Michael Amott has an amazing resume to his name. Since the beginning of the band, Carnage, in 1988; Amott became part of one the most legendary names in Metal, Carcass, during the band's most legendary album, Heartwork. After his time in Carcass he went on to form his own Melodic Death Metal band, Arch Enemy. During this time he has also had a love of the 70's Hard Rock realm. and since 1994, he has been showing his love with his band, Spiritual Beggars. Coming out March 18th in Europe and March 25th in North America through Inside Out Music, the band's 9th album, Sunrise To Sundown is a phenomenal album of appreciation of Hard Rock of yesteryear. I had the opportunity to talk with Amott about all of his current endeavors from Spiritual Beggars to Arch Enemy to the formation of his new project, Black Earth.
That Drummer Guy: The brand new album from Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise To Sundown will be released March 18th In Europe and on March 25th in North America. With this being the band's 9th album, what did you hope to accomplish this time around?
Michael Amott: We just want to keep making music that feels good to us, it’s really that simple.
TDG: The album has a fantastic use of diversity. The first three tracks alone showcase the rockin' side (Sunrise To Sundown) the more subdue (Diamond Under Pressure) and the very heavy (What Doesn't Kill You). Is the band conscious of keeping this kind of flow when deciding on the final track listing order and what songs will appear on each album?
MA: Yes, the flow of the album is very important to us. It is kind of an old-fashioned way of thinking I guess, basically using the old format of a vinyl album with an A-side and a B-side.
TDG: The band sounds absolutely on top of your game, which is not always an easy accomplishment, considering the band's 22 years career so far. What would you say is the essence of keeping the band sound as fresh and rejuvenated after all this time?
MA: I think that is because we do this band out of pure love for the music and each other as musicians.
TDG: Was there any songs or riffs written during the Sunrise To Sundown sessions that may appear on a future release?
MA: Maybe, sometimes we revisit some unfinished songs or ideas to make new music later on. I think we used everything we had on this particular session though. "I Turn to Stone" is a song that we already recorded in 2001, but ended up not using - until now that is! Finally it surfaced on this new "Sunrise To Sundown" album, so you really never know...
TDG: With Sunrise To Sundown being 3 years after the release of 2013's Earth Blues, What would you say is the biggest thing that has changed in that amount of time with the band?
MA: I don't think much changed actually, we are still the same bunch of guys share this passion and love for doing this music together.
TDG: The band is going to be doing some short, but worthy dates of touring in Europe throughout 2016. I would imagine considering the lineup that finding time to manage getting any sort of touring is a bit of a struggle to make up to everyone's schedules. Is there any chance of the band hitting North America in the future? Even for a one off festival appearance?
MA: Spiritual Beggars has never visited North America, Obviously with Arch Enemy we’ve toured over there a lot. That would be something cool to do someday, maybe as you say with a few limited dates. That would be something to look forward to. We are doing a few European festivals, something in Japan later in the year. With Spiritual Beggars we kind of go where people want us to go - where there is interest. We don’t really try to fight our way into new markets - it’s more about booking a few weeks of shows say in Europe where we know there will be an audience that appreciate what we do and we’ll have fun and make some money. We go where we know we have a fan base. As you probably know, building a fan base in the United States is extremely difficult. With Arch Enemy we put in all those years with touring, and in the end it paid off. With Spiritual Beggars we don’t have the time, or the opportunity to do that.
TDG: Of course, when you are not working with Spiritual Beggars, most people today know your for your work with the legendary band, Arch Enemy. 2016 brings the 2 year anniversary of the latest album, War Eternal. How are you feeling about the album two years later?
MA: I'm really proud of the War Eternal album, I think we made something really special and long-lasting with that record.
TDG: Not long after the release of War Eternal brought legendary guitarist, Jeff Loomis, into the Arch Enemy fold. What is it like working with Loomis? Does it feel natural playing with his style?
MA: Working with Jeff has been great, he has adjusted well to the Arch Enemy way of performing. He obviously has had to adapt to my guitar playing style, as that is the core sound of the band... I believe we've had a great time on the world tour together!
TDG: Has there been any writing for the next Arch Enemy album?
MA: Yes, I have a lot of ideas already. But I want to take my time fully develop those into something very special with the other guys adding their feel and talent to it. I don’t believe in rushing music anyway… I’m hoping we can get a new album out in 2017 though, we’ll see.
TDG: The beginning of this year brought a big shock to early day Arch Enemy fans, with the announcement of the band, Black Earth, which consists of 4/5ths of the original Arch Enemy line up and Sharlee D'Angelo on bass. I guess the biggest question on everyone's mind is, what brought on the formation of Black Earth?
MA: Always nice to be able to shock people, if that now was the case. We were thinking about how to properly celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARCH ENEMY’s debut album “Black Earth” in a respectful and exciting way? The tour of Japan has has been booked, and is on sale now `and I can assure you that we’re all very much looking forward to playing the “Black Earth” (1996) album in its entirety as well as selected songs from the “Stigmata” (1998) and “Burning Bridges” (1999) albums!
TDG: Is Black Earth considered to be a full on a band? A side project? A one off album and touring cycle?
MA: Not a full on band. Very much just a project for the tour that we are doing in Japan in May.
TDG: Considering how busy you are with 3 active bands in your career (Arch Enemy, Black Earth, Spiritual Beggars) what helps the creative process for writing and performing in each band? Also, what helps you from keeping from being burnt out?
MA: Who says I'm not burnt out?? Hahaha Anyway, like I said…BLACK EARTH is not a ongoing band. I work closely with some of my fellow musicians while creating new music. In Arch Enemy that is for the most part Daniel (Erlandsson, drums) and in Spiritual Beggars it's Per (Wiberg, keyboards). Sharing the duties in the bands helps a lot of course. Music is and always has been my main passion in life and it gives me all the energy I need to carry on.
TDG: Back in 2008-2010 you reunited with your former band, Carcass for 2 years of reunion shows. Did you enjoy your time reuniting with Carcass? Given the opportunity, would you ever do any more appearances live or in the studio?
MA: Yes, in fact I was instrumental in putting the band back together. I had a really great time doing the reunion and I am always open to playing with them again, if they should ever call upon me I’m there. Jeff and Bill are still very close friends of mine and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them as musicians and human beings.
TDG: When playing Carcass, what were your favorite songs that played live? Did you enjoy performing the songs from Swansong? When you reunited, did you enjoy performing the songs from Swansong?
MA: I really got a kick out of playing that whole set, including the very early material like “Exhume To Consume”, “Ruptured In Purulence” and so on. We only played one song from the Swansong album when we did the reunion tours in 2008 - 2010, I think it was called "Rotting In The Free World” and I actually enjoyed playing that one a lot too - very groovy.
TDG: A lesser known fact, for some people, is from 1997-1999 you were working with the Swedish Doom Metal band, Candlemass and recorded recording on the 1997 album, Dactylis Glomerata. Did you enjoy working on that album?
MA: I did enjoy working on that album though, it was just 2-3 days in the studio. I never played any shows with them.
TDG: With Doom Metal being an area of music most people don't know you for, what did you take in most from your time with Candlemass?
MA: I always loved Trouble and Candlemass, the heavy grooves and sorrowful melodies. It was a huge honour to play with Candlemass mastermind Leif Edling in the late 90's, he's a songwriting genius and I think I learnt quite a bit from him - both as a musician on one of his albums and also his early recorded output, of which I am a huge fan.
TDG: 2016 is well under way. With Sunrise to Sundown coming out at the end of March that comes with European appearances AND the formation of Black Earth, is there anything else that you will be working on this year?
MA: I've already started writing music which will eventually become the new Arch Enemy album. Between that and playing shows with Spiritual Beggars, I won't have a problem staying busy this year!
TDG: Once again, thank you so very, very much for taking the time to do this interview. It couldn't be more of an honor to be able to talk to you in promotion of everything you have going on as of late. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
MA: I think we covered a lot. Thanks for the interview and support of my music, cheers!
Spiritual Beggars- Sunrise To Sundown arrives March 18th In Europe and March 25th in North America through Inside Out Music!
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.