“It’s really sad, but on the positive side we have each other, the band and the fans. We’re very grateful for that, and the things that happened also made it feel like nothing is hard. Maybe we have to do a rough tour or won’t have enough food someday, but nothing can be harder than losing someone you love. So we never felt like it’s been a tough ride in that sense.”
– Elize Ryd reflecting on tragic circumstances in the band.
This Swedish metal sextet from 2008 have always defied convention.
Originally formed by male clean singer Jake Lundberg and guitarist Olof Mörck, the group soon began to take shape when female songstress Elize Ryd and and ex-unclean vocalist Andreas Solveström joined. Their triple lead vocals, combined with a hybrid of pop and brutal sounds, are what have allowed Amaranthe to continue carving out their own path since 2011’s self-titled debut release.
Fourth record Maximalism drops in just days, and I sat down with Ryd to celebrate her birthday earlier this week. The chat was everything from nostalgic to heavy as we talked doing a show with her dream band in tragic circumstances, dealing with death, and the moment her dad bought her an ABBA live DVD.
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It was early in the morning for the female vocalist in Sweden, yet her bubbly personality instantly came through as I opened our chat. After wishing her happy birthday, with the musician having turned 32, she replied with a laugh, “It feels really good!”
Eating Cake in for breakfast! ??? Have an amazing Saturday Everyone!! ❤️?? pic.twitter.com/gpPmKGmaln
— Elize Ryd (@Elizeryd) October 15, 2016
“You know, I hate to have birthdays. I loved them when I was a kid but not anymore, because the years go so fast and there are still so many things we want to do. We want to go to Australia and release tons of new records… The older you get, the more you realise that. I feel like I should probably get up earlier in the morning so by life will go a little bit longer [chuckles].”
Ryd was buzzed with excitement about the new album, admitting that she “almost can’t believe it”. A key aspect of Maximalism for the singer was allowing her voice to run much more freely, in order to capture the feel of a live show. Appreciative of this observation, she replied “I’m so glad you say that, because that was something that I think was missing on the previous three albums. I guess that’s how it’s been from the beginning in the band.”
I mentioned how this approach parallels Pennsylvanian rockers Halestorm and latest release Into The Wild Life, with the band doing songs all together in just one take.
“That’s one of the things that’s coming back a little bit now,” Ryd contemplated. “To survive as a band we tour all the time, which we love, and of course it’s part of what you do. So it’s nice to bring that live feeling into the album, and I guess the more you do it (Halestorm also toured so much), the more you want to reach that sound. It’s very fun that we’re on the same page, even though they took it a step further than we did.”
While not singing on a tour, the vocalist’s most memorable on-stage experience lies at the Ogden Theatre, Denver from four years ago. Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz [The Agonist] filled in for Nightwish‘s Anette Olzon, after she fell so ill that she had to be hospitalised. Looking back, the singer said, “That was something that I will never forget, and I still don’t understand how it happened”.
‘THAT SONG’ is the 7th most viewed new music video on YouTube right now! Thanks for watching! <3 https://t.co/NSdOVQVeDI
— Amaranthe (@Amaranthemetal) October 9, 2016
“It makes me think, ‘Be careful what you wish for, because it just might happen like that’ [chuckles]. I did audition for Nightwish five years ago, and I always thought it would be so cool to play a show with them. Usually when you go on tour with other bands, they’re super nice, like Henrik [Englund, harsh vocals] joined Within Temptation on stage for one song… I listened so much to Nightwish, and my dream came true.
“Then this situation happened. We were very worried at first for Anette, because it wasn’t fun that she had to go away to the hospital. It’s funny because the guy from Finland who films all their DVDs just appeared, and it’s the first thing on the live DVD for the tour.
“It was weird and something I will never experience again. The craziest part was that the audience also got to experience it… They could not imagine that would happen. Of course, me and Alissa were so nervous before, and we had these papers in our hands. I still remember it like it was yesterday.”
Moving onto her recent musical influences, Ryd agreed that one of her key inspirations is Japanese metal idol band Babymetal. It turns out, how she got into them was a pretty funny story.
“One guy actually interviewed me, and he asked me ‘Have you listened to them?’. He said that they reminded him of us, and I didn’t know what to expect. But then I listened to them, and I kind of understand what he meant. Then I got really inspired. We just had a tour in Japan and I listened to them, which made me very energetic. I probably won’t listen to them before I go to bed or something [chuckles]. It’s cool like you said how they exploded in just two years. It’s insane.”
Digging much further back, the singer has vivid memories of growing up with her biggest idols. With fellow Swedish band and pop sensations ABBA being one of the two, it all became clear just why she’s so keen on visiting Aussie shores.
“I saw this live ABBA DVD from Australia. My father bought it for me, and that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. That’s when I decided I wanted to have a band too, and I was like seven years old. So that inspired me the most. That’s also why it’d be extra cool for me to come to Australia, because that’s where it all started. Them being Swedish inspired me too, because I was like ‘If they’re Swedish and I am, that means it’s also a possibility for me to go on tour and see the world like they do.’”
“Then my brother, who knew that I listened to lots of ABBA, said ‘I think you’re going to like this’ and bought me a cassette tape with Queen. I started listening to them and was amazed, I had never heard anything so good. It was really nice to grow up in that era. I went to concerts when I was a kid, and my father worked as security on clubs and festivals. So I kind of grew into it.”
However, our conversation then went down a darker road as I mentioned one of several tragedies hitting the band, including Mörck losing his father earlier on. The struggle was almost tangible as Ryd related, “There were just so many hard things happening to us.”
“I believe you meet certain types of people in life when you really need them, and since I became friends with Olof and Jake, that’s when all the tragedy happened. That’s also why we always spend time together, and the way for us to move on was to be together and write songs. Then we decided to write ones about things that would lift us up out of this extreme sadness.”
“Olof is very important to me, and we just wanted to spend time together. If we didn’t know each other, I don’t know how I would’ve handed that. My brother passed away just a few weeks later. So we went to lots of funerals the first two years we had the band.
“It’s really sad, but on the positive side we have each other, the band and the fans. We’re very grateful for that, and the things that happened also made it feel like nothing is hard. Maybe we have to do a rough tour or we won’t have enough food someday, but nothing can be harder than losing someone you love. So we never felt like it’s been a tough ride in that sense.”
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Keep your eyes peeled for Aussie dates, and celebrate eight years of Amaranthe with Maximalism, available for pre-order here.