Exclusive interview with Jake of Amaranthe: ‘The world is f-ing getting cold’


Amaranthe’s Jake  E. Lundberg called to tell us how he is doing off the tour and what the band is up to

November 23, 2015

Amaranthe are cruising US venues with the last shows for 2015 in support of their third album, Massive Addictive, released a little more than a year ago. On October 30, the band also launched a compilation, Breaking Point – B-sides 2011-2015. While the rest of the band is busy touring at the moment, Alterock called Amaranthe vocalist and songwriter Jake  E. Lundberg who is currently staying with his two-year-old kid at his home, in Sweden. Jake told us how he is doing off the tour, what the band is up to next, who is in charge of the band’s stage outfits and makeup and much more. Jake also shared his thoughts on the recent terrorist attacks in France and on acceptance of refugees in Europe and explained why he thinks “the world is f-ing getting cold”…

Hi Jake! How come you’re not on tour with the band right now?

I’m on paternity leave so I have a pretty weird situation now. I got a kid two years ago but I was gone for 6 months so I totally needed to get some time off from touring and spend more time with the family so I’m doing this now instead of doing this in the beginning. It’s upside down but I’m I’m very satisfied that I’m doing this because I’m learning to know her in a total different way than I could do when I was gone all the time.

And who substitutes you now on a tour?

It’s a guy called Chris Adam from Smash Into Pieces, a Swedish band.

How long have you been staying home with your family yet?

I actually ended touring in the middle of the summer so I’ve had several replacement vocalists for me. I was doing some shows in between that were too important. I don’t think  there are shows that are more important than others, of course not, but at this point there were some shows in Finland and we are attracting a big audience in Finland. On this US tour we had between 300 and 600 people per show and in Finland we have had maybe 15,000 to come see us on festivals so I really wanted to give the Finnish fans the whole band.

We’re based in Estonia, and I know you had a show there not long ago…

Yes, we were invited to be a part of Tallinn Motofest and that was a blast. I didn’t know what to expect first but when we got there everybody was so kind, the audience was awesome, and the crew was fantastic. And since then we came back to Tallinn I think two or three times after that. It’s been really really nice. And then this summer we played this old stadium festival which was also really nice  except the weather – the weather situation was really bad. Tallinn is a beautiful f-ng city.

It’s been a year since the band’s third album, Massive Addictive, came out, followed by a compilation, Breaking Point. What is the band up to when the tour is over?

AMARANTH - GOTHENBUREG  2014 Photo copyright JOHN McMURTRIEAfter this tour we’re going to have some one-off shows, do some party cruises in Sweden. We’re trying to have some kind of vacation but at the same time we’re almost in a stressful situation now because we need to start recording a new album at the beginning of next year. And so far we have only scratched the surface on the writing process so I’m sitting home now on my paternity leave, writing songs, and I bet Olof is doing the same in the States now.  When he comes back, I think we’re going to sit down and start writing for real. And then we’re going to have this festival summer so we are going to do a lot of festivals, alongside with working in the studio and working on an album. So it’s going to be a hectic year. The rest of the band is probably going to have some vacation but for me, Olof and Elize it’s going to be hectic with the songwriting.

I heard you are planning to release the next record around October next year. Is that correct?

Yes, next album is scheduled to be released in October.  But you never know when it comes to planning.  We always plan our schedule like 2 years or a year and a half in advance and stuff might come up, you never know. There might be a tour, there might be something that you really need to do, then you have to postpone things. Or stuff gets cancelled so you need to do things earlier.

Why is it so sharp with planning the release for October then?

There is a hard climate in music business because there are small windows of opportunity to release a metal album to get maximum exposure of it. If you release something in October,  it’s ok but in November you would only have the first week because then all the Christmas albums are coming out and eating the whole market.  In January people have no money. And in February and March there are a lot of metal albums that are being released. But if you release them in March, it’s too late to book for the festivals in the summer. And if you release them in June, everyone is on vacation, and we have August and September to focus on.  So you have 12 months in a year but the release schedule is pretty narrow.

Do you already have some ideas and tunes in mind that you wrote on the run on tour?

Not really. More or less we are progressing in the same way, I mean we were playing songs from all our albums live, and I guess it’s pretty hard to determine which album they’re coming from, because the music in general is sounding in the same. It’s more or less only a production issue when it comes to like what kinds of keyboard sounds we are using. I’ve got some vocal melodies, Olof’s got some riffs. Nothing really happens until we sit down and puzzle the pieces together.

Do you want next Amaranthe album to stylistically continue Massive Addictive, or do you feel like it’s time for change and experiments with the sound?

I think we are going to experiment with the sound. I don’t know in which way – we’re not there yet. This stuff is always happening along the way: all of a sudden you find a new plugin that you buy and you realize: “Оh, this is so cool! We need to use this!” It’s so cool when you’re actually writing music with a lot of keyboard influences and a lot of sounds. One single sound, even if it’s the same note, can change the whole atmosphere, the whole song.

You said in one interview that during this tour you got a lot of inspiration for new music. Which cities or shows were particularly memorable and inspirational?

I get inspired a lot from the audience. It doesn’t really matter where we are. What inspires me the most is people who come to the show to see us and to listen to stuff that we’d been working on in our studio. That’s the biggest inspiration for me. I realize that there are actually people who want to hear what I’ve done in my basement writing music on my acoustic guitar. I think that’s pretty cool. These things that might sound just like another acoustic song for me could change the life of someone else. That is so weird. I remember when we were writing ‘Amaranthine’, for example, we were just sitting, having a couple of beers in my apartment tons of years ago, and we had this rock idea. I finished it during the night. And all of a sudden, five years later people want to have it on their wedding, they send us emails telling us how much this song means to them. That also inspires you to continue and write new songs.

Normally every tour has some smaller or bigger incidents on the road: you lose things, some stage equipment fails, someone steals your guitar. Has anything like that happened to you guys this year?

Yeah, on the last year’s tour, I don’t remember if it was March or April, our bus continuously broke down all the time. And the same thing happened this year. I remember we got stuck in the middle of the highway in the middle of the night. The engine totally collapsed and we had 500 miles to go till the next place and we were just standing there being late. I remember it was me and the bus driver in the middle of the night trying to get some kind of f-ing rubber band in the f-ing engine to be put on for the cooler system or whatever it was. We didn’t manage to do it, and the repair shop was 500 miles in a different direction. You know stuff like that happens all the time. Especially in cities like Denver, where the venue happens to be close to the airport, there are no frequencies available in the air, so all of a sudden [during the show] you’re hearing “the flight… can’t land on…” [makes cracky noises imitating airline dispatchers]. Everything gets interrupted. Its funny when you think of it afterwards. During the show it’s f-cking annoying.

Fans adore your live shows, the drive, the vocals, the riffs. Would you say that when you are on stage, it’s a totally different “you”?

Not that much. For other guys in the band – absolutely. Some of them totally put on a costume and transform into something else. For me, I tend to be the same person but I guess you’re a bit bolder when you are on stage: you take more space and you are trying to become a bigger person because you have a lot of people in the audience who look up to you. You have something to prove. It’s a bit of an act, absolutely.

amaranthe-2014-montrealYou’re also very stylish on stage. Who usually comes up with ideas for your haircuts, hair color, outfits?

For me, it’s my wife (laughs). I met my wife just after I had dreadlocks, and since then I’ve had tons of different haircuts. But it’s also because I’m getting bolder and bolder all the time, so I have to take the opportunity to actually change haircuts as long as I still have hair on my body (laughs). My wife is really good when it comes to makeup and stuff. She doesn’t work with it in any professional way but she could totally do it if she got a job in that area. Then, when it comes to clothes, we have really good companies that support us with clothes so that’s really really nice.

Do you also listen to your band mates’ suggestions, like “you look so cool in that, man” or “oh please take off that stupid hat”?

During that period when I always wore a cap or hat onstage, they always told me: “Dude, take it off”. But I never ever listened to them because I thought it looked cool (laughs). I am usually the one who tells everyone else what to do and they usually don’t listen to me either (laughs).

Have you ever given recommendations to Elize?

No, never. I usually try to point her in a direction when she’s trying to wear clothes that are not very metal. She can, of course, wear whatever she wants but sometimes when she wants to dress up like in a rabbit dress or whatever, I say that this doesn’t fit with the rest of the band’s image. I should not come up with any stylish advice because I am probably the worst. If I was a celebrity, I would probably be on top of the list for worst dressed celebrities. So I’m happy that I’m not a celebrity (laughs).

Well, you are! To some extent, you are.

Well, I think there is a long way to go till I’m in Vogue. (laughs)

Do you look up to any rock or metal celebrity in terms of style?

No, as I don’t care how I dress, I don’t care a lot about that. But I actually watched a documentary about Journey and their new singer from Manila, and I really really like him as a person because he was so down to earth. He was more or less like living on the streets, playing in cover bands, and even though he gets tons of money now for being in Journey and being a rock star, he was so happy and so kind. He hasn’t changed the way he was as a person. He is still living there with his kid and his wife and just bought a slightly bigger house. That’s someone you could really look up to because that’s the way to be as a rock star – not transforming into an asshole just because you would have the possibility to do that but being kind and respectful. I really really like that.

Do you have a lot of quality live footage from this year’s tour that you could use for a live music video or something else?

amaranthe-live-SommarRock-Svedala-2013We are really looking into maybe recording a DVD during some of the festival shows next summer but then we have another situation because you always need a budget, you need a crew, a good company that makes it, and also it’s really expensive to do this. Live DVDs are not really selling anymore. Someone buys it and then it comes out to YouTube and it’s hard to have an economy with DVDs. You do it more or less for the fans and not to get any money from it, but you have to calculate at least to cover the costs. But we are really eager to do one. I have some initial plans where to do this. We’ll see what happens.

The new music video for ‘True’ is really beautiful and with a clear message to aspire to become what you’ve been dreaming of. How old were you when you decided 100% that you want to dedicate your life to music and playing in a band? And how did your parents react to your decision?

I was injured and I had to stop playing hockey, and hockey was my absolute first goal, that’s why I play hockey in the video. But the video is also saying that even if you have one goal, it doesn’t mean that you will be what you want to be, but just continue to dream and you will succeed in something else that comes next on the list. Don’t stop believing. When I applied for high school, my parents didn’t want me to do what I was aiming for, and when it came to music, they totally said, no-no, you should get a job or play hockey blah blah blah. But then, when I had success with it, they became supportive. With my own kids I’m always going to support them whatever they want to do. I would never judge  their decisions like, no, you shouldn’t do that because you will get no money for that. I will always support my kids to do exactly what they want to do and teach them like, okay, that was a trap. Learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up from the floor and do it again. If you just believe in something, you will succeed in it. That’s my belief.

As Elize and Olof mentioned in the recent interview, the video is actually reflecting the members’ previous professional aspirations. What would the rest of Amaranthe guys be doing right now if they weren’d doing music?

As for Morten, for example, there is nothing else in his entire life since he was 5 years old other than drums. He’s always been doing drums. If Morten was immobile and cut off his arms, I think he would lie down on the sofa and die. I think he would probably just be a professional PlayStation player, haha. I don’t know about Johan. Johan would probably be a teacher or something.  When it comes to Olof, it would have to be something with music. He would probably be a music teacher or something. If Elize wasn’t singing, she would probably dance or act. And Henrik probably, I don’t know, be a karaoke host.

Who would you personally say is your biggest inspiration in life, like in your darkest moments, when you want to quit everything?

My daughter. Absolutely. No question. When dark times come, I just look in her eyes and see all this innocence: she has no idea about anything that’s happening in the world. She is pure and clean and she does whatever she wants to do. She has no boundaries. That makes me think about it the same way.

Yes, children do everything with no fear, no constraints.

Exactly! And with no second thoughts. Like even though they climb a f-ing wardrobe or a chair or something, they never care like, oh maybe I should not do this because I can fall down. They don’t care about it. If they fall down, they scream for 10 seconds and then do it again.

unnamed-1024x681Learn the hard way…

Yeah, but then the tenth time they won’t fall down, they will succeed in it.  And I think that’s something that more adult people should learn from. Rise up and do it again till you get it right. The most important thing to success is you should do whatever feels comfortable for you, but you should never let anyone be harmed or overrun in the process. You shouldn’t gain success from someone else’s misery.

A little more serious question in the light of what’s happened in Paris, the terrorist attacks, as well as in other parts of the world, what are your thoughts on the situation in France and its media coverage?

When it comes to media coverage,  it’s pretty weird. There was something happening in Beirut a couple of days ago, and there is nothing in the media. On the other hand, one kid is dying every minute from malaria all over the world. In the news business, besides updating people, it’s also a business.  If there is a fire in another city other than your own, you don’t really care much about it. But if the fire is in a couple of blocks down from you, you will go there directly and try to help out. And that’s the same situation that we have here. In Europe we are more or less unified as one country, and Paris would be our neighbor. So I understand that coverage in one-way and I also understand that you don’t care about writing tons of meters of text about Beirut, because people have no connection to Beirut. A lot of people from all the countries in Europe see Paris is the city of love and stuff like that.

I think it’s wrong that you shouldn’t cover the same assault [elsewhere]. It should be worth the same.  But I think media has chosen wisely not to cover what people think. For example, if I look at my Facebook page,  I get so f-ing frustrated that people involve religion and put everyone over the same edge. They say that this is Islam or blah blah blah, it has nothing to do with that. I’m not a fan of any religion. Some people are saying, I believe in God or whatever, and everyone that believes in this religion should not be affacted. They are saying that the refugees did this, but refugees are fleeing from Syria because of ISIS. Why would they do something like this? That is something I get frustrated about that people are so uneducated: they’re sharing false links on the Internet that someone just made up and then all of a sudden it becomes the truth.

Yes, like “Oh my God! We’ve invited so many refugees and now it’s going to happen in our country, too!”

Exactly. I was reading something that was being linked on Facebook the other day saying that, “Oh my god, the refugees had really nice iPhones and nice clothes! Why are they coming here? They apparently have money!” And I was like, “Oh you’re so f-ing stupid! The people that have been fleeing over the water in small f-ing boats have paid like 5,000-6,000 euros per person to cross this f-ing devil water. Who do you think has made this money? The poor people in Syria or the rich people in Syria? Of course, if Russia would attack Sweden tomorrow, of course one and the only thing I would take with me would be my charger and my cell phone. Why would people believe that refugees are fleeing from the Stone Age? That is something that I don’t understand. Do you have to come to a country with no clothes and no technology just to be accepted as a refugee?

If someone is fleeing from another country, the rest of the world has to do everything to help these people because you never know, it could be your ass that needs to be saved tomorrow. People don’t think that way and I also think people tend to forget what happened like about 80 years ago in Europe. The world is f-ing getting cold and I don’t like it. Just because you have a different f-ing color of skin or you’re coming from the part of the world where you have another religion, you’re not worth the same. I hate that. What happened in Paris is terrible, and the world is hating this. But what are we doing? We’re sending fighters yet to bomb another country, and how many civilians are going to die in these attacks? These attacks are just justified by the fact that “these people did this”. Of course, you have to strike back in some f-ing way but on the other hand, the ones that did this, they know that there will be retaliation. They start something just because they want to have the effect, and I hate it.

What are your Christmas and New Year’s Day plans?

Spending time with family and friends. We’re scattered all around Sweden: my family comes from one part and my wife’s family comes from Stockholm so its going to be a lot of traveling. Traveling can sometimes be fun but with a 2-year-old in the back seat it’s not always that fun (laughs). But I have always despised Christmas – not because of Christmas as a holiday but I think that the world is so f-ing corrupt when it comes to holidays. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, Easter, Halloween or whatever, is just about consumption – just buy buy buy. And people are filling the gaps in their hearts by spending tons of money that they don’t have and overconsuming stuff, which is good for the economy, but on the other hand, in January people in Sweden have no money. They eat rice and water, I don’t know (laughs). Just because they are trying to put the band-aids on their broken hearts for not being there for their family on Christmas, they buy as many gifts as possible. I dislike that. I try  to be there for my family and friends during the whole year instead of just one day.

Exactly its like the Women’s Day why is it only one day per year?

Exactly. Women’s Day should be every f-ing day!

by Tatiana Vinichenko

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