They're a progressive rock fan's dream team and the genre's greatest odd couple: Mikael Åkerfeldt, vocalist with Swedish prog-metal band Opeth, and multi-tasking Brit musician/producer Steven Wilson have released an album together under the name Storm Corrosion.
**How did Storm Corrosion finally come about? **
**Mikael Åkerfeldt: **We were hanging out at Steven’s house one evening and he asked if I wanted to hear his King Crimson SurroundSound mix [laughs]. So we went into his studio, suddenly I’m playing guitar, and by the end of the evening we had a song.
**Steven Wilson: **We’d had the idea of doing a record together even before I first worked with Opeth [in 2001], but we wanted to do it face to face. It’s more organic being in a room together. Mike came and stayed at my place six times over 1. months, and each time we came up with a song. There was no pressure on us to make the record. It was a case of see what happens.
**What was an average working day like? **
**SW: **We had a good routine. The day would often start with a trip to a record shop. Come back, play some records, have some wine, watch a movie, have dinner, more wine, maybe watch another movie, and then roll into the studio late evening pretty hammered.
**MÅ: **Steven keeps saying we drank all this wine, but I drank the wine, Steven didn’t. He had a big box of Maltesers in the studio.
**The album mixes up old-school 70. progressive rock, folk, metal, ambient sounds, er, polyrhythmic Gregorian chants… Who came up with the oddest ideas? **
**MÅ: **Steven was guiding it in a more twisted direction. I was trying to keep it nice, which is strange as I’m the one with a death metal past.
**SW: **The more ridiculous and outlandish the idea, the more we egged each other on. Nothing was out of bounds.
**Did either of you tell the other that an idea was terrible? **
**MÅ: **Fortunately I didn’t have to say it to Steven very often [laughs]. A lot of people say I have a big ego, but I can take criticism. If he had said: “That’s shit!” I’d have been likely to say: “You’re probably right.”
**After talking about making an album together for so long, were you worried you wouldn’t actually be able to perform on the night? **
**SW: **Yes, there was trepidation. We were scared that when we finally got together nothing would happen. So we took a softly-softly approach. That’s why we didn’t tell anyone – even the record company – that we were doing it until we’d almost finished it.
**Mikael, have you played the album to the rest of Opeth? **
**MÅ: **Yes. At a party when they were all drunk. They said they loved it, but I’ll believe them when they hear it sober.
**Do you believe Steven actually likes death metal? **
MÅ:_ _When he worked on [Opeth’s] Blackwater Park album [2001. he said he did. But when I saw him a couple of months later he said: “Oh, I hate all that shit.” He’d also sold all his death metal records – probably the Opeth stuff as well.
**When you’re working with Fripp, Ian Anderson or Greg Lake, do you ever feel like a nervous fan? **
**SW: **Of course. But once someone trusts your creative decisions, that makes you relax. With Robert, after I’d worked on the first Crimson album [In The Court Of The Crimson King] he realised I genuinely loved the catalogue and could be trusted.
**Does the busiest man in prog ever take a day off? **
**SW: **Not really. I do a few hours in the studio every day. My idea of fun is music. When it comes to my personal life, all my friends are in the music business. Going record-shopping, going to the studio, making music… that’s my life, but I don’t consider it work. How can I complain? It’s a dream way to earn a living.
**Mikael, have you ever told Steven to take a day off? **
**MÅ: **I envy him, because for me, sometimes being in a band can be more about work than fun and creativity. Steven’s always got some new shit and new projects on the go. Every time I go and see him he plays me his new songs… and I never have anything to play him. I have other things happening. I have a family, he has a dog.
**Is there such a thing as a prog groupie? **
**SW: **They do exist – or rather, fanatical girl fans exist, but they are in a minority. But it’s a bigger minority than you think. At my shows I’ve been seeing more and more females in the last few years. I also think it depends on the band. Pink Floyd attract women… But when it comes to King Crimson or Van der Graaf Generator…
**Will there be a second Storm Corrosion album? **
**MÅ: **We should do another. But I don’t want it to become too much of a serious thing. We’re both already dying under the pressure of our respective bands.
**SW: **There were rumours for almost 1. years that we were going to make this record, so you could read the same thing into there being a second one. But we will get together and try.
**Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about Steven Wilson? **
MÅ:_ _He eats too much chocolate. Way too much chocolate.