INTERVIEW: Johannes Eckerström – Avatar

After a two year wait since the conceptual epic Feathers & Flesh from five-piece Swedish metallers AVATAR; we are treated to their seventh release and a following concept album simply named Avatar Country. Listeners to the singles released will realise the band have opened a nation and with this album have the aim of spreading the word of their ways and banishing those who stand against them. Starting a country requires a large amount of diplomacy and with a recently undertaken world tour AVATAR certainly have the capacity to raise a loyal following. Distorted Sound was lucky enough to interview the voice of the king, Johannes Eckerström amidst their highly filled schedules to bring a message to our readers.

Hello Johannes and thank you for taking the time out to talk to Distorted Sound Magazine! I imagine you’re busy with the release of Avatar Country just around the corner?

Johannes: I’m doing royally well thank you! Yes absolutely, to be honest we’re in the middle of doing our royal state visits at the moment so our nights are even more preoccupied along with the shows. Being so far behind with the dates I didn’t even realise the dates until you said. Of course, the big day is tomorrow! But I had the master of it in my hands at some point in November. I believe that for a band, or at least me personally that is the big release date, no more turning of knobs!

I can’t even imagine how that feels! So, you’ve just this evening started the tour in support of the album, what can fans expect to see this time round?

Johannes: Yes, we’re in New York City tonight, it’s our most ambitious stage build ever, in terms with the bells and whistles that go along with the music. Of course, with the royal theme that were currently having it has a heavily influence on what the stage is like, and yes, the king’s throne sits with us on tour, it becomes a very special evening in that sense. Basically, we’re playing all of Avatar Country, at least all the conventional songs. We’re really digging back in time with some of our song selections. After a while certain songs become staples of your live show and we’ve decided to go beyond that.

How did the writing process for this album differ from that of Feathers & Flesh (2016), being your seventh record as a band?

Johannes: Feathers & Flesh was a very dark album, it was centred around failure but connected to love, fear and denial, just the ugly side of human nature, more importantly it was a work of fiction.

The album is another concept album based around the illustrious Avatar Country, can you tell us about this theme and its presence throughout the album?

Johannes: With Avatar Country we’ve opened the borders to our nation, reveal the truth of our king. We operated completely differently, because our central theme is far more positive, it’s about strength it’s about victory. Themes of hope are way more present on this album compared to the last one.

Having been lucky enough to listen to the new album I can tell fans it’s worth the wait, following the success of the last album did you feel pressured this time round?

Johannes: I never feel pressure from the outside, for the writing part there’s no concern on marked ability. The only people I need to market my ideas to is the band, we are our own demographic. we pressure ourselves to make something we like even more than last time. We’d rather fail recording and making something we love than having success with something that people are just into now.

The singles A Statue of the King and The King Wants You have both been released recently accompanied by conceptual music videos to much acclaim from fans, will we be getting another video?

Johannes: We get thrown in right in the middle of it, it’s a four-part multi tale, it’s a very rich story to be told and there will definitely be more to tell.

We look forward to seeing more for sure. Legend of The King stands out as a lengthy, complex structured and highly instrumental piece with an almost IRON MAIDEN level of technicality, how was this epic piece created?

Johannes: Doing something different is always liberating, we’ve been pretty good at not making the same song twice I think! Certain solutions sometimes prove to work, sometimes you’ve got to use different ideas or a perspective that you didn’t get to use, it can make arranging parts easier. Most of the writing work was done by our king for the original parts, we come up with some riffs and some ideas and when we record for a demo we try different variations, we usually have more material for a song than we need for it, need to reduce the sauce so to speak! But this time all these parts made sense with each other, so we used most if not all of them to create an epic. As different as it sounds I guess it’s just very similar to how we normally work in general, in general just follow the muse and feel inspired to do.

Thank you very much for your time Johannes and we hope to see you on stage very soon! Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?

Johannes: We just wanted you to know the king loves you, the king wants you and you can become a citizen of Avatar Country.

I’m sure you’ll have a waiting list of people to join! Thank you very much indeed Johannes and Good luck with the rest of the tour

Johannes: Thank You we hope to see you all in the UK soon!

Avatar Country is out now via Century Media Records.

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