The Michael Kiske Fanclub did an exclusive interview with Tobias Sammet from Avantasia and Edguy. He talks about the new Avantasia album titled The Mystery Of Time, the live tour as well as some things related to Michael Kiske.So I really hope you enjoy it:
Tobias: Well, after the tour the only plan we had was to do the Wacken show in 2011 and that was it. When I quit Avantasia I honestly felt that I needed to put it on hold and focus on Edguy again. Avantasia was never meant to be a constant project but just a little side project to go crazy, break out of the routine and fulfill my dreams from a music-fan’s point of view. So it felt good to organise my thoughts and call it a day regarding Avantasia. But after we had done Age Of The Joker with Edguy and I think in the middle of the promotional campaign, somewhere in between shows and interviews I found myself disappearing in my basement again, escaping into my very sacred private music room and composing music in my own little world. Just like every man has a strange hobby to recharge the batteries, mine was to compose music. And after a while, maybe at the end of 2011 I realized that this feels like Avantasia.
Kiske Fanclub: You were together with Unisonic at Masters of Rock Festival 2012. Did you like the live sound of the band? And do you like the album?
Tobias: I watched the whole show from the side of the stage and I felt proud for Michael and Kai and I really enjoyed the show. I mean, let’s face it: Michi still has it and I was able to witness that from the side of stage. I caught “March Of Time” and “Future World” and I think “I Want Out”. I think they also played I want Out but I am not sure of that. I really loved to hear those songs sung by Michael but also the new material sounded great. “Unisonic” and “I’ve Tried”, great songs that really work well with Michael’s voice. I am not too familiar with all of the songs, but I also remember “Souls Alive”, cool song too.
Kiske Fanclub: In previous Avantasia albums you did collaborations with some female vocalists like Amanda, Sharon, Cloudy but these are always very small collaborations, why did you not create a character for a woman, I mean an important character for singing more than half of a song.
Tobias: To be honest, I grew up listening to male singers mainly. All my favourite bands have male singers. In fact I really like Doro, and now that you ask I do not know why I never asked her so far. But apart from that, I do not wanna come across chauvinistic as I do not mean to be chauvinistic at all. But from a fan’s point of view all my favourite singers are men… But of course there are female voices I love, for example the voices of Cloudy Yang and Amanda Somerville, I really like raspy stuff like Janis Joplin. I am not too crazy about soprano voices, but I think there are some great female voices out there. It is just – if I am honest, I grew up with male voices mainly, and as Avantasia is just a reflection of my personal influences it is very natural to have a lot of male voices in Avantasia and only few female voices to bring in some color.
Kiske Fanclub: Now the metal opera is 12 years old and there is a new trend in the scene to play a complete album in a live concert like Iron Maiden and Metallica did. What do you think about it and do you have similar ideas?
Tobias: No, I do not have plans like that. I mean, we live in our current day and age and as much as I love the first Metal Opera album and certain parts of the second one, it would feel strange to play them in their entirety and not mind the more recent material. I mean, we play so rarely with Avantasia, again I do not know if this forthcoming tour won’t be our last maybe, you can never predict it. It’s hard to get all people together. This time we don’t have our bass player, we don’t have Jorn, the line up changes constantly and you never know if there will be another tour, so we better seize our time paying attention to all of our material. But I have to say, on this forthcoming tour we’ll play over three hours, on our own headlining indoor shows in Europe at least, so there will be enough time to throw in a good share of old material at least.
Kiske Fanclub: When I saw the cover artwork of ‘The Mystery of Time’, I was really surprised, because I was translating some old interviews of magazines for the fans and you said in these quotes in 2008: “Avantasia doesn’t make the typical kind of concept albums. It’s not about hobbits, dragons, dungeons and little dwarves…” Did you change your mind?
Tobias: Well, actually I do not sing about hobbits and dungeons and dragons. It’s a very interesting and exciting fairytale, but it’s got nothing to do with what you have mentioned. I lost my aversion for hobbits and all that, in fact I do like fantasy paintings and even fantasy books and movies, I was just sick of having that stamp while as opposed to many swashbuckling Fantasy Metal bands singing about Odin’s grandfather and a bunch of hobbits running through the woods my lyrics had always a certain serious and meaningful intention. This new album is a fairytale, but the fairytale is more a vehicle for certain spiritual questions I was asking to myself. If you don’t like that you can easily put the content aside and just enjoy a beautifully crafted Heavy Metal or Rock Opera with an enchanting lyrical concept, but it is more than just your average fantasy concept about forests and dragons and the evil king. But to each his own and for the record: I do not hate hobbits. On my album cover there are goblins, just because I wanted Rodney Matthews to paint the artwork and its his signature style. The cover embraces his interpretation of the topic of the album, but it is not a summary of the album concept. That being said: The album cover is unexpected, well crafted and totally unfashionable. And that’s why I love it. But there is a huge difference between a real “Matthews” and a muscle warrior riding a dragon.
Kiske Fanclub: Can we maybe expect another Avantasia album in some years and did you save some parts of Kiske for that one?
Tobias: I did not save some Kiske parts but there will have to be the end of the story of THE MYSTERY OF TIME. It needs to have a part two and I will certainly ask Michael again. We have a true friendship going on and I did not want to have him record stuff and then save it and then release it secretly in three years. By the time I will write the second chapter of The Mystery Of Time I will talk to Michael and we’ll do something completely fresh if he feels like he wants to do it.
Kiske Fanclub: We know you were trying to get Eric Martin and Ronnie Atkins for previous albums and you finally got them. Did you try again with the typical musicians like Sebastian Bach, Brian May, Bruce, Yvonne Catterfeld? Did anyone of them reject again and are you maybe a little bit tired of asking again in the future?
Tobias: I never get tired of asking people, but I didn’t speak to one of the aforementioned. One day I will ask Bruce Dickinson again, we’ll play a couple of festivals with Iron Maiden, so maybe we can have a heart to heart conversation. But the line up on our current album is so strong, it’s hard to imagine to replace one of the great performances, with all respect to the four mentioned vocalists.
Kiske Fanclub: You said in some interviews that you watched Kiske live with Helloween, do you remember anything? How did you experience this show?
Tobias: I never saw Michi with Helloween. I saw Helloween without Michi and I saw Michi without Helloween and I saw bands without Michi and without Helloween. All combinations, haha! But I was too young to see Michi with Helloween. By the time I got into Helloween I was twelve and three years later Michael had, ahm, ‘left’ Helloween. But I remember that when I first heard Eagle Fly Free, I wanted to become a singer myself, because I thought that this guy was amazing, he had the technique of Geoff Tate and the raspyness of Bruce Dickinson. The funny thing is, that I got to know Maiden and Queensryche only after I got into Helloween, so I thought those two singers were stealing from Michael Kiske, haha! Honestly, Michael changed my point of view on music. It was so powerful and so uplifting at the same time. It was like Beethoven’s Hymn To Joy. It was positive music with a lot of energy and I never thought something like that existed. I was used to Rock’ And Roll All Nite of Kiss, to AC/DC which was powerful, but angry. Helloween was not angry, it was powerful and positive.
Kiske Fanclub: You know there are some rumors that always appear from time to time, if you were Kiske you would be more interested in working hard with Unisonic or you would like to make maybe some little collaborations with Helloween?
Tobias: These rumors are not true at all. Funny… I think Michi knows exactly what he does, he is old enough and I would never say anything like “if I was Michael I would”… I never thought about what I would do if I was Michael. Oh yes, if I was Michael, I would sing “Reach Out For The Light” myself, haha! But why should Michi join Helloween? They have a singer and they do what they do and they are a successful band. Who knows if it would work? Who knows if it would be what people expect it to be? Maybe it would be a huge disappointment, and then I would be the one having said “If I was Michael I would do”… I am not in the position to even think about that. Michael does what he does the way he wants to do it and I think he does it by intuition. And that can never be wrong!
Kiske Fanclub: The journalist Carl Begai (Bravewords) wrote a review about the pre-listening session of the new album and he commented that some vocalists in Avantasia are placed in a “comfort zone”, he meant that when a vocalist sings that track usually it is of his typical style, Eric Martin singing Mr. Big-type, Bob Catley singing Magnum-type, Kiske singing ‘Eagle Fly Free’-type, etc… Do you think this is the best way to make those vocalists shine or you just want them feeling comfortable?
Tobias: I don’t think about that at all. Carl also said that Biff Byford was shining because he was pushed out of his comfort zone. I’d never do that on purpose. Who am I to try to push Biff out of his comfort zone? He is more than six feet tall… I write songs and think about who would be best to sing them. With singers I have worked with before, especially Bob Catley and Michael it’s different. When I had the melody for “Where Clock Hands Freeze” in my mind, it was already sung by Michael. That sounds funny, but it’s true. It’s almost as if I have a miniature Michael Kiske sitting in my miniature brain humming miniature melodies into my brain. Well, actually my brain is not that small, but that’s a different story, haha. That’s weird, but in the instant the melody came into my mind it was as if Michael was there to sing it. If I remember right that was even before I had started to write a new Avantasia album and if my memory serves me right I told Michael right away that I had a song that was as if it was written for him. But I never think about comfort zones. It’s natural to have the vocalists do the kinds of vocals they are known for. Michael sings like Michael. I would never want him to sing a Thrash Metal song.
Kiske Fanclub: There are some trailers from Frontiers Records about ‘A new metal opera’. Kiske, Sharon, Rob Rock and some others participate there as well. What do you think about this project?
Tobias: Wow, someone is extraordinarily creative here: the title, the guests, the timing… What a funny coincidence, isn’t it?! But there have been thousands of Metal Operas, especially after Avantasia. Such is business…