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Opeth Guitarist Fredrik Akesson Discusses New Album ‘Heritage’ and More

Fredrik Åkesson of Opeth
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Opeth recently unleashed their 10th studio album, ‘Heritage,’ which cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart. The disc features first single ‘The Devil’s Orchard,’ a psychedelic track with an even more experimentally trippy video.

‘Heritage’ is the first studio album in three years for the Swedish band, and although it is not as heavy as other Opeth albums, it still has the lyrical intensity that is prominent with the band’s signature sound. Check out Loudwire’s review of Heritage here.

Opeth currently are on tour in North America promoting the album and will continue on the road in Europe through the end of this year. Our photo gallery of the band’s New York City performance can be seen here.

Loudwire recently had the chance to chat with the band’s very witty guitarist Fredrik Akesson, who shared his thoughts about ‘Heritage,’ the band’s current tour and avoiding stinky feet on the road.

Tell me a little about the new album ‘Heritage’ and how it differs from past albums.

[Frontman] Mikael [Akerfeldt] started writing the album and it started off with a couple of songs, it was more or less a continuation of the last album ‘Watershed’ and we deleted those two tracks and we just wanted to do something different. We don’t want to repeat ourselves. It’s like in movies, the second one is usually crap, so we wanted to take a different sound approach, we wanted to do a really honest and free sound. There’s no sound replacements on the albums, it’s the real deal, no cheating.

Describe ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ musically and lyrically.

Musically, I love it, we usually open up the shows with that song and it sparks fire. It’s a very ’70s psychedelic, improv-ish song, the first beat reminds me of Rush, that kind of groove. Lyrically, Mikael likes to hit on some serious questions, and the video came out cool it’s pretty dark.

What inspired the video for ‘The Devil’s Orchard’? What made you guys decide to go with an animated video?

I think it’s the best Opeth video so far; it was Mikael’s idea to have inspiration, in the video, from old horror movies. I’m happy with it, it came out really trippy. It’s more porn than horror, definitely.

Do you guys have any other contenders for your next single?

No, we haven’t really thought about the next single yet, so I can’t really say anything. I could think of one song maybe ‘Folklore’ could be or ‘Slither’ but we’ll have to wait and see, we haven’t decided yet about that.

Mikael decided to approach the record in a new way by doing clean vocals, what was your approach to how you handled the guitar riffs on the record?

Guitar sounding wise, we talked about what kind of riffs we wanted to play on the next pick up, we turned down the distortion a bit, so we get more of a stringy kind of sound instead of hiding behind the wall of distortion. It’s more sensitive and delicate and solos, I tried to go for something that suits the song really. I tried to do something that was different for each song and I think every song on the album is very different. It was a challenging album to record actually, it was a really cool vibe in the studio, to see all of that old gear which has been kept the same since 1960, so it was cool to use all of that old, vintage gear.

You’re part of all of these other musical projects and you’ve played for various bands before Opeth. How would you describe your experience with Opeth versus your experience playing with other bands?

Well I had to learn Mikael’s style of guitar playing , he has time signature riffs and also a lot of acoustic work in his picking style. I did have to put a lot of time into that. It’s easier for me now, to understand Mikael’s riffs or ideas, than it was in the beginning. Of course, it was challenging but I like challenges, it’s interesting to play with Opeth because it contains many different types of guitar playing as well. In a way, it brings out sides, for me, of guitar playing that I haven’t really explored before.

Opeth, along with several Swedish metal bands like In Flames and Arch Enemy are achieving great international success. What do you think it is about the music coming from Sweden that has such a broad appeal?

I don’t know, it’s weird really, not that many people live in Sweden, only about 9 million. I guess it’s because we have a lot of dark hours during the day, in winter time, it could be that people have a lot of spare time and they sit around in the dark and listen to metal.

You’ve inspired many bands over the years. Are there any current bands out there that inspire you.

Mastodon, I think they’re really great. For this album ‘Heritage’ the title of the album connects with the music itself, it’s about musical heritage, I think we were inspired by old Swedish folktales. The main inspiration for the new record was older stuff but I do like to check out the new bands

You guys are pretty much on tour for the rest of this year; do you know of any plans for next year?

I think we’re going to have January off, more or less, then we’re going to play Japan and a lot of places in Asia, maybe Taiwan, South Korea, stuff like that and after that we’re going to do a South American tour and then we will go back to America in April. Then, after that we have the summer festivals in Europe, then probably another European tour, I think from now on we’re looking at more or less two years of touring. So it’s pretty packed, I mean this started out on the 19th of September and we’re heading back home the 22nd of December but it’s cool, we’ve been out for quite some time so it’s great to be back touring.

Now with all of this touring, what is one thing you must take on tour with you (no electronics)?

Toothbrush? [Laughs] Flip flops for the bus, you don’t want to be in your sneakers all day, you’re foot’s going to end up like a cheese doodle.

Watch Opeth ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ Video

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