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Heroes & Villains: Mikael Åkerfeldt

When did you realise that some people want to do bad things?

I had nightmares as a kid from watching movies. At the same time I had this Iron Maiden poster for The Number Of The Beast over my bed, and Eddie was holding the head of the Devil. One night I was staring at it and I had to take it down. Decapitations still freak me out.

Did you have a nemesis as a kid?

I grew up in a place near Stockholm where it was just three streets, surrounded by woods. Paul and Fredrik were the resident bullies. I hated them.

Fictional anti-heroes can be quite thrilling.

Everything is good when Gary Oldman is the bad guy. In Dracula he oozed evil, had long hair, top hat, suit, beard… I wanted to look like that.

You’ve often used the occult as a basis for songwriting. Is Satan the ultimate villain?

That’s impossible to answer, because he’s been depicted in so many ways. The cool baddie would be like an invisible entity. I like villains with one-liners, like Freddy Krueger before he slashes somebody up.

_Ever done a villainous deed? _

I broke into a garbage truck once with my friends. The ‘loot’ was a fire extinguisher and some porn magazines, and we got chased by the cops. It was a thrill, but I wouldn’t have been happy if we’d got caught with a fire extinguisher and porn. That’s hard to explain to your folks.

Who is this world’s biggest villain today?

In Sweden we have the Right Wing. The party leader isn’t an evil or stupid guy, but with nearly ten per cent of the vote you have to take his ‘threat’ seriously. We have the Christian Democrats. You can’t let faith run political ideals. It’s naïve and dangerous, and you might as well believe in The Lord Of The Rings.

Jo Kendall
Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.