Thursday, August 12, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH JOHAN HEGG OF AMON AMARTH, Part Three

Johan Hegg in Chicago - April 19, 2010
KS - Since about 1990, there has been an explosion of folk metal and pagan metal. It’s not only a Scandinavian phenomenon; there are bands in England, Germany, Greece, the Middle East, and elsewhere that are turning to their own local religious and folk traditions for subject matter. Do you think that this reflects a nationalistic or religious trend in young people, or is it just something that’s currently fashionable on the metal scene?

Johan Söderberg & Olavi Mikkonen in Chicago - April 19, 2010
JH - I think it could be any of those. It’s really difficult to say. I guess I could only answer for myself. We don’t really see ourselves as one of those bands doing pagan folklore music. The reason we took the Viking theme and mythology theme as a lyrical theme for the band was, perhaps, more accidental from the start. When we wrote the first song with Viking lyrics, we felt it was a topic that suited the music that we wanted to write really well.

Ted Lundström in Chicago - April 19, 2010
KS - Was that before you became Amon Amarth?

JH - It was kind of when we became Amon Amarth that we wrote that song.

KS - What was the first song?

Fredrik Andersson in Chicago - April 19, 2010
JH - “Thor Arise.” Not very good lyrics, but still we felt that the topic and the whole thing kind of suited us, and it was something different, as well, from a lot of other bands. In Sweden, I think only Bathory and Unleashed had done anything like it. For us, it was to do something different, to stand out a little bit, to use those lyrics. But it wasn’t necessarily going to be the theme of the band from the start. It’s been one of my major interests since I was a kid. I wouldn’t say I’ve studied it. I read up on it. Every once in a while, I read the Edda and read some sagas and stuff like that for inspiration. It’s always been music first for us. We want to write this music, and then the lyrical themes have kind of grown into it. Now it’s at the point where it’s hard to change it, because people expect us to do it. On the other hand, I don’t think that we want to change it, because it’s a topic that I feel that we can get a lot more out of.

KS - As a child, did you study Viking history or mythology in school?

Johan Hegg in Chicago - April 19, 2010
JH - Unfortunately, when I was a kid, they didn’t teach you almost anything about the Viking history and heritage. You didn’t get to read the Edda or the Younger Edda in school. You got to read a few stories just to know that “this is it.” It was just a very small thing, not a big historical thing. That’s how my interest started, reading that in school, and then I started looking into it. My sister was a lot into it, and she’s five years older than me. She, of course, inspired me a little bit, as well. When I was eleven or twelve, I borrowed the Younger Edda at the library in my hometown, a small village. I went to the library and borrowed it and read it, and I thought it was fantastic. When I got a bit older, I went for the Poetic Edda. There were these Danish comic books called Valhalla, which were describing some of these really cool old mythological stories, and I loved reading those. It was a lot of stuff like that, as well.

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