Interview: Tobi Sammet Discusses All Things Avantasia

Avantasia is one of the most exhilarating, diverse and wondrous musical experiences your senses will ever witness. After the incredible cliffhanger that we were left with at the end of The Mystery of Time, Tobi is back with the project and their new album Ghostlights, which was recently released. The band is hitting the US for the first time and promises a magical, one-of-a-kind experience for all in attendance. On January 22nd, I had a chance to speak with the mastermind himself about how it feels to be in this era of Avantasia, his excitement over the world tour and much more! Read on and share with everyone you know! The “Ghostlights” World Tour will hit Los Angeles, CA at the House of Blues on April 11th, Ontario, CA at Queen Elizabeth Theater on April 13th and New York, NY at Playstation Theater on April 15th. If you miss these, you may never get another chance to witness the Avantasia experience so start saving your money now!


BearlySinister: So, the first 2 questions we have come from a fan by the name of Kyle Miller. He wants to know what made you decide to re-form Avantasia? What made you decide it was the right moment?

Tobi: Well, I knew that I was going to do a sequel to The Mystery of Time or do you mean after I first called it a day after the first two records? That’s different, I wanted to re-form Avantasia in 2006, after it was initially just meant to be a 2-album project. I reformed it back then because I thought, meanwhile I had gathered so much experience. I would get a record contract with a better budget and a bigger network to get in touch with more musicians, even. So I thought it was quite great to do it again with a little more experience. I called it a day, after that, again but I think that every time I ended Avantasia, there was, afterwards, a point when I had the feeling that I had to do it again because in some way, I’m  addicted to the feeling to be my own boss, play my own music and to have a situation where there are no limits. I can do whatever I wanna do! I write a song and think it’s great to have Dee Snider or Geoff Tate sing on them, I just get in touch with them! There’s no rules, it’s not like in a band where you have 2 guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and me as the singer. No, if I want to have another singer come in and do it and throw out a certain role or concept, I will ask him. Of course, there’s a chance you may get a “no” but still.. it’s without limitations. After The Mystery of Time, it was obvious there would be a sequel to that album because this album was meant to be part one of a cliffhanger from the start. That concept was designed to be spread out over two albums.

BearlySinister: What’s the story behind the album title, “Ghostlights?” (also from Kyle)

Tobi: Well, “Ghostlights” is a conceptual album, obviously. It’s about that whole Mystery of Time topic about a secret group of scientists trying to manipulate people’s perception of time and speed it up and speed up the common pace to control people… to tire them, to burn them out and keep them away from asking questions about their real n ature, about the possibility of their spiritual roots and spiritual nature. In the story, I’m referring to what I experience when I look around, I think time moves faster and faster and we’re all getting distracted with wrong ideas from what truly matters, you know? We’re all looking on little electronic devices, being in touch with our 2,716 closest friends around the world, who we’ve never met personally. We’re trying to impress them by telling them what we’re doing right now, nobody’s really interested in what we’re doing but we’re telling everybody what we’re doing right now. I think we get distracted and we’re losing time, everything is so noisy and happening so fast. So, we’re losing sight of what truly matters in life, of what we truly want from life. “Ghostlights” is, in a way, a metaphor for the several distractions from what truly matters, from two different perspectives. For some people, materialism is full of ghostlights. People who are very spiritual people, for them in my conceptual story, materialistic ideals are ghostlights and distractions. For very materialistic thinking persons, in my story, the spiritual ideals, the ideal of God, may be a distraction. I’m referring to “Ghostlights” as a metaphor of any form of distraction from what really matters in life.

BearlySinister: Of the two tracks that have been released from the album, which has been received better by fans?

Tobi: I haven’t spoken to every single one, so far! *we both laugh* I can’t judge, I really can’t judge. I think both have been received very, very positive. I have no clue. You know what’s great about Avantasia is all the tracks are so different but, at the same time, they compliment each other. They belong together and they’re both different limbs of the same body. That’s what I think is so exciting, especially with Avantasia, where there’s so much variety involved. The project spans… well, I don’t want to say it’s a project.. it’s a band… well, not really a band.. it’s a Rock Opera phenomenon.. I have no clue! *laughs* Anyway… that thing, Avantasia, is so diverse. It spans from world music elements and classic music, to classic bombastic, pompous rock music, melodic speed metal and what people consider to be European power metal. It’s so diverse that it’s the beauty of the variations that make Avantasia what it is. That’s the nature of the project. It’s the fact that there are songs like “Mystery of a Blood Red Rose” AND “Ghostlights” on the same record, two different stations of that same story, two different chapters.

BearlySinister: Looking back on the history of Avantsia,what has been your favorite period in the project and why?

Tobi: My favorite period is always the present because that’s the period I can design. The past is done and over, I mean, I’m grateful to have it, because the past is the foundation of what I’m experiencing now. I’m very, very at peace with my past, looking back at every single moment and being happy and thankful. It is great to write the first steps of Avantasia, it was great to record The Metal Opera, it was great to be in the studio with Eric Singer. I also have great recollections from when we were doing the drums and videos for The Scarecrow, that was an exciting era but it’s great to be living in 2016 and just having that new album, Ghostlights in front of me and about to be released so, I can’t tell. I don’t see the different eras of Avantasia in competition to each other.

BearlySinister: Recently, the “Ghostlights” world tour was announced. You announced that Avantasia will have no support and that, each night, you will be performing for around 3 hours. What made you decide to do it that way?

Tobi: A few things. First, that Avantasia tours so rarely that, once we manage to get a significant amount of vocalists on the road at the same time (otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense *laughs*). To get all of those people together and tour the world, it is so rare and it’s such a special occasion that we should seize that and play as many songs as possible to cover all our discography and pay tribute, so to speak, to all eras of the band. Second, we are so many singers on the road, we’re like 7, 8, 9… I have no clue, I haven’t counted yet. Eric Martin of Mr. Big, there will be Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween). We will be so many that, if you want to seize that and have everyone sing a decent amount of songs and duets, you have to play so many songs. So, we’re gonna play 24-25 songs, each night and so I will squeeze as much music out of Avantasia and out of that tour, as possible.

BearlySinister: It definitely sounds like that’s going to be an incredible experience.

Tobi: I hope so! I’m looking forward to it!

BearlySinister: Are there any plans for music videos or anything like that in the works?

Tobi: We just shot one for “Mystery of a Blood Red Rose,” that was the only one. Honestly speaking, I hate shooting videos. It’s so dull to stand in front of a camera, waiting for the next passage, moving your lips to a song while you’re freezing your ass off. It is ridiculous, that’s why we didn’t do one with Edguy, for the last album. We had one animated because we simply hate to shoot videos. For this album, we’ve done another video clip.. it’s gonna be out probably next week. Yeah, it’s a nice video but I hate shooting them. If nothing, it’s just like going to the dentist.

BearlySinister: Finally, what do you think will be next after Ghostlights is released?

Tobi: I know we’re gonna do a world tour. We’re gonna start in Berlin and we’re gonna do all of Europe, we’re gonna do Eastern Europe and Russia, then we’re gonna go to Tokyo, then we’ll come over to North America for a very brief stint but at least, FINALLY, 2 shows in the US. We’re gonna do Los Angeles and New York in April, gonna do Toronto. From there, we’ll move down to South America and Latin America, Central America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Brazil (of course) and then we’re gonna go back to Europe and have a little break, followed by the Summer festivals. So… it’s not going to get exactly boring.

BearlySinister: That’s about all I have for you so that we can wrap this up in a timely manner. It’s always a pleasure talking to you, thank you so much for talking to me. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?

Tobi: I just hope as many of you guys as possible come to our shows because it’s gonna be worth going there. As I said, it’s gonna be Eric Martin, Michael Kiske, Ronnie Atkins, Jorn Lande, Amanda Somerville, Oli Hartmann and me and.. if we’re there, you should be there too! *laughs* So, you should come and witness the Avantasia experience, huh? I’m looking forward to that and I hope you like the album as much as I do. Thank you very, very much for your time. I have to thank you for being interested in what we’re doing and I hope to see you at one of the US shows and I’ll talk to you soon! Thank you and have a great weekend! 

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