They encouraged me to do things my way. They have never told me to try and be like Angela.
“Yeah, absolutely!” enthused Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz when pressed on if being part of Australia’s inaugural Download Festival was a big deal for the band. “This is gonna be the first opportunity we’ve had to come to Australia since I’ve been in the band – so at least four years. It’s a great opportunity and we’re really happy that we have a festival of this calibre to bring us down there so that we can hit some other markets while we’re there.”
Although being White-Gluz’s first trip to our country with Arch Enemy, she has toured here before with previous bands and as such knows what to expect while still being a little animated.
“I’ve been on tour there before but not with Arch Enemy,” she reiterated. “I was there with Kamelot but I’m excited to come back. We don’t have that much time to do anything touristy but as much as possible I’m always open to go sightseeing or see a beach or hike in the mountains or see some wildlife so hopefully, we’ll have a bit of time to do that. More than anything I’m just excited to get there because I think more than possibly any other place in the world I see comments and requests from people from Australia asking for Arch Enemy to come and perform so finally it’s happening.”
White-Gluz has only been at the front of Arch Enemy for three years, having taken over from Angela Gossow in 2014. She is the third vocalist used by the band in their twenty-two-year career, a commendable feat given that most bands struggle to survive one vocalist change, let alone two.
“It’s hard to say,” she replied as to why Arch Enemy have succeeded where others have failed, “because obviously there have been some effective singer swaps that have happened n the past and also some not so effective ones. I think what it comes down to is great management. We have a manager Angela Gossow who has been long term and has been a part of the band from a management perspective and as a vocalist of course. She really has the best interests of the band at heart but I think it also comes down to the fact that our tenure as a band is composed of five very unique and strong musicians. You don’t come to an Arch Enemy show just to listen to the vocals. You wanna hear the drums. You wanna hear the bass. You wanna hear the dueling guitar solos and you wanna see each of us on stage. I feel like we’re a strong band as the sum of all the parts but also each individual part of the band is very, very important so in that regard, the band has only been changing 20% (laughs). The other 80 % stays the same more or less. I think that probably has something to do with it, just the fact that we are able to survive so much because the music that we make is not just because of one person, it’s because of everyone.”
When Gossow elected to step down from vocal duties many fans were left wondering if the band would be able to continue, especially with her widely regarded and accepted as one of the best vocalists in the world in her genre. It was an important decision that would either make or break the band and thankfully she got it right with her pursuit of White-Gluz.
“I think it was right before I went to Australia with Kamelot that Michael (Amott, guitar)called me and informed me of the situation in 2013,” she recalled. “Long story short, Angela obviously was the singer in this band and she decided that she no longer wanted to be the vocalist… touring is a very strenuous lifestyle and it really prevents you from doing anything else with your life so it’s not for everyone. Angela did put in well over a decade of touring intensely and that’s really not easy. She decided that she no longer wanted to tour but she obviously loved the band and wanted the band to survive and continue so her idea was to choose someone that she knew and trusted and respected as a vocalist to replace her and that person happened to be me (laughs). She suggested to the guys that the band didn’t have to end and they could keep going and she could think of only one person – me – who could do this and she said to the guys they already knew me and should call and talk to me and that’s what happened. Michael just called me and I was already friends with the band from before – especially Angela – and they told me exactly what I just told you. At that point, we agreed to make some music and then we made War Eternal together and started touring.”
Gossow didn’t leave the band altogether, instead of reducing her role to just that of business manager, but White-Gluz says that having Gossow around actually helped her transition into the band, rather than being a point of conflicting interests.
“No, it was never awkward,” she stressed. “I don’t see how it could be anything but good. It’s almost like she hired me to be the singer in the band so there is literally nothing but respect between us. She’ll give me her opinion on things but more or less she is a business manager and one thing I don’t know if people realize is that the business manager does not travel with the band. The tour manager travels with the band, the business manager works from an office. Angela is never on tour with us and has never been on tour with us since I joined the band. When she stepped down as vocalist she really, really, literally for a photo shoot and figuratively handed me the torch and said now you lead this band so that’s what I did. She stepped down. She didn’t just hire an assistant, she really stepped down and that’s one thing I made sure of before all this went down also is are you sure? Are you okay with this? And she said yes, this is what I want so it really worked out well for me and for her and for the band as a whole. It was kind of the only way to keep this band alive so I’m glad it worked out (laughs).”
Taking over from someone as high profile as Gossow was never going to be easy for White-Gluz, but she is quick to point out that when she first accepted the role the rest of the band encouraged her to be her own person rather than try to imitate the style and delivery of Gossow.
“Yes, they encouraged me to do things my way,” she nodded. They have never told me to try and be like Angela. I even told her I can’t be like you because you’re you (laughs). The only person I can be is me. If I try to be Angela I’m gonna be at best second best but if I try to be myself I’m definitely gonna be the best. That’s one thing everyone should remember if they’re idolizing somebody else. I had already known the guys from off and on, on a friendship level but when we reconnected the friendship developed in a professional way and we were just happy. I was happy to be in a band that I loved and respected for a very, very long time, making good music. They were happy not only to have somebody I guess who was able to sing the old stuff but was also ready and willing to work on new stuff because I’ve developed a strong work ethic and I don’t take things for granted. They were also just happy that the band was going to continue being a band because there was definitely a moment there between when Angela told the guys this and when they asked me and I agreed to join where there was uncertainty as in is this going to continue to be a band or do we have to stop now, how are we going to continue? There has never been a sort of puppetry going on. I was always myself on stage and I continue to be myself and that’s how it has to be because I would feel very awkward if somebody was trying to control me.”
While fronting The Agonist and performing in Kamelot, White-Gluz admits she was caught somewhat unawares by the step up in intensity and scrutiny thrust upon her as vocalist for Arch Enemy.
“It’s funny,” she smiled, “because from my perspective… it’s weird how unclear it is to the individual how popular or unpopular you are because in my head I had toured all over the world so everybody knows who I am so when I join Arch Enemy people are gonna be like oh, there’s that girl (laughs). Nobody knew who I was so it was funny to me because I was like wait, but I’ve been everywhere, I’ve toured everywhere, I’ve been doing it for a long time, people must know me but it was kind of like a harsh reality check because people were like who the fuck is this? (laughs) In a way I think it worked out well because a lot of people – and the reason that I realise now why nobody knew who I was is because on Will To Power there is a little bit of clean singing and I have had a lot of people say this is so amazing and I didn’t know you could sing like that and in my head I’m like dude, I was doing this for ten years before now, actually even more. I’ve released many, many songs of clean singing and albums of clean singing but people didn’t know, and some people still don’t know, and honestly, that’s totally fine because that’s just me in my little world who thought… the world is small when you start out for any band. You get thirty people to buy tickets to a show and you think yeah, we’ve made it (laughs) and honestly at that level that is making it. I still remember that stage of the infancy of a band when you’re putting it together and because I was somewhat unaware of how much bigger the world of metal really is I wasn’t scared of stepping up or stepping into someone’s shoes because I had already done it. I was already doing it. I was already touring. I was already on stage all the time. I already had all sorts of press and everything that goes along with being in a band so to me I didn’t really see the giant leap forward that I was about to take and so I didn’t have anything scary to anticipate. There was no foreboding things that I was gonna approach. It just happened and I was like oh, okay. I was wrong but I am happy to admit I was wrong. It wasn’t scary, I didn’t even think about it. It was more this is my situation now and I’m gonna make the best of it and that’s what we’ve all been doing since it happened.”
With Arch Enemy making their way down under in March, White-Gluz had this to say to their fans.
“I wanna say I get your emails, I see your comments, I see your posts requesting Arch Enemy in Australia and finally it’s happening and I’m really happy about that because there’s been a lot of buzz about it. I have to say thank you for creating that buzz and I hope when we do come and play that we’re playing close enough to where you live so you can come to the show and we’re very excited to get there and meet everybody and have a good time.”
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