Sharlee D’angelo of Arch Enemy

I think it’s great actually that people are getting interested in musicianship as such again – especially the guitar players, you’d be amazed by how fast they are, and their technique and everything. And some of them, you give them a few more years and I think someone will probably come up with stuff even better. So I think it’s a good thing. People start out playing a lot of technical stuff and then after a while they’ll probably slow down a little bit and just use whatever musical abilities they have to go to the next level.
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Interview conducted and edited by Bryan Beller
Interview original transcription by Katie Garibaldi

(Note: part of the original interview was lost due to recorder failure; select quotes were manually restored to the print version of the article and may not be contained here...)

What are you using for an instrument right now?

It’s the Ibanez Iceman that I’m playing right now—it’s my signature model at the moment. There have been a bunch of different colors.

Is it a 4-string?

It’s a 4-string, yeah.

The tuning?

The tuning is C—tuned up to C.

The whole bass standard at C

Yeah, standard at C.

In terms of the amps and cabs?

Right now I’m trying out Aguilar, which I’m very pleasantly surprised by. It’s extremely powerful stuff, actually. Out of the road right now I brought the [ DB]751 and the [AG]500, and also the [DB]8x10 cab and a [DB]4x12 cab just to try the different combinations. I have a hard time deciding because they all sound absolutely bitchin’ actually – powerful. I used to be a bit backwards before, a bit of a snob…it has to be all tube. But ten years ago, an Ampeg rig basically was the only thing that was out there that pounded any good. Nowadays there are so many new companies coming in, and some of the solid state amps or hybrid[s] are absolutely great nowadays.

Are you just using one head with those or are you chaining some heads together?

No, I actually just use one – just one head and two cabs. It’s powerful enough for that. I don’t even have the master up more than like 8:00. If I go over that I would just overpower everything, so I’m very pleased with these amps. They’ve got more to give.

What’s it like traveling in a band with brothers as guitarists?

I don’t really know. I don’t think of them that much in terms of them being brothers. They’re just those two guitar players in the band [laughs]. I don’t really think about it that much.

Here’s a cliché question, but I have to ask. Having a female vocalist in the world of metal that you’re traveling in, what changes if anything?

Well, the bus is a lot cleaner. That’s one of the things. We behave a little bit better I think than most bands. But other than that, not really anything.

What do you think about the movement towards more technical bass playing and more technical playing in metal in general? In the last couple years, there seems to have been a big upswing in the number of death metal bands and other genre metal bands that are doing technical stuff.

I think it’s great actually that people are getting interested in musicianship as such again – especially the guitar players, you’d be amazed by how fast they are, and their technique and everything. And some of them, you give them a few more years and I think someone will probably come up with stuff even better. So I think it’s a good thing. People start out playing a lot of technical stuff and then after a while they’ll probably slow down a little bit and just use whatever musical abilities they have to go to the next level.

Why do you think metal is so big right now? There’s definitely something going on as evidence by not only cover stories like this, but just everywhere. It just seems like it’s blowing up right now. What’s your take on that?

I don’t know if it’s just something that’s happening right now because it has been for a while now. It’s always been there, but the thing is it just changes shape once in a while and new sub-genres are invented. So I don’t really know if there’s a boom right now. I haven’t really looked at it like that.

Re-recording the tunes that were part of The Root of All Evil – the ones that had been recorded on your earlier records – how did you approach those? Were you playing these live already, and did that affect your approach in how you were doing them?

Absolutely. It did because when I joined the band we played loads of those songs from the first three albums live. You couldn’t really hear what was going on on the actual albums that much, and most of the bass was played by either Michael or Chris, so they approached it more like guitar players and just did what was needed, more than adding stuff. I just approached it the way I usually approach a song when I did it, and they seemed to be fine with that and they appreciate the stuff that I added on. But those versions, my arrangements of bass on those songs, it’s pretty much what ended up on the album.

Let’s talk about the melodic nature of Arch Enemy because it gets classified a lot as melodic death metal. Does that affect what you do bass-wise, and how do you feel about being classified as that genre?

It’s quite natural that we are because there is loads of melody everywhere. We don’t have melodic vocals, which means everything that happens melodically is in the guitars, either in chord structures or melody lines in the lead. That, of course, affects the way that I’m playing because there’s a lot of room for harmonizing within chord structures. So I think a lot of stuff like that, I try to do the odd thing out here and there and not just follow exactly what happens on the guitars. It’s either I try to harmonize a little bit, or I just go with what the drums are doing.

What’s the mission of the bass in Arch Enemy?

I mostly go with what the drums are doing. That’s sort of my starting point, and then see what I can do from there – see what I can do outside of what the guitars are doing and not necessarily following them. Sometimes following the guitars is the best way and then I do that, but otherwise I just try to play outside that as much as I can.

Your influences and heroes?

Roger Glover and Glenn Hughes from the Deep Purple albums. And Steve Dawson from Saxon, Peter Baltes from Accept. And John Entwistle. He’s got to be mentioned because he’s the first one who put the bass at the front of a band almost. He was the first one to actually add a lot of treble and make it heard sound-wise. So yeah, definitely.

You’re from Sweden.


There’s a cliché about metal bands being from Sweden. What do Swedish metal bands say about that?

How do you mean?

In America, I think there’s this idea that there’s an incredible amount of death metal musicians just pouring out of Sweden.

Yeah. We’ve had quite a few internationally successful bands in that genre. Why? I do not know. Maybe it’s because it’s really boring there, and if you want some good old metal you have to play it yourself! I think that might be one of the reasons.

What is the one thing you want to say to bass players out there who are listening to some of this more extreme metal when they’re growing up…what would you advise them as they want to learn this stuff?

I think the best way is to find a band to play with and play live as much as you can. I think that’s the best way of becoming a good solid musician, the best way to learn. Of course practicing at home is a good thing, but if you just keep practicing at home you’re just going to be a bedroom shredder after a while and you’re not going to be able to use that for anything except for entertaining yourself. So jam with a band. Best thing you could ever do.

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