This interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth was done through e-mail in February 2001.

Hello there, Mikael, is everything fine with you and the band?
I’m fine, just caught a bit of a cold here. Otherwise OK!

You will be releasing your fifth album "Blackwater Park" in the end of March on Peaceville. What could an old-time fan of the band expect from it and what can someone who hasven´t heard of you before get out of it? Will we still be listening to the traditional ten minute epics?
For sure! Old time fans should know what we’re about. But even for those people we got a few aces up our sleeves! We’ll never be predicatble so everybody should expect a high quality metal album that has captured the exciting spirit that metal should be all about. And we’re not on Peaceville anymore. BWP will be out through Music for nations in Europe.

I saw somewhere that you have been experimenting with some eastern sounds for the new album. Have you been inspired by Therion or Nile or was it just an idea you had? It seems like the old Swedish death metal bands have a real strong will to experiment and develop (Tiamat, In Flames, Therion). Do you have an explanation for this?
Ha, no I haven’t been listening to those bands. I think that’s been in the metal world far longer than the existance of Nile. Actually I was somewhat inspired by this guy from Lebanon called Ibo. That music is fucking wicked! I liked Therion in their prime, which is the first 2 albums. Actually back then they were a big influence for me!

You are most certainly one of the most unique death metal bands in the world. Do you know how many copies of your last album were sold?
No idea, but I think it went well!

Is there a tour planned after the release of the new album and in that case what countries will you be visiting?
We’ll be doing 8 weeks in the States starting with Amorphis and then Nevermore. We’ll also do the Dynamo festival, Wacken and Eurorock. For Europe no tour is scheduled as yet, but we hope we can do it somewhere in the fall of this year!

What does the name Opeth mean and how did you come up with it?
It’s taken from a Wilbur Smith book, doesn’t really mean anything as it was a lost city. It was said that Opeth was the city of the moon. Our old vocalist Dave came up with it in 1990.

For the "Still Life" album you switched record company from Candlelight to Peaceville. Have things been working better now, I suspect it couldn´t get worse?
Again, we’re on MFN now. Peaceville is a great and classic label. I’m sorry we couldn’t work together longer with them, but we’re also very happy with MFN! They’ve done so many good things for us it’s unbelievable! Candlelight kinda pales in comparison!

Do you ever listen to your older albums? What do you think of them nowadays?
I do sometimes. I think they’re all great!

I understand Opeth was formed in early 1990 and that none of the original band members are still in the band. Who were they and what really happened in the early days?
I didn’t know them personally apart from Dave the singer. They were pretty untalented though. They did a demo under the name Crowley which was very lousy! Like 4th grade death from Stockholm. I was in this band called Eruption before Opeth. We weren’t that good either but way better than the original Opeth!

Did you plan to play death metal from the early beginning of your career for some reason or was this something that just happened?
We were into death and thrash. I also had a strong metal background which is the main reason why I ended up in a band. I just love metal and I love music in general!

You had a line-up change after the second album "Morningrise" with Anders Nordin and Johan De Farfalla leaving the band. Do you know what they have been doing since then? The two "new" members are Martin Lopez and Martin Mendez, both rather unknown to most metal fans I suspect. What have they been doing prior to Opeth?
They’re known now! Lopez was the drummer with Amon Amarth for a while and Mendez didn’t really do anything apart from jamming with some local bands. I’d say they’re much more into this than Johan and Anders was. Well, me and Anders always had a strong bond but it kinda frayed towards the end and now he’s left the scene completely! I haven’t heard from him in ages!

Could you please tell us a little about the current band members, like what bands you have been playing with before? Are you still involved in any other bands than Opeth?
I’ve been doing some projects like Bloodbath and Steel. The two Martins always has a new band....they’ve just done an album with a band called 5th to infinity. Peter is on his ass all day doing math!

How do you compose your music? Are everyone in the band involved in the song-writing process?
I write the music/lyrics. It’s always been the case as I wrote the bigger part of the early albums as well. Lately we ended up never rehearsing so for the last 2 albums I’ve made demos for the other guys and then we nail it in the studio!

What are your best and worst touring memories? What can you expect from a Opeth live show?
We only done one full tour. I can’t remember much apart from that we had a good time. Opeth live? We just look like some bums from the audience walking up on stage. No show, just music and some headbanging!

What do you do when not composing or playing music?
Playstation, record collection, girlfriend, friends!

What are your favorite five bands/artists ever (does not have to be metal)?
Sabbath, Priest, Camel, Morbid angel, Cressida

Any final words you would like everyone to read?
Thanks for the interview! Check out BWP as it comes out!

Links of interest:

Opeth Official Site
Music For Nations
Candlelight Records
Peaceville Records