As usual when you've had a hectic time touring there's no place like home. I usually feel physically and mentally ill when I come off tour and I've got problems sleeping. Sometimes I wish I had a stereo next to the bed with bus engine sounds and that the bed was rocking a little. I have a love/hate relationship with night liner coaches but the beds...well, I love sleeping on a moving bus! However, after all the touring we did for Deliverance/Damnation/Lamentations I was excited to spend time at home with my wife and newborn daughter. For the first time in...years I guess I felt genuinely good. Writing the new album was a pleasure too. I had no real worries about anything, I knew I wanted to write some music that was out of the ordinary, but really, I felt at ease from the get go. I recorded my demos the same way as I demoed the stuff for the DD records, but I was on time which I haven't been for over 6 years. Since "Still life" I have not been finished with the songs in time for the recording, we haven't rehearsed at all for the last 5 records which is quite insane. We did 0 rehearsals for "Still life", 2 for "Blackwater park" and 1 for "Deliverance/Damnation". And it got to a point where that spontaneous feeling that can produce wonders was almost lost. We had discussed early on that for "Ghost reveries" we needed to rehearse. I was very keen to let the guys more into the songs beforehand so they could work with their parts more and well, be part of the creative process.
So, we ended up rehearsing for almost 3 weeks. I finished all the songs but one before we entered the studio! Nice!
I had been fooling around with a Korg Triton keyboard that we bought for Per on the "Damnation" tour and I had some serious ideas to bring more keys into the heavy material as well. Per Wiberg had finally agreed to join Opeth full time and I was fucking excited to write music for the recent 5 piece. I can't play the keys to save my life but I could make out some chords and I do have the rhythms in me (not blowing my own trumpet) so I did actually come up with some cool stuff. I had Per over to record some decent playing on my demos as well. During rehearsals it was growing together nicely. The stuff sounded fresh, new, we're treading new territories once again.I even felt the "magic" during the very early stages of rehearsals. We'd been looking for studios in which to record and we were down to a choice between to places: Fascination street studios in Örebro/Sweden and Sonic Ranch in El Paso/TX. As we needed to be able to go back home we decided it's better to record in Sweden. We figured since we're so well rehearsed for a change we won't need them 2-3 months in the studio to record. Beaming with confidence I booked Fascination street studios from the 18th of March to the 15th of April. We finished the recordings on the 1st of June.
Music for nations officially closed its doors forever last year and Opeth was for a very short while directly signed to BMG but obviously we got dropped since...well, we're metal! It took hours until the first new offer came through...
Myself, Peter and our manager Andy Farrow went travelling around the world to meet with the most interesting labels out of the 31 offers we got. We met with Century media, SPV, Inside Out and Roadrunner. The SPV meeting was very surreal as the boss, Manfred and his entourage was sipping brandy and tea and basically shouting at each other in German before going "It's OK" to our suggestions of things they could do for us. I loved those guys, Manfred is a man who's been in the business for a long time and the first thing he said to me was "If you sign to SPV I'll give you the record from Dull knife!! (Which is a super obscure krautrock group from the early 70´s)...thanks, but I already have it! "I fixed the very first gig for Eloy!!! (Another semi obscure German band)...impressive! To be honest, things like that got my heart beating faster as I could only image how many great Lp's this guy would have in his collection. I'd fucking sign to them for his record collection alone I admit! As we left the office I got the entire reissued catalogue of one of my favourite German bands, Popol vuh.
If you're reading this Manfred, "Thanks!!" Manfred also told me that for the first time in history SPV and their subsidiary Inside Out we're "bidding" for the same band.
All the meetings were very interesting, I especially liked Thomas from Inside Out who seemed to me like he's the only super honest record boss in the world. I was very impressed with him to be honest. Century media was like meeting old friends as I've been in touch with them since we did our first record. Robert Kampf is one of the nicest people in the business and his boyz, Ula and Leif I consider friends. However, Roadrunner were the ones who impressed us the most with their set up and their "sales talk" really got to me. In the back of my mind I had images of the classic RR records that meant so much to me...King Diamond, Mercyful fate, Slayer, Obituary, Deicide, Pestilence as well as all those guitar records of the 80´s. I'm the first to admit that their current roster doesn't really interest me all that much, but their history is quite impressive! I mean "Maximum security" by Tony McAlpine alone is reason enough in my book, or maybe not?? We met with both the UK office and the American one which is the actual office signing us. I've been told this is the first time in history that Roadrunner directly signed a band to the US label.
15 years in our career we're looking for a label that could put the record out everywhere. To this day people still comes up to me saying they can't find our records....I've had enough of that shit! With Roadrunner we're pretty confident the record is gonna be available everywhere. Obviously signing to Roadrunner presented a new "problem" for us. All of a sudden we're accused of selling out by some "fans". To be honest, that's such an insult after 15 years as a band and 8 records. I can't believe we haven't earned each and every Opeth fans credibility after all these years. I mean, our songs are 10 minutes long for fucks sake! I've said it before but I say it again, we'd never let anyone interfere with the music of Opeth. It is still, new Cd included, as pure as fucking virgin snow! If you don't like our stuff, that's your taste/problem but don't come insulting us with some goddamn sell out comments! For me it's kinda obvious that young fans have a different picture of Roadrunner records than we who are born in the 70´s and grew up with Roadrunner and metal in general. It just bothers me that we, fucking Opeth have become target of badmouthing of that sense. I've been called everything, badly insulted, but I tell you this one is what gets me the most upset. So, you call us sell-outs?? FUCK YOU!!!
Once we had decided on which label to sign with the negotiations started and obviously we in the band are fucking bums and we don't know shit about contracts. Basically all 5 of us signed the contracts with even peeping through the pages. It could have been a gay porn movie contract for the members of Opeth for all we knew. All I can say is I didn't start playing metal to read through some boring (really!!!) contracts.
As we finished the recording down in Örebro there really was no rest. I obviously came back home and spent time with my wife and daughter, and I tell you taking care of a kid is no easy task, especially if you like to sleep in the mornings like myself, well I used to enjoy it, now I get up at fucking 07:00 at latest. Bye, bye, late PS2 nights!! I don't go to the pub that often either anymore but I tell you what...there's nowhere I'd rather be than back home. The other guys took some time off, but I instantly started working with the artwork and thing like that that needs to be done.
I'd been looking for one of the old medieval looking woodcuts, me and Peter went to the Royal library here in Stockholm looking for a evil (yep!) picture, but that was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Couldn't find one. In the meantime I'd received some pics from good ol' Travis Smith. And as per usual with Mr. Smith, he's a genius...the candle pictures just blew me away...that's the cover, fuck the woodcuts! I love it! It's probably the most gothic looking cover we've had, right?
The title for the record is one of those I came up with just like that, in fact it was the first title I came up with...it was either "Ghost reveries" or "Ghost letters" and reveries sounded cooler. I had intended to do a occult concept piece lyrically and got off to a great start with some downright evil lyrics like "The baying of the hounds" and "Ghost of perdition", then I did "Isolation years" which had nothing to do with the intended concept but I liked it so much I decided to ease up on the concept idea in favour of this one lyric. Why I decided on a occult theme? Well, I've always been intrigued by it, especially Satanism and stuff like that. I studied some books that oddly enough my wife had in her collection like "Servants of Satan" as well as "Witchcraft and Sorcery" + some more.
I figured it'd be interesting to see what a mature 31 year old mind would make of this subject as opposed to the 16 year old kid who used to pose in front of his Bathory poster. I'm quite happy with them to be honest, and they're.....evil!
We had originally been offered Ozzfest in the US, but there's no fucking way we're paying to play...no, Sharon, we get paid to play. This year (2005) as well, there we're many Swedish bands on the bill + the fact that we yet hadn't signed to a new label made the peeps behind Ozzfest to drop us from the intended bill. Although slightly disappointed I was actually quite relieved. Yet, 3 days later we got the offer to do the first ever Sound of the underground tour organized by our American agent, Tim Borror. The line up to me was a big question-mark as I didn't know many of these bands. We were the only European band on the bill and most of the other ones we're I guess, Metalcore or whatever it's called. We reluctantly agreed to do it as it was a pre-release tour and we figured it's good to create a buzz round the album before it's released + playing in front of potential new fans is never bad. We ended up having a blast!!
Made so many great friends on that tour it's unbelievable. Myself and Matt from High on fire got on like fucking brothers. The guys from Clutch we're like the coolest peeps I've met, and we even did some looooooong late night drunken jams with them.
The set their gear up in the parking lot in Corpus Christi/TX and all these different constellations were jamming like hell, drunk out of our fucking heads! Strapping young lad obviously is now considered some of my best music-friends. I have some weird bond with Devin Townsend, he's a fantastic person! Gene Hoglan obviously is...Gene....the coolest daddy-o on the planet. Will, their keyboardist turned out to be a crazed Volvo fan and kept talking about Volvos, I mentioned I had one and his eyes we're like "bing"!! He kept bombing me with questions...I was like...well "I got some winter tires for it"...I don't know anything about cars.
The guys from Gwar we're so funny....great, great guys. Nice meeting Devildriver again and Dez gave me so many bottles of wine it was insane. I hope to repay the favour some day. DD is some of our best touring pals to be honest, we have a great time with them and I hope to tour with them again.
Coming home didn't means resting this time either...I had a gig, THE gig with Bloodbath scheduled within 3 days so I basically just said hi to my family and then pissed off down to Linköping for rehearsals. It sounded great from the get go. The other guys had been rehearsing without me so I just had to join in and it was magick!!
The gig was awesome, loads of people there at Wacken, we did 10 or 11 songs and the crowd was pretty much insane the whole time. I was covered in fake blood and we all had our shirt ripped and stained with mud and blood, looked great, really!
As I'm writing now I've been home for a couple of days. We spent a week on 9 different flights to different parts of Europe doing some festivals and press. It seems like this album is gonna do us lots of good. It's bound to, it fucking rules! * * *