Opeth’s Per Wiberg Speaks To SonicAbuse

Aside from being a fantastic festival Bloodstock also offered the chance for SonicAbuse to meet some of the amazing artists performing there. In particular we were extremely proud to be able to meet and interview Per Wiberg, the talented keyboardist and backing vocalist for Opeth (who headlined on Friday night).

Opeth, of course, need little introduction, their melodic and progressive take on death and black metal having taken the world by storm over the last decade, starting with the success of the outstanding ‘Blackwater Park’ and then with the band seemingly improving upon every release with each new album. ‘Watershed’, the band’s most recent studio effort, was released just a few months before the band’s last appearance at Bloodstock but this time the band were able to cherry-pick a magnificent set-list (including a poignant cover of Rainbow’s ‘Catch the rainbow’) having been brought in to replace the tragically absent Heaven and Hell.

Standing backstage with the calm, utterly down-to-earth Per had a slight feeling of unreality to it, but Per, who is, it appears, not only a consummate musician but also a true gentleman, kindly took the time to answer our questions and pose for a photo before heading off to prepare himself for the evening’s set:


SA: How does it feel to be back at Bloodstock for the second time?

Good! (laughs)

SA: Are you in any way daunted by the fact that you’re replacing Heaven and Hell as headliners?

Of course, I mean we weren’t meant to be playing this festival at all , and er I guess they asked us since for the obvious reason heaven and hell had to pull out – of course it’s good fun to play today: it’s gonna be cool but it’s tragic circumstances that led to us playing this festival so in a sense I would be happier if we wouldn’t play because that would mean that Dio would still be alive so… but yeah we are and we are going to try to make the best of it.

SA: So having just played ‘Blackwater park’ in its entirety would you consider doing that for any of your other albums?

Um, not in the near future I would say. Those shows were really cool to do but that’s kind of an exclusive thing to do I would say. Of course it would be fun to play another album as well, but the question hasn’t come up afterwards, it was more like let’s do this and I don’t think it’s going to be an issue in the near future.

SA: Obviously the artwork is an integral part of the Opeth experience – does the band collaborate in the creation of the artwork or do you let Travis get on and do his own thing?

I think it’s mostly Mike and Travis who comes up with the … I guess, Mike usually has a vibe or an idea and he sort of pitches that to Travis and he starts the work and they email back and forth until the finished thing is done.

SA: Given that this is the second time that the band have headlined Bloodstock in three years are you planning anything special tonight?

Yeah there’s going to be a cover song today that we’ve never played before, seeing as it’s kind of a special occasion

SA: Ok – A little bit about Opeth itself – do you feel that Opeth, in a way, have paved the way for the resurgence of progressive rock in modern metal and rock

I have no idea! It’s… I don’t think… it’s really hard to answer because when you play the music you play, although I haven’t been here since Opeth started, the band has always had a progressive element to the music and I guess in recent years that part of the music has been bigger and bigger compared to the death and black metal roots of the band and I don’t know if Opeth has paved the way for any other bands as such – you can just play the music you do, locked in your own room and if people ask you stuff like that it’s really hard to answer. I mean sometimes people and young bands come up to you and say Opeth’s music has been a huge inspiration to them and that’s amazing but I have no idea if it’s just progressive bands or artists or whatever.

SA: Have you ever been surprised at the cross-sectional appeal of Opeth?

Err not surprised because I think there’s something for everyone – before I started playing with Opeth I considered Opeth as a death metal band for people that didn’t like death metal music! So I think there’s always been a little bit of something for everyone in there because there’s a wide range of influences and I think may be in recent years we’ve had more and more people who maybe don’t listen to death or black metal or whatever who come to the shows which is really cool and I totally understand that maybe older fans and or whatever have a hard time with death metal vocals sometimes but the music is very melodic anyway so that might be the appeal for people who don’t normally listen to death metal bands.

SA: Ok we have to finish now – thank you so much for your time.

And with that, Per was whisked away by the incredibly helpful press contact who arranged our interview and whom we’d like to thank, once again, for so kindly giving us the opportunity to meet him.

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