Alissa White-Gluz: "I know our music has an impact directly on people"

Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy hit a real landmark this year. Latest album Will To Power is the band’s tenth full-length release, which is seriously impressive. Following from 2014’s War Eternal, Will To Power is the second record to feature Alissa White-Gluz fronting the melodic death metallers, and tackles many societal and political hot topics with a liberal fist firmly in the air.

We chatted to Alissa about her thoughts on the world in 2017 and what the future holds for Arch Enemy.

Arch Enemy songs make strong statements – how much has Donald Trump fired you up this year?

“I like to respect everyone’s opinion, especially my fans’ opinions on things, but I’m just so disgusted with that man. Every time he opens his mouth, it’s offensive, destructive, it sets the world back a few decades in terms of social issues, political issues, the environment, women’s rights, gay rights… he’s just so anti-progress. I guess we can’t help but write about that a little bit but there are obviously other issues worthy of writing about in music, and I think that’s why we like to keep our songs somewhat poetic.

“I was thinking a lot about world issues when I wrote the lyrics to The Race, for example, or when Mike [Amott, guitarist] wrote Blood In The Water he was definitely thinking about that too [both from latest album Will To Power]. I think we like to keep it somewhat vague because otherwise you really date a song – you can put a time stamp on a song if you’re talking about something that won’t be relevant in 10 years, or hopefully in this case one year! Of course, it fires a flame to our music. As people, Michael and I see eye-to-eye on everything; we get angry about the same things. It’s a sad state of affairs and a scary situation. When we’re on tour, we have people from all over the world with us, and we all agree that this is a real problem; there are global repercussions for the drastically poor decision of electing Donald Trump as president.”

What responses have you had this year from being talking about your veganism?

“I know my scale of impact is a lot smaller than Donald Trump or a Hollywood celebrity, but I just finished a tour in Russia where veganism is not a very popular thing, and every day fans came up to me saying, ‘I’ve been vegan for two years because of you.’ I get messages from people who say they’ve been bullied and our music gives them confidence, or really amazing fans who say our music saved their lives, so I know our music has an impact directly on people.”

You signed a deal for a solo record this year – what can we expect on that front?

“I’m hoping to be able to finish writing and recording it, but I just don’t have any time. I was working on it January and February, but I had to put my foot down and work on Arch Enemy songs, because I had this big deadline. For my solo album I have no deadline – I just need to get it done. But I don’t want there to be throwaway songs; I want everything to be on there for a reason. Some of the songs are written 100 per cent by me while others are collaborations with friends or musicians I’d like to work with, so I’m using this album to express myself in a fun way. I’m looking to get a producer as well – I’ve never worked with one before, but considering I have such little time, it might be a good idea.”

What have you learned about yourself?

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs. My family was stricken by a national disaster – a family member lost everything in a flood. I think I grew up more this year than in many other years. When various issues happen, especially with family, it really makes you re-evaluate what matters and doesn’t in life, and makes you realise that your reality is the only reality you know, and that is what you must focus on. It became really important to me that it’s important to focus on the positives and things that matter. Everything’s not perfect all the time, I’m a realistic person, but I think it’s important to dedicate your energy to the people and things that are positive in your life. If there is a negative, then it’s something you need to ignore, repair or remove. Life is really short.”

And your high point?

“It has to be Will To Power being released, [live DVD] As The Stages Burn being released, and playing to more people than ever. A real professional accomplishment for myself has been to build my own studio, and in doing so I’ve taught myself how to engineer my own demos. Some of Will To Power I recorded myself in my studio. In doing that, I feel like a more accomplished musician – I take my job very seriously so it felt good to reinvest in what I do and grow as a musician as well as teaching myself new instruments.”

You can read exclusive interviews with all the bands that made 2017 – from Myrkur to Satyricon to Avenged Sevenfold – in the latest issue of Metal Hammer. Buy it directly here or become a TeamRock+ member to read it right now.

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