Ever since I’ve first seen AMON AMARTH live I was certain the band would soar high. Seeing them again last year during their ongoing tour promoting their latest album “Jomsviking” I was glad my predictions were right. No longer an underground melodic death metal act, Amon Amarth are bringing their tales of Vikings to the big venues and festivals. One such festival was Slovenia’s prestigious MetalDays, where the band headlined the second day. Just before their show, we were fortunate and had the chance to have a quick chat with the band’s bass player and founding member, Ted Lundström. A humble guy with a sincere smile, Ted was happy to talk to us about their latest video for “The Way of Vikings”, straying from the Viking themes, the band’s plans for the future and a new album and a lot more.
Thank you for doing this interview. Couldn’t you have convinced Thor to go easy with the storm today?
Ted Lundström: (laughs) Yeah, sorry about that. The weather was very nice this morning.
Yeah, I’ve heard it’s like this in Tolmin, you never know if it might suddenly start raining or not.
Ted: Exactly, I also heard about that too. Well, hopefully, it gets better when we start.
I hope so too. The first thing I’d like to talk to you about is your latest video for “The Way of Vikings”, released quite recently. The video takes a major turn from Amon Amarth’s visual identity and Viking imagery. What made you go for a different approach this time?
Ted: This is probably going to be the last video for this album. Everybody expected us to do another Viking video, but we’ve been having Vikings fighting in almost every video of us playing. So we kind of decided to do something different. Let’s look for something new! So we already decided we weren’t going to play any instruments. And then since the song is about two guys fighting this was our first idea. We know a lot of people in the MMA and stuff like that. So we thought maybe we could do an MMA cage fighting video. And then ideas came popping and in the end, we decided to do a kind of old-school, gangster, bare-knuckle fighting video. We had all these crazy ideas flying around and we just tried to find something new. For us as a band, this was the most fun video we ever made. So I hope the fans will like it too. But it’s definitely very different.
Yes, when I first saw the teasers at Grupa 13’s Instagram account I thought are they sure they are posting the right thing (laughs). As for the Peaky Blinders references, are you guys fans of the show since the visuals are obviously based on it?
Ted: Yes, that and Snatch.
Was it your idea or was it the director’s artistic freedom?
Ted: We were having a discussion with Grupa 13 for maybe a month, bouncing ideas. So it’s kind of a joint effort to come up with that idea.
Do you see any similar excursions into other visual inspirations next time?
Ted: You never know, we’ll see. We’ll probably try to do something fun for the next album again. Of course, we are going to stay with the Vikings, it’s going to be the main focus. But sometimes you want to do something different, and we might probably have some fun for the next album too. But you never know.
Do you sometimes feel chained by the Viking imagery and the lyricism people have grown accustomed to?
Ted: Not really. This is what we like and our interest. It would be a bit weird to do something else anyway. We’ve been building this for so many years, so for us, it’s natural to continue. We’re just going to do it bigger, better and more badass.
Do you see yourself ever straying from the subject, if inspiration takes you somewhere else? Throwing around topics like politics…
Ted: No, never politics (laughs).
No, I didn’t mean current politics, but more historical facts related to the Vikings.
Ted: I don’t know, but probably not. We are going to have a Viking theme and then, of course, you can relate them to modern stuff, but it’s still going to be about Vikings, probably with more swords.
The things we all like.
Ted: Exactly (laughs).
I’ve seen you guys last year in Sofia, Bulgaria, and to say I was amazed would be an understatement. I’ve seen you before that during the “Twilight Thunder God” tour in Belgrade, and your live production has immensely changed. How much effort do you put in planning your shows?
Ted: It involves a lot of planning. We are lucky because we’ve been growing, so when you grow you can afford a better production. We spend almost all the money we get on improving our production. Our idols come from the old-school of heavy metal, like Iron Maiden and KISS. Their shows were big and that’s what we want to do. Of course, we can’t do it on the same level since we’re a death metal band. But we’re trying as much as we can to do big shows. It’s a lot of planning and when we start doing an album we already start thinking about production ideas. You get the lyrics, the songs start to build and then we get ideas. We could do this on stage or we could have that. It’s a part of the whole process. When we do an album it’s always music, then lyrics, artwork. Everything is important because, in the end, it all comes together as Amon Amarth.
You’ve had Viking ships, helmets, backdrops changing every three songs. How do you plan on topping that on the next tour? How big of a challenge is it for you?
Ted: Sometimes it’s tricky because you can’t do much more. You need to have the imagination to come up with ideas. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big, it could be small things as well. Small changes. We are always going to have something big, like the backdrops but in new styles. And we can have side drops. There’s a lot of stuff you can do.
What’s next in store for Amon Amarth?
Ted: Well, we’re sort of getting to the end of the touring cycle for this album. We have to do all these festivals in the summer and then we head on to Russia. Then hopefully we get to visit Australia and Asia. We haven’t done that for this album. We are going to do this during the next year, I’m not sure. But our main focus after this summer is going to be writing new songs for the next album. We are going to start bouncing ideas. We already have some things stirring up. So that’s in store, after the summer we start working on new music.
Have you had any talks about where the music is going to go next?
Ted: Yes, we always talk about cool ideas and what we could do next. We haven’t started doing the riffs, but we have ideas about the direction we want it to move in.
So can we expect any interesting turns, expect the unexpected?
Ted: I can’t tell you now, it has to be a secret (laughs). I mean we’re not even sure ourselves. We have ideas, but we can sometimes talk about doing things one way, but in the end, it’s going to end up completely different. It could go anywhere. So even if I would like to tell you, I can’t (laughs).
Your latest album “Jomsviking” was your first concept record. Do you like how it turned out and do you focusing more on concept albums moving forward?
Ted: We really enjoyed doing this concept and we think it turned out really good. But maybe we’ll wait a couple of albums before we do it again. Or maybe we’ll do it next time, I don’t know yet. But it was very fun because it’s a different way, a different approach to doing things. You have to follow a story and that’s fun. But the next album is probably going to be a bunch of different stories.
Thank you for your time, Ted. Do you have any final words for our readers and your fans?
Ted: I just want to say thank you for supporting. It’s been great and I hope to see you in the future again.