Die Walk├╝re
CoC speaks with Arch Enemy's resident Valkyrie, Angela Gossow
by: Paul Williams
As the first interview that this CoC neophyte has ever undertaken, the decision to interview Arch Enemy lead singer, Angela Gossow, was one which (within seconds of realizing that it was actually going to take place) I would seriously reconsider, especially when the first question came from her. "Do I scare you?" Various answers swarmed around my head, as well as my life flashing before my eyes (eighteen years is in fact quite a short space of time) but a mere and timid "Yes" could only escape my lips. Don't mistake me for the timid kind, but the confidence which radiates from this German bombshell makes me understand why fans adore her and haters... well, hate her! Quick to put me at ease though, the woman who can turn from a calm ocean into a raging tsunami as soon as she hits the stage recounts her thoughts on the desire to be in a death metal band, the strength a person needs to tour and her intolerance with people who refer to Arch Enemy as Carcass.

CoC: Arch Enemy seems to be constantly working away. I'm always hearing of you guys playing show after show after show with few and short breaks in between. Do you not find this mentally and physically tiring?

Angela Gossow: No, I think it is a matter of attitude and it is all in your head, so, you know, you can judge the workload ahead of you, and you can either be very chaotic in your ways and party a lot, or make sure that your physical and mental strength is going to outlast the tour. We obviously have breaks and go back home from time to time, and chill. It's like a marathon: you know you have another 40 kilometers ahead, and you have to take it easy on yourself and pace yourself. I think it's a mental thing, I think some people can't handle it because they can't handle themselves and they can't handle the pitfalls and the challenges of touring, and they have to re-think their ways. We have no problems with that.

CoC: Michael Amott seems to have been dubbed a "workaholic" in the past, but do you think this a term that could be used for the band as a whole?

AG: I think you could use it for me and for Michael and probably also for Daniel. Obviously Michael and Daniel are active with two bands, so they have a very heavy touring load. I'm very involved in the business side of things, so when people think I sit at home, really I'm working a job which resembles an office job but I'm always working everyday being responsible for the band, looking at how we are doing in terms of profile and financially. So yeah, we work a lot, so we don't have a lot of time off because we are basically self-employed.

CoC: So do you feel that the line-up in the band at the moment -- which, since 2007 saw the return of Chris, is the definitive Arch Enemy line-up -- is what makes the work ethic in Arch Enemy so strong?

AG: Well, it is the line-up of when I joined in 2001 and we have had no changes since, with Chris only taking some time out and he is back. This is the line-up which is being defined as Arch Enemy, and it is a line-up we are very comfortable with.

CoC: So how is your relationship with Frederick Akesson since he joined Opeth, because you must see a lot of him, seeing as Arch Enemy and Opeth seem to do quite a bit of touring together, like the Defenders of the Faith tour in UK?

AG: Well, we hate him because he is a lot more successful than we are. <laughs> Kidding. No, we were really happy because he got to know the Opeth guys when they were on tour with us, and it was hard to let him go; but we aren't Iron Maiden, we can't have three guitar players in the band, so it's good to know he found a great home. They are just as much on tour as we are and just as successful as we are, so it's good that everyone has found a great home.

CoC: Arch Enemy was, especially in the early days of the band, cited as a Carcass sound-alike band...

AG: <laughter> Was it? I think if you were to listen to _Black Earth_ and listen to _ Necroticism_ or even _Symphonies of Sickness_ or even _Heartwork_, I'm sorry but I know music very well and I know my shit, I was a Carcass fan and then an Arch Enemy fan, I don't think there are any similarities. Arch Enemy very much has a Swedish sound and it's obviously the same guy, Michael, but they have totally different origins and backgrounds, totally different line-ups, and people who say this haven't really listened to the albums.

CoC: So are there any strains in the band since the reformation of Carcass, because obviously they are touring again and two members of Arch Enemy are playing with them?

AG: No, well, I have very little ego considering that, you know, as long as Arch Enemy is still alive and as active as usual and can still record, I really don't care. I think it's great because I'm a huge Carcass fan and I know how badly they used to get ripped off back in the day, so I think they are kind of taking their revenge now. It's great. <laughs>

CoC: Now I know you must get asked this question all the time, so I do apologise for lack of originality, but what was it that really got you to think: "I'm going to scream and growl like a demon"?

AG: I just liked the music, and when you're fifteen or sixteen, that's when I got into metal, I wasn't very judgmental, and I wasn't thinking in terms of black and white, and gender, male and female, or even what I was supposed to do and what I wasn't supposed to do. I mean I grew up in a very free place, Northern Europe, where there is no difference -- I mean men and women aren't being regarded differently, girls play football, they play baseball, they do boxing and they sing in death metal bands. So I was doing the death metal thing. I started out, figured I could do it, followed my heart and joined a band, and here I am fifteen years later still doing it.

CoC: Before you go on stage, is there anything particular that you do to get pumped, because you're an extremely energetic front woman? Or is it more of an energy that comes to you when you see the crowd so hyped and you know you have to give them a great show?

AG: Well, I'm sorry but I'm not American, so I don't feel the need to get "pumped up", but a quick vocal warm up, maybe fifteen minutes, and some yoga breathing exercises to open up my lungs -- and then you hear or see the crowd, and that really gives the energy. I'm very straight-edge, so I don't drink or smoke, and I don't take any drugs before going on stage. I'm a very self-confident person and I don't need to calm myself down. A lot of people drink before going on stage because they can't handle the pressure or they are afraid to go onstage. I'm very sober, I'm very excited to go onstage. It's a drug in itself, because it releases adrenaline, and a great feeling.

(article submitted 30/3/2009)

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