Amaranthe, Elize Ryd Interview – Talking ‘Manifest’ and Women in Metal

2020-10-02

Elize Ryd of Amaranthe joins Anne Erickson to discuss the band's new album, "Manifest," and what her journey has been like as a woman in metal music.

Elize Ryd of Amaranthe – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Patrick Ullaeus

Elize Ryd of Amaranthe joins Anne Erickson to discuss the band’s new album, “Manifest,” and what her journey has been like as a woman in metal music

Swedish metallers Amaranthe offer a unique blend of heavy guitars, hooky choruses and dance-happy rhythms. The band stands out in the metal world for incorporating elements of melodic pop music and dance-rock, something most metal bands don’t dare attempt.

Amaranthe are back with their sixth studio album, “Manifest,” which also marks their first on Nuclear Blast Records. Vocalist Elize Ryd spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio/Publications about the new album, her experience being a woman in metal music and more. Read the interview below, and watch the full chat via the YouTube player.

Anne Erickson: It’s great to talk with you, Elize. Congratulations on the new Amaranthe album, “Manifest.” The first single is so appropriate because it’s called “Viral.” Did you guys actually record that before coronavirus?

Elize Ryd: Yeah, it’s interesting, because we had the title ready and the riff, and we finished the song in the studio, and that was during lockdown. Denmark was more strict than Sweden, so we were allowed to return to Sweden whenever we wanted, but we couldn’t come back to Denmark. So, we were forced to stay there for three months, and the “Virus” song was one of the later ones we finished up. So, of course, we couldn’t hold ourselves back from touching the subject, because it was so accurate. It was the timing that made the song, basically.

So, you actually had the idea for “Virus” before coronavirus?

We had the idea. It was going to be about social media, and then it obviously exploded even more after people went into quarantine. So, that made the whole subject even more up-to-date, so to speak. Also, we focused the song based on how people were handling the crisis online and stuff.

What do you think makes this record different from what you guys have done in the past?

We have experienced different perspectives with our music and our songwriting, and the sound and the difference now from before is that we try to really, really find the core of what is Amaranthe and to try to manifest that to our audience, and hopefully new audiences. It also plays a big part that we have brand new management. We have changed our record label for the first time. So, now we’re on Nuclear Blast, and it all kind of gave the band a fresh, new beginning kind of vibe, where we also wanted to reflect that into the music that we’re in an energized, good place. We’re enthusiastic. We want to really say to the people what Amaranthe is.

A lot of bands postponed their albums this year due to the pandemic. What made Amaranthe want to go ahead with the release?

Of course, it was up for discussion, because each band is allowed to do what they feel is right for themselves. But, we talked about it maybe for like one minute and then said, no way we’re going to release this album later. It’s going to be released now as planned. The plan was to release it on Oct. 2, but we actually moved it a little bit earlier because of the U.S. tour. We thought that since we are going there, we would like to release the album when we play our first show in the U.S., and then that tour was canceled, and we then moved the release date to what it was originally.

Has the U.S. tour has been moved to next year?

Yes, the European tour has been rescheduled for next year, and the U.S., because we don’t know what you are up to, really. We haven’t received any final answers from the U.S. government, so we cannot reschedule. We had to cancel, but we will, of course, make it happen as soon as we are allowed to come over.

So, you’re hoping to reschedule the U.S. tour, but as of right now, you haven’t heard anything yet.

Exactly.

What are your thoughts on when traditional concerts might return?

It’s so weird. I think there is a certain amount of imagination your mind can have, especially during a pandemic like this, because you’re dealing with not getting depressed, keeping your hopes up and you don’t want the world to change completely, especially now for us as musicians, because we are dependent on concerts, obviously. One of the biggest reasons we love playing shows is to see the audience have had a good time. So, if I would see an audience where people have to keep distant, I’m not so sure what I would feel about it. Of course, it would be better than nothing, but I have a strong feeling that it will go back to either normal or even more crazy than it used to be.

I can’t wait to get close to people. I would be like, is it concert time? (Laughs) It’s like, nobody has to be scared. It’s like, if you released some kind of fear, I think the vibe is going to get even better, because there is no better feeling than being fearless. Referring to the album. (Laughs)

You’re a very successful woman in the metal world. How do you feel like the metal world is for women today versus when you started out?

Oh, my God. I love this question, because the difference from my perspective is huge! I will say it’s better now. I think these old guys, they gave up, the ones that tried to defend the scene towards women, as if we were some kind of threat, but they probably– either they realized that there is nothing to be scared about, or they just gave up complaining. It feels great to have been part of it. I feel kind of proud. I survived the whole situation where I didn’t really feel welcomed, but also I really focused on the people that did not have these kinds of beliefs. Discrimination is never okay. So, it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are. The metal scene has dealt with a lot of new elements. People that need to learn to accept differences and stop being scared about it. So, I feel now that the industry is blooming, and the fans are grateful. There is more women actually listening to metal nowadays, I think, than it used to be. There are more going and starting their own bands, and it makes me extremely happy to see, and it’s feels like they get better starts. They don’t need to deal with a lot of hate nowadays, which I’m very happy for them.

So, you definitely feel like it’s much more accepted to be a woman in metal now?

I do, and also people understand that– the scene, in general, understands that it’s important to have different sounds and characters, and nobody would ever say no to a talented woman. More like trolls or haters online that would have something against it, actually, but the business has always been very supportive.

How do you feel women support each other in the business?

That’s also a very good point. Most of the criticism also that you got from the past was– it wasn’t only like men who wanted to defend their manly genre, which they believed that was something they had for themselves that we shouldn’t interfere in. But, also there were women that were probably making the most evil comments about looks and the sound of– like, shallow things. I think this is common in all kinds of professions, that women tend to be competitive and men are more used to teaming up. You can see that in sports, as well, that they have always been team players. They go in groups, they have their troops, they have their force and teams, but the women have mostly learned to be independent. I feel now that the women in the business are very supportive, and I have the same feeling. I would never get jealous or feel like this is my territory or whatever. We want to welcome a lot of women, and also I have to say the men in the business are very happy to see women. It’s very refreshing to have more feminine elements in this very manly, man-dominated genre.

You have the new record out, “Manifest.” Is there anything else in the works right now?

We are discussing a lot. We went to record music videos two weeks ago. We are planning to make two new recordings, like video shoots, which we would not have done if we would be in the U.S. touring right now. So, these are some extra things that are happening. We are planning to make something like a live concert, but we’re hoping to maybe be able to get at least a small amount of people, and if we do it in Sweden, we could still have up to 500 people, which would make it more fun than just an empty pit. So, we’re discussing how we could make that happen. And, then we have Plan B and Plan C, and that is to make like some kind of covers album and maybe release some old demos, just for fun, to show people how the songs sounded like in the early, early stage, and things like that. We’re trying to keep a positive mind and stay creative.

I would love to hear you guys do a covers record.

We did already the Powerwolf cover song and “82nd All the Way” with Sabaton and actually loved it. It was so much fun. And it took a day to arrange, because it’s easy for us, because we have these specific elements about how to make our own sound. So, it’s very fun. It was more fun than we expected. So, that’s something we definitely would love to do, like different songs from different genres and just make it a collection. That would be fun.

Elize, it’s been great talking with you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to say that it was really nice to chat with you. Also, from your perspective, it’s more women doing press for metal and the metal scene. So, it’s also very nice for me to speak to a woman, a beautiful woman like yourself, but our whole team are mostly women, the ones working with us right now. It’s very interesting. So, it’s very refreshing and appreciated, and men, of course, appreciate it, as well. So, my band says hello to you and thank you so much for the interview and supporting Amaranthe. We can’t wait to come back to the United States to meet all our fans over there.

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