AVANTASIA vocalists Tobias Sammet, Ronnie Atkins (PRETTY MAIDS) and Geoff Tate (ex-QUEENSRŸCHE) recently spoke with Japanese journalist Masa Ito. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why Sammet invited Atkins and Tate to participate in AVANTASIA:
Tobias: "First and foremost, their voices. That's what I knew from even before I actually met them. I've been heavily influenced by singers like Geoff and also singers like Ronnie. They're idols, and they've been inspiring to me, and it was so great to get the chance to actually work with them and find out they are great human beings, too. We have great fun on tour, and it's a dream come true to work with people that have been so influential to you. We have as much fun off stage as we have on stage, and that's something very, very great."
On the guest vocalists' thoughts on AVANTASIA:
Geoff: "I think it's phenomenal. I think what he's done on albums is incredible. Live, putting all these people together, it's not an easy task with the egos. Just my and Ronnie's ego is enough to fill this room. [Laughs]"
Ronnie: "The great thing is that with so many different people and different personalities, we're getting along really fine. It's very good. It's a very nice tour. There's a good chemistry. We're having a lot fun. I think it's great for everybody."
Geoff: "I was quite surprised at how much of the music that I thoroughly loved. Every song in this set list, I absolutely love, and I would knock [Ronnie] out to sing his songs [Laughs]... It's not really that competitive, really. It's actually kind of a communal bunch of people that get along pretty well."
On how Sammet chooses vocalists:
Tobias: "Sometimes, in the middle of writing, when you get an idea – 'Oh, that has to be [someone].' There's not really a rule. Sometimes, I know immediately [that] it's got to be a certain singer, and sometimes, it falls in place."
On making vocal parts their own:
Ronnie: "I think Tobi is very good at getting it right for every individual singer. I basically try to make it mine — I could identify myself with singing that song. It's been like that with all the parts."
Tobias: "What he wants to say is, I'm very, very good at copying PRETTY MAIDS and QUEENSRŸCHE. [Laughs]"
Geoff: "You give it your own individual thing your own flair and your own specialness [sic]."
Ronnie: "Sometimes, you don't change the melodies — you just make them your own, give them your own identity. I think that's what he wants, anyway."
Tobias: "Absolutely. There would be no point working with musicians that have earned their spurs — it wouldn't make sense to work with such prolific, high-profile vocalists with so much experience if you wouldn't let them add their own and contribute their own things to it. They Geoff-ify and Ronnie-fy the songs."
On performing live with AVANTASIA:
Geoff: "It was so easy to drop into it. Tobi is an incredibly imaginative writer, and if you see the show, you'll be able to be part of Tobi's world that he's created. It's really an honor to be a part of that. Every night, he sets the stage for us all to go out there and play in his playground. It's fantastic. I see a lot of comments from people on web sites and things, and they say they're always sad when the show ends because they want to still be in that world that he's created. I feel the same way. I just don't want it to end.... I absolutely love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. It's such a change of pace for me. Doing your own thing is very satisfying and wonderful as well, but this is different in the fact that I don't have to be front and center for the whole show. I can go off the stage, and a wonderful entertainer will take my place and sing an amazing song that I'll be mesmerized by... To be part of something bigger than yourself is quite a nice feeling at this point in my life. I'm really enjoying it."
On what separates AVANTASIA from other supergroups:
Tobias: "It's really difficult to say. Everybody can sense that it's not been just a one-off project, and everything has been very heartfelt. There are many so-called all-star projects, and even though when you work with these great names and these great iconic singers, of course some people would consider it to be an all-star project, but the thing is, we never tried to make the names the vehicle of the thing. It should be about the music. It's not about me or Ronnie or Geoff — it's the music, and we all contribute to it. It's way more than just a project that's been put together by some record company that has those different kinds of singers and songwriters and puts it all into one [package] — 'Here's the new all-star project featuring members of JOURNEY and whatever.' It's not been put together – it has grown naturally, and I think fans can sense that. It's a very, very honest thing that has not been put together by the industry, and not to just sell. Of course, we want to sell records, but it's been put together for the right reason, I think, and fans can sense that. That's what I want to believe."
On AVANTASIA's success, and where the band can go from here:
Tobias: "I have no idea. Honestly speaking, I don't think about it, because this is already bigger than I thought it would ever be, and it gave me more than I ever thought I would achieve with my music. I just take it as a gift... headlining arenas and also big festivals, it's a big gift, and I don't take it for granted. I don't have a bucket list saying, 'Okay, in two years, we have to play Madison Square Garden, and in four years, we have to play Budokan.' I'm happy the way things are right now, and I'm very appreciative and I don't take it for granted. I just want to be allowed to go on and write music and play it. That's all I hope for."
AVANTASIA's latest album, "Moonglow", was released in February via Nuclear Blast. The album debuted at No. 1 in Germany and also cracked the Top 10 in Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Spain.