Michael Amott Interview (Spiritual Beggars)

"I am satisfied with the way Apollo does the older catalogue songs"

09/10/2013 @ 13:50
We all know that Michael Amott shares a music passion for both death metal and classic hard rock. Lately he's been able to focus on the latter via Spiritual Beggars, firstly released their album "Earth Blues" earlier this year and then they kept touring, which consequently brings them to our country. So, we had the chance to ask him a couple of the things about the current situation of the band, his future plans and many more topics and here's what Mike had to say...

Spiritual BeggarsHello Michael, how are you?
I’m doing well, thank you!

Well, I’m looking forward to see you playing live once again! How do you feel about coming back to Greece with Beggars?
It always feels very good to return to your country, I love the strong spirit of the heavy music lovers in Greece.

Spiritual Beggars @ Athens 2013What should the Greek fans expect out of these two shows in Athens and Thessaloniki?
We’ve been rehearsing and preparing for the shows and the band is in great shape, the set list will be long and interesting! It's time to rock!

If I’m not mistaken, this will be the fourth time that Beggars visit Greece. Which one of your previous concerts do you remember the most and why?
Well, the first time was on the "Ad Astra" tour back in 2000...that was a very memorable experience, as we had no idea that we had so many fans in Greece at that time - the response was overwhelming. I also remember the last show in Athens at the legendary Kyttaro club back in 2010, as it was actually our first show ever with Apollo. That was exciting too of course. I’ve actually never had a bad show in Greece with any of my bands, two thumbs up for Greek rockers and headbangers!

Spiritual Beggars - Earth BluesYour latest album "Earth Blues" was released in April. Now that almost six months have passed since its release, what do you think of that? How the fans and the press reacted to it?
From what I have seen and heard, it’s been really good. I haven’t read all the reviews in the media as I don’t follow that stuff super closely, but the fan reaction is something I probably pay more attention to and that’s been really good and strong this time - I have to say that we’re very happy with how "Earth Blues" has been been received!

One of the most intense moments on "Earth Blues" is your interpretation of Bobby Bland’s "Dreamer". I think that you "Mistreated" the song in a wonderful way (!) and I’m sure that Bland would have loved it if he had the chance to listen to it.
Thank you, I’m really happy with how it sounds on the record too. Although, we’ve been performing it on tour and I have to say it’s almost better on live on stage!

Michael Amott (Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy)In "Earth Blues" there’s a lot of great jam, really amazing guitar work and great musicianship in general. Nevertheless my favorite track is probably "Dead End Town", which is based on a simple but really great idea. For me it’s the proof that a great song can be made out of a simple guitar riff or vocal melody.
Thank for the kind words, I am happy to hear you’ve been enjoying the album! I do agree about your thoughts of just working with a very simple idea and making into something special. When I wrote "Dead End Town" I wanted to have something that would create balance against some of the more intricate songs on the album.

You are still on the road supporting your new album. I guess that you must have really enjoyed it! Would you say it’s an album with music made to be played live?
Yes, it’s been a blast! The band sounds great and we’re all getting along on a personal level - which is important too! We have been playing a lot of the "Earth Blues" material live - yes, this music is really made to be performed on stage!

Spiritual Beggars"Earth Blues" is your second album with Apollo on vocals. Is it early or not to say that he has perfectly fit in the band?
Yeah, I completely agree - he’s sounds great on this material! The biggest difference was that this album we wrote music with his voice in mind... On our previous album, "Return To Zero" (2010) Apollo was totally new and a lot of the material as written before he’d joined the band. We’ve also played live shows with him since then and a it’s much more solid band feeling now.

Taking for granted that’s this it would be hard for every singer to perform live songs that were sung by Spice or JB in the studio, did you have that in mind when you chose to work with Apollo?
The way I see it, we’ve had three fantastic singers in this band, all quite different of course. JB had an amazing baritone voice and Apollo is in a tenor range more similar to our first singer. Apollo manages to do the older catalogue songs justice live on stage, I am satisfied with the way he does it.

I suppose that you are in good terms with Spice and JB. Do you keep any contact with them?
Yes, we are in touch now and again and all is good.

Michael Amott (Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy)Let’s talk about Arch Enemy a little bit. I think that a live album/DVD should have been released this fall and a new album within next year. How’s the schedule now?
We’ve actually skipped the idea of the DVD and we’ve moved on to working on the new studio album. The writing is completed and it will be recorded this year and mixed in early 2014. We’re aiming at release before the summer next year.

Apart from the coming gigs in Japan and the mini European tour with Purson, there’s the re-release of "Spiritual Beggars" coming in a few days. Could you give us a few details on the bonus material?
It’s a lot of demos and rare tracks that I dug out of the vault for this re-release of our debut album, it’s really a very cool package that I am super happy to get out there to the fans! (The bonus material listed here in detail.)

Although it’s kinda early, which are the future plans of Beggars? I hope not a long break, but I’m afraid that’s the consequence if Arch Enemy is your priority with the album-tour cycle.
We have been doing quite a lot of shows and been active this year following the release of “Earth Blues” back in April, next year will be more quiet for Spiritual Beggars as myself and Sharlee (bass) will be playing with Arch Enemy and Ludwig (drums) will tour with Grand Magus and so on. I am pretty sure we'll get back together and work on some new music at some point though. We all enjoy doing Spiritual Beggars so we usually come back together sooner or later!

Spiritual BeggarsAllow me a couple of more general questions. Could you name some, underrated in your opinion, guitarists and bands that you really love?
I am huge admirer of Yuji Adachi from the band Dead End (Japan), probably the best guitar player I have ever seen in concert. He plays really inventive stuff and with a ton of feeling. Very inspiring.

There are some great old school rock bands which came out from Sweden in the mid to late 00s like Graveyard and Witchcraft. Do you believe that you have ‘set the pace’ for these bands back in the 90s?
I have no idea, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think bands like The Hellacopters have been far more influential here in Sweden.

Is there any of these 'retro bands' that stands out in your opinion?
Like I said, I am not listening to a lot of new bands. I do like a band called Spiralarms, their debut album "Freedom" is really cool. Other than that I am mostly listening to older classics - there is a lot there that interests me.

Thank you very much, Michael. End this interview as you wish.
Thanks for the interview and the support, it is much appreciated. Cheers!

Theodore Xouridas