AVANTASIA, the rock opera spaceship piloted by EDGUY singer, songwriter and producer Tobias Sammet, will release their eighth full-length album, ‘Moonglow’, via Nuclear Blast Records on February 1st 2019.
I caught up with Tobias as he was sat in a London pub and very much enjoying the typical old English world atmosphere. A keen Anglophile, enamored with Victoria times, he felt very much at home. “Most of my favourite bands are from here. I like Victorian architecture and how traditions are embraced over here.
I disappear, and all of a sudden I feel like Shakespeare. It’s like I am in a different century. I feel very much inspired by writers of the Great British writers of the Victorian revival of the gothic novels.”
I asked Tobias what it takes to write a concept album like Moonglow. “I am inspired by certain things, like historical events. But when I come up with a concept, I want to fill it with life. I want to use my lyrics not as plain storytelling, that does not really appeal to me. I’d rather write something off my chest, I wanna be creative. I wanna deliver Art….I think most concept write themselves. The idea of writing a concept about a misfit creature that is created into a world and does not find an attachment into its environment, feels out of place, and can’t meet the expectations that people have towards it. It then turns to the dark, to be invisible, to find shelter into invisibility.”
“It is a theme that could have easily been written by Tim Burton or Machen. But also, it gave me an option to write about me without blatantly admitting it, which I am actually doing now. I could write about my thoughts and feelings and incorporate them into a frame, a beautiful setting. It’s like you have this mental bucket, or barrow and drop after drop, it fills subconsciously when you are walking around, when you put the concept together, you have gathered around a lot of material. But it’s really hard to analyse my working process. “
The writing of the album happened at a rather unexpected time as Tobias was supposed to have taken a rest from his hectic schedule, so the writing of Moonglow came as a bit of a surprise.
“Well, yeah, I wanted to have a rest. The Ghostlight tour was over so I came home and there were expectations of me. Everybody knew what I was gonna be (doing), only I didn’t know. I thought that was shocking that everyone else had a clear vision of what I was doing. I thought: “if you wanna keep your intuition and your sanity, you want to make sure that you are a not a passenger but a pilot of your life”…”People said, we know you’re gonna do Wacken, etc…And I thought: OK, emergency brake. I won’t do anything! I will build a home studio where I just can be myself. But I was creating new material, and that’s also catharsis and therapy. And I love writing music.”
Tobias went on explaining how complicated Avantasia’s tour preparations are:
“It’s a lot of preparation, of course. We don’t tour for very long, there is only so much time that we have for everybody that we need to be available. Everybody’s got their own stuff to do. There’s Bob Catley, Geoff Tate, Eric Martin, Ronnie Atkins, Jørn Lande, Herbie Langhans, Ollie Hartman…They all need to look at their own schedule. We only have a limited amount of time to do this and be well prepared but I am surrounded by the best people in the world. I just have to rack my brains about how many songs we are gonna play. Are we gonna play 27 or 24 songs? For sure, we will play 3 hours at least. It will be a big show, without any support act. I can’t wait, I am really looking forwards to it.”
And I must say, dear readers, that at the mention of a 3 hour show, yours truly almost fainted! I asked Tobias if the band needed a break during the set, much like they do at the opera.
“No, we did it before. On the last tour, we played up to 3 hours and 45 minutes. We don’t really have a break unless Amnesty International wants to take care of our drummer! If they have an eye on our drummer, I think we might have a break.”
As I mentioned at the start of this article, Kreator’s Mille Petrozza is part of this epic new album. It is a collaboration that I found surprising.
“It is really interesting indeed and it happened quite naturally. Mille’s been a friend of mine for a very long time. We had already worked together on a previous Edguy’s album. We’ve always talked about having Mille on an Avantasia album and it never materialized. I actually never had the track to do so. But in this new album, I had a song that was suited for Mille. I thought THAT’s the right track. He’s portraying some nasty evil character, who’s very angry and aggressive. And it works, It sounds like it belongs there.”
The album is said to have been recorded in “haunted and eery places”. I asked Tobias if that was literally the case.
“To me, a place is haunted if it’s got a special atmosphere. It was put together in Victorian hotels, in Birmingham, in London, in the forest in my own village, in a lot of places with character. I read an article about psychogeography, where scientists have found out that your environment has an extreme influence, an impact on your creative output.”
So Tobias might not have encountered any “real” paranormal activity, but Moonglow is certainly out of this world and will transport you to rather fantastic places, I promise!