There's no discussion where we'd go to record the new album. We were so happy with Jens and Fascination street I can't even recall us ever talking about other studios. Actually, I'm lying, I probably said I wanted to record in Stockholm, just to be close to home...but we somehow "forgot" about that since nobody checked out any suitable studios here. Lazy fucking rock dude....guilty! Anyways, FS studios has 2 mixing rooms and Jens had set up a schedule that would allow us to be ready in 5 weeks as opposed to 2-3 months or whatever "Ghost reveries" took to record. With the schedule I could go home every weekend, and sometimes between Thursday and Monday. But this all depended on me stepping back somewhat from my need to control and have my finger in every fucking music pie we're baking. It was a relief for me actually and I think also very healthy for the others not having me breathing down there necks.
We'd been rehearsing for a good 5 weeks or so and we're tight. I had all songs for the album written and one extra songs was not far from being done either. I had invested some dough in a little home studio, very small, just a Pro Tools LE system and a computer, some plug ins and a microphone (that cost me $100). This allowed me to write and complete the songs back home. I had great (I think) demos of each song so that me and the guys could listen to it and work out their parts, change the arrangements or dismiss parts.
I originally wanted to do a metal version of Scott Walkers "The drift", but it proved to be impossible simply because his head is "sicker" than mine and I also love melodies and dynamics. There are however many parts on there directly inspired by Scott. I wanted the album to be dark and I think it's the darkest one we've ever recorded. Even the major chords sound dark for some reason. Listening to it I can almost hear how the band progress from song to song....this is a transitional album in some odd way, but I don't know where it's taking us.
Anyways, the recording was smooth, real smooth. Axe finished his drum parts in 6 days or something like that which is a first since we did "Orchid". It was a joy! A sheer joy to see Axe play. To me he is so incredibly talented! I can honestly say that it's one of the best drum performances I have ever heard in my life. How about the other new "kid"? Well, Fredrik took command right off the bat and really helped out with everything. If there's a part I was struggling with I just went "Hey, play this..." and he did. I think our rhythms on this one are so tight yet much more alive sounding than ever before. Which brings us to his solos...well, fucking...this guy is making an ass out of me as a guitar player. No need for me to concentrate on any technical shredding type stuff as he simply blows me out of the water. I decided to concentrate on what I do best which is emotional soloing (I think). I'm the slow-hand of death metal I guess, haha!
It was great fun putting down the guitars. We used PRS for all the rhythms and Laney, an Engl and a Mesa for the guitars. I had a new Lionheart amp that I got which was awesome and was also used for Per's Hammond organ. For the leads we used my lovely PRS Modern eagle, a 1970 reissue Stratocaster, a '63 reissue SG and Fredrik's Black beauty LP custom. I think we used my old working horse, the blue PRS Custom 24 as well. And the Hollowbody II was used for some clean stuff. The acoustics we're done with my Martin 000-28 which sounded awesome as usual, and the classical guitar was my ol' burnt Landola as my nice Amalio Burguet was dismissed for sounding too boxy...insane if you ask me, but it came out great nevertheless.
Axe played his new DW kit which is just like fucking eye candy! And ear candy as well...man, those drums sounded so insanely good! Mendez used some Fender Jazz basses and a P bass as well + a great sounding Music man. Never used those before but they sounds really deep and nice.
Per played his Nord electro through my Lion heart and a wooden genuine Leslie cabinet + also had his Nord lead through a Fender Bassman I think it was.
We concentrated on having a very organic sound and something slightly dirtier than the last record which you can/will hear. Jens had got a new echo pedal, sounded like tape echo and had a sound I really liked.
We had a ridiculous amount of mikes on the a-guitar...7 I think....insane, but they do sound great! The mellotrons are quite dirty sounding as well and the vocal production is different on every track. A very interesting use of engineering ideas overall, really.
For the first time in years we actually had a good time recording this record. Everyone was in high spirits. Even though we somewhat feel we have something to prove after all the shit that's happened, everyone was calm and we just concentrated on nailing some classic takes, you know.
The vocals came out great I think. I had all the clean vox written in advance but wrote the screams in the studio as I came up with the lyrics there. Back home I always just improvise the lyrics and they mostly come out real crappy. Just a mish mash of everything. I remember this time around I'd nicked a line from a Rotting Christ song, "The forest of N'gai" for the demos.
As I said I was very happy with the schedules we'd set up as it allowed me to go back home every weekend or so. But while in the studio we usually worked between 8:00 and 19:00. Then we had dinner, and Fredrik, my friends...is a great chef! Wow, he cooked some downright delicious stuff! Last time we had Fredrik who shot the documentaries we've done, who is also a great cook, but now we have a new guitarist who really can play AND make great food! Not bad! Other than that we basically spent our time talking shit and watching movies. We saw "American gangster" which was amazing I think.
We recorded a few covers and finally decided on "Bridge of sighs" by Robin Trower, which is a fantastic dark blues song with great vocals and overall vibe. We also did "Den ständiga resan" by Marie Fredriksson, which obviously is a odd choice in many ways. She's the singer from Roxette but has a done a bunch of solo records. This song is taken from the album with the same name and I've loved it ever since it came out. A very dark record, even though it has some very pop sounding songs, most of them are pretty fucking dark and just...great songs!
It's sung in Swedish and I admit it was a bit uncomfortable listening back to it for the first time, but I think we did a good version. It's basically just me playing guitar and a solo + singing and Fred is doing a solo as well. It just sounds like "Stockholm" this song. Right there!
The last one we did was "Would?" by Alice in chains which is another odd choice, but we all liked them and liked the song. It sounds pretty much like their version but worse I guess. Alright though. Always loved that band and the song is a classic.
We also recorded an extra song which was written by Per and myself called "Derelict herds" and has I think one of my best lyric ever. Really cool, psychedelic song with some fusion unison leads in there. Per's really got some weird stuff cooking...lovely!
Overall I must say it was a very enjoyable experience recording this album. We worked hard and disciplined which is unusual for us but it really worked. Everyone really delivered and the sound is really amazing I think.
We had one night of drinks and that's it! Amazing! We had some wine and did a metal quiz. I was the "host" and Per won easily over the other uneducated bunch.
Now we're back home again. The album's done and I'm expecting a Roadrunner promo copy of it soon. I'm slightly nervous what everyone will think. The label and management loves it but I have to say I kinda expected them too. At the end of the day I know I am happy and that's what matters to me, but obviously it'd be a nice "bonus" if our people all over the world will dig it too. We'll see...
I can't wait to start playing these songs live...we play them well already but it's going to get a lot better. I am however plagued with mixed feelings towards the aspect of touring because of my family. I have a love/hate relationship with it these days. But...it's fun! Most of the time, and I like to have...fun too!
The cover is ready. Travis Smith has done it. And as usual he sent me something just thrown together and...there it is! It looks typical Opeth I guess. I love it and it ties in with the lyrics and music really well. Dark stuff....of course!
I'm writing you now 3 days later. I have the title and it's "Watershed". I like it, I love it actually. My first title was "Repulsion" but when I told Jonas (Katatonia) he started sending my mock covers with the Opeth logo and the green head from the "Horrified" sleeve by the band Repulsion. Yeah, I had it coming...so fucking forgive me for dipping my toes in the water of classic titles. Song titles are done too and I like them.
I can't be bothered reading back for misspellings and such, and I'll leave you for now with a "Hey!"
I also have to say that we've already done some great promotion for the record. We rented a studio in Stockholm and invited journalists from all over the world to come and listen. The reaction so far has been beyond great. I am no psychic but I have enough human knowledge that I can probably sense if people are being genuine with me or not, and well, every one that I talked to during the listening sessions said they're blown away and that this album is a big step forward for us. Yep, a beer is well deserved...or 10?
We're doing more press and press trips very soon which is somewhat of a drag but also fun in some odd way. I suspect we'll be working our asses off from now...so...well, gotta go!