Exclusive Interview with Tobias Sammet (Vocals) (Avantasia, Edguy)

There are a lot of metal operas out there, and I have to deal with that. If something is very successful or even not successful then other people may feel inspired...

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Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine

question contributions by Thomas Schwarzkopf (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine


Hey Tobias, great to talk to you! How are you?

Tobi”I’m perfectly fine thanks very much.I am talking a lot which is a
good sign”

Straight in with the questions then.

 After the last Avantasia tour you said the chapter for Avantasia“ is
closed and now you are back with a new album AND tour. So what is the
reason for opening another chapter in Avantasia-history?

Tobi”I am a liar,arnt I ?(Laughs) No seriously it was meant to be over
because I just wanted to focus on Edguy.I just thought after having
finished a successful tour with a show in front of eighty thousand
people at Wacken Open Air. Having just delivered a number one DVD that
went to the top of the charts in Germany ,Austria, Sweden and several
other countries. I just felt that it was time to call it a day and
focus on a new Edguy record,and give that my 120 % effort into that
album. That’s what I did,but after a while the album was finished and
we went on tour with Edguy.  I then discovered myself sneaking into the
music room in my basement  and working on new song fragments and being
creative. I  just discovered myself composing new music and being
creative. All of a sudden and after a while, i realized that this is the
quintessence of a new Avantasia album”

Your new album is called „The Mystery Of Time“ and again it
features a conceptional story. Please, tell us something about it.

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Tobi”Yes definitely, it is a concept album, its about time, and the
mystery of time. The initial idea that I had came from me looking
around and discovering that everybody is running short of
time. Everybody is running and running, seemingly caught in a
treadmill. Nobody exactly knows what we are running for, if you look
around everybody is burning out. Everybody is proud of answering 2.000
emails within half an hour. Everybody is trying to optimize their
schedule, and we forget about the quintessence of being human
beings. The original nature and foundation of that -the really
important things in life.The story is a fairytale but it is based on
that phenomenon about a young scientist in the nineteenth century in a
small town in England. He wants to explore the coherence’s, he has a
spiritual conviction as a natural scientist. He wants to find out the
effect that time has on those topics, discovers people around him
running and running, burning out and he has the feeling that some
external invisible force is speeding up time so it can control peoples
pace. Speed it up and move people away from thinking about what is
really important in life.”

What musicians are involved on the album, I understand that as usual on
Avantasia releases there are some special guests?

Tobi” There are some previous Avantasia band members, Michael Kiske is
going to be on the album, Bob Catley. We also brought in some new fresh
blood on there if you like. Biff Byford from Saxon, Ronnie Atkins from
Pretty Maids, Eric Martin from Mr Big, Joe Lynn Turner, the Uriah Heep
drummer Russell Gilbrook. There  are some new aspects, we worked with a
full orchestra for the first time-a real symphonic orchestra. It was
not that I really tried to do something differently on purpose but I
just wanted to keep it exciting for myself, and just be creative. That
happens subconsciously when  you work also with new people then. Its a
very subconscious natural process.”

Is it more fantasy-story-telling like the first two records or more in
this subtle style like the Scarecrow-trilogy, where the listeners had
to put the pieces together by themselves?

Tobi”I would say that it is a mix. There are a lot of personal thoughts
in there, and some of the characters are internal thoughts, voices, ideas
and inspirations of the protagonist. I would say that it is also a
fantastic fantasy story. Its a mix of both,in general the album to me
seems much more like a conceptual piece than the last 3 previous
records. When it comes to it being a conceptual rock opera piece its
closer to the first two I would say.”

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Where do you get your inspiration from to create the musical pieces on
your records? Does it come from reading, or maybe something else?

Tobi”I think that the biggest inspiration is just if you go through
life with open eyes and just write about it. It has the highest value
for me from a philosophical standpoint if you write about whats in
you, how you perceive the world around you. Not so much about watching a
movie, and saying “hey I’m going to write a song about this “This is
really dull ,it can be funny at times if you write about Robin Hood for
example. It can be a lot of fun to do those kind of things. In general
when it comes to Avantasia , and meaningful lyrics I don’t want to read
a book and write a song about it. I just don’t want to write about a
novel I don’t want to reproduce something that someone has done
before. I just want to write about what I really care about myself.”

Some people say you changed your musical style too much in the last 7
years. On the cover artwork to the new record we see the  line  A
Rock Epic“ (no „Metal Opera“) and also guest musicians like Ronnie
Atkins,  Joe Lynn Turner or Eric Martin are signs that  the new album
goes more into the Hard Rock direction, than Power Metal. Sound wise,
what can we expect from  “The Mystery Of Time“?

Tobi”Its really hard for me to judge myself, I never really sensed or
realized that I had changed. Edguy and  Avantasia started out as hard
rock bands (particularly Edguy). I have never drawn a line between hard
rock and heavy metal. To me anything that was valid to play Monsters of
Rock in the eighties to me was great music. I did not make a big
difference between Dio, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. It was all great
music and that has always reflected on my music that I play myself. As
a musician I think we just get better throughout the years as we get
more experienced. We have the skills now to transport the needed mood
of a song. When you take an early album,we also had songs like “Sign of
the cross”,  “Avantasia”  and “Farewell”. Those kind of songs are not
necessarily considered to be speed metal. Nowadays we have different
ways to make those type of songs, and produce them in a different way. I
think that is a very subjective perception, if you say that we have
changed over the years. To cut a long story short “The Mystery of
Time”, has 5 up tempo songs, we have 5 double bass songs, we have
choirs, a full orchestra. If that qualifies to be a heavy metal record
then it is a heavy metal record. ”

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I read there will be a second part of „ The Mystery Of Time“. Is the
story already completed in your mind? When can we expect part two?

Tobi”Definitely,there will be a part two because the story has to be
finished. How the story will go  on I have no clues yet. The journey is
the reward, the quest is the purpose. I just do the record that I have
done now, I will relive it and then I will focus on Edguy. Maybe in four
or five years I will go back to “The Mystery of Time”Part 2.”

With the departure of Jorn Lande, was it important to keep Avantasia
fresh with new musicians? Who will take his place on stage as there
were many Jorn songs on the last 3 records?

Tobi”Yes we will have a giant lineup on stage so we will be able to. I
mean we have Eric Martin, Thomas Repke, Bob Catley, Oliver
Hartmann, Michael Kiske. Ronnie Atkins for some shows though not for the
English show at Bloodstock, its a different lineup there. The thing is
Jorn is a great vocalist, an amazing singer but he didn’t want to do
it. I asked him but he was so busy having other things on his agenda. It
wasn’t a decision of mine to bring in others.Of course the record is
very diverse and we have some vocalists on there that you would not
necessarily expect. I am really happy with “The mystery of Time” and how
the album turned out to be. Of course for Jorn I would have found a
slot, but he didn’t want to go on tour and he had other plans. It was
entirely beyond my decision and power.”

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Have you heard from the „ New Metal Opera“ of Timo Tolkki‘s Avalon
(feat. Michael Kiske, Sharon Den Adel, Russell Allen, …)?  It’s nearly
the same concept like Avantasia has, even the title is very similar.
Is this annoying to you? Lots of people will compare Avalon this year
with your new album.

Tobi”There are a lot of metal operas out there, and I have to deal with
that. If something is very successful or even not successful then other
people may feel inspired by it. Its Timo Tolkki (laughs) what can I say
, hes a great guy and he does what he does. I wish him the best of

There will be a big world tour from Avantasia. Are there any surprises
on this tour, maybe a new stage design or something like that? Have you
ever thought about bringing some kind of rock-musical on stage, based
on one of your stories? I mean with real acting, different stage sets
and so on. ?

Tobi”No I am at home on a rock stage, -a heavy metal stage. I just want
to do my thing. Some people ask me would I want to do a musical one
day. I thought about doing a children’s musical one day but that’s a
different story. I feel at home and comfortable going on stage in a
sweaty rock and roll place to play rock +roll and heavy metal. Playing
to an audience that want to hear that style of music. That’s why I
don’t think about anything else and I don’t have a vision to do
anything else. I can say that our stage will look pretty impressive, but
the focus will still be on the vocalists. We could come up with a lot
of fireworks and big pyros and big stage buildings and monsters. The
thing is we already have the best gimmick in the world. Unlike so many
other bands we have seven or eight lead vocalists on stage for one
show. It would be stupid to distract from that.”

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Your main-band Edguy is also a well known Metal act, even outside the
genre. Is it hard for you to be successful with both bands and switch
between them,  especially when it comes to songwriting?

Tobi”No not really, because I have that work ethic where I want to give
100% to whatever I am doing. Whenever its time to work on a new Edguy
record I do t with all of my power,  all of my energy and all of my
heart. The same for Avantasia. I never work at two things at the same
time. I perceive it more as a blessing much more than a curse or a
burden. I am a member of one of the most successful heavy metal bands
from Germany in the last twenty years. At the same time I have this
wicked side project giving me the chance to work with the musicians
that I am a huge fan of, or have been a huge fan of for years. To be
creative on a second field its just a blessing, and I’m really thankful
for having both. You will not hear me complain about that”

Just finally have you any musical goals left that you would like to achieve?

Tobi”One day I want to play Madison Square Garden as a headlining act
in New York. That’s a long way off, and I seriously doubt that will ever
happen. If a fairy came to me and said to me Ok il grant you 1
wish-(laughs) no that probably wouldn’t be enough. If she was to grant
me ten wishes it would probably be 1 of those. If you ask me again I
would say pretty much no-I just want to stay healthy and just play
music that I love. ”



avantasia the mystery of time cover






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