Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interview with Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth, Part Six

Johan Hegg in Chicago (April 19, 2010)

KS - I've discovered that there is actually a historical record of your style of singing in Viking times.

JH - Oh, really? Ha!

KS - Most people assume that the skalds and other poets of that time period sang clearly and “prettily” so their audiences could easily understand the lyrics.

However, there is a description of another style of Viking singing by an Arab traveler named Al-Tartushi in the report he wrote chronicling his visit to the trading center of Hedeby.

JH - Yeah, in northern Germany.

Johan Söderberg in Chicago (April 19, 2010)

KS - In 950 AD, it was a Viking trading town. Al-Tartushi described the music of the Vikings that he heard singing in a pub.

He said, “I have never heard such horrible is like a growl coming out of their throats, like the barking of dogs only still more brutish.”

JH - Ha!

KS - So, these Viking fellows are all sitting around down at the pub, drinking and singing with these deep, guttural voices.

JH - Yeah. Ha!

Olavi Mikkonen in Chicago (April 19, 2010)

KS - In the Amon Amarth song “Guardians of Asgaard,” you wrote, “We are brothers of the North who are sharing the All Father’s blood.”

Are you singing about Sigurd and his clan, who are descendents of Odin in the Saga of the Volsungs? Do you mean the einherjar, the undead warriors taken from the battlefield by the Valkyries? Or is the song about something else entirely?

JH - Ha! That’s one of the songs... First of all, it’s not very mythologically correct, because the guardian of Asgard is Thor. I mean, that’s the way it is. But we had this idea that we wanted to do a song with LG Petrov from Entombed, so we made it into two guys, and we sing together.

Ted Lundström in Chicago (April 19, 2010)

Technically, in the lyrics, it’s me and LG Petrov who are the Guardians of Asgard. I also use a reference to Entombed, when I sing, “marching down the left-hand path,” which is the first album. You know, stuff like that.

It’s meant to be just a cool party song. But when we do it live, it’s more kind of trying to reach out to fans and say, “You are fans of this music. You enjoy the mythology. You learn stuff about this. You are a Guardian of Asgard, too, because you carry the knowledge on.”

Johan Hegg in Chicago (April 19, 2010)

In a deeper meaning, to pass the knowledge on to someone – even if I said I don’t want to preach and I don’t want to teach. Still, if you have the knowledge, if you learn about it and then pass it on, you are a Guardian of Asgard. That means the knowledge will never die out.

Technically, you are probably a better Guardian of Asgard than I am. Ha! As I said, it’s not meant to be a super-deep song or anything. It’s just meant to be cool lyrics.

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