AVANTASIA mastermind Tobias Sammet was recently interviewed by Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden's RockSverige. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RockSverige: You've travelled the world, you get to work with something you truly love doing, you've sold a bunch of records… Have you been able to figure out what true happiness is?
Tobias: "That's a very philosophical question. I'm happy most of the time. Being a father makes me extremely happy and I'm aware of that I have a very, very good life, but it doesn't necessarily make you more sad than others or more happy than others. I'm happy to be able to do what I do, but, of course, I have my good days and my bad days too. I think I'm happy most of the time. After we finished the last tour and when I was about to face the next episode of my life, which was seemingly predestined, I realized that I was about to lose being happy because I felt like I was not the pilot in my life. It felt like I was the passenger. I didn't know what was to come next and I had the feeling that everybody else knew. That's when I realized, 'This is very fucked up.' I'm doing all the work and the record label and the fans and my bandmates… everybody knows what I'm doing next, but nobody asked me if I approved it. That's when I realized I was really tired after the last tour. Not so much from the tour, but from the fact that I had to deliver something new, but I didn't have a record deal. I said, 'No, no, no you don't have to deliver anything now. If the new record comes out in 10 years, I don't fucking care!' That's when I really made a conscious decision for myself that I had to slow down to not lose control over my own life and not just become a cogwheel in the machinery that I didn't even have an influence on. I solved by finding myself a hobby, which was building myself a studio. I said I wasn't going to do anything and that's when the creativity started to work and I built songs. Two years later, I'm here. I have a new album and the treadmill is on again."
RockSverige: When you were growing up, were your parents supportive of what you wanted to be and you becoming a musician?
Tobias: "Yes, but I don't think it was because they believed it would happen. I'm the third child, and the two previous ones were pretty all right with good jobs and everything. It was probably, 'Okay, 66 percent is okay. Somebody's always gonna fall by the wayside.' They were very supportive. My father is, unfortunately, not alive anymore, but my mother admitted to me that one day my father said to her, 'He's all gonna make us go bankrupt.' I signed these record deals and there were relatively a huge amount of money involved even back then. I signed it and I didn't have an attorney, nothing, and that's why I'll get the rights back in 40 years. [Laughs] I did all these business things, I just jumped in and did it and was not aware of any potential consequences. I was simply doing things. I don't know if I would've been as supportive as they were. They always said, 'Can't you please do something serious, besides being a musician?' I said that if it wouldn't work, I would always have time to work at a bank. And I said, 'These are the most precious years of my life and I will see if this works first and I will always have time to fall back on my feet and do something serious.'"
RockSverige: Who was the first music hero that you got to meet?
Tobias: "Paul Stanley maybe. The way he said 'Tobias,' I will never forget that, because that was the only thing he said. [Laughs] Gene Simmons was talkative. Paul wasn't. Maybe he was resting his voice. I met Steven Tyler, but I didn't talk to him. We were on tour with AEROSMITH and they were super cool. No restrictions, nothing. We were allowed to go everywhere and use the whole stage. No security keeping us away. I was allowed to watch their show from the stage. I was in a room next to Steven Tyler and it was in 2007, and I didn't dare to speak to him. He was tinier than me, I believe. There was nobody else. I don't know if he knew that I was the singer in the support act for the whole tour. We were standing next to each other and it was a stupid situation. Most of the heroes I met were really cool. Funny thing, I wanted to work with Blackie Lawless [W.A.S.P.] once. I had an appointment. He was supposed to sing, as far as I'm concerned, on the 'Scarecrow' album. I sent him the track and we had an appointment at two o'clock. 'Blackie's still in the hotel.' Four o'clock, 'Blackie's still in the hotel.' Six o'clock, 'Blackie's still in the hotel.' Eight o'clock, 'Well, Blackie's not gonna talk to you before the show.' To make a long story short, at two o'clock at night, I was invited to Blackie's dressing room after he had gotten off the stage. He was very nice. He said, 'Tobi, to be honest with you, I haven't listened to the track, but I don't do these kinds of things.' I said, 'Cool! Thank you for letting me know.' He was nice and he said, 'I won't do this unless it really impresses me and if it impresses me, you will know. Now I have to take a shower.' And then he pointed at the door. [Laughs]"
Read the entire interview at RockSverige.
AVANTASIA's new album, "Moonglow", was released on February 15 via Nuclear Blast.