Avatarium interview about the new album
Swedish five-piece Avatarium has just release their second full-length album ‘The Girl With The Raven Mask’. The band around Candlemass founder and mastermind Leif Edling embarked on a path between hard and heavier doom metal with lots of o other musical references and influences. I had a chat with guitarist and producer Marcus Jidell. Here is what he had to say about the new album.
Marc: Your new album ‘The Girl With The Raven Mask’ is out now. How have the reactions been so far?
Marcus: It’s been very good. We are very happy about all he nice reactions. People seem to like the album a lot. We’ve been putting a lot of work and effort into the album so we are very happy.
Marc: You already said that you put a lot into the album. You put a lot of different influences and styles into the album as well. How would you actually describe your music?
Marcus: It’s always difficult to describe it but how I would describe it is it’s 60s- and 70s-influenced hardrock music with a modern twist and sound. We are very influenced by old school music and sounds but we want to do something new. It is really not a retro band but it’s influenced by the way people played and sang back then. If you never heard about the band I would have to say it’s of course heavy, it’s dark but we always try to get hardrock and heavy rock in a modern way into it as well.
Marc: Personally what are your biggest influences musically?
Marcus: I think for this album I’ve been listening a lot to Crosby, Stills & Nash, Mountain, Cream and a lot of that kind of stuff. We listened to some Queen, Uriah Heep and these kinds of bands. Black Sabbath of course is always going to be an influence for us. And of course Rainbow. I think Crosby, Stills & Nash was a good night for us. You can hear that for example on ‘Pearls and Coffins’. We want to reach these kinds of folky music styles but blend it with the heavy stuff.
‘There are too many bands that sound the same today.’
Marc: One of the songs on the album that surprised me a lot was ‘The Master Thief’. For me it has actually some strong jazz blues influences. Did you put that in there deliberately or did it just happen in the song writing process?
Marcus: It kind of came out like that when we started to jam on it. When I started to do the guitars – we had the bass line first – then I started doing some jazzy chords over it. And we liked it. Then when Jennie-Ann started to sing over it she also put a kind of jazzy feel to it. So I think it happened but I like to add some jazz and some blues to my music because it makes it more interesting for me. We always try to find what works best for the songs. This was a good way for us to make this song happen this way. It’s usually a combination of trying stuff, jamming, finding new things out and then it’s all of a sudden ‘Yeah, that good. Let’s keep it.’ Sometimes it was even more jazzy. I like when it has the jazzy touch. It’s not gonna be like a jazz band. I like the Jazz touch but still we’re gonna be a rock’n’roll band playing hardrock.
Marc: It seems that you work together when writing songs, jamming and developing the songs together. Is that how the whole album was written?
Marcus: Leif Edling comes in with the rough sketches of the songs. Then we both together do a demo. When we like the songs and we think we have something here then Jennie-Ann comes in. And then me and Jennie-Ann work more on the vocals and melodies and try to find arrangements. We arrange for the guitar and try to find the right keys for the songs and all this kind of stuff. Then, after that, we take it to the rehearsal studio and the whole band tries to find how we can do it as a band. Then we rehearse and record the rehearsal and think a little bit more about how we can do it. So it’s like a three-step process. Then we record it. The band is very important. I produced this album and I want everybody to hear that it is a band. I want every band member to contribute their own personal stuff. That’s important because there are too many bands that sound the same today. They don’t have the courage to put in a personal touch because everybody tries to be perfect. Or like the retro bands they just copy old school bands. I want people to hear that it’s Jannie-Ann who sings, it’s Lars who play drums, it’s Carl who plays organs, it’s Leif who plays bass and that I play the guitar. That’s the aim of our music.
‘My main task as a producer is to make everybody be brave and curious and not afraid to make mistakes.’
Marc: How did you work together in the studio? What did you do as a producer?
Marcus: We did the basic foundations live. That’s a good way for me to stand in the same room with the band. Music is a lot about energy. It has to be fun and everybody should have the courage to try stuff and not just play safe. When you stand in the same room you can give each other energy and the songs can find the right dynamic. That was also very important for me. Since we had all the songs when we went into the studio it was a lot about finding the different guitars, different amps, different sounds to give it colour. There are a lot of different guitars on the album. My main task as a producer is to make everybody be brave and curious and not afraid to make mistakes because sometimes the mistakes can end up being very cool. I try to push everybody to do their best. As a producer you need to know when someone reached a limit and that person does his absolute best. Or this person can do even better so I push a little bit more. It’s important to have that feeling as a producer I think.
Marc: The next step is obviously the release of the album. What do you actually do personally on a release day?
Marcus: I don’t have any routine. We had a release party the day after. A little party with friends and some journalists. We wanted to celebrate the album because we are very happy about it. So we wanted to just have a good time with our friends. Of course I check the reactions on social media a little bit. I do that a little bit. Like a friend of mine said if you trust the good reviews you also have to trust the bad ones. I’m very happy when people like it because then are able to continue. However, I try to keep my focus and try to keep my aim regarding what I want to do and what we as a band want to do. Some of us check social media more than others. Some are very involved others don’t even care about it. It’s always a good thing. You can see how thing are going. You can feel the vibe and that’s a good thing about social media. For me the most interesting thing is to do shows. Then you really see if it’s for real. Everybody can be a star on Facebook but if you go out and play you need to have people coming to the shows, you need to move people. For me that’s the real world when I am out on tour.
Marc: What is your upcoming touring cycle?
Marcus: We have a European tour in November. That’s the only thing we have planned right now. The tour is going to be our first headliner tour. We told our booking agency not to book anything else before the release. Now we start booking some festivals and another tour for later on. So far we have only been playing in Europe so we would like to for example to go to Australia if we have a fan base there. That would be very nice. Hopefully it will happen in 2016. It always depends on the market. That’s the boring side of it. You need to have a market to go on tour. It looks like Australia might start to happen for us. We would love to go to Australia. It looks positive.