I had a chance to chat with Peter Lindgren [guitars] after their second to last show of the tour, at the B Complex in Portland. They soon would be ending their Damnation tour and be heading back home to Sweden for a well deserved four weeks break. Peter was kind enough to share with me some of his thoughts and opinions. I'd like to thank him for his time, patience and openness.
- The Damnation tour is obviously quite different from tours you've done in the past, What is it about this tour that you particularly like?
Yea, first of all this is a change from what we usually do. I mean we've been touring since January, and after a while each time you get out on tour you don't really look forward to it, but this time around we did twelve new songs. That were never done before and they're all mellow more or less, so it was an important change. Just to be out on the road and to be doing something different, it was refreshing. We did put out two albums at the same time, and they're both of equal importance, so this is like when we're supposed to promote this [Damnation] but we're not going to do it extensively as we did with Deliverance, but it's a nice refreshing change.
- Yeah, something different than you've done before.
- Do you have much spare time when you're on the road and if so; how do you occupy your time?
There's a lot of time to kill. Usually we travel on this bus in between the cities, so you're stuck on the bus. So what do you do? Maybe you listen to music, or you have a book, watch television, if it works. You know, have a couple of drinks. When we actualy come to the cities we have a little schedule of sound checks, interviews maybe, and it depends, I mean we had a day off in San Francisco yesterday. For some that can be a kind of tourist thing. But most of the time we come into the cities and we haven't ever seen it, you know, and you have like an hour and you don't have a car with you, so your stuck with your legs and you have to walk.
- Wouldn't it be nice if you had a little tour guide.
That would be nice. Also there are times where you could be really hung over and you don't want to really do anything, you know. But if you're in Paris, for example, we've done Paris several times and the first time you didn't want to spoil it by being hung over. That was the same for San Francisco, I really wanted to be the tourist. So it depends, there's always a lot of time to kill but almost always, it's on the bus, which is boring.
- So that prohibits you from doing more of the city type things.
Yea, there's always a schedule that you have to follow which is bad because you can't get out for five hours and do New York, unless you skip the sound check. Then again the cities that you want to see, those are important cities most of the time, so you don't want to skip the sound check because the gig's going to be big. So there's always a catch 22 sort of thing.
- Do you have any funny, interesting or embarrassing stories that have happened to you while on this tour that you'd be willing to share?
This tour nothing much has actually happened. We don't share a bus with Porcupine, because they have their own bus. The most embarrassing stories or funny stories always come up when there's two bands on the bus. This one [tour], now we know each other so well on this bus, there's nothing really exciting that ever happens. It's like if you know your friends for a long time it's not going to be really exciting. It's when you come together with people that you don't know, and you get somebody really drunk for example, that's when things happen. And this tour's only been three weeks long so it hasn't happened much that I can think of right now or that I can tell on tape.
- Well sometimes in tight quarters, people can surprise you and the people that you don't know, it's always fascinating to meet them.
But that's the most intriguing thing, I like touring with other bands on the tour bus because... It is nice to be on your own because there's a lot of free space, you don't bump into people a lot of the time but it is also a bit boring because I've been on tour with these guys for almost seven months now so I know exactly what's going on all of the time. So you know, Martin is in the back lounge, Mike is up front or will go to bed early, so it's always the same story. But when you're on tour with Nevermore for example or Paradise Lost, with everybody getting fucked up all of the time, because it pushes us more and more, you know every night you want to see... I wonder if King Kong's going to get really drunk and piss himself or something.
- Get a video camera
Yeah! Exactly, but you know you don't want to see Mike really drunk because you've seen it so many times already.
- What has the audience's response been like so far on this tour, have people been expecting you to play some of the heavier Opeth tunes, or have they been more excepting of the mellow set?
The first couple of shows, I think that the promotion wasn't so good, so some people didn't know that it was Damnation. But our fans are on the internet all the time so now they even know the set list that we do, so there's no surprises anymore. There's always people screaming for Demon of the Fall or heavier songs, but that's always going to happen, it's always that way. It was more in the beginning. Now they know that we do Damnation, which is a good thing because people are more... You know when we do heavy songs there's a bit more moshing going on and people are going crazy or what ever. Now you can actually see people closing their eyes, singing along, which is a nice kind of thing, it's different. Also, I mean, a lot of people have come up to us and say it's really good, but I guess the people that don't like it, don't come up to us and say it.
- Yea, somebody probably wouldn't come up to you and...
To tell you "hey, this sucked"
- It would take a really rude person probably...
Yeah, you know, and nobody has actually said that yet...
- Well that's good, 'cause it doesn't...
But there must be some people that don't like it, there's been a bit of complaining...
- Some people who are more like into the harder style...
Yeah, you know, and they go out onto the internet and see... "Well, they didn't do Demon of the Fall; bla bla bla". Well we've done it three times already in the U.S. so there's no point in doing it again.
- Yeah, exactly, we're all up for a change. With this being your most extensive tour yet, putting out two albums back to back, what kind of impact has it had on the growth of the band? Has it really pulled you guys together, more ambition? I mean you guys are insanely ambitious anyways, that's obvious.
I don't know, I mean we are pretty close and tight as a band, we don't actually argue because we know when you see that somebody's pissed off you don't push him, you just step back and if you are pissed off you just step back your self because you don't want to create a fuss. I don't know what's going to happen musicallly. This is the first time we've toured heavily, and we haven't written anything after this. It depends on what's going to happen next, but I guess we're real tight as a band and as persons, you know. To tight maybe, because when we get back home the last thing we do is call each other, which is a bad thing because we're usually friends. But now we spend so much time together, so the last people I want to see when I get back home is them three guys. So, when we look back at it, lets say when this touring is done and we have a proper break from each other, then it's probably going to be a really bonding thing, you know. But as soon as I get back now it's like "See you, bye"
- You're off and ready to do other things. What's the driving force behind the making of Damnation? Is there any specific thing, event or concept that you're really trying to apply?
Actually first of all, we wanted to do a heavier album as a sequel to Blackwater Park, but Mike had a lot of mellow stuff that he didn't know what to do with. So somebody came up with the idea to put out two albums. Which one would be a mellow album.
- Which I think is brilliant.
Yea, it was Jonas of Katatonia, it was his idea. It is a good idea and from that point on when we started working on that from that perspective it was easy to do it actually. But the album is actually more a tribute to all of our influences. Not only the metal influences, but the influences that sometimes shine through on the heaver albums, but this is more obvious. There's a lot of Nick Drake, a lot of Pink Floyd things going on, so it's an easy way to... It's a bit like paying respect to those bands. We used melotrones for the first time, a lot of our favorite bands of all time used keyboards. We don't have a keyboard player so that we couldn't do, but now we thought we'd just put everything in this album.
- Do you ever listen to 80's bands, like Depeche Mode?
Yea, I'm the guy who's mostly into the Cure, Depeche Mode the 80's stuff...
- I kind of got the hint of a little Depeche Mode in there. I didn't want to say that it was, but I was just curious. ...
There could be. I'm probably the heaviest Depeche Mode fan in this band but everybody's got some songs that they really like.
- Well that's really cool that you've kind of thrown that all together. Does the band have a favorite album or song that they like to preform?
Well, I guess we all have our favorites. My favorite to perform is probably any new song, that we haven't done live before. The least favorites are the standards that we have to do, like Advent we've done so many times, we're going to try to change that now. We played Master's Apprentice's once, in Germany, that was pretty fun because it was like a brand new experience. Before this tour, all these new songs were fun to play, now it's like "alright we've done this a hundred times".
- Gotta make a new album.
Yea, gotta make a new album. Deliverance is a good song to play and Face of Melinda is fun to play because the more that's going on the more fun it is to play. I actually like Demon of the Fall because it's a blast. It's the last song that we do on the regular set so, you know that you can just bang your head five minutes and then get on. So, that's a good song to.
- Can you think of a certain show that you've played that stands out in you memory as a favorite, and if so, for what reason?
There are several shows. I don't know if there's a specific greatest one, or what ever. There's been a few in the U.S., actualy quite many. On this tour, the LA show was the best audience wise and Chicago was probably next to that. The first Milwaukee show that we did in 2000 was great because we didn't even know that we had any U.S. fans.
- Was that for Blackwater Park?
No, it was before that, it was for Still Life. We had borrowed equipment and everything, it was just a mess, and then we entered the stage and there was 2000 people screaming. We had to hush them, you know, make them quiet because we couldn't hear what we were doing. We did a great show in Sydney once this year. Milan is always really good, in Italy, but I think in general the U.S. is our greatest country to play.
- How come, I'm just curious?
Well, just you know, I think the fan base is a bit bigger in general in the U.S.. There are parts in Europe where we've done well like Italy, down south and England but Sweden is shit. [for shows]
- Are you serious?
I am serious, yeah, and U.S. in general is really good, you know.
- I am completely shocked.
I don't know, I mean, we get a lot of respect in Sweden, like we won the Grammy this year. But when we play shows, everyone in Stockholm, which is our own city, people don't fucking care. A lot of people are in bands and they go, "Well, I'm in a band to so I don't give a fuck".
- I've read somewhere that the [Swedish] government will fund a band...
That's not true. I've heard it so many times. Now we got a rehearsal room, our first rehearsal room in a long time. Like on this tour now and we had to pay a lot for it. There's a lot of band rehearsal rooms, but we had to struggle to get one and it's fucking expensive. There's this place we can go when you're a kid and you can borrow instruments for a while you can borrow a rehearsal room, but then you need to be on a really basic level. Instruments are expensive. I think maybe ten years ago people were rich in Sweden, you know it's a wealthy country, but it's gone down now a bit so... It's not like the government will support, it's the opposite way around. If you are a musician you are like, just outside the system, you know, but that's when it comes to us for example. Pear, the keyboard player, he's got like uh... If you make it right you can get support from the government. He's got support because he's like a cultural person, you know, but I"ve never heard of that myself. You know so it doesn't happen for everybody, he's been around for a long time.
- Are you happy with the success of the band so far, and what kind of hopes do you have for the future?
Yes I am happy. Definitely, I mean, on each album that we do, it's been going a bit slow actually. I'd hope that when we recorded our first album... We thought that we were the greatest band in the world, but nothing happened. So now, each album we get a better reception, we get played for more people, what ever, sell more records, all that. So it's getting better with each album, which is good. I mean, when we start going downwards I want us to quit on the top, you know, but so far it's just gone up hill. But you know, if you'd asked me that question ten years ago when I wanted to be part of the greatest band of all time selling the most records and everything... That's not going to happen anymore, we don't care for commercial success really. It's a good thing that we have a bit of a reputation as a quality band, you know, we have a lot of people that respect us. If we can keep that, that's good and if we can keep improving and continue to do good music and if we grow as a band and get more people to our shows that good, so you feel like you're rewarded every time. It's not that it's going down, playing the same metal show over and over every year, now that would be really boring. I don't really hope for much. We've been in this band for such a long time where we can have a tour bus and your own bed and everything, that's fine.
- You won the Grammy though and you don't feel ...
You know, a Grammy's just the same as any other thing, it means a lot in one way but it doesn't mean anything in another way. Because I don't think that we're a better band now than we were three years ago, but we have a good back up from the record label. They nominated us. So it's just a record label prize, if you're with the right people you can get nominated and win. It is a bit of a kick in the balls for people who actually didn't know about us. In Flames for example was sure that they'd win, but we won.
- Is that some kind of a rivalry type thing?
It's a friendship rivalry, we're all friends with them.
- That's what I figured.
But they're always a step ahead of us. As soon as we achieve something, and you talk to them, they're like " well we did that last season". They're always a step ahead of us, so now we've won the Grammy. They've never won it, which is nice. We also won another prize, which is a radio prize, which is actually only based on quality so that's more important. It's called the P3, which is the radio channel. We won that too, we just took it from In Flames, who was also nominated. But the good thing about these silly prizes is that you get your name out, everybody knows about them. So if you have a Grammy you can call up a clothing company, like I did a couple of weeks ago and say like, "We won the Grammy, do you want to endorse us for clothes"? They were like, "Okay". So I went into this store and I'm like, "I want this shirt, or what ever, and these pants". But it was only because we won the Grammy. So they probably checked the list and were like, "Oh yes". My mom, she would go like, "Well you're on tour now, that's great, but listen to me now...", but then she talks about herself , or what ever. Now we won the Grammy, so she's like, "You won the Grammy"! She was really excited about all that. She loves Damnation. She doesn't like the heavy stuff, of course you know. The Grammy prize has to sides. It's a record label prize that doesn't mean anything, but then you get your name out and it's easy to get good deals in Sweden for example. So we're going to do a bit of a Scandinavian tour now. We played Stockholm, a small city and a festival, that's all we've done in seven years in Sweden. So that's probably why we don't have a name there because we never cared about Sweden.
We talked a little bit more about the ins and outs of the Metal scenes in both Sweden and the US and also about bands that we like and dislike, but I wont go into detail about that. We do have a mutual liking for Tool though. I would again like to thank Opeth and Peter Lindgren for their time.