Updated: 02/27/00

It may have been the middle of the day for me, but for Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg, it was 2:30 in the morning Swedish time. Johan had just awakened, ready to do this and other interviews assigned to him by the U.S. branch of Metal Blade Records. In a good humor and ready to answer my numerous inquiries, it was time to let the questioning begin!

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Amon Amarth, and how long has the band been together?

Johan Hegg: I'm Johan Hegg -- I'm the singer in the band and I've been playing with Amon Amarth from the very start -- since '92.

HD: Where is Amon Amarth from and what is the music scene like there?

Johan: We are from Stockholm in Sweden -- originated in a Swedish suburb called Tumba. The scene in Stockholm use to be pretty cool. We have the lengendary bands like Entombed and Dismember. We use to have a lot better gigs every weekend -- like 3 or 4 hundred people coming to watch. Now it's hard to get gigs over here, but there are lots of bands.

HD: If you had to describe the music of Amon Amarth to your grandmother, what would you say to her?

Johan: Actually, I tried to decribe it -- she's heard us -- both my grandmothers have.

HD: What did they think?

Johan: They didn't say anything actually. I just tell them it's very hard rock, but it's very difficult to explain to them what I'm doing. My grand-dad, by the way (says) "Well, you can tell it's music anyway." So I guess that was his was of saying, "Okay, this is not good, but you do what you want to."

HD: What fascinates you the most about Viking mythology?

Johan: It's something that has interested me for a long while, especially when you talk about the gods in Northern mythology. They are so human in a way -- they have their flaws and their brillance. They all represent a different part of humanity, and personally I think it's something that's closer to us in Scandanavia -- in the way we feel and look upon the world -- than any other religion actually. I wouldn't say it's a religion for me -- but it's damn close. But it's also the historial aspects -- it's my ancestary and everything.

HD: What is your opinion on organized religion and Christianity?

Johan: Personally, I think that religion is the oldest form of oppression there is. Religion is a political tool to keep people down -- to keep people from thinking with their own head. Christianity, to me, is a very strange religion. Those who follow him and preach about Christ and about God are actually saying "Give God money and he will love you." And to me, that's prostitution. So the preachers are pimps and God is a whore. These are pretty tough words I know, and a lot of people will burst into flames when they hear me say that, but that's just the shared truth of it. I can't, for a moment, believe that someone who put us on this Earth would let us burn in hell just because we don't pray to him or give him money. What the hell is he going to do with our money? It's something that's uncomprehensible.

HD: Let's get off the religion subject...

Johan: I could talk for hours on it...

HD: Let's talk about the recording of you new CD THE AVENGER. What was it like working with Peter of Hypocrisy and how does he contribute to your sound?

Johan: It's always great to work with Peter -- this is the third time around actually. We did a mini CD in '95 with him and we did ONCE SENT FROM THE GOLDEN HALL in '98. And now THE AVENGER. It's always great! Peter is very committed to the work he's doing -- very into the music and very open minded. As far as his contribution, as far as soundwise -- we tell him what we want and he turns the knobs until we are satisfied. But he also says, "This might work" and he shows us and we'll say, "Cool! Let's do that." He was always the first in the studio and when we left, he always stayed a few extra hours. He's very committed to the work he's doing.

HD: Are there any plan for Amon Amarth to play here in the States?

Johan: I hope so. I know the guys at the U.S. Metal Blade are working to get us over there. Nothing certain yet, but hopefully we'll come over to play. That would be totally awesome. And that'll be the first time we've played in the U.S.

HD: What CD or album to you own in your collection that would surprise someone?

Johan: I don't know if it would be such a big surprise, but The Smashing Pumpkins -- I love them -- they're really good. I only have one album though -- MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS. And Radiohead have some pretty good songs. And personally I can't stand Oasis and I can't listen to Pulp -- but Radiohead is brilliant compared to those other bands. Oasis are Beatle rip-offs and I love The Beatles!

HD: What was you favorite CD of 1999 and why?

Johan: One of my favorite albums was The Crown's HELL IS HERE. It's very intense and aggressive music. They definitely play their own style.

HD: If there was one thing you'd like some one to remember after hearing the music of Amon Amarth, what would it be?

Johan: I want people to remember the aggression -- to get the feeling of it. That is what Amon Amarth is about -- it's fast and it's hard and it's heavy. We want people to notice and experience that -- and when they hear the words Amon Amarth, they immediately should think aggression! It's not so much what we want people to think or hear -- personally, any reaction is good if you ask me. Even if it's "I hated it" -- everybody can't love everything. But hopefully people will enjoy and experience the aggression and the power of the music.

HD: Do you have any messages for metal fans here in the States?

Johan: Hopefully we'll get over and tour there -- we'll see what happens with that. Other than that, keep rocking your f*cking asses off!!!


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