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Interview with Fredrik Åkesson from Opeth: Beer is fine

In this day and age when bands sell less albums and much of the music is enjoyed through streaming services a bands merchendise has become more important than ever.
I sat down with Fredrik Åkesson from Opeth to talk about beer, bandmerch and the importance of working with passionate people.

How did the idea come up to make Opeth-beer?

Like many of the good ideas also this came from our management. We had done a beer earlier with a English brewery in Leeds, the Pale Ale Communion after the “Pale Communion” album. So after that was out we got another proposition from a Swedish brewery that sounded fun. They are called Heavy Metale. They are working with
Nääs gårdsbryggeri which are located on a small farm in the countryside in southern Östergötland and the farm has been converted into a brewery. They had made beer with Saxon before so that was pretty cool and they are also in charge of all the beer sales on Swedish festival Skogsröjet, so I went there to meet the people of Heavy Metale and to sample some beers that they had done in the past and saw that they were very well organized. They have a cool approach where they promote the music as well as the beer and that was the thing that got us hooked.

They also do the album covers on the label of the beer with a QR-code so you can enjoy the music as
well as the beer and we thought that was a really cool idea. They have this thing where they do three beers, Saxon did it also, so we chose a Pilsner, a Session IPA and a Red Ale and they became the Herritage Pilsner after the “Herritage” album, the Sorceress Session IPA after the “Sorceress” album and the Red Ale after the
“Garden of the Titans” livealbum. You can order the boxset at systembolaget. The reason we chose Heavy Metale and Nääs gårdsbryggeri was their passion for beer and the soul they put into their work. Many bands produce beer and put their name on just about anything just to sell it and make money and we didn’t want to do that, it was very important for us that if we’re putting our name on it then it has to be a good beer.

Making beer and wine seems to be a natural step for bands to take when it comes to merch and finding new ways to put your name out there. What are your thoughts on that?

We have been in contact with a winemaker earlier but we are a bit cautious when it comes to releasing too much stuff. Beer is fine, as weird as it sounds, it’s kind of part of the job. Metalheads like beer and if you go to a concert you like to have a beer or two. So that feels like something thats’ connected – beer and metal.
But besides the bandrelated stuff we are a bit cautious. I don’t think we’ll be releasing Opeth-dildos or anything like that. We did do these Opeth collectable miniaturen of us in the band. We thought it was a bit cheesy but it was kind of fun giving my daughter a doll of myself. But besides the music and the beer we don’t have anything planned when it comes to merch. Except the t-shirts of course.

Tobias Engdahl

Tobias Engdahl

Writer

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