Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with former THE AGONIST and current ARCH ENEMY singer Alissa White-Gluz. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Assault: So, before it was officially announced [that you were joining ARCH ENEMY], how long was this change brewing?
Alissa: It's been brewing for a while. I think for Angela [Gossow, former ARCH ENEMY singer], it was probably brewing for years, just thinking about what she wanted to do moving forward, and I'm not going to speak for her, obviously, but this isn't the type of change that comes overnight, you know. It's something that we all thought about long and hard, and then worked really hard to make it possible. So yeah, although it's very recent in the public eye, it's not as recent for me.
Metal Assault: This ARCH ENEMY album ["War Eternal"] that's coming out in a couple of months, was it already completed before you joined the band or did you have a part in the process?
Alissa: I was there for the entire process and I wrote five of the songs. The album was untouched by Angela. She stepped away before the album process began, and Michael [Amott, guitar] and Nick [Cordle, guitar] had written the instruments for about five songs before I was brought in. And then once I was brought in, Michael and I started collaborating, co-writing lyrics and arranging vocals for the songs. Then the rest of the guys continued writing the instrumentation, intros and stuff like that for the rest of the album, which was another five songs plus instrumental tracks. I continued writing lyrics, so did Michael, we did some demos, jammed and just started recording. So yeah, it's very much my album too, which is really cool, because it would have been a little bit strange to just step in and replace someone. Instead, it's really like one door closed and then another opened.
Metal Assault: You mentioned that you've been a fan of ARCH ENEMY, but are you ready to face ARCH ENEMY fans? People will be polarized in the beginning, some will like you and some won't.
Alissa: Yeah, totally. It's a weird situation but I've been pretty exposed to it actually for years. I mean, I was right there when the NIGHTWISH switch happened. I sang for them for one show between Anette [Olzon] and Floor [Jansen], and I saw how well things went for Floor. I've been singing with KAMELOT from right when Roy [Khan] left and then Tommy [Karevik] came in and I continued singing with them for many years with Tommy as the frontman. So I have a good surrounding of people who have been through this to help me. I asked them for advice and they've been through it. It's just one of those things. Obviously, I grant any fans that need time to mourn the loss of Angela. I grant them that. It's totally normal; I get it. And then when they're ready, I hope they can come and enjoy "War Eternal". Obviously, when we play shows, we're still going to be performing a lot of the old classics and we're going to do them justice, because they're great songs. So it's not like just because Angela decided to only manage the band now that everything she did is suddenly deleted from existence. All that stuff still exists, we're all really proud of her, proud of everything she's done. And so we're just going to pay tribute to that with every show and also look forward to moving forward as a band in a new way.
Metal Assault: Right. Before it was decided that you would be in the band, did you have to sing any of the older songs for the guys, or was there any kind of audition process like that at all?
Alissa: Basically, in the same meeting where Angela gave her final decision that she wanted to step down, in the same breath she was, like, "But Alissa should step in." So then the guys, and I know this because Michael has told me, started researching me and listening to my previous work, looking at YouTube videos, interviews that I have done in the past, and eventually they were like, "OK, let's talk to her and let's see if we can work together." So, yeah, we tried, just to see if it would work, hanging out in Sweden, jamming the old songs, writing new songs together, just seeing what the chemistry was like. And actually, the chemistry was really, really great right off the bat. So I think we all want the same thing, and that is for ARCH ENEMY to continue. They were faced with two options: "Either we stop making music and ARCH ENEMY dies with Angela, or we continue and just move forward stronger than ever." Angela also wanted us to continue, so it's a pretty unique situation, actually, where we all wanted the same thing. I think that's what's been helping us stay really motivated, and it also motivated us to make a really killer album, because we couldn't just make a mediocre album here. We had to make it really good. So, yeah, there wasn't really an audition process. It was just sort of like, "We kind of want you. Do you want that?" And I was like, "Yeah, I think so!" So we just talked it out and started working.
Read the entire interview at Metal Assault.