Continuing our series on the Road To Bloodstock, we catch up with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt ahead of his mainstage appearance on the Saturday before headliners Within Temptation. But what can we expect from a band who cover such a vast landscape of heavy metal?
**Hey Mikael! How do you feel about returning to Bloodstock again this year? **“Bloodstock is a pretty big festival now. We’ve played there a number of times. It’s great… nice hospitality, a great crowd. We love playing in England anyway. Bloodstock is one of the few UK festivals we’ve done, but it’s more of a metal festival than the others. It usually has a better line-up too, even though it’s a smaller, more intimate festival in some ways.”
Do you have any particular memories of your previous appearances? “My biggest memory of Bloodstock is from when we got the stage time of Heaven And Hell, right when Dio passed… we got that slot on the main stage, so we did Catch The Rainbow, which was a very, very big moment for the band, one of the last great things we did with the line-up that included Per Wiberg. We went out on a limb and did Catch The Rainbow. It wasn’t a great version – we kind of did the On Stage version – and I was really nervous and very emotional. I almost cried up there. I lost everything we normally have, in terms of representing Opeth, and it became a real tribute, which had us all very emotional. I remember, after that song, when we went offstage and down the stairs, we had a group hug! It wasn’t that we’d done well. It was for Ronnie. I’m not pretentious about this stuff. There’s nothing fake about Opeth and it was a beautiful thing that we paid a real tribute from the five of us to him. It wasn’t about showing everybody that we liked Dio, the crowd might as well have not been there. We did it for him. When people ask me ‘What is the proudest moment in your career?’, that’s definitely one of them. So Bloodstock will always have a bigger place in my heart, because of that opportunity… well, it wasn’t an opportunity, because his death overshadowed everything, but it was an opportunity to be able to pay tribute.”
What do you have planned for your Bloodstock set this year? “I think the [Ghost Reveries] anniversary things will be exclusive until we do that first show. We’ll play whatever we’re playing. We customise the set once we know the stage time we have, and I don’t think it’ll be much more than an hour. We’ll try to represent as many Opeth albums as we can and we’ll have a good time. That’s what we try to do.”
Given what a stubborn bastard you are, are you tempted to play lots of mellow stuff, as it’s such a diehard metal festival? “Yeah, of course! Those songs always go down well because of the fact that no one else is thinking like that. Most metal bands try to ‘fuck shit up’ or whatever it is. But we’re a metal band at heart, when we choose to be, so we’ll obviously play some really heavy songs but there will also be songs that might not fit on paper, but that’s us. If you book Opeth, you get Opeth!”
Which other bands should people check out at Bloodstock? “Well, Ihsahn, of course. I consider him a really good friend. There’s just a connection between us. I love his music. He’s an artist, perceiving music in his own way, and he deserves a lot of credit and credibility for what he does. He deserves attention. He’s a great musician and I have nothing but utmost respect for him, so definitely go and see Ihsahn… and Enslaved, too. I love those guys. We’ve toured with them a couple of times and they’re fantastic people… funny people. They’re fishermen! Just because of that, people should go and see them. They also love farts, that band. But they’re also doing completely their own thing. If we get lumped together with other bands, it’s usually people like Ihsahn and Enslaved and maybe Devin too, and that’s good company. Enslaved are a great band and everyone should watch them at Bloodstock.”
**In one sentence, why should people watch you at Bloodstock? **“Why not? We’re fucking great. That’s all you need to know.”