AVANTASIA vocalist Tobias Sammet recently spoke with writer Clay Marshall in conjunction with an OC Weekly story about the group's upcoming performance in Anaheim, California. Some select "outtakes" follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the ongoing "Moonglow" world tour:
Tobias: "It's a triumphant march. So many sold-out places. Here in Europe, [we're playing] the biggest places we've ever played on our own. It's the biggest tour I've ever been involved with. We're playing arenas, and many of them are sold out. We're getting great reviews. I've been doing this so long, and I've never had [such] exclusively positive and very, very extremely enthusiastic reviews. The fans go crazy. The mood onstage is really, really good. Offstage, of course, as well. I don't want to sound like this euphoric little kid — 'Everything is so great!' — but it is, truly. Everything is really great. I just wrote an e-mail to the other guys in the band and the singers — I told them how happy I am and how proud I am to be on stage with Eric Martin and Geoff Tate. Bob [Catley] is doing a wonderful job. Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins... it's great. It's absolutely fantastic. It's highly recommendable to be doing what I do."
On AVANTASIA's initial American shows in 2016:
Tobias: "Not many people believed in doing it, especially the so-called business experts, but we went there nevertheless, and it worked. It was fantastic. As long as you're exciting people and as long as you're entertaining people, there is an audience. We were proved right because when we went to [the] House Of Blues in California, it was a very, very small place for such a show, I have to say. Already on the last tour, we were playing arenas here in Europe, and [we] went to House of Blues, and with all these singers — that all-star rock opera thing — it was a bit of a small stage, but it went down well. It was sold out. We went to PlayStation Theatre in New York and had a slightly bigger stage — not what we were used [to] in Europe as well, but the reaction was so great. The place was packed — a great audience. We were right. Now we're coming back, doing only four shows. Let's see how that goes down, and then let's see what happens in the future."
On the group's cautious approach to touring North America, with one show in 2013, three in 2016 and six in 2019:
Tobias: "You have to understand, this whole AVANTASIA thing, it's a juggernaut — it's a big crew, it's a big stage, it's a big production, many singers. It's a really, really expensive thing, and you really have to plan this carefully. TSO [TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA], they came over to Europe and they wanted to do all these arenas, and they booked all these arenas, and it didn't work. You have to test the waters; you have to build it slowly; and it's completely new territory for us, the U.S. Europe, it's established. South America, it's established. The U.S., we really want to build this carefully, and we're going to see how it goes down. I have to say, it's really difficult to find a certain [window], because there are so many people involved that have their own bands. Geoff Tate, Eric Martin is still touring with MR. BIG. Everybody's got their own band, so you always — a given time is available to squeeze in as many shows as possible. I hope we're going to do a real [U.S.] tour in the future."
On "scaling down" the group's arena-sized production for American clubs and theaters:
Tobias: "Show-wise, playing-wise, music [and] energy-wise, it's not so difficult to scale down. It's not even scaling down because I'm just a little closer to Geoff Tate as opposed to being on a huge arena [stage]. You just have to really make sure you don't hit each other, and when you turn around, hit the microphone stand into the drums and stuff like that. You just have to be a little more careful, but the essential core of the show [is the same]. I like to play bigger stages, but I've played so many concerts in smaller venues also with my other band EDGUY. Once the spark jumps over, that can be an energetic atmosphere in a smaller place as well. Of course, it is difficult, but you have the advantage of being closer to the people in front of the audience. Sometimes, [it's] even easier to have the spark jump over. I don't really have a problem with it. When it's getting too small... when the stages are too low, I feel a little bit uncomfortable. When the audience in front of you is taller than you, then it gets a bit of a strange feeling for a concert."
"Moonglow" was released on February 15 via Nuclear Blast. The album debuted at No. 1 in Germany and also cracked the Top 10 in Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Spain.
AVANTASIA's six-date North American tour kicks off May 17 in San Jose, California.