Exclusive Tobias Sammet (Avantasia) interview for Kiske Fanclub (February 2016)
Kiske Fanclub: We know songs like ‘Reach out for the Light’ are real classics for Avantasia now, but is there a reason why new album songs like ‘Where clock hands freeze’ or ‘Dweller in a dream’ were not added to the last tour?
Tobias Sammet: The setlist is always a combination of what feels right naturally and what we assume most people would want to listen to. You simply can’t leave out ‘Reach Out For The Light’ and ‘Avantasia’, and ‘Shelter From The Rain’ has been established as a live monster as well. But on this forth coming tour I can promise we’ll do new stuff with Michael singing on too.
Kiske Fanclub: You often told us that you love to write a kind of ‘Eagle fly Free’ song for Avantasia and especially for Michi Kiske’s voice. So which song you have written in this style for Michi is your favorite one?
Tobias Sammet: That’s a tough question, because I like them all. Every of the aforementioned and also the ones on the new album. Right now it’s probably ‘Ghostlights’, for sentimental reasons it’s got to be ‘Reach Out For The Light’, because that was the first time I heard Michi sing one of my songs. It may not be as well crafted if you look at the lyrics, but it was the first one with Michi and it has that primal naive energy, which I love! And all the great memories…
Kiske Fanclub: The Metal Opera celebrated its 15thbirthday, so imagine your first ideas and what is happening right now. Have you ever imagined in these ancient times that you would be releasing albums and touring several continents 15 years later?
Tobias Sammet: No way. I wanted to fulfill myself a dream, work with my idols, write an album with a lot of singers out of my private record collection and try to get Michael – the singer that influenced me most when I was young – to sing Metal again, the way I wanted to hear him, although he had done a lot of interesting stuff outside Metal. “Avantasia – The Metal Opera” was meant to be just those two albums, like “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom Of The Opera” in a Metal version. Just with real songs with chorusses and verses. I didn’t plan more albums, I didn’t even mean to establish Avantasia as a bandname, it was the title of a musical, that wasn’t meant to be played on stage. In fact I knew that we could do whatever we wanted on the record, because it would never have to be reproduced live on stage… And I was completely wrong, haha!
Kiske Fanclub: Have you ever thought about playing ‘Judas at the opera’ with Avantasia or at the latest Edguy/Unisonic tour?
Tobias Sammet: No. We never thought about that, I don’t know why…
Tobias Sammet: We are so busy getting ready for the tour, I don’t really have much time and interest to prepare for that. And how should I? Rehearse singing? I am a Rock singer, if I have a bad day I have a bad day, I hate rehearsing to sing just so I sound like all these high gloss vocal teachers who wanna sound like Mariah Carey. My vocal lessons happen when I stand between Jorn and Michi in front of 3000 Mexican Metal heads that are so loud that we can’t hear or control our own voices anymore. Overall the tour is what counts. That’s where we’ll be in front of our fans, that’s what we’re known for. That’s what my focus is on. The whole ESC thing is a nice bonus, something funny, something to promote ourselves and wave the flag of Metal to an audience in an environment that usually ignores us. No more no less. So we’ll go there, sing, and then kick off a world tour.
Kiske Fanclub: If Avanatasia wins the pre-selection, who will play in the ESC event in Stockholm? Sascha, Miro, Andre, Felix? Maybe you think about adding other Avantasia musicians/singers as support? Maybe even adding an orchestra?
Tobias Sammet: Orchestra won’t work. You’re just allowed to have 6 people on stage. Amanda will play Piano for that show and Herbie will play bass, because he did all the backing vocals on the studio version, and as we’ll sing live I wanted him on bass for the TV thing. He usually is a bass player and mainly guitarist by the way.
Kiske Fanclub: I know you were asked several times about singers you would like to add to the Avantasia family. Besides a long life wish like Bruce Dickinson, do you have any other wishes for a new Avantasia album? Maybe someone new and not so well known until now?
Tobias Sammet: I’d love to have Steve Perry and Paul Stanley. Actually they’re not really new and not really unknown either, but I would love to work with them.
Kiske Fanclub: Did you ever consider changing the name of ‘Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia’ to maybe just only Avantasia or Tobias Sammet?
Tobias Sammet: No, it was established like that and I never thought about it after that. In the beginning I really thought about calling the band “Tobias Sammet” and the album “Avantasia – The Metal Opera” but I thought that it sounded like an ego thing, yet we wanted my name on the cover as we wanted to reach the fans I already had as the singer of Edguy. Also “Avantasia” was the name of the album, the ‘musical’ so to speak. After it was perceived like that and established as that, there was no reason to think about it anymore.
Tobias Sammet: They aren’t too similar I think. And we have a discography of around 85 songs to choose from, we’ll play 3 hours every night, I don’t think it will be difficult to find enough great songs for both.
Kiske Fanclub: Eric Martin didn’t sing in the last album, so what can we expect from him in the new tour?
Tobias Sammet: He will do what he did on the last tour plus a few surprised once Bob Catley leaves the tour. Eric is such a distinctive singer, I love to have him on board again.
Kiske Fanclub: Michi Kiske once said that he gave you his Playstation Fifa account to play but you never showed up. Did you find time for it until now? J
Tobias Sammet: Ha, did he say that. You know what? This whole wifi playstation thing made me nuts, first it blew our whole wifi setup at home, then Sony was hacked and all the credit card information apparently stolen. I hate that kind of shit. I rarely play, sometimes 20’minutes on my own, but I am not overly crazy about it. Michi is so good, on tour we played tennis against each others on a playstation, I had no chance… On the next tour we should play real tennis, on a playstation Michi is not a fun match partner, because I’ll lose without a chance.
Kiske Fanclub: Do you like Star Wars? If so, who is your favorite character and what did you think about the latest movie ‘The Force awakens’?
Tobias Sammet: To be honest, I don’t know it. I think I joined the other Edguys to a movie theater in Australia on tour once, and they wanted to see that one new Starwars movie about 8 or 10’years ago. I fell asleep. I can’t stand surround sounds and starships flying around me all the time and making noise and shooting at each others, and that talking Bigfoot and all these weird characters.
Kiske Fanclub: Have you ever thought about writing an album based on a real historic event or a novel/movie?
Tobias Sammet: No, not really. But Scarecrow was influenced by Goethe’s Faust. Not really a novel, but strongly inspired by something that had been written and published, if that counts.
Kiske Fanclub: Avantasia played festivals and concert hall shows. Now with ESC something special, but have you ever thought about playing at a special location like Metallica playing at the South Pole?
Tobias Sammet: Did they really do that? Wow, if you’re extremely really rich, life must be extremely boring… No, I am happy to play Arena in Ludwigsburg. I’d love to play the Madison Square Garden in New York, but why would I wanna play the South Pole? It’s cold and there are just penguins. I don’t get the point…
Kiske Fanclub: The new Avantasia tour including festivals will be the longest one. Did you have problems with the scheduling and especially the scheduling of all the guest musicians?
Tobias Sammet: It is always a problem, this is why Avantasia tours don’t happen too often, we never know if we’ll tour again and what the lineup will be then. Bob will just join us for the first European shows and then be on tour with Magnum. It’s always difficult, that’s why I’m so happy that most things work out this time, Michi and the others will join all shows.
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about the progression or evolution of Unisonic? I mean from the 1st album to the second album. The same regarding live experiences, since you were on tour together.
Tobias Sammet: I haven’t seen them on their first tour, but on our tour they were great. Great songs, great playing, great singing, great guys.
Kiske Fanclub: That’s it from the Kiske Fanclub and thanks a lot for taking your time. 🙂