2000 is a strange year in the Opeth history. Not only did we change label (again) record a new album, but we also did a couple of live gigs! Kinda baffled by the fact that we actually had to rehearse somewhat, I almost forgot about the writing for what was going to be "Blackwater park". Anyways...I had some riffs here and there, and I actually worked pretty hard the last couple of months before we were due in the studio. I went to an old friends house to record some demos and just relax and await some inspiration. His house is (used to be) in the countryside just outside Stockholm. Some months earlier I had found myself eating dinner with one of my musical heroes in London. Yes, Steven Wilson is a real person, not just a legend told to easily frightened children by the fire. Seriously though I was kinda awestruck by the fact that we were actually discussing a co-operation. I asked him if he was interested in producing the new Opeth album, which he was.
This put some strain on me and the rest of the guys to come up with material that was good....real good. After listening to the demos I’d sent him he accepted the offer to come over to Sweden and Fredman studios for the sessions. Yes, that studio is rubbing off on us, and we have an urge to go back there.
The newly required table tennis table (!) didn’t make it worse either. We got down there on the 10th of August knowing that Gothenbourg would be our home for the coming 7 weeks or so. The time was dearly needed as we only had rehearsed 3 times before this recording. All the lyrics and some of the music had yet to be written. That is the way we work nowadays. And everybody knows rehearsing is boring!!
Hotel Stanne proved to be open this season, and Mikael (yes, the Dark Tranquility bum) was kind enough to leave his flat in our care. We had actually been living in the studio for about two weeks, and I can tell you...4 guys in a small bedroom that hasn’t taken a shower in 10 days is not a pretty sight. The smell in there was overpowering to say the least! Then again...for us it’s a natural way of recording....you gotta be filthy and disgusting to be able to release the "pain"!
This time is was tough. I feel pleasantly blown away by the immense result though. It was indeed worth the effort. Steven worked with us for 12 days and he did a splendid job. Kinda guiding us into the realms of "strange" noises for guitars and voice. We even got him to sing a few lines as well as playing both piano and guitar. Our cunning plan did work!
Back home there was no rest of course. MFN on the phone, Peaceville on the mail and everybody on your back.
Happily though, we’re pleased, the label is too and I guess the listener first and foremost!
"Blackwater park" is an experience indeed. Both for the band as well as for the fans, or anyone interested in music. That’s what we feel anyways. * * *