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Arch Enemy: Alissa White-Gluz's Guide To Life

Arch Enemy frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz airs her thoughts on feminism, activism, music and religion

Being one of metal's most prominent female figureheads makes Alissa White-Gluz a role model and spokesperson for female fans across the globe. However, it's a role she's more than happy to fill, giving her a platform to discuss not just women's rights, but environmental activism, religious ills and even the appreciation for a good pop hook.


Music

"I enjoy classical music. I think it explored a lot of dark sounds and dissonance before rock music. I like the fact that it was frowned upon when they were doing things like the devil's note. I'm not classically trained and I don't try to analyse any theory behind it, I just enjoy it and like to listen to it. I really like grunge too, like early-90s Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana. I know a lot of people hate it but I love the simplicity, the stripped-down, honest songs and the mistakes. On Nirvana's live album for example I love hearing the fuck-ups, out-of-tune guitars and the cracks in the voice. To me that's charismatic and adds a whole facet to the music that wouldn't be there if it was perfect. I like really good vocalists, for example Demi Lovato has a fantastic voice. I don't know any of her material apart from one song, and I think she delivered the vocals on it so beautifully I actually went to see her live. I stayed until that one song and left! But I'm not afraid to admit I like a singer who's really nailing the vocal, even if it's on a pop song, like Christina Aguilera or even early Britney Spears – the songwriting there is awesome. It's not something I'll find myself listening to but I do appreciate the skill in the songwriting and producing a perfect pop product."

Politics

"For the most part in this band we don't adhere to patriotism in our countries. I personally don't feel any strong attachment to Quebec or Canada because I didn't do anything to live there, I was born there and took no action in moving anywhere else. That's what makes me a citizen of that country, but I didn't earn it and it's not something I feel I should be particularly proud of. Someone's country doesn't define them as a person in any way, we're all citizens of Earth. I have zero interest in things or people that are over-patriotic. It's silly to be over-patriotic in something you weren't involved in. Obviously if you did play a part in the situation in the county you're living in, that's why you're patriotic. When you travel so much and you meet so many different people from different countries and cultures who speak different languages you realise that we're all the same. We can do a meet and greet at a festival with people from all over the world and we don't know who's from where, we're just having a good time meeting them and bonding over music. That's how it goes in the band too, we're not divided because we're from different countries and we're not united because of that either."

Religion

"We're all quite atheist in the band but I tend to tone it down. As much as it makes my blood boil when I see stupid, violent acts being committed around the world caused by stupid, violent religion, and the response is stupid, violent religion, it does get me going, but I have to watch what I say. I have people in my close circle of friends who are religious, and they're not violent or stupid, and don't believe in what religious fanatics do. I try to be really respectful of others. I really hate religion and am opposed to it, but it doesn't mean I hate religious people or am opposed to them because that's just one aspect that makes up a person. For the most-part, religious people I've met are really good people who just have religion for themselves, it helps guide their spirituality and philosophy, comforts their emotions and that's totally fine. But if I'm surrounded by a bunch of atheists we can egg each other on and get pretty excited about atheism. Atheism is just a lack of belief, it's not an ideology. I just wish religious ideologies would just stop violently clashing."

Fans

"The fans were great right off the bat. There have been no problems and they were super welcoming. Even during the first show they were chanting my name. We've been seeing a growth in ticket sales and I do my best to go and hang out and thank them for that. We book meet and greets when the schedule allows and I interact with them on social media to make sure they know we appreciate their support. There were some new songs that people were singing straight off the bat as well, like You Will Know My Name, War Eternal and As The Pages Burn, so they are well integrated as a strong foundation of the setlist now."

Feminism

"I think there are a lot of people very sheltered to the fact women don't have equal rights all over the world. Even my friends who live in wonderful, democratic Canada don't perceive the fact women aren't receiving equal rights, they think that's something in the past. Once you're travelling a lot you realise there's a long way to go. I think it's important that feminism remains a topic of discussion. I know it's trendy now to hate feminists and call them feminazis, but sorry, the battle's not over! We can't just pretend everything’s ok. Just look at any Middle Eastern country and talk to women there. I do. I have quite a few fans there that I talk to. Whether you want to call it religious oppression or cultural oppression it's still mostly oppressive to women. That's happening right now, in this world, today. I consider us citizens all of the same place, so it's not their problem, it's happening to women just like me. It's not something I take lightly."

Activism

"I've been vegan for about 18 years, but the activism actually came first. I grew up vegetarian and I've always loved animals – not 'cute, heart emoji', I love animals emoji, I love animals! I think they're fascinating, I think they're amazing and I'm almost driven to tears just reading about different species on the planet. I think it's amazing that we live on a planet where there are so many different kinds of creatures roaming the air, land and ocean and we don't know anything about them. It's incredible to have such a wide biodiversity around us and it's something we should all appreciate more as we're losing it. A lot of species are going extinct because we're destroying the planet and disregarding this amazing gift we have. I always wanted to do something to help animals. When I grew up I would do a fundraiser like a bake sale, sell cookies that I made, and take the $50 to donate the WWF or the Humane Society. I would take in stray cats and have them fixed up at the vet. We did our part but I wanted to do more, and what I realised was that I could do more for animals every single day by being vegan than I could by doing a million bake sales!

"By being vegan I boycott industries actively contributing to slaughtering and torturing animals and I'm able to reduce my environmental footprint. I know it's a trendy term but what it means is I'm using way less resources when it comes to water, soil and geographical surface area that would be destroyed to create grazing lands for cattle, just by choosing not to consume animal products. It's so easy to do and it has such a huge impact, so I realised I could be doing something every day that was actively helping the planet and helping animals. PETA is another organisation I would send my bake sale money to. As my musical career grew I was able to meet up with other people from these organisations and started working with them in about 2006. I'm not a 'member' of any particular charity but there are certain campaigns for certain charities I do believe in, so when there was the campaign against the Canadian seal hunt, that's something that happens in Canada so it hit close to home I wanted to work on that. I know people have a lot of opinions on that organisation and I know why they have those opinions, but the fact of the matter is they're doing a lot of good for animals."


Arch Enemy are headlining Heavy Scotland in April 2017.

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