BearlySinister: First of all, I’d like to say that I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Can you introduce yourself and your role in the band?
Tobias: I am Tobi, lead singer, lead vocalist, lead song writer, and lead ego in the band. Just like any other good frontman of a real rock band, right?!
BearlySinister: Your new album “Space Police – Defenders of the Crown” will be released on April 29th in North America. What inspired the title?
Tobias: We’ve always been true to ourselves, we never followed any trend, and never tried to be flavor of the week. And although we’ve always been resistant to advice, we managed to headline in almost 40 countries all over the world, have sold more than two million discs and left our mark upon The Metal World. That’s why we planted our tongues in our cheeks and thought: ‘Why not call ourselves The Defenders of the Heavy Metal Crown’? I mean, doing things differently, offending a whole scene and getting away with it is an achievement, isn’t it? Anyway, when the record label loved the title and suggested we should put knights and swords on the cover and that it would be a sure shot in terms of marketing, we reconsidered the whole thing and thought: Ahm, maybe not! It was too obvious a stereotype. So we chose the title of another song on the album, “Space Police.” And because we couldn’t decide which title was better, we just went with both. Does it make sense? No! Does it sound exciting: Hell, yes! Mission accomplished!
BearlySinister: Who created the artwork for this album?
Tobias: It was done by an art professor from Colorado. He usually doesn’t do record sleeves, so he was a fresh choice. He’d already done our previous artwork. A great artist. A true artist.
BearlySinister: When writing this album, was there a different approach compared to your other albums?
Tobias: Not really a different approach. We didn’t really think too much this time; we only took two months to compose the album, so we didn’t really have time to second-guess. Sometimes, when you have too much time, you get too ambitious and re-touch things that don’t need to be fixed. We didn’t have time to ruin things by thinking too much; we didn’t have time to make plans. We literally went in, plugged in, and came up with a great high velocity Metal album. I love it!
BearlySinister: Who and where did you work with when recording “Space Police – Defenders of the Crown”?
Tobias: We worked with our long time producer and my AVANTASIA sidekick Sascha Paeth. He’s already worked for us on our previous albums and still I think we’ve never sounded this heavy fresh and creative. We started recording in November 2013 in Wolfsburg, Germany. A nice little studio, very old-school equipment and a nice recording atmosphere. We went in there the old-school way, a real band, five friends working together. No Skype, no producing via internet. Five guys and a producer in an old converted farmhouse. Very romantic and Led Zeppelinesque…
BearlySinister: Who or what inspired you to be a vocalist?
Tobias: First I loved Bon Scott of AC/DC. Then there was Paul Stanley of KISS and then there were Michael Kiske of HELLOWEEN and Bruce Dickinson of IRON MAIDEN. I just wanted to combine classically-influenced singing with the street attitude of Bon Scott and the showman flamboyance of Paul Stanley and Freddie Mercury. The musical quality is what matters, but here’s what I learned from the aforementioned idols: You also have to have an amplifying personality on stage to make yourself known. It’s a waste of effort if you’re great and nobody pays attention, that’s why you should come across like a cross between a giant mutant peacock and a silverback gorilla!
BearlySinister: Do you have a track on the album you’re particularly fond of? Moreso than others?
Tobias: It may sound like a stupid answer but I like them all. I love “SPACE POLICE” and “LOVE TYGER” and “DEFENDERS OF THE CROWN” ‘cause they perfectly combine power, attitude and beautiful creativity. As I said, I love all tracks, but “SPACE POLICE” is a track that really reflects what this band is all about. It’s crazy but powerful and very, very creative, catchy…iIt’s got drive. It’s colorful but still it sounds focused and shows that we’re really serious about what we do while our tongues are seriously trapped in our cheeks.
BearlySinister: Can you tell me the story behind that track?
Tobias: Space Police is about the “Space Police” – self-acclaimed guardians of morality who try to define the rules in fields where there should be no rules. Let’s put it this way: As a young Rock and Metal musician, you wanna explore the infinity of creativity, you wanna feel zero gravity and take off into the space of creative freedom. You don’t wanna play by the rules – that’s why you don’t become a banker, you become a Rocker. ‘Cause you don’t wanna have a boss, you just wanna play the music you like and be honest without kissing ass. And by the time you’ve had your first high chart entry, everyone wants to tell you what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say. Everyone has advice and rules for you. The Space Cops lurk everywhere, in the corridors of power of the music industry, in the press, some are your ex-fans who loved you when you were an insider’s tip, an underground act who hadn’t sold out yet. You know, childish bullshit…
BearlySinister: You’ve been coined “The World’s HAPPIEST heavy metal band”, how did this term come about?
Tobias: I have no clue. It sounds rather negative doesn’t it? I mean, “happy” doesn’t necessarily sound too negative, but still I don’t see us as a happy band, That says nothing about our quality. Like pretty much everyone else, I prefer a good laugh over a good cry anytime, but that doesn’t say anything about our music, does it? We are a Heavy Metal band. We play angry, powerful, sometimes tongue-in-cheek Metal. We are flamboyant and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but that goes for Van Halen too, right? Are they Happy Rock? No, they have a sense of humor and kick ass! Just like we do…
BearlySinister: What is the story behind “Sabre & Torch”, the newest single from the album?
Tobias: It talks about the attitude of the band. As I said, we’ve never really done the things that others have expected. In a metaphoric way, we explored unknown territory, doing things differently in terms of attitude, different from lots of other bands. That’s why we feel like explorers: We go where no man’s been before, just armed with the sabre in one hand and a torch in the other…
BearlySinister: If you weren’t in a heavy metal band, what would you like to do?
Tobias: I’d be a solo artist. Ha! It would be pretty much the same. My guitar player wouldn’t get a share of the royalties but a wage instead and I wouldn’t have to discuss why a certain lick shouldn’t be there. Like being in Ozzy’s band, only my wife wouldn’t be allowed to have someone throw eggs at Iron Maiden and pretty much make the whole Metal World my enemy. Seriously, if I wasn’t a musician, I have no clue what I’d be.
BearlySinister: In your years of touring (both with Avantasia and Edguy), have you had a favorite tour? Why did this one stick out more than others?
Tobias: I think the first Australian tour was amazing. It was just so far away from home and we were overwhelmed by the reactions. People on the other side of the planet were singing our songs. What a great feeling for a 20 year-old kid! I was very thankful. What I also appreciated were the tours as special guest to the Scorpions and Aerosmith… The first AVANTASIA world tour was a great tour. I remember that headlining Wacken Open Air – in front of almost 100.000 people who were singing along to every song – was a feeling I will never forget. I almost had tears in my eyes…
BearlySinister: What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed on tour?
Tobias: Just watching our drummer. I know, that sounds awkward, but it’s like in one of those National Geographic documentaries about meerkats or mole voles. At first you think: Ah, boring. But then you discover behavior that is quite notable. The way it moves, the way it eats, the way it cleans its den. It’s remarkable. Felix may not be quite as clever or as highly developed, but he’s a better drummer than those meerkats and mole voles…
BearlySinister: Are you a practical joker? That is, do you like to play pranks on/with your bandmates/management?
Tobias: It happens. We once smuggled an inflatable sex doll into the hand luggage of our AVANTASIA guitar player Oliver Hartmann and we took a knife from the hotel breakfast in Milan, Italy and put it into the box with the sex doll. It was during vacation season and people were in line from Milan to Tokyo at the security check at the Milan airport. Long story short, there must have been around 50 people witnessing how our guitar player miraculously had to reveal a box with a picture of a 70 year-old 400 lb. lady saying, “She’s big and mean and licks it clean.” Stuff like that happened, but I never shot anyone…
BearlySinister: Where did the lyrical content for “Space Police – Defenders of the Crown” spawn from?
Tobias: I write about everything that I am interested in or that I feel I want to let out. It can be self-indulgent stuff like “LOVE TYGER,” a tribute to myself, but it can also be spiritual stuff like “THE ETERNAL WAYFARER” about the immortality of the soul, which I am trying to find evidence of, but simply haven’t yet.
BearlySinister: If fans were to take ONE thing away from this album after listening, what would you want it to be and why?
Tobias: That’s bad manners. You shouldn’t take anything away from this album. Everything needs to be there! Others will come after you and something will be missing ‘cause someone else had taken it away. No no no… Just listen, just view, don’t touch! Like the Mona Lisa…
BearlySinister: Tell us a little bit about the special deluxe digibook edition of the album.
Tobias: There’ll be a bonus disc with 7 additional tracks. Four of them are just karaoke versions which I think is pretty dull, but the other three are amazing. One is called “Aychim In Hysteria” which is a tribute to our live sound engineer lyrically. Musically it’s a tribute to DEF LEPPARD. We tried to compose and produce a song that would exactly sound like DEF LEPPARD during their Hysteria period. And I think it worked. Another one is called “England” and it’s about England. Okay, quite obvious…
BearlySinister: Social media: Necessary evil or great help for bands?
Tobias: Well, it can be a help. But I scratch my head over people wasting half of their lives in social networks. Get a job, get a life, meet friends, go out and dance, or run through the forest, walk the dog, communicate. But don’t tell the whole world what you have for breakfast, unless the world is REALLY interested in it and you have to sell a new album…
BearlySinister: I guess that about wraps it up, thank you once again! It has been an honor.. is there anything else you would like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?
Tobias: Buy the record! If I wouldn’t have one already, I’d certainly do it because it rocks! Promise! See you all on the road, America. we haven’t forgotten you, although we’re quite far away right now…
Be sure to pick up “Space Police – Defenders of the Crown” which will be out on April 18th in Europe & April 29th in North America through Nuclear Blast Records. Several pre-order options are available through http://edguy.net!