AVANTASIA's TOBIAS SAMMET: 'Once You're Successful, People Want You To Repeat Your Formula'

AVANTASIA's TOBIAS SAMMET: 'Once You're Successful, People Want You To Repeat Your Formula'

The "Everblack" podcast recently conducted an interview with AVANTASIA mastermind Tobias Sammet about the band's forthcoming "Moonglow" studio album. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On whether he ever sets a limit in terms of how many layers of production he puts on an AVANTASIA studio album:

Tobias: "No, not consciously. I've been in this for 27 years and I know that you have to let go at a certain point. I don't have to force myself. I know when a song is good and I know when a song has everything it needs. I won't stop before the song is finished because I'm not lazy and I want to do my very, very best, but at some point, you can say, 'Okay, we can adjust things.' Then it would be different, but would it be better? Nobody can tell. I'm happy with it, let's go. Fuck, go to the next song. [Laughs] Sometimes you have to be very pragmatic about these songs and I think you learn to do that when you've been in charge of — I've written and produced 18 albums now and I think after a while, you subconsciously learn what to do. It's much more difficult when you do your second album. It's much more difficult to let go. Well, it's not much more difficult because the budget will tell you when it's finished. [Laughs] The point in my life where I am right now, if I would work until the budget is finished, this album wouldn't even come out before 2028! [Laughs] No, seriously. [Laughs] Just kidding. Yeah, you subconsciously know when a song is done and you just finish it."

On the decision to release the 11-minute "The Raven Child" as the first single from "Moonglow":

Tobias: "Of course, the record company [Nuclear Blast], they were a little bit confused. But, that's great. Rock music is about hedonism and what's better than confusing your business partner? [Laughs] It was, to be honest with you, they said, 'It's a little bit long. It won't get radio airplay.' I said 'Okay, we've been working together for about 16 years or 15 years. When was the last time you had a huge radio hit on commercial dance, disco radio with AVANTASIA or EDGUY?' And they were thinking and said, 'We never had that.' See, what do we care about? It should be a great song. AVANTASIA has been away from the scene for three years now. It's the first sign of life from the new album. Let's do something that is representative of the album. Let's give people what I think is representing the album instead of editing a song to a three-minute radio-format song. Radio is not going to play it anyway. It's going to be on the Internet and people are going to say, 'What is AVANTASIA about? Three-minute singles now?' No. AVANTASIA is exactly what 'The Raven Child' gives you an idea of. I did it for the fans and I thought our fans can handle an 11-minute song. When we go on tour in two months, in two and a half months, our tour kicks off and we're putting the setlist together right now and we're going to play over three hours. I found out that some of our biggest songs — biggest in terms of response, not the duration of the song, some of our big 'hits,' are the long songs and it's really harsh for me for a live show. We have to make sure, we have to decide between certain songs and have to make a decision between certain long songs because there's so many of them. Our biggest songs are 'The Mystery Of Time', 'Let The Storm Descend Upon You', 'The Scarecrow', you name it. On the new album, two songs are over ten minutes. In other words, our fans are used to long songs and that's what we gave them. A long song edited to three minutes may be a good idea, a good teaser, but then 12 minutes is four times as good, isn't it?"

On the influence of movie director Tim Burton:

Tobias: "He's very good at embracing the grotesque, the beauty of the second side, the underdog. It's always stories about people who cannot cope or characters who have a hard time coping with expectations of the mainstream, of the beautiful world of the bold and the beautiful that surrounds them. People want to escape that and people see something beautiful and something the mainstream considers to be abnormal. I think there's nothing wrong with embracing something abnormal as long as you don't hurt anybody. If you look around, you're surrounded by people who want to tell others how to be and how to behave and what the dos and the don'ts are. That goes way beyond the rules of social life, to get along with each other. That really is an invasion of the privacy of the personal way of life and personal vocation. As a kid and as a teenager, I've always felt, 'I want to do this.' And people said, 'No, you can't. People don't do that.' I said, 'That's beautiful.' People said, 'It's not beautiful. It's grotesque and bizarre.' 'I want to learn this job, I want to become a musician.' 'No, no. You can't become a musician. People don't do that. You have to work in a bank or in an office. You can be a lawyer or teacher.' 'Why not? Paul Stanley [KISS] is not a lawyer.' These things, I think, it went on. And I escaped into the music world. It went on like that. You do one album, you do two albums, all [of a] sudden you are successful. And once you're successful, people want you to repeat your formula of success, and all of a sudden, there's expectations again. There's the record label, there's the public, there is the press. Of course, they cannot tell you what to do, but it will have an influence if you are an insecure character. And if the press says, 'Oh, that's terribly bad.' And if they ridicule you and you're insecure, it will subconsciously have an impact on you. You have to be really, really aware of yourself and your conviction and the fact the world around you is not allowed to manipulate you, so you have to keep a clear head and fight for your visions. That's what the album deals with — all those topics — even though it's a conceptual album and a fantastic story in a way, or a fantastic environment and concept. It deals with my personal thoughts, because after I did 'Ghostlights' and I did the tour and I came home and I felt everybody knew exactly what I was supposed to do next. Only I didn't know. All I knew was, 'Hey, people, I just released 17 albums. I've written 17 albums, produced them, I manage two bands. I'm touring the world. I've done 10 world tours in 12 or 13 years. I work a lot and set the pace and everybody expects me to keep that pace until I die. I won't do it. I can't do it, I don't want to do it. Maybe I'm going to do a solo album. Maybe I'm going to be a mountaineer. Maybe I'm going to be, well, not a professional football player. I'm too old for that. I'm too slow, I'm afraid and my technique is not that good as well. I'm simply a crap football player, let's put it that way. Anyway, I could pursue other things as well and it's my choice. I was afraid of becoming forced to stop following my convictions and living someone else's dreams and expectations."

"Moonglow" will arrive on February 15 via Nuclear Blast. Comprising 11 tracks, the new opus once again features several guest vocalists. This time around, Tobias worked not only with such well-known faces as Ronnie Atkins (PRETTY MAIDS), Jørn Lande (MASTERPLAN), Eric Martin (MR. BIG), Geoff Tate (QUEENSRŸCHE), Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN) and Bob Catley (MAGNUM) but also with new collaborators like Candice Night (BLACKMORE'S NIGHT), Hansi Kürsch (BLIND GUARDIAN) and Mille Petrozza (KREATOR). The cover artwork was created by Alexander Jansson.

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