rushonrock: Was Heritage an easy album to record or were there times when you doubted yourself?
Mikael Akerfeldt: I did write a couple of songs just trying to find my feet and they were metal sounding songs and not very good songs. So I started again from scratch. I came up with an idea for The Lines Of My Hand straight away and that set the tone. It was 180 degrees from what I was writing before but once I’d written that song I felt I could do anything and the album was completed in six months.
rushonrock: As a body of work does Heritage stand up to the very best of Opeth’s back catalogue?
MA: First of all I love playing the new songs live. Maybe it’s just because they’re newer than the other songs we’re playing but they feel so much fun. We’re having a really good time playing these songs and they seem to go down well with the fans. In terms of the atmosphere at the shows it doesn’t feel any different than it has done in the past.
rushonrock: How do you incorporate the new material into the set?
MA: We mix the new songs in from time to time rather than play a bunch together. But we’ve chosen older songs that go well with the new material. There’s clean singing all the time – no screaming. We have a fair number of songs that fit together well from across our career. We have 25 songs for this tour and we play 12 or 13 each night. Five or six of them are from the new album.
rushonrock: How important is a Steven Wilson mix to Opeth?
MA: Steven just happens to be a good friend of mine as well as a very good engineer and producer. I haven’t met anyone who can touch him in that respect. We get along great and he’s always done a great job with Opeth in the past. He’s been a huge help to us but maybe a little less so with Heritage. He wasn’t actually getting into the songs as much this time. But he’s hugely influential to me. I suppose the biggest tribute I can pay to him is that Steven Wilson is the only guy I would ever let tamper with my work!