By Mike Exley
youíre an aficionado of any decent metal scene around the world, chances are
youíve heard of the towering but gentle giant that is bass player Sharlee
DíAngelo? Not only a key ingredient in the rise, and rise of Arch Enemy, but
also with a huge hand in the career of King Diamondís later Mercyful Fate
incarnations, this lad is a hugely respected yet occasionally ridiculed
character who it appears sometimes gets unfair press for not committing to one
cause and sticking to it, but nevertheless garners immense respect from the
people with whom he has worked including fellow Swedes Dismember ("Hate
Campaign" 2000) and thrash metal super group Witchery which is home to the
bass player when he has down time, such as now, as well as Haunted guitarist
Patrick Jensen and the wonderfully named (and painted) Toxine. New album
"Donít Fear The Reaper" is released this month, but as Mike Exley
finds out thereís little breathing space before the media scrum begins all
over again. Does, Sharlee carry it all in his stride?
- "I guess I do. Arch Enemy is going really well at the moment and I guess
itĎs actually a bit easier to dabble a bit when you know that? Before
Christmas we completed a load of dates around Europe and the UK which had been
cancelled before and now, post Christmas, weíre getting some down time which
is nice, too. Itís a good balance. I donít know whether we completely
deserve all this recognition; I mean, countries like South America, Japan,
places like that are really coming on board and there are many bands out there
who donít and havenít had a following as diverse or as wide as ours
certainly is, but I wonít knock it."
indeed not. Itís a great position to be in.
- "Whatís nice, is that weíve been saying for a while that we really
feel that we have something different to offer and now, after four or five years
doing this, the following seems to be solidifying and not just picking on
individual tracks from albums. I mean, I donít go out of my way to read all
the reviews we get or stuff that over praises or over criticises, but I really
sense that the fan base is really gelling in a way it hadnít say two or three
albums ago. Some people still donít get it, but then, all 'constructive'
criticism is fair, I guess?"
And if you do believe that, how does that affect how these (says he holding up
copies of "Doomsday Machine" and "Donít Fear The Reaper"
together) come out in the end?
- "It doesnít, ha! Ha!"
I mean, it doesnít really affect the overall albums because theyíre a
democratic process between members where hopefully the best is worked into songs
and the worst is discarded. But, where constructive criticism works is when
itís from friends or fellow band members, people who are close to you. You can
read a forum and see patterns developing from fansí comments, but youíve
really got to feel it yourself. What you read in magazines is just an
Enemy is about lots of different opinions - Michael (Amott), myself, Angela,
whoeverÖÖ..all meeting up to produce the final deal. In the magazines, all
the fans see of you is the smile, the gigs and the touring, but of course,
thereĎs so much more to it than that and you have to listen to a whole bunch
of different opinions as well as your inner self."
mean, the last time I was home when we were touring really hard was like
September or something, for one day to do my laundryÖÖ Thereís really no
time to be by yourself, so you have to adapt and remember who you are."
would Witchery then be something of a valve with which to let off steam? A break
from the rigours of the other?
- "Yes, I guess thatís a good word for it. People think I work really
hard doing other albums as well as AE, but compared to a person that gets up at
7am to work in a factory until 5pm or whatever, I really donít. Iíve never
been a person who could really conform to that kind of life. You have to make
sacrifices to do this, but itís nothing like the sacrifices Ďnormal workí
entails. "Donít Fear The Reaper", as an album, has been sitting
around really since Summer 2004 when AE wasnít touring. The guys have been
waiting for the right deal, the right distribution set up, stuff like that and
meantime, Iíve been getting on with the main deal."
Fear The Reaper", though? Come on? Thereís a bit of Blue Oyster Cult
plagiarism going on there, surely?
- "Well, the title really goes back to the first album and its opening
track 'The Reaper'. Weíd been playing around with titles for sometime. Weíve
gotten all kinds of word play going with titles over the years - you remember
'House Of Raining Blood'? Well, on the Ozzfest where AE played with the Haunted,
Jensen and I would just sit there in huge giggle fests trying to outdo each
other on the title and it just got sillier and sillier. Finally we came down to
"Speak English Or Try", this one and "The Last Inliance" -
and you can see why this one got the nod? We even thought of just "Fear The
Reaper", but that sounded like some kind of German Power Metal clichť
thing, something by Gravedigger or something, so out went the rubbish and in
came "Donít Fear The Reaper."
were the catalysts for the album?
- "Well, Jensen pretty much controlled all of that. We used the same studio
as for the last one - "Symphony For The Devil" (2001), and then gave
the recordings over to Tue Madsen who mixed the Hauntedís last record. Jensen
and his people pretty much sealed the deal as I mentioned, and itís finally
seeing the light of day."
mean, looking at it realistically, Witchery is just something I have the
privilege of doing like pretty much everyone else, when I can. It doesnít
really fit into the plan. On the contract side, you can just take this huge red
marker and cross out all those bits that talk about exclusivity and touring
schedules and all the rest - impossible. Martin, the drummer, is out on the road
with Opeth, Jensen and I are really busy and itís all a question of time.
Hereís one for you - Martin plays in Opeth with Per (Wiberg) who plays in
Spiritual Beggars with Michael, which Iím also inÖÖ.. You still with me
Itís an unfair question, but itís unavoidable I suppose. Thereís this
"Journeyman" tag that often follows you around and whilst youíd
clearly feel that it was unjustified, youíd no doubt recognise its basis for
- "Well, I thank you for using the term Ďjourneymaní because itís
often ĎWhoreí, ha! ha! But, I guess itís unavoidable really. I have done a
lot of stuff in the past but that was around the time when a lot of the bands I
played with or was asked to work with were not really hard touring concerns,
merely studio bands. Putting my touches to an album really doesnít take that
long and whether it be Dismember or whatever, I really havenít written for it,
so Iím kind of straight in and out, arranging the parts and doing it. King
Diamondís Mercyful Fate was great and we toured that of course, Beggars is a
lot of fun and I know Michael really enjoys that too, but since AE took off and
continues to take off, itís become more and more difficult to do other things.
There are still things I want to get out of the system - Reaper is just one part
of that - but time is very tight."
you a natural writer who hordes material for those kind of projects? Itís an
unusual trait to find in a bass player after all? And are you, 'light' or
- "Not in the same sense as say Michael is a natural writer, but I do like
to write and I find odd ideas do crop up for all three bands. Michael summed up
the SB. scenario really well when we toured in Japan last year - he described it
as a "mental vacation" and, in a sense, I guess Witchery is like that
too which is why, if the time is available, Iíd really like to try doing some
shows again. AE is the 'serious business'. This is just like a ĎBig Boys Night
Outí. Itís like the difference between a big machine and a cottage industry.
You take the music seriously, of course, I would never cheat the listener and I
donít think anyone who does play in bands would do that, but thereís fun and
- "Musical taste wise and writing? Both actually. When it comes to
arranging, I like to have a bit of both going on, but rhythm and groove are
very, very important. In AE I have Daniel to work with and Martin here is a
great drummer with loads of expression, but whatís important is that the time
signature really flows. Stiffness is my real enemy in any musical project
because to keep me interested a project has to sound loose but still be very,
very tight. And flow! Thatís
of course, that keeps the freshness up for albums like "Doomsday
- "Well, exactly. Iíve actually got the best of both worlds right now. AE
is really upbeat because we now have the new guy Fred Akesson from the touring
part of Tiamat who has replaced Chris Amott (reputedly unlikely ever to return,
according to Sharlee?) and is really giving new impetus to Michaelís playing
every night. And there's this, where I know that Century Media really
release to be successful and the band to get out there and capture the kind of
feelings we had when the band toured in 2001. You canít argue with that. When
somebody has that much belief in what youíre doing, it gives you so much more
impetus to push forward with your feelings and ideas. Like Fred kicks us in the
ass, Witchery does a similar thing for me."
"I think Iíve pretty much done with my days of "sleeping around"now though; no more one off projects and stuff like that. As with Mercyful Fate (1994-1999), a long stint in a band makes you feel secure and when youĎre at home you donĎt stray too much, right?"