Tobias Sammet - Avantasia
Even though I've celebrated the presence of Tobias Sammet, while witnessing Edguy perform live, and longed to discuss his Avantasia project personally; unfortunately, I've never been provided the proper circumstances, until now. Finally, after relishing in his creation - The Scarecrow - a new dimension of sound and structure; I was given ample opportunity to toy with the master, and gaze into the looking glass of his twisted mind.
In all fairness, I was ill-prepared for this interview owing to a number of serious situations. Thankfully, my loving wife, an avid fan, did all the research and provided the basis for the conversation which ensued. She constucted the very rubric of interrogation which would carry me over into the gnosis of awareness. Now I ask you, "What kind of love, and dedication is that!" I had only actually played the CD twice, as she had absconded with it the moment it arrived, thus thouroughly enjoying it on all levels, while driving.
So join me as we return to Avantasia, reach out for enlightenment, get lost in space and time restraints, and voyage into the promised landmarks of true mettle; all the while seeking shelter from the reign of poor publicity!
MettleAngel: Hello Tobi, finally I get to speak with you about Avantasia. My wife and I have met you on previous tours with Edguy, but you were always exhausted after the show, so we never got to discuss this personally. My first question deals with the response by both media and fans, just a week after the release of The Scarecrow? How has everyone reacted?
MettleAngel: Critics can be so harsh. I love the new album; just like with every Edguy release, you improve and create such diligent diversity. You will never please everyone, all the time, that's life, a fact we all have to face!
MettleAngel: I concur! I don't think you
have really offended anyone, per se'; it's just that The Scarecrow is
clearly not Metal Opera 3. Personally, I think this is a good thing. I
feel it was a noble choice to resign to your own emotions, and surpass
the thought processes prevalent on the first two Metal Operas.
MettleAngel: The Metal Opera albums, for me seemed to form the basis to epistomology. I always admired the philosophical content to the first two releases. That is what really drew me into Avantasia, and they re-introduced me to Edguy. I actually had purchased an expensive import copy of Kingdom Of Madness, when it first was released. Then as Power Metal became cliche with the advent of Hammerfall and her clones, I began to become more selective, ignoring so many cliche' bands being mass produced, and unfortunately, Edguy fell under that umbrella of my thinking at the time! Once Edguy signed with Nuclear Blast, they made a real turn around, and now I've been a dedicated fan ever since. So what truth is there to the song off the EP, The Story Ain't Over? Is it a new beginning, or a continuation of the basic theme?
MettleAngel: Yes, I understand, you did all your soul searching, found your own path, and now you have moved on. I mean it's been almost a decade since that other fallen angel went down, right?
MettleAngel: And since then, so many metal acts from around the world have followed your lead. There's Epidemia from Russia basically doing the same thing with reknown Russian acts. Of course, there is Ayreon, as well. Incidentally, Ayreon also just released a new concept album which has been receiving rave reviews. For me it's too self indulgent. I mean 2CDs, with over ten minute songs; it's all a bit too much to delve into, all at once. I prefer his "Human Equation." Avantasia has a more commercial approach to songwritng, which results in more memorable songs which really captivate the listener, and suspend his beliefs. Honestly, I respect Ayreon and what Arjen is doing. He also had his own power metal two part Universal Migrator metal symphony release which featured Ralph Scheepers, Bruce Dickinson, Andi Deris, etc. just prior to the first Avantasia release. Although, I know you were already working on the Metal Opera Part One, and not following his precedent, right?
MettleAngel: That reminds me of the GWAR vs. Lordi conflict which Americans exacerbate. How could you not honour the work of Arjen, after all he was in Vengeance and Bodine. Forget about Ayreon for the moment, those hard rock proto-metal 80's acts were killer! So, even though The Scarecrow is not Metal Opera 3, I still see it as a viable Avantasia release.
MettleAngel: You mean Slayer and AC/DC fans don't want their heroes to deviate from their trademark sound. When a band tries to experiment, they risk losing their loyal following. From my personal milieu of metalheads, most feel that The Scarecow is your best effort yet. As for me personally, I will always be partial to the first Metal Opera; but I respect everything Avantasia does!
MettleAngel: The essence and spirit of Avantasia is very much alive - just like the flow of rain on the The Scarecrow. It's been raining here all day, and the storms are frying our internet connections, so I can relate. I'm grateful that you have chosen to expand your horizons, really wrangling to reach beyond past limits; breaking away from the norm of expectations.
MettleAngel: So do you tailor the songs you create to fit the style of certain vocalists?
MettleAngel: What about a song like The Toy Maker, did you know that Alice Cooper would be singing on that, when you initially wrote it?
MettleAngel: Getting Alice Cooper is quite an achievement. What other artists did you consider for the Avantasia project?
MettleAngel: Wow, Brian May from Queen would have been a real treat, like having Rudolf Schenker play on I Don't Believe In Your Love. If you could select your dream line-up for future Avantasia albums, whom would you choose?
MettleAngel: Wait just a minute, hold on! I guess if we use our powers to resurrect Freddie and suspend belief, or even actually travel back to Avantasia, then it's feasible that Freddie could perform. Who knows, given current technology, anything is possible: "Expect the unexpected!". Now, realistically, if you could get Paul Stanley, that would be awesome! What about Bruce Dickinson? The Brazilian act Tribuzy has managed to secure him for playing on their Execution CD and their Live Execution release.
MettleAngel: Avantasia is your baby, do you feel you have become more proficient musically, since returning to Avantasia? You sure have come a long way since the Midgets Of Metal days!
MettleAngel: Avantasia like Edguy is serious work. I know with Edguy, you like to have fun... "Helicopter!" Whereas, you pour all your energy into manifesting Avantasia.
MettleAngel: I totally agree, and this is what makes it so appealing: there are heavy aggressive songs, rockin', commercial songs, and passionate melodies which really draw you in. After only a few listens the songs resonate in your head. This is why Wendy and I so love the music of the 70's and 80's, which we listened to when we were younger. Whether it's Queen, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Genesis, German Thrash, The Police, Reo Speedwagon, Maiden, Manowar, or Styx. The melodies remain and the catchy choruses linger.
MettleAngel: Yeah, there was no need to be ostentatious, pretentious, or over the top. They literally let the music do the talking! Now, I assume the lyrics were very important to you when you sat down to write The Scarecrow?
MettleAngel: So whether you sing about getting laid on a plane, the search for inner wisdom, or the struggle to survive, all this contributes to the true spirit of mettle?
MettleAngel: What - no "Mile High Club"!? I'm shocked! No seriously, that's what makes it so exciting, it's all a show, a celebration of fun and games, rooted in experience and the vainglory pursuit of happiness. What do you think has been the most challenging music to create, so far Edguy songs, or Avantasia melodies?
MettleAngel: Tobias, sorry for taking up too much of your time, I know it's getting late, and you still have a few more interviews to do. On behalf of the wife & I, we sincerely want to thank you so much for dedicating your soul and spirit to us. We so celebrate the music you create. We are so pleased to honour all your work. Check out the Edguy interview at Metal Covenant and the Rocket Ride review at www.metalcdratings.com.
See also: review of the album The Scarecrow