AVANTASIA’s TOBIAS SAMMET: ‘I Always Wanted To Have BRUCE DICKINSON. Every Record ROD SMALLWOOD Says “uhhhh, no”.’

Avantasia‘s mastermind Tobias Sammet gave a long interview to Hardwired’s Jovan Ristić where he talked about many things. Here are some excerpts:

Avantasia’s new album “Moonglow”:

“It’s a conceptual album. Some people would call it a rock opera because it’s a better marketing phrase, but I’m not sure ‘rock opera’ is the right expression. The subtitle of the album is ‘Narratives of the Misplaced Entity’ and it’s eleven individual songs that in their entirety form the beautiful total of what ‘Moonglow’ is.

“It’s an album about an outsider, a creature that has been created and thrown into an environment, a reality that it can’t stand. The creature feels that there is no place for it in that beautiful, glossy, shiny reality of the bold and the beautiful. As a result of that, it escapes and seeks shelter in the darkness, hoping to find a gate out of its misery so to speak. The songs are individual pictures of the mental world of that creature or character.

“I tried to find a vehicle that is strong and gives me the chance to put my thoughts and my personal feelings and emotions into individual lyrics. And yet at the same time, I wanted them to form a big world of its own together. That’s what I tried to do. And I think it’s a very coherent album and it has that huge, Victorian, big, old English language because that’s what inspires me.

“I’m really inspired by the Victorian revival of the gothic novel, those writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and William Somerset Maugham. Also others like E.T.A. Hoffman and Edgar Alan Poe. That’s the language and that’s the world that was inspired by those writers, the world that I wanted to create and put my lyrics into. So it feels like a story, but I didn’t approach it as if I wanted to write a Broadway musical.”

On influences:

“It’s very diverse. It’s typical Avantasia and my best friend said it’s the best Avantasia album. And I don’t quote him here to promote the album… Well, of course, I do. But… Of course, I do (laughs).

“But he doesn’t lie, he’s a very good person (laughs). It’s typical Avantasia and it’s a very strong album. And you cannot say if it’s the best or not the best because it’s not the Olympics. They are all great albums: I like ‘Ghostlights,’ I like ‘The Scarecrow,’ I really love ‘The Metal Operas’ because they all have something unique.

“I think it’s a typical album, just more diverse. And for the first time in my life, I was completely free. I came back from the ‘Ghostlights’ tour and I didn’t have anything on my schedule. Not an Edguy album, not an Avantasia album – there were no contracts anymore. Not with Edguy or Avantasia. All we had was the Edguy anniversary. So there was no pressure.

“After I completed the ‘Ghostlights’ tour I realized that in the past 20 years I had done 17 albums and 10 world tours. And I had written those albums and sung those world tours, and organized and done all the interviews, which was about eight or nine thousand. It’s probably 500 interviews that you do for each album. And we’ve done live albums and EPs and all these kinds of things. And my strange TV stunt for the Eurovision Song Contest.

“There’s been a lot of work and I’ve done a lot. And I felt that I was falling into a routine. And I did not want to fall into a routine because it’s the death of creativity. And I said “Ok, I will not do anything. I’m taking off now.” Of course, we did the Edguy anniversary album, the book and a little tour with Edguy as a favor to the fans and my bandmates. But then I said “Ok, I need a break. I’m done with all this”.

“I don’t want to become a part of a treadmill. Because in the music business after a while nobody really understands what the artist really wants to do. People take everything for granted. “Ok, you do an album, you do a tour. Then you play Wacken. Ok, what then. You have a two-week break, then you do an album and you do a tour. And then… well, 2023 will you play Wacken with Edguy or Avantasia. Oh, no, 2024 you play with Avantasia, so 2023 is with Edguy.” And you realize you’ve become a part of expectations, and expectations make you a robot.

“I built my own studio, which is not a very smart step if you don’t want to do anything. Because after the studio is built of course you’ll want to use it. But I built my studio and started working on music. I had so much time and no pressure that the album became so embellished and so diverse. And I was writing something, and putting it aside or sending it to Sascha (Paeth, guitarist & producer). And he’d say “that’s great. Why don’t we replace the guitars here and do it a bit different here”. And we had so much time that it became so diverse. And I felt really happy having so much freedom and no stress. And I think you can hear it on the album.

“I don’t want to downgrade anything I’ve done before. Everything I’ve done I’ve done not because I was told to… Sometimes I was, that’s not true. But I could always say I was proud of it and I could live with it. I never delivered anything I wasn’t convinced of. But this time I had all the time to adjust it to my pace and not live up to people saying ‘we need a new album.’”

On the creative process:

“It’s hard because I never really analyze it. Usually, it starts with an idea somewhere, but I don’t know. I don’t know, I’ve never made this a science. I have an idea or a chorus, I’m a very chorus-oriented writer. That probably goes back to the days when I listened to “Living on a Prayer”Desmond Child. He pretty much built his career on one chorus (laughs).

“I have a lot of respect for him, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. But he’s very chorus-oriented. And I go from there as well, then I build things around it. Sometimes I have a clear vision of what it should be like and sometimes I make some changes. But I always write melodies and harmonies and all these things at the same time. You start from somewhere and you build it up. And sometimes it becomes what you have figured from the beginning and sometimes it develops in a different direction.

“But I don’t believe in what heavy metal musicians often do: they come up with an instrumental version or a riff and then they give it to someone else to make the melodies. It may work for some, and the outcome may be good. But there’s a good reason for putting a certain chord in a certain passage because there is a certain melody.

“Imagine the guitar player of Europe said “I have written ‘The Final Countdown’ and it goes ‘tun-tu-du-dun,’ do something about it. We could ‘tu-du-du-tum, tu-du-dum tum tum’.” It’s a combination of both, they go hand in hand. I can’t imagine Mozart doing that. I don’t want to compare myself to Mozart, except for the haircut really. “Here are some strings. See if you can add some melody to it, like a piano”. It all goes hand in hand, but things are not fixed. It can’t be adjusted. So there are no rules. Wow, my answers are so long. People will start calling me Lars Ulrich.”

On the people that were supposed to be on albums:

“Yes, there are. But I won’t mention them because they might show up if I ever do an Avantasia album again. Which, of course, I probably will. I just won’t tell you when, because I’ll have pressure. It can be five years or two years. Probably not two years, but I have no idea when.

“I always wanted to have Bruce Dickinson. Every record Rod Smallwood says “uhhhh, no” (laughs). What can you do? You cannot really entice Bruce Dickinson and bribe him with money. Because if there’s one thing Bruce Dickinson does not need it’s more money.

“He’s so busy with his own stuff and I don’t think he’s doing things outside Iron Maiden and his solo project. So fair enough. That would be a dream of mine, but right now it’s not really possible. Apart from that, I don’t know. Not really. There’s one, but maybe in the future. So I won’t say now. Because someone else is going to steal him or her.”