Fredrik Åkesson’s scene is, like his music, complex. “At home, I am with my family and friends; we go with friends to the pub and go to eat. I like to go to shows as well. I went to see a Swedish singer last week; mostly it is hard rock metal. Also, I like to be out in the nature, to get away. Go to the woods. My dad lives in the woods. Maybe once or twice a year I don’t have phone reception there is no Wi-Fi”.
Hailed as one of the most influential progressive metal bands in the world, Opeth has an ever-growing fanatically loyal fan base in Australia and are returning for a headline run after their highly successful ‘Heritage’ tour in 2013.
With Åkesson’s skill fuelling this obsession, it is interesting that his influences are varied, possibly reasons for the complexity of his playing. “I grew up with ABBA and The Rolling Stones. The first album I bought was AC/DC, then Iron Maiden, then Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and then I got into prog rock. I listened to different stuff but mainly hard rock and metal. [pullquote]The first album I bought was AC/DC, then Iron Maiden, then Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and then I got into prog rock. I listened to different stuff but mainly hard rock and metal.[/pullquote] I went to music school for a year. After I had done a few years with a band called Talisman. Basically, I did take some private lessons in a few different years. I played violin for a couple of years but when I got my first guitar at 10, I started practicing, and at 13 and 14 I was playing for 8 hours a day. It was inspiring. I knew kids who played guitar. It was a bit of a competition, you feed off everything around you. Playing music is a nice little escape”.
Now approaching 25 years with the band, Åkesson and Opeth have continued to evolve with their album releases and their latest release, Pale Communion, sees them again pushing new boundaries.
The album, which was produced by the band’s very own Mikael Åkerfeldt and mixed by longtime collaborator and Porcupine Tree frontman/guitarist Steven Wilson, was incredibly well received all around the world and came in at #17 in the ARIA Charts, making it their 5th ARIA chart appearance.
[pullquote]Åkesson feels this, their 11th album, “goes hand in hand with the previous album – it is a bit more melodic, intricate and dark in places there are also more hooks in it”. [/pullquote]
Åkesson and the band are keen to tour the album. Åkesson states that he loves touring but he can only do it because he has a “patience girlfriend. We used to tour 7 weeks in a row, now we tour for 3 weeks 4 maximum – for our health – and it has been good for family life. I love touring. If we don’t love what we do, then why do it. It is nice to be home but after 3 or 4 months we want to go on tour”.
Whilst on tour, Åkesson and the band have accumulated anecdotes. “When everyone goes on tour they act like they are 19 years old,” he states. Our drummer managed to flood hotel rooms in Manhattan in New York. In the morning, I went to reception in the hotel foyer, and he looked upset. We found out the ceiling below in his hotel room had dropped in. Luckily there were no people in it. Two floors beneath his room were damaged. He fell asleep and left the bath running. He got a pretty massive fine. He had to pay some money for that, actually it was quite a lot of money”.
As for describing Opeth’s sound in a food form, Åkesson cannot just name one dish. Opeth’s sound “has a lot of flavours. Originally I thought Vindaloo It has very rich flavours. But we would be a three-course meal, with Vindaloo, which is quite metal, then something with seafood prawn cocktail and lime chile, and Parmesan chips, and for dessert, Crème brûlée”.
Anecdotes and desserts aside, one factor that makes Opeth’s live shows second to none is that their concerts are always filled with surprises and you never know what their setlist is going to be. Featuring songs from their earlier death-metal material, up to their later symphonic prog-rock, an Opeth live show is like no other and is a must see for all die-hard fans. Åkesson states that the band is “very happy to come back to Australia. The weather and food is great. It is a really strong energy at the shows. I like both tours and festival tours. Festivals are quite light outside still. With your own shows you have more control, but then again playing in front of lots of people is a great feeling”.
Opeth Tour Dates
Sunday May 3 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Monday May 4 -The Gov, Adelaide
Wednesday May 6 – Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Thursday May 7 – The Forum, Melbourne
Friday May 8 – The Astor, Perth
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