and you didn’t even know which bands would be playing. But there’s always good bands like Whitesnake and shit. So we thought well., okay let’s do it. And then we found out that Judas Priest are going to play. One of my favorite bands of all time.
Zrock: How soon will that be?
Peter: That’s early June. Which is the probably the first show we do after the break.
Zrock: So most festivals want you to commit before you know who else is playing?
Peter: Exactly. Most festivals don’t have the reputation to do that. I don’t really like bands that reform and you see them twenty years too late, but a lot of people do. So they get all these bands and never want us to play because they thought we were too modern. ( You haven’t split us yet, have you? ) They asked us this time. I’m a fan of these old bands, but I don’t want to see them now. I wanted to see them in the seventies or eighties.
Zrock: Yes, you wanted to see them in their prime. Now there are a lot of bands on tour but it’s not all the original guys. The fans are disappointed because you have the bands without the lead singer.
Peter: Or the lead singer with all new guys.
Zrock: People want to see Guns N Roses with Axl and Slash and the whole nine yards instead of Axl and a bunch of guys nobody knows.
Peter: I agree. With all these bands, you need a time machine. Otherwise I might as well pass. I don’t want to see Axl with Bucket Head on guitar. He might be a good guitar player, but I don’t care. There are ways to do it, though. Nirvana for example. Look at Dave Grohl. He fucking made it. That’s the way you should do it. Now he’s coming out with Probot. I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy.
Zrock: Who are some of your favorite guitarists?
Peter: Before I started playing guitar Kirk Hammett was my idol. But then I realized that he’s not such a good guitar player but he is fascinating. Ed Van Halen is probably my favorite of all time. I bought all the cd’s the remastered ones. I’m a diehard fan. It’s party music. We set up and listened to all the albums. They still sound fucking wonderful and his guitar playing is the best.
Zrock: There were rumors going around before the Super Bowl, with Sammy Hagar in town, that the surprise at halftime was going to be Van Halen. Instead we got a boob and a poodle! But it was nice having Sammy in town for three nights. They had over 150,000 people partying downtown the night before the Super Bowl. Ted Nugent joined Sammy onstage and it was almost like being in Cabo. Now here we are a week later the US Grammys are tomorrow and we have a Swedish Grammy winner playing for us. What can we expect from tonight’s show?
Peter: Since we started with the Deliverance tour and then the Damnation tour, now we’re going to put everything together. We’re not covering all the albums. We rehearsed songs from all the albums, but the clocking was not right and the set list was too long. We ended up with a set that was two and a half hours, but we don’t have time to do it because there’s two other bands on the bill. We’re going to cover old albums, but we’re also going to cover Damnation. It’s going to be a good mix.
Zrock: So the fans should have a wide variety of entertainment.
Peter: Yes. When we played this set live we found out that it’s probably the heaviest set we’ve played in a live situation. But we also added two mellow songs. It’s going to be cool It’s exhausting though. It’s a long set over 1:45.
Zrock: How have the crowds been in the US compared to the other countries?
Peter: Texas is wild, actually. There’s always good crowd in Texas. Other than that, the coasts are usually better. But sometimes it’s better in the country.
Zrock: How has the energy between the bands on this bill been so far?
Peter: We get along great. I never heard Devildiver before this tour super nice guys, and Moonspell is a classic act in Europe, very nice guys. We’re having a great time.
Zrock: I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. I wish you the best on the Grammy nomination and the rest of the tour.
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