Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt Talks Parenthood, Mental Health on Tour

Formed in 1989, Swedish metal juggernaut Opeth are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and doing so in style, with a kaleidoscopic new album, In Cauda Venenum. The album was originally written in the band’s native tongue, and will be released in two versions: Swedish language edition and an English language one. For main man Mikael Åkerfeldt, it’s just another experimental move in a career that has seen him constantly shifting and evolving, from death-metal to acoustic folk to progressive rock and beyond. Below, we talked to him about parenthood and how he balances the rigors of tour life with taking care of his personal mental health and his relationship with his family at home.

HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE?
MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT Two daughters. My oldest is 15, and my youngest is turning 12.

WHEN YOU HAD KIDS, DID IT CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK ON OPETH?
It took a while, because I was so tunnel-visiony and very much thinking I’m important and a provider for my family. I love my kids, of course, but I was very selfish in the beginning. I took tours because “it’s what I do” and “I provide.” But I’ve changed my outlook since then and ultimately got closer to my kids. That’s something that’s going to haunt me for a long time — that I’ve been away so much from my kids. For instance, we don’t tour more than three weeks in a row now. Whereas before it was like seven weeks.

KIDS ASIDE, THAT’S PROBABLY BETTER FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
Yeah, two of us have mental health issues when we’re on tour for too long — myself and our bass player. He’s got kids, too. In a perfect world, I would never go on tour again. I’ve had that fix. I don’t need it, to be honest. But my job needs it. So, to be crass, I go out there to make money. That’s it. But I love our music and I love playing. I love being onstage — and I love the attention. But if I could just be a Brian Wilson type guy and stay at home and write music, I would do it without batting an eyelid.