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The other side of the moon

The two Avantasias EP Lost in Space Pt. I and Lost in Space Pt. II have just entered Swedish charts at positions 3 and 4, in Germany it went at position 9. Did you expect such a huge success? You said that it doesnt matter for you, but isnt it flattering after all?

I believed that it was good and I think these things sell. Its a funny thing, but when it went in there we didnt have any video clip shown on TV, it wasnt broadcast on radio. It was just that I thought, you know, that I knew that Avantasia has a very very strong fan-base and a very huge fan-base and I was quite confident that people would be interested in the material. And now I have enough self-confidence to believe, the material was really great and thats why its not that surprising. Of course Im very very happy and very thankful and grateful, but I expected it to be successful, because Im such an old-fashioned person and I believed that a good thing and a good quality will always find someone who will love it! (laughs) Maybe this is a little bit old-fashioned, but thats what I want to believe and I think that its right not to think about these numbers if its number 9 or number 15 in charts. In the end it doesnt make any difference its just a proof, it shows attendance. Even if it were number 39 I would have thought that its a great album.

I know that after the 2nd part of Avantasia you wanted to end up with Avantasia, but you continued it, as far as we can see. What served the reason for continuing with Avantasia?

Its really hard to say, what it exactly was. I think first I thought that I wouldnt do it anymore, cause it was so much work, it was so much time and so many problems, so many difficulties, so much stress and I wasnt experienced at all you know We just started with the band, we were professional musicians, but we didnt have this experience that I have now. Back then everything seemed to be a bigger problem, than it was nowadays. And meanwhile Ive done so many more things, weve got to solve so many problems but these were not big problems now, these were little things because when you are experienced you can solve many things, youre much more relaxed and you have much more self-confidence and much more trust in yourself. So and that was the most important thing when I talked to two friends and they said, Dont be stupid! You have so much experience, you know so many people, you have money to record big album, the way YOU want to do it, without making compromises. And you have people that wait for it. Its not like that you have to convince them that they have to check that out. They WILL check it out, because they wait for it. And you just have to do something with high quality and their attention will be there. And then I said, Well, maybe they are not so wrong! (laughs) And a good advantage was that I have Sasha, that is a guarantee that ever
ybody will dream about the record, because he is such a very great producer, he took so much responsibility, he took so much work off my shoulders. And I said, Ok. Everything is given that is requested to record a great album, and I started thinking about it. And the moment I started thinking about it I had ideas its like a volcano (laughs) So that was basically the reason I mean it was a combinations of reasons.

When you started with Avantasia with the first part of it did you think that it would result in such a huge project with so many musicians involved?

I think yes, I mean I didnt know how successful it would be, you cannot imagine or estimate numbers or whatever, but I knew, it was a dream that I had to record an album with musicians that were idols for me, that were important for me personally and with lots of friends of mine as well I wanted to do a big project with all kinds of musicians and that was the intension of doing it in the first place. I kind of knew that it would be an extended project, but I could only dream that it would be as successful as it was. But I didnt expect it, I dont think you can expect success.

And how difficult was it to gather all the musicians for the third part of Avantasia? And did you manage to involve all the musicians that you wanted?

The people that I have on the album it was easy, otherwise I wouldnt have them on the album, if it had been impossible. But of course there was for example Bryan May, that I wanted to have on the album, because Eric Singer, our drummer, is a drummer for Bryan May as well. So I wanted to have Bryan May, but unfortunately it didnt happen. He just didnt have the time. We wanted to finish the demo, because we didnt want to sent Bryan May a crappy sounding demo. So we finished the song in the real version and sent him a finished versions without a lead guitars and he just said, I dont have the time right now. If you had sent me this a couple of months earlier! But now he couldnt do it, that was a little bit sad. But Im really happy with all the people that are on my album. And it was not so difficult. Of course its not very easy and common to get in touch with Alice Cooler for example. The big advantage is that Eric is a drummer for Alice, so Eric went to Alice and said, Im recording an album with a friend of mine and he would like you to do a guest vocals on it. I think Alice did it as a favor to Eric (laughs), but still Im very very happy to have Alice Cooper on my 3rd record. But I personally think that Alice did a favor for Eric. But that doesnt make any difference, because on the record Alice sounds very great.

When you realized, that you have much more material than for one CD, was it easy for you to persuade the label to release these two EPs at law prices?

Actually they wanted to, bu
t of course I had to convince them of the idea that it was worth, but the werent completely against it. They have to be aware that they wont lose money, and you have to make up your mind if its worth or not to release two EPs at the same time, because although some people think that its a commercial release, at the reason for this release is a commercial one its not true. Commercially it doesnt make sense economically at all. You get almost nothing for these EPs. We knew that people would love the idea and it would create a pass for the album. People would talk about the EPs and would advertise the album. And we said, Ok, let it be like this. I mean everybody is speaking about promotion, EPs and promotion tours I think the best promotion is pleasing the fans with law prices. And it really works, because it goes in charts everywhere. Ive just heard it that it goes at number 4 in Norway in the single charts. And its so funny, cause usually metal-bands dont get into the single charts, at least not into the top 10! Thats amazing. I feel so happy with it. You dont have any profit, cause the production of songs that are on the EPs is much more expensive, than what you get in the end. 10 000 sold copies is not enough, youll have to sell probably two million copies to get the money back and thats not two million, thats three or four thousand copies maybe but the love of fans is my reward now. (laughs) People appreciate it and thats a good thing I think. Thats fair I think (laughs)

On the new Avantasia you recorded two songs by ABBA. And as far as I know previously you already covered some of their songs. Do you like ABBA so much?

I like ABBA a lot, and the song Move On was always something special to me. We wanted to do a cover version with Edguy in 1998, but then Helloween came up with the cover version of that song. And we didnt want to play that song after Helloween had played it so we didnt so it. And now I said, Ok, its ten years now, Im allowed to do ABBA (laughs)

Avantasia will perform in Wacken Open Air this year, where youll be a headliner. How will it look like? I doubt that all the musicians who took part in the recording will be able to be present there

I think its not gonna be very likely that everybody will be there. And I dont want to have ALL the singers on stage. Actually not that I dont want it, but I cannot imagine it. If you sing like 12 songs and you have 10 singers who are gonna show during one song it wont look like a unit, like one concert. Everybody comes and performs a song this will be like a casting show. So I think were gonna have something like 4-5 musicians, 4-5 singers on stage. We pit them on stage to make it look special. I dont want to do it like a normal heavy metal concert, but I dont want to make a theatrical show of it as well. If we put on the costumes of little
elves, little dragons and so on it will look ridiculous, it will be ridiculous. I dont wanna do that. But I wanna do a big show, a special mood, I want to have a big single unit on stage. And we at the momet are sorting different possibilities what we could do to make it look big. Im sure we have a year to go, Im sure well come up with something big.

Why did you choose such a soft tempo song for the clip? Why not choosing some heave stuff? Or do you think that Lost In Space better than other songs reflects the spirit of the album?

I dont think I need the song to reflect the spirit of the album, because the material is so diversified. So when you picture a song for a single, you have to pick your poison. (laughs) Every song is wrong and every song is right. You should choose a song in which everybody will believe, which will become a hit. You know I didnt like Lost In Space. I just wrote a song like I wrote 11 more songs. I was just that we thought, ok, this song could probably appeal to majority of people. If some song has a chance to get on the radio its definitely this song. So we just picked it. But its not more or less the representative of the album material. I dont rhink so. I mean we have fast songs, we have heavy songs, we have melodic songs, we have these pop songs as you like to call them but to me all of them are rock songs. To me it doesnt make any difference. To me everything is rocknroll and heavy metal Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Heloween and Slayer. Its all rocknroll music, its just different in the way its played and so. To me its just a cool song and if people listen to this song on the radio wherever its played which I seriously doubt, and then find out that heavy metal is great music and buy the album thats great. Well. Its a good thing for a heavy metal band! (laughs)

Could you tell a bit more about the process of creating this video clip? The events in the clip take place somewhere on the Moon as far as I understood. Who came up with the plot?

The director of this clip is a very famous Serbian advertising clips director. He makes advertising clips for big companies. And he has come up with the idea of this clip. We were shooting it in a blue box and he was adding it. It was the funny thing is that the video has nothing to do with Moon and space in their direct meaning. Its more like metaphoric meaning, impression of being lost in your thoughts, lost somewhere in nowhere land, lost without an orientation. Thats what I meant with this Lost In Space. But he just wanted to make a funny word game out of it and came up with this lost in space idea, like lost in the Moon. Which is a good thing. Its weird you know. When I watch this clip now I think, What the fuck all these people are doing on the Moon? What the fuck its going on the Moon? But it doesnt matter it looks good, fu
nny and it creates a certain mood! (laughs) So we didnt know that it will end up with shooting on the Moon when we were standing in the studio and wanted to make a video (laughs)

In one of the interviews you said that you knew what exactly you were talking about when you were speaking of feeling out of place, and you said youve felt out of place half of your life. Did you mean that you felt out of place in terms of music or was there anything else?

No, not really. I mean maybe in the beginning But I never was a kid that was in the centre or in the focus of attention. And when I was in the centre of attention, I was in the centre of attention as being laughed at. Not in a way that I was telling a joke, but there were people who derided me. And I just felt different. Now I think that many kids may feel different, because everybody has his own thoughts, his own cosmos, his own environment. I also had my little world and I felt a little bit lost in my little world, and it lasted for a long time every now and then. But now I feel happy, I enjoy it and its quite good in my little world. I think that everybody or at least a lot of people feel like that. And thats what I meant. It was like (thinks) I dont want to say that I was a sad kid, no. But I was different, I had different values, I was never fashionable, I was never a kid at school whom people saw and said, Oh, hes cool! I wanna be like him! It was always like, Oh, my God, thank you Im not like him! (everybody cracks) And thats what I meant, when you proceed your life this way, you get more energy, more motivation to fight for something really hard. And youre very thankful for everything that youve been through this experience. It encouraged me to fight for what I believed in. And while others were celebrating themselves, I was staying in my room and saying, Ill belome a rock musician. And as soon as I spoke out that wish, it was even worse. People said, Year, of course And I remember one teacher of mine at school, when she was asking me why I wasnt learning, I answered, Im gonna be a rock musician, when you play festivals you dont have to think about chemistry! (laughs) It was my chemistry teacher. And she said like (in front of the class) , Yeah, ok. Its ok when a 5 year-old kid tells me that he wants to become a pilot, thats ok, because everybody knows that hes small. But I wouldnt have expected a 15 year-old guy telling me that he believes that hell become a rock musician. And I said, Yeah, wait, bitch! (everybody cracks)

You said when the cover artwork for the previous Avantasia was created 10 years ago, that they put on so much make up on your face that you felt like a drug queen. Was it different this time?

Do you know Tokyo Hotel?

Yes, sure.

Their guitar player said, Oh, theres
a mistake in the pressing plan. They put the singer of Tokyo Hotel on your CD! (laughs) There was just no calculation or intention behind it. It was just a photo-session and I saw all these funny colors that she brought, the make-up stylist girl. And I said, Youre getting paid to bring those colors. Lets use them! And she decided and the photographers just said, Thats too much! They are gonna crucify you for these pictures! I said, Cool, Im a metal musician, I wanna be crucified! (laughs) So it happened in a funny mood. There was no intension behind it. I didnt even dream about it, to put all these colors in my eyes. But we did it, and it was cool. I mean Im more spontaneous than most people think. Theres no plan behind it. I just thought, Oh, thats funny! Lets do it. I didnt feel like a drug queen, it was just fitting to the concept. And in The Scarecrow it is an extraverted and introverted character of a story who feels like a scarecrow. Its weird hes loved and hated at the same time. And think I can understand that guy.

Who came up with such an artwork and why a scarecrow?

Because the story is about an introverted disconnected person that is growing up emotionally isolated, because he perceives things, moods and sounds differently. Hes got a different sensual perception and because I wanted to transport that feeling to the people. And the best equivalent or the best metaphor for this, at least for me, was a scarecrow. Because its meant to scare other people, and make people go away. Sometimes a person stands in a circle and people around say, Oh, dont come up to him. He is different. Well its something that scares all the people away, something that is solitary. And thats what it was to look like and I said, Ok, lets put a scarecrow on the cover.

There are songs on the new album Carry Me Over, Cry Just A Little, I Don't Believe In Your Love, Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, Shelter From The Rain. These songs at least by the titles seem to be written by a person who had had bad experience in life Is it really so?

No. Speaking about Dancing With Tears In My Eyes well, its a cover version and I cant dance with tears in my eyes, I cant dance at all. (laughs) Shelter From The Rain reflects best of all the mood of the whole album. Its like a part of conceptual story. Scary Eyes is really funny. It has much funnier mood than most people can think. I tell you the story of creating this song. Once I was at a party, and everybody was drunk and everybody was behaving really stupid and I was standing there and watching. And I just said to myself, I dont know why, it was a stupid idea, but I said, If aliens come to this planet now and he would stand next to me and ask me, Please, explain to me, why human race is behaving like this guy over there. And I would be embarrassed, because I coul
d not tell, I couldnt explain to the alien. And Scary Eyes is just a song about paranoia that they are here, that they are watching our every move, and one day they will ask me to explain and I will not be able to explain the human behavior to an alien. And thats what Scary Eyes. Scary eyes watch every move. And I really like this line why you are afraid of little spider and not of inundation or some other serious complications. Another example lots of people smoke, especially in Russia. They smoke tons of cigarettes. And nobody is afraid of this, of this smoke and the effect which it produces on health, but people are afraid of little spiders! Actually I would prefer to have a little spider, than a smoker leg. (laughs) Its not very intelligent lyrics, but its very funny, too.

You took part in compilation Nuclear Blast Super Star. Did you chose the song yourself or did you just agreed to the song that was offered to you? And was it easy for you to perform somebodys song, because usually you write material yourself

I was asked to write a record for Into The Light compilation, but I was busy then with my own stuff and just didnt have the time. But I think its a good song and its the best song on the record, Not because of my vocals! Dont think so! (everybody laughs) Not because of my vocals. It sounded really good in the very beginning, with the vocals which Peavy (Wagner ed.)of Rage did. I just think its a very good song and Im honored to be on there and Im thankful that Victor (Smolsky) wrote such a great song for me. I was asked if I would participate in it and of course I did. That was the whole story.

I think when musician works at a new material for the album there are always some songs left out of the CD and usually they are used later on as bonus tracks for different editions. Were there any songs which were left out of Avantasia CDs?

No, no songs at all. We did this album, The Scarecrow, and then we had songs that were written after The Scarecrow concept was finished, after the songwriting was finished. There were a lot of songs still (thinks) beside it. But we kept on writing and producing. And those I dont wanna call them left-overs, left-overs sounds too bad, because they were first class songs, they were written, because the idea was there. But we didnt need anymore songs. So we decided to put out Lost In Space parts I and II. So thats how these songs appeared on the singles.

Lately you performed in Moscow with Edguy. Do you think its possible to go on tour with Avantasia?

Touring is probably difficult or impossible. But were gonna play a few festivals. Were gonna play Wacken and probably some more festivals. It depends on the schedule and it depends on the offers its quite expensive to put such a big show on stage. If the authers are good, we can think what we can do for this summer festival season. We wanna make something special. But I dont think were gonna be on the bus and traveling around the world and play 50 shows or something like this. It will not happen.

And a few words for Russian fans

I just want to thank everybody for they support us and I really hope that they like The Scarecrow as much as I do. I was in Russia a few weeks ago and it was just wonderful. The auditorium was great. See you pretty soon and Im quite sure that will happen very very soon. Thank you!

Interview by Ksenia Wolfin Khorina
Questions also composed by Blindman
11 2008
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