Interview med Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy) fra Copenhell 2014
June 11th – 13th
Three days in metal heaven
From the Devil’s birthday to Friday the 13th, the Danish metal festival Copenhell rocked the industrial compounds of the old abandoned B&W dockyards in Copenhagen. Monumental concrete halls and twisted railroad tracks are silent witnesses of a time when huge metal monsters were built here. In June 2014, however, they had built another kind of monster, but with no less bulk, fire and iron. Three days of solid metal music ranging from (the not-so metal) Bad Religion, Clutch and Monster Magnet through heavy metal pioneers Iron Maiden and thrash legends Anthrax to death and black metal legends like Gorguts and Behemoth. And to top it off legendary Twisted Sister came by for the first time in 30 years.
Metal for the masses
This was the fifth-year-anniversary of Copenhell and the festival that started out as a mainly local event has grown into a Batillus class oil tanker with 15,000 metal heads from all over Europe, three days of music and a line-up to match the great German and Swedish metal festivals. But even though the festival has become a true metal player, it has never dropped the unpretentiousness, never seized to be the informal enfant terrible and stayed true to the original concept of offering the guests a total immersive experience from the moment they walk through the gates of hell (which obviously the entrance is called).
Hell ain’t a bad place
When you walk around the festival grounds you realize the totality of the entire festival. Everything is metal themed, from the eateries called F***ing Crispy Pork, Hell Burger, Devil’s Thai Food and Loki’s Feast to the festival classic chill-out area Copenhell-style, here called The Graveyard with an old wooden church and open coffins to lie down in. If you get peckish you can enjoy a roast on a spit in Asgaard and throw axes while you wait as well as play tetherball with an apple and a broad sword while sipping the specially brewed liquor Baphomet, a vodka of 66,6% alcohol, distilled in a goat’s skull for exactly 66 days and 6 minutes. Previous years’ potent potable saw the 6,66% alcohol beer “Bark at the Moonshine”. If you feel on the sweeter side you can have a Bloddy Sweet Churro and a cup of skullding Black Death Coffee in the Biergarten, where Mandowar will play metal classics on mandolin, floor bass and fiddle. You are never in any doubt that this is a metal festival, but it does not take itself too seriously which the mood of the crowd definitely reflects - all happy faces around albeit some covered in the classic metal war paint of black make-up, up-side down crosses and white faces. But that just adds to the flavor. I have been to many many festivals, and generally there is little trouble and few arguments, however, at Copenhell, this seems to be even more so. For an outsider, a metal crowd can seem a rowdy and rough looking bunch and indeed we are, but it’s a shared rowdiness – a passionate roughness. We are here because we share a passion for music and for metal in particular. Basically all 15.000 people have the potential of being my new best friend and this vibe is shared all around.
Scream for me, Copenhagen!
What Copenhell does take very seriously, though, is the line-up. Headliners Iron Maiden went on stage Wednesday night and a tour de force of who is who on the metal scene followed. From metal mammoths like Behemoth to small indie-metal bands you’ve probably never heard off. All went on exactly on time and all had the most loyal and head banging audience you can imagine. As Bruce Dickinson said: “I’d rather play a small metal festival in Denmark than a huge European festival where the crowd doesn’t give a f*** about metal”. And at Copenhell, the crowd gave several.
Earlier that first day, two Roland Scandinavia representatives were sitting with a cool beer in the RIP(!) area, waiting for the backstage shuttle bus. We had a date with Swedish drummer Daniel Erlandsson of the melodic death metal band Arch Enemy. Daniel has been using the TM-2 and triggers for a while now, and we were anxious to hear his verdict. You can read the entire interview HERE
Daniel Erlandsson – Arch Enemy
ROLAND: We’re here at Danish metal festival Copenhell 2014 with Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson. Of course, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I want to start by asking a little bit about the very start, how did you start playing the drums and what is was with your brother (, the drummer of , , and and the former drummer of and ). Could you tell us a little bit about that?
DANIEL: Yes, well, my brother is actually six years older than me and when he started playing drums he was in his early teens, maybe twelve of thirteen, so I was six you know, a little kid. But that meant he convinced our dad to buy a drum kit, and we got a drum kit in the house, in the basement. So when I got a bit older, around twelve, I got an interest in playing myself, and that’s how it started. Then when I was in the seventh grade I met some people who were also into metal and we decided to form a band, and that was when I really started playing. We just met at rehearsals, nobody knew anything, how to play, how to get a sound from their instruments, nobody knew a thing. But, you know, eventually – I guess that’s how a lot of musicians start out. It was really at the grass roots level.
ROLAND: So basically it was your brother who introduced you to that scene and type of playing?
DANIEL: Yeah, absolutely. He put the drum kit in the house and he was also introducing me to a lot of music that, maybe I would have heard it, but I would have heard it much later I guess.
ROLAND: Now fast forward to 2014. You’ve been through a lot since, playing in, of course, Arch Enemy but also other projects. Where is the difference? Who are you now, as a drummer?
DANIEL: Ehmm, it’s a good question actually…I think I’ve…think I’ve pretty much been doing the same thing since when I started actually. I’ve always had the same ambition and that’s to be the best drummer I can be, that’s my ambition, but over the years I’ve played with various bands and it’s been on different levels, you know? Right now, where we are in 2014, we’ve worked so hard for a long time with Arch Enemy, it’s like, I’ve never been part of a band that is so professional, and not just musically but all the things around the music, the organisation. It’s a different thing now, absolutely. Actually I didn’t have my own drum kit until I was, well it’s a bit embarrassing to admit it but, not until I was nineteen really. Before that I just played on other people’s drums, that’s how I learned how to play.
ROLAND: And what about now? As a drummer you have quite a big following, both as a drummer but also as part of Arch Enemy. What do you do nowadays, do you practice a lot and does it differ from how you practiced back when you were nineteen, twenty?
DANIEL: These days when I practice I realize, I just want to play whatever comes to my mind. You know, I don’t feel like I have to practice Arch Enemy songs, because I realized that when we have a little break and if I don’t play. As soon as we get up on stage and just play, it’s like yesterday, you know? The songs are just so deeply engraved in my brain that I don’t have to practice them. But having said that, before a tour I have to get prepared and get ready, like physically, to play the Arch Enemy set, because it’s…quite demanding. Especially when we headline we play a long set. On this tour we’ve been doing some club shows where we play one hour and forty-five minutes and, well, it’s a workout.
ROLAND: If we move on now to the band, 2014. Big changes, new album and, of course, the major change…
DANIEL: The major change is of course the change of our lead singer. Angela (Gossow, ed.) was part of this band for a long time, almost fourteen years I think, and she started telling us and we started noticing that she was getting a little tired of touring. Living on a bus, travelling and that whole thing. So when she finally approached us and said that she was quitting the band, it wasn’t a huge surprise for us. We kind of saw it coming. Another big change was in 2008. We used to be part a big management company, but at that point we cut our ties with that management company and Angela took over the complete business side of the band so she was like a singer and a business manager all those years from 2008 and eventually she just decided that that was what she wanted to do. So we were kind of presented with, or forced, to make a decision: do we quit of do we find a new singer? These were basically the options we had. And Alyssa (White-Glyz, ed.) was really the only person that came to mind, actually. We looked around a little bit and saw a few different singers, but she was basically the only real contender to take over. And also, she was in touch with Angela for a long time, they’re friends, so Angela was like, ”If I quit, take a look at this girl”.
ROLAND: Cool, that’s cool. So, the new album just came out. It got some, actually really good reviews, I don’t know how much you care about those, but really good reviews in Metal Hammer for example, which is always very good, but especially when you have a new member of the band, and in particular a new lead singer. Can you tell a little bit about the creation of this album and did it make any difference that it was produced by the band and not somebody outside?
DANIEL: This album is the product of a long song writing process. We took the whole 2013 off and wrote, just focusing on the song writing this time. It was done a little bit differently this time. Usually we have some ideas, record ideas and then meet in the rehearsal room and start jamming. We also did that this time, but Michael also went to Nick at Nick’s place – he lives in America – and they spent some time there, two guitarists…and a drum machine writing some songs, but those were like, we had these ideas lying around for a long time, but when they met they sort of put them together. I wanted personally to make a difference this time by getting myself more prepared, in terms of the drum parts of the album. On many of our albums it’s been very stressful, you have to meet a deadline so you go into the studio and barely know the songs…But this time around it was different. When we finished we said, well, we reached a certain limit and we said, well, we’ve finished the album now. After that time I had one month to myself just to play the songs. And then I went into the studio, a local studio in Sweden where I live, alone with an engineer and I just tracked all the drums in three days. It was very cool setup.
ROLAND: Almost like the Ramones – three days and you’re done.
DANIEL: He was a very cool guy this engineer. He told me to just play the songs. We’re not gonna worry about not playing this part perfectly and the next part perfectly; just play the songs three or four times. Then we found the best takes and pieced it together. The rest of the album was sort of recorded in various studios but we did everything ourselves. We rented a small room like this and just tracked the guitars and the bass and all the solos. And then we sent it to Jens Bogren who mixed the album. This process was very smooth actually. That’s why we choose to produce ourselves because at this time this was our 9th album I think? I even lost count.
ROLAND: It is, yes, 9th, according to Wikipedia at least
DANIEL: Yes, so like, we know that we can do it so…we don’t need anyone to say “no” and “that’s not good enough” and all. We can sort of feel it.
ROLAND: When you were recording the album, your drums, the kit, the equipment, compared to the live set. What are the differences and are there any differences and why?
DANIEL: There aren’t many…the difference is that you choose a different snare drum for a song, maybe you want to choose a couple of different crashes to sort of fit the mood of the song better or just looking for a particular sound. But the setup was pretty much exactly like my touring setup
ROLAND: Perhaps that makes it a little bit easier when you’re out playing live?
DANIEL: Especially when you wrote the album and were practicing on that setup.
ROLAND: Now, on to the Roland gear, with the new TM-2 and the triggers for your snare and kick drum. How did you hear about this at first and why did you decide to use them?
DANIEL: I’ve been triggering my kick drums for a long time. When I started using triggers it was because we wanted to have a consistent sound, especially in the monitors for the guitar players who wanted to be a little tighter. Over the years I’ve used various brands but I started using the Roland RT-10k in 2005 or 2006, it was a long time ago. And I’ve used them ever since because I always had problems with, cause I like to hit the snare very hard, I had problems with misfiring triggers with other brands. And with these Roland triggers I don’t have that problem. And just recently I met a guy from Roland Japan, Atsushi-san, and he introduced me to the TM-2, and I could tell it was a great idea, you know, because, well, actually personally I’ve had this idea for years. I’ve always been carrying this big device around to trigger only two inputs. That’s all you need. But most of these things have like ten inputs which is completely unnecessary, so the new TM-2 is the perfect companion for any drummer that wants to trigger. And mostly in this genre of music it’s most common to trigger the kicks. I’ve been using the TM-2 for the first time on this tour for about three weeks now and I’ve actually put a few of my own samples into the machine already. To have that option is great. And it’s been working perfectly.
ROLAND: Can you tell me about these samples, what are they?
DANIEL: They’re samples that I’ve used on a few of our albums. Like, you know, producer’s selected samples.
ROLAND: Must be cool to be able to take these on the road so easily?
DANIEL: Yeah, and the cool thing is that if you have a few samples that you really like. It’s one thing to listen to them at home on a hi-fi. It’s different when you’re on a stage with a sound guy. You can actually try out different sounds, now, how does this sound and how does that sound. What sounds great at home does not necessarily sound good her, so it’s really really cool.
ROLAND: You said that you have a TD-20 at home? How do you use that?
DANIEL: I play on it…a lot!
ROLAND: That's a really good way to use it! Is it for creative periods or just for practicing or?
DANIEL: I can tell you that I've used it for everything apart from performing live; I've never used it live. But I've used it to practice, obviously. Also to record, many times, in various different settings. At one point I actually brought a pad with me on tour and used it as a second snare. Yeah, it's unbeatable when you want to practice. It's the perfect kit...
ROLAND: It's good, but it's not unbeatable though. The TD-30KV, the new one...
DANIEL: I know, I was gonna come to that (laughs). It's really amazing when you play the TD-30 kit for the first time I was really impressed by how sturdy it is and how much of a beating it can take. You tend to think that this is electronic equipment, I should be careful, but you don't need to.
ROLAND: No, just kick it! Anyway, to come back to Arch Enemy. I was wondering, with all these big changes - new album, new singer, the tour just started a month ago, what's next?
DANIEL: We have tours booked till..well, as long as I can see (laughs) we have a lot of tours booked, and I kind of feel like that we're at a point now where we need to prove to the fans that we're still, if not even, I personally think, if not even better. You can tell when we play these club shows when people hear Alyssa for the time it's like, one - two songs into the set they're a little bit cautious, you know, checking her out like "is this good? Is this good?” But towards the end of the shows it's always, so far, a success. We're gonna keep on touring around the world in the campaign of this album. That's a first priority right now.
ROLAND: That's great. Do you have anything more to add? Do you maybe implement other Roland gear in your setup?
DANIEL: Well, Atsushi-san sent me a Roland BT-1, the round trigger, you know? The plan is I'm gonna start using that as well, but I haven't had time to set it up yet.
ROLAND: On the rim of your snare or?
DANIEL: I don't know...maybe I'll put it on a stand somewhere in my setup and then use it to trigger some samples.
ROLAND: It's a cool little thing; it doesn't take up much space right?
DANIEL: Yeah, exactly, and again you can just hook it up to the TM-2 and trigger which ever sound you want. That's a really smooth setup.
ROLAND: Ok, well, thank you Daniel, for taking the time to see us. Do you have any last comments you want to share?
DANIEL: Well, thank you for having me of course and be sure to check out Arch Enemy on the road. And our new album "War Eternal". It's the best album. Ever.