Interview date

Mars 2010




Interview Tobias Sammet

Before touching the subject of the two coming albums, let's look back at 2008, to The Scarecrow record, this album has sold a lot of copies in Europe. Are you surprised by its success ? And is it this success that had persuaded you to continue the Avantasia adventure?

The most important thing is that "The Scarecrow" is in two albums, "The Scarecrow" and "The Scarecrow Part Two". We had already written part two even before recording part one, we had some of the basic for part two, so we just said: ”ok, finish the first sketch for the last song, than we put up "The Scarecrow" and then, came back on the things that we had to change and finished the rest of the material”. So, the decision to continue had nothing to do with the success of "The Scarecrow", it was clear. The fact is, that it was not real because by the dream we don’t come back to record for finished the rest of what would suppose to be "The Scarecrow Part two". I had more ideas, but I said : “ Ok, we keep fourteen tracks , fifteen tracks , twenty tracks…” more and more" , and at the end we said :"Yeah , two albums" and not two short albums ! It was more than a regular double album. I couldn’t predict the success of these albums. We just saw, "oh, we are in the top ten in Germany", "oh, we are in the top ten too in Sweden" …

Yes, I've seen it was the case in many countries!

No! Just in some countries, but for example to be on music television in Germany, it’s funny and great but it’s really strange!

You had the opportunity to make some great shows in 2008 with Avantasia, I was at the first row in Wacken for the Avantasia Show , just in front of you , it has stayed a very great moment of this edition to my mind , even if Jorn Lande’s microphone had a little problem. What are your memories of Avantasia on tour now that you have completed the tour?

Great memories, because, I remember the first show, which was in Switzerland, just before the show I asked myself : “ Why did you agree to do it ?” . And I was so nervous, we were all on stage, Andre Matos, Jorn Lande, and we asked each other : “ Are you ok ?” . Everybody was there so innocently like in a cartoon, like in a funny movie, so since that show, all shows were great, we had so much fun, definitely I had only greats memories ! For the Wacken Open Air I remember the problem with Jorn’s microphone because the microphone was on, we could ear him on stage, we couldn’t know that there was a problem! We had fun and Jorn had fun too . So, even if it is a little sad, we would like to do it again and I don’t know if we will do it again, it is very hard because we don’t really have a crew , so I don’t think it will be right now , but nobody knows what will happen in the future, maybe with the next record .

So, I think it is the same thing that happened with "Lost in Space" and "The Scarecrow", you had producted one, two, three and more and more songs. It’s not possible for you to choose between the songs you write to finally make just one album?

I can! If I had not chosen we would have four album!!! (Laughs) I really have chosen! I have already deleted the bad stuff, only the good stuff remains!

Yes, so you are very productive?

I’m not exactly the opposite of lazy! (Laughs) Sometimes I’m creating, sometimes I’m not! Sometimes I can write nothing during six weeks, sometimes that is two in two days. You can’t really know... Inspiration is a real strange thing, sometimes it gives you many things and sometimesit says “Fuck you”! You can’t really plan.

Avantasia is for you a solo project, on this two albums Sascha Paeth always plays the guitar for you, he seems to be a very talented person, but all the other musicians are different. Some big names of metal are with you on these albums, it is very impressive! With who did you prefer working with ? Maybe some little stories on the recording?

Yes, yes, it was fun to work with some guys like Jorn. And I have to say that it was great to work with everybody. It’s not a joke to sound politically correct; it was really great to have everybody in studio. You know, what is really impressive for me, was to have Klaus Meine on this album because he is just a super, super, big superstar. I had always the feeling that he was a friend of mine, we drank beer together and talked together, like friends. Sometimes it steels a different between people but here there was no problems. You really feel accepted in the band. Klaus was so… He immediately said "yes! It’s a great song !" And when I talked about the video project, he said "let’s go" too, but I said “No, you have to do the new Scorpion’s album, to do a lot of things, you have to meet Vladimir Poutine (Laughs), no, no …” But he did it !

Ok, when you write a song for example for these two albums, what is the process that makes you think about a musician or a singer to appear in that song, because I noticed during the listening that every singer matches the song perfectly. I think about Tim Owens who sings with a very thrashy attack on the title "Scales of Justice" or even Jorn (Lande) and Russell (Allen) on "The Wicked Symphony" with this very symphonious track. Or Jon Oliva on the very strange "Death is just a Feeling"! It’s amazing to see how each song matches each singer!

… It’s amazing to me too!!! (Laugh) For the singer, it’s instinct, I think it is the instinct...

But when you have an idea, you say: “You, you come to sing with me!”

No, no! (Laughs) First, it will not be you, you come to sing with me, it will be : “ please, if you like, can you sing with me ?” I think the case of "Death is just a feeling" and "Scales of Justice" are pretty similar, I had written these songs, without thinking about a singer. I knew that for example for the song "Death is just a feeling" I had alredy the creature who will interpret the song on my mind! It was a creature who looks like a mixture of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice Cooper, like a mixture between Alice Cooper and Johnny Deep .

Yes ! But the voice of Jon Oliva sounds like Alice Cooper’s voice ! When we listened to the song , we first thought it was Alice Cooper !

You know I had the song done and I had to immediately find someone! I had the track "Scales of Justice" done and then I needed a special voice, and I thought : “ Which singer could sing it?” and then I thought :” It could be someone like Rob Harlford !”. But I thought about the live Meltdown...

Yes , the live of Judas Priest !

Yes, yes, I like Judas Priest, but I’m not exactly a super big fan, it’s ok, it’s a good band. I remembered that I had heard a version of "Metal Gods" with Tim “ Ripper” Owens and I remembered that this new singer had a similar voice… And I thought that song was for that singer ! And with Jon Oliva, the song needed a dramatic and tragic voice, I needed an Alice "cooperish" voice! But this song was the reincarnation of Alice Coopers' death, so I couldn’t take Alice again! I seriously had considered to make Alice sing again but then I thought that it’s not right because it was a new character ! So, I said: "I gonnna ask Jon !”, I meet Jon three or four years ago in Spain, we were together blocked in an airport and the flights were cancelled, deleted, deleted, deleted… So we were in a small airport together and it was Halloween, me, my crew and Jon Oliva, stuck in a airport (Laughs)!!!

You should have made a concert in the airport! Yeah, you could have made a movie, it looks like a very dramatic and funny situation!

It was, it was! I remember than Jon said : “ Jesus Christ, never Spain, never again …” . He was so funny like that! So, I remembered him and I said : “ That's the voice !”. I said to Jon that I had a project for him, he listened to it and answered: “ I can really feel that this track was written for me”. Hey, cool, maybe, it was (Laughs)

Avantasia has only made one tour in 2008; it’s very strange because Avantasia was founded in 1999! My question is why is it so hard to plan a tour for Avantasia? Why did you do so few concerts?

Oh!!! You know, it’s really hard to organize and then at some points, we… I always said no! I always said no because I won’t think about that! And two years ago we proposed to me to be one of the headlines of Wacken Open Air, and I said NO, it’s dead! They said: "But Wacken is three nights, and you just have to play one night !”. Finally the staff had persuaded me, and I said yes ! So, I talked to Jorn Lande, I talked to Sascha Paeth … I said to Sascha: "We could have the headlining of Wacken, we could play in front of more than one hundred thousand people, it’s the biggest metal festival in the world, we have that chance and we must do it !” and he answered : “ Yes, let’s go on stage together", Sascha hasn’t been on stage for a long time. And everybody had sayed yes! It was hard to organize because I remember that everybody had a job! Eric (Singer) had a tour with Kiss at the same time, but he did it ! But I told myself that it was my only chance to headline the biggest heavy metal festival in the world, and every musicians dream of that! The dark and after, the lights of the stage, the crowd with their hands in the air… You know after that show a journalist of a local newspaper had asked me to say one word in German for the show, I had answered : "Unglaublich", unbelievable, unbelievable !

Let’s go back to the new album, on the song "The Wicked Symphony" you sang with Russell Allen and Jorn Lande together , I wonder if you've heard the albums that Jorn and Russell have made together and if it is these albums that give you the idea to make them meet on this song?

You know, Jorn had already sang on "The Scarecrow" and Russell is a very special person, I have known him for a long time, I had met him at a show in New York, he was very very drunk ! Russell can really really get drunk, and he said : “hey Tob, we should work together one of these days!”.

It’s strange because Russell Allen seems to be a very serious man!

(Laughs) What a serious guy !!! Whooouuuu !!! (Laughs) He is funny, he is really funny! For "The Scarecrow" , I had Jorn Lande, I had Alice Cooper, I had this guy and this guy, so I told Russell that it was not the time. I have heard the work of Jorn and Russell, I like it , it’s great !

To return to these albums, did you make a deluxe edition for them?

Yes, it's not a double album because I didn’t like that. It will be two albums with two differents covers. We should have made a package, but not at the regular price of a double album, but I’m not sure it is always in discussion! But in the case that they make it expensive, we will add a special box and a book, and it will be an hard box ! But I didn’t want it to be expensive!

To conclude I have two very hard questions for you . First what is your best memory of a concert? With Avantasia or Edguy?

I think that it is with Edguy, because it was so great to be able to go with them on stage, to be accepted in the crew, to work backstage, to be with them everywhere… There is no particular moment, but to be with them is so magic, these guys are so great. It is really a hard experience! But when we go on stage in Wacken with Avantasia guys and that I see all the hands, I began to cry and I was sure that I can’t stop crying. It was such a short set, but very emotional, when we arrived to the last song, I heard the crowd become so loud, everybody was here.

Last question, maybe the most difficult one, have you got a favorite song on these two albums?

I can’t really say, because it changes everyday. For the moment it’s "Runaway Train" but it will be another tomorrow …