Opeth’s MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT Talks About His Favorite Things
Favorite thing to do on tour between shows:
On tour I go out and get records every day. When I’m [in the U.S.] I’m concentrating on collecting American records; American presses. On this tour I’ve probably bought 200 vinyls so far and we’ve been on tour for five weeks. I got a bunch of Kiss stuff lately. I bought Mountain stuff, too, and a few 13th Floor Elevator records from a friend of mine. Generally, I’m just collecting psychedelic progressive-rock from the ’60s and ’70s. They have to be from the country that they’re from. I couldn’t live with having a copy of [Free’s] Fire and Water from a Spanish pressing, you know what I mean? It has to be the original. Otherwise I would feel nauseous.
Favorite music to listen to on tour:
When I go to bed, I still listen to ABBA for some reason. It just makes me feel comfortable. It makes me feel at home. But when we’re drinking, I’m usually the power DJ. I’m very restless when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, so I play songs really fast, and I never play a whole song. It’s like a compilation thing: everything from ABBA to bands like the Scorpions and Iron Maiden.
Favorite city to play:
It is really fun to play in Santiago, Chile. There are a lot of people coming out and they’re fucking crazy. They’re so loud. And it kind of detaches you from your role as a musician. You don’t really think about what you’re playing because you’re enjoying the whole thing. The crowds are always good. Most of the night I’m usually just listening to how we’re doing as a band as opposed to listening to how the crowd is reacting. But in Santiago it’s just crazy.
Favorite fan encounter:
We played a festival called Desert Rock, which was in Dubai. I had never been to Dubai and it’s mostly Muslim. We have a lot of fans out in the Middle East, but because of whatever restrictions, we can’t play in some of those countries. After the show, I met with, like, 50 fans from all over the Middle East — from Saudi Arabia, to Iran, to Iraq, from Jordan, and from Dubai, obviously. We were talking and they were so fucking happy. It was amazing for me. I was a bit drunk I think. But I was standing and talking to them about what it’s like in their countries. Like, if they want to listen to some of the records, they have to do it really secretly. Otherwise, they might be arrested. This music is forbidden. It’s illegal for them to go to shows and they can’t buy the record. It’s such a struggle for them just to listen to the music. It was really profound.
Favorite ways to unwind at home:
I have two daughters, so I spend a lot of time with them. It’s the beauty of this trade that I don’t have to grow up so much. I was interested in playing video games and stuff like that, but I’ve become more and more restless with age. I also have a fish tank I take care of with all sorts of fish. One, the direct translation would be a “fire eel.” I asked my daughters to name it but they just call it the eel. I have another big fish — I don’t know what they call it in English but it’s a big fucking fish that sits on the bottom just hanging out. I was sold when I bought it because I could eat it. When it’s too dull to watch, I might just fry it up!
To check out the the rest of Mikael’s favorite things, head over to Spin.com