Arch Enemy's New Vocalist Doesn't Let Broken Ribs Keep Her From Fighting the 'War Eternal'
Changing band lineups is always a daunting task with the risk of being ostracized by fans. Fortunately with the personal endorsement and invitation from former Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz's and Nick Cordle's introductions to the melodic death metal giants allows attention to focus on talent and the new album "War Eternal," rather than potential feuds.
As the new edition of the band releases their 10th full-length album today on Century Media Records, Arch Enemy has already commenced their world tour introducing "War Eternal" and their new band mates, including former The Agonist vocalist White-Gluz as their new roaring front woman. Somewhere in the middle of conquering Sweden Rock Festival over the weekend with Arch Enemy, a guest appearance with Kamelot and the beginning of the European tour dates, White-Gluz's internal rampage combusted onto a stage riser, generating a compound fracture in one of her ribs.
During one of several resting periods awaiting a fan meet-and-greet in France, White-Gluz spoke about the possible Arch Enemy fan polarization, "War Eternal" and how her straight-edge convictions are affecting her painful recovery process.
See also: The Top 10 Female Metal Singers
OC Weekly (Rachael Mattice): I heard that you're suffering with a few broken ribs right now? What are you doing for pain management? I know you're trying to pull through with performing, but do you foresee canceling any shows?
Alissa White-Gluz: I guess I went a little too hard at one of the first shows and actually broke the stage riser into a bunch of pieces. I landed on the pieces of steel and wood, which then stabbed me a bit. I hit my head, shins, elbows and my ribs. Fortunately, most of my body is ok, but my ribs are severely bruised and there is a compound break as well. I'm just finding ways of coping with the pain on stage, and just resting as much as possible when I'm not on stage.
The first few days I thought it was fine, but a few days later it was really swollen and it hurt to breathe and move. I was still going on stage though. I had a friend there that was able to take me to the emergency room and translate everything for me. I got X-rays, an ultrasound and blood tests. The doctor wanted to give me injections of morphine and said I absolutely could not perform.
There is also no organ damage, which is something I was worried about because the broken rib is right next to the liver. My head is fine; I don't have a concussion. You can't really do anything to heal the compound fracture in the rib other than just wait.
I'm straight-edge and I'm really opposed to animal testing so I told them I didn't want any morphine. I know it's nearly impossible to find pharmaceuticals that are not tested on animals so I'm really trying to deal with the pain holistically.
Adrenaline really numbs out all pain. When I'm on stage, I don't feel it unless I do a really stupid move. I'm diving into my yoga breathing and take a mind-over-matter approach to it. It's definitely some of the worst pain I've ever felt. It sucks because I can't move around the way I want to on stage; I can't be as energetic as I want to be. I can't work out.
I never even considered canceling any shows. The band saw me fall and just told me not to slow down and keep going. I've been icing it in between songs and during guitar solos. Canceling shows is not really an option. It's not an injury that's going to heal overnight anyways so there is no point in canceling a bunch of shows. I'm just trying to give as good of a performance as I can.
Since you're in Europe touring right now, what have been some of the tour highlights so far as your premiere as the new vocalist?
So far all of the shows have been really great, even the show where I fell was great. The fans have been very welcoming. Not only were the fans chanting the band's name "Arch Enemy" over and over, but they were also chanting my name "Alissa" over and over again, which is very encouraging.
It feels great to be on tour; we have a really great crew, a really well-organized stage show for the fans to watch. It feels amazing to be in this band and I can't wait until I'm 100 percent healed so I can go nuts again.
We have a U.S. and Canada tour with the deals being finalized now. We'll be announcing the dates this week and the dates will be this upcoming fall.
It's much more physically demanding because I'm screaming all the time. I'm not switching between a million different vocal styles; I'm just doing variations of one style.
As a new vocalist, are you nervous to encounter the polarization from fans?
So far it's been overwhelmingly positive. I know it's possible that some people will only want to see Angela and will have no interest in the band without her. There's nothing I can do about that, she retired and that's just how it is.
It's actually a unique situation I am in that is pretty ideal. I'm getting to front and participate in a band that is really respected and broken down a lot of boundaries in terms of the metal world. I get to do it without stepping on anyone's toes and without hurting anyone. Especially since she asked me herself so it's a great situation. I'm thankful to be in this edition. I'm not too worried any sort of polarization like you said.
Some of the songs off of "War Eternal" were written before you joined Arch Enemy. Was "Time is Black" one of the songs you wrote, or was that written prior to you joining?
I wrote the lyrics and remember hearing some of the riffs and knew it was going to be a killer song. I shotgunned it from Michael and said "Let me do this one." As a band, we went back and forth on the structure of this song before finally deciding on the way it is.
I think it's probably the most progressive piece of music that Arch Enemy has ever written. It's a very beautiful composition. There is a real string orchestra on it and other songs on the album. I wrote the lyrics based on what I felt from the music of that song. I think the words and music melt quite well together. I really like that track a lot.
What else is forged into the album "War Eternal" as the message and story? What is embedded in the art that translates into the album?
I think between Michael and I there were certain topics that arose in common between our lyrics. There's a sort of bitterness and lingering pain in a lot the songs and even in the song titles. I think it's speaking about a lot of personal experiences on this album.
I think the album art brings those ideas forward in the song. The picture of death in the center of the image and then surrounding these figures are all of these plagues of society that want a piece of you. It's easy to give up and make you feel like you can't win the war against all of these things in life.
As much as the album focuses on certain negative things and venting, it's actually quite positive. I feel like I'm able to relate to the songs that Michael wrote, and I hope people can relate to the songs I wrote. That relays a good powerful connection between artists and fans and I think a lot of people will be able to apply the lyrics to their own life.
With your work in Kamelot, The Agonist and your other former bands going through these different new beginnings and endings, what has been the most significant piece of work thus far in your career that means the most to you?
That's a tough question. Right now I'd say "War Eternal." It's always the most recent thing that you've done, you know what I mean?
With "War Eternal" I feel totally musically satisfied, I feel at home with this band and I feel great. I'm really proud of this album and still get chills listening to it even though it's been a thousand times. I love the album artwork and it pieced together the way I'd hope it would.
We have more tour dates to be announced. We are already booking into 2015 and a full global tour for "War Eternal" and are planning more music videos. We'll just be promoting this album. We are all really proud of it and it's a new stage for the band and a new start for my career. We're really excited to bring "War Eternal" to the world. Eventually we'll be writing more music.
Any final words for your fans?
Thank you for the interview. I want to give two very important thank you's. One of them is to the Arch Enemy fans who have supported the bands for many years and understand the situation and respect Angela's decision to step down and respect the band's decision to move forward with me in Angela's place. I know it's not an easy thing to wrap your head around, but so far they've been doing exactly what we wanted them to do which is listen to the music and let that do the talking. For the most part it's been really positive and want to thank the fans for making me feel welcome in this band.
Also a big thank you for my fans that I've had for so many years. I really appreciate the devotion and loyalty that have supported my music ever since my first release. I couldn't have done anything without their support or continued to make music without them coming to my shows or buying my albums or told their friends about my music. I look forward to a merger between my fan base and the Arch Enemy fan base. They are the coolest fans in the world. Kamelot fans too actually (laughs).
For more info on Arch Enemy and to purchase a copy of "War Eternal," out today, visit www.archenemy.net.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.