Crossing myriad musical genres; from death metal to progressive rock, Sweden’s Opeth are one of the most respected acts to have emerged in recent years. With a high-profile slot at Bloodstock in 2015, and the success of latest work ‘Sorceress’, the band have been steadily climbing. Awarded the ‘International Band Of The Year’ gong at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards in London, the quintet’s status seems assured. Not that they’re resting on their laurels; “I’m not lingering”, says front man Mikael Åkerfeldt. We spoke to Mikael about success, and the band’s plans for a “twisted” follow-up to ‘Sorceress’.
Hi Mikael, how are you this evening?
You’re holding the Prog Award for ‘International Band Of The Year’; how does it feel?
Well, I never get angry if I get an award, so I’m happy.
Opeth have never made a secret of the fact that you’re big progressive music fans; is receiving a Progressive Music Award therefore something special?
I guess it means some type of recognition, from that world which we didn’t belong in in the first place. We kind of moved into that area, because we come from, like I said when we got this award; we come from like the opposite, basically, like grindcore type of thing. And then all of a sudden I discovered Van Der Graaf Generator, and off we go. That’s really how it was.
Is it nice to get that kind of acceptance, as outsiders?
Well, the answer would be the same if it was a metal award, for I don’t feel like we belong anywhere, you know? But that’s cool. We’re just a couple of guys; I started the band when I was sixteen, and we just went on from there. Of course, it would be awkward if I didn’t have any, or the other guys in the band didn’t have any other musical influence that would change the sound, so, we end up where we are now and we’ve got a Prog award. So I guess we’re prog.
The band crosses a lot a lot of musical boundaries.
We’re one of the bands that can. I think the difference between us and many other bands is that we can sometimes choose what we are, if you know what I mean. Sometimes we want to be a death metal band and we can be, and sometimes we want to be a prog, or a fusion or whatever band, and I guess we can be, thanks to the musicality of the guys and whatever. But we just ended up here, and now it’s a mishmash of everything, which is basically, even when I was young, that’s where I wanted to be. I don’t like the word ‘boundaries’; it’s just shit, when it comes to music.
Your latest album, 2016's ‘Sorceress’ has been extremely well received; twelve albums into a career, does that give you a great sense of satisfaction?
Yeah, I’m happy. ‘Sorceress’ for me, is old hat; it’s a lovely record, you know, but whatever; it’s back ‘there’. I’m not lingering on it, because it’s old now. I’m not lingering on this record as being a beacon of hope for anything; it’s just what we did then, and I’m hoping next time we’re going to do something different, and I hope, something twisted. Nothing necessarily ‘great’, but twisted at least.
So does that mean that a new album is on the horizon?
Yeay, yeah; I’m always thinking. Not always working, but always thinking. I want to make something that’s not for everybody.
When is the next Opeth album likely to arrive?
Maybe the end of, or mid-2019, I’m thinking. I want to have a sabbatical, because we’ve been doing this for a long time, so I want to keep away, and just be with my kids. Once I write songs, I want to sit and be.
Finally; what will you be doing with the Progressive Music award trophy; will the band have to take turns to have it?
I’m taking it; It’s going on the toilet, with the other awards I have.
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Opeth play a short run of UK and Irish dates in November. Tickets are available now from ticketmaster.ie and ticketmaster.co.uk.
Opeth 2017 UK and Ireland Dates:
15 Nov - O2 Ritz, Manchester
16 Nov - Barrowlands, Glasgow
17 Nov - Limelight 2, Belfast
18 Nov - Academy, Dublin
19 Nov - Rock City, Nottingham