Interview with Marcus Jidell of Avatarium
Metal-Rules.com: Hello, Marcus, how are you? You don’t know me, but I know you and it’s actually a pleasure to talk to you right now. So, where are you checking in from today?
Hello!!!! I’m fine. Actually sitting my own studio, where ‘Avatarium’ album was recorded, writing some new staff for my next solo record. It’s a small studio recording everything but drums, but we are ok! I think I found something nice ideas for that!
Metal-Rules.com: First of all, congrats for your first solo album ‘Pictures From a Time Traveller’. Could you tell us some words about that? How did you write it? At once or gradually through your active years?
Thank you very much; I am very happy for the album being out. I finished it a year ago. It has been released in August 2013. There are songs and riffs that I have been working for many years. Hopefully I can do another instrumental album in the near future that will not take another eight years!!! Hehe!!!
Metal-Rules.com: The title of the album as well as the song titles cast some doubt on the source of inspiration of the content. Can you tell us more about their origins?
Every song has its own story and images that have inspired the compositions. The songs are stories from different places I was been and the emotions I have had in those places. There are a lot of them on the songs. The music is also very emotional and dramatic. Set your imagination free and you will see a lot of different images inside your head throughout the listening to the album. Every song is the audio transformation of the images. When I was writing the songs I have had a story in my mind and I would say that the songs are transformed stories and pictures.
Metal-Rules.com: is there any particular concept story or?
No, there is not such a concept story. Every song has its own little story, but not a concept at all.
Metal-Rules.com: I have been informed that you left Evergrey recently. Can you explain the reasons or your purposes after the leaving?
Actually, it’s hard to explain in a good way. We have different opinions about the future of the band and the way to work on. We had fun on writing down ‘Glorious Collision’ album. There were different musical directions that I would like to follow. Evergrey are a great band and talented musicians but maybe for me was time for something else.
Metal-Rules.com: Now, let me focus on Avatarium as a band. FIRST AND FOREMOST; is ‘Avatarium’ a side project or a full-time band?
It is absolutely a full-time band; we always try to play and tour as much as possible. It’s a new band and we will do our best for it. That’s so it is.
Metal-Rules.com: The debut album was unexpectedly incredible like a shot in the arm. What are the main influences on your debut album?
There are a lot of influences on it, you know, 70’s hard rock music like Rainbow, Black Sabbath of course, Blue Oyster Cult.
Metal-Rules.com: Were there any riffs that originally intended for a Candlemass album but eventually these riffs are ‘stolen’ by the Avatarium album?
Leif is the main songwriter and that’s his style, his own way to compose. So, the music can be similar to Candlemass’ music. Personally speaking as band’s guitarist and producer, I am a big fan of Candlemass, so it was easier for all of us to write a doom album close to Candlemass style, but ‘Avatarium’ album is something different, it’s a metal album with 70’s music infused, without being a retro band. We wanted to release something much bluesier and darker than a simple doom album.
Metal-Rules.com: In the album, there is a bluesy atmosphere from start to finish. Who is responsible for this?
Hehe, you are right! Especially me and Jennie-Ann. I am a big fan of blues and oriented music. And Leif really liked those bluesy ideas on the songs. There is a lot of interest in 60’s and 70’s music but we wanted to keep the dark ambient atmosphere that Black Sabbath and Candlemass albums have.
Metal Rules.com: Can you give us some details and the story behind the creation of Avatarium as a band? How did you meet each other? I know that you filled in for Lars Johansson for a Candlemass live in 70000 Tons of Metal Fest.
It was a honor for me to meet Leif and Carl (w.n.: he played keyboards for Candlemass). Bothe guys and I are friends and enjoy each other’s company, so we get along good enough each other. hehe!!! Jennie-Ann is my wife, thereupon it was not a problem to convince her to join us!!!
Metal-Rules.com: What does the ‘Avatarium’ name mean exactly?
Avatar is a kinda place where god or a deliberate descent of a deity comes down on earth in a human shape. It’s a place for worship the gods. That’s all I know, hehehe!!!
Metal-Rules.com: What are the plans for ‘Avatarium’ in the future?
We are gonna touring in spring, we are confirmed to play in Sweden Rock, Roadburn Festival and of course we will play in some small clubs. We will try to play as much as possible to promote the new album, Jennie-Ann wants is so excited for this tour and want to go out there to play live!!!!
Metal-Rules.com: How did you get into playing music?
I’ve always been interested in music. My parents said that I started singing before talking when I was a baby! Hehe, my family introduced me to hard rock and metal music, especially my brother gave me the first albums of Iron Maiden, Saxon and that kind of staff. I started playing chello when I was a young kid. I really fell in love with the sound of the electric guitar, even though I did not know what it was but I really enjoyed it.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you do when you are not playing with the band?
When I am not playing with the band, then I get some studio work, practicing on the guitar and a lot of work on my solo and instrumental songs and always try to earn my living as a musician!!!
Metal-Rules.com: Do you know any Greek metal acts? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage with?
I don’t remember any particular band, the only Greek thing I can remember right now is a folk song, ‘Zorbas’ which I really like. Besides, I know there are great Greek musicians, but I don’t know much about.
Metal-Rules.com: Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Suicidal Angels, Firewind, Nightrage, the last two bands are partly based in Sweden and Gus G. (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind) is Greek-Swedish guy. Or Helena Paparizou?
Hehe I think the last name is not into metal? I know her from the Eurovision Contest. Of course I know Rotting Christ and Firewind, they are great bands.
Metal-Rules.com: As Black Sabbath is my favorite band, I would like to ask you about the cover in ‘War Pigs’ in the EP. You decide to pay your respects to Black Sabbath, but at the same time, you go “This is our sound, that’s who we are”. Was there a bit of fear of how people will compare it to the original and to your cover?
We did cover that songs as all of us are Black Sabbath fans and really like that songs. Yeah, you have to make it your own. How you do it doesn’t matter, but you have to do it for yourself. We jammed all together and as far as this version, it just happened. Rick Rubin’s work on Johnny Cash albums was what inspired and affected the sound of our “War pigs”. You have to put your heart and soul into it, and not just do a random, run of the mill cover version. We tried to stamp our own version, a total re-make of the song without giving away its majesty. Surely, we wanted to do something special for the EP, so we did that song. As Jennie-Ann is a new name and voice for most metal people I had this idea of doing an acoustic recording with a very ‘tight’ feeling without reverb or anything sound effect on it. It was a big challenge absolutely, but I think we managed to do our own version of it I hope people will like it.
Metal-Rules.com: Can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, did anything in particular inspire you?
Leif is the one who wrote the lyrics, so I cannot say much about it. Of course he tried to bring out feelings, the lyrics are poetic. Marcus, Leif or Jennie-Ann can have a different approach on the lyrics but for me there is a poetic atmosphere on them.
Metal-Rules.com: When I was listened to ‘Boneflower’ for a first time, I got really scared because I imagined myself into the creepy and ghoulish skull forest where the shadows hang!
Hehehehe!!! You are right. I love lyrics of Boneflower. While there is the creepy thing in it, there is the poetic and atmospheric in the same time. That’s what we really wanted to do.
Metal-Rules.com: We are in the beginning of 2014, and a few big metal personas have already passed away: Ronnie James Dio, Peter Steele, Paul Grey, and Jeff Hanneman, to name a few. Are the past couple of years the most depressing years of heavy metal?
Of course it is sad. But it is the way of live, shits happens! People getting older and it’s rational to die some day. A big loss is Ronnie James Dio as it was an idol for me and one of my top singers.
Metal-Rules.com: Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?
I like romantic thing, but you cannot really move without technology, can you? But if you want to make an album with a very organic sound, and no fixing and tricks with computers, just a great emotional album, set yourself free and use only the voices and the instruments. I don’t like music sounding like a machine. I am more into music than techniques, so I prefer the emotions than the buttons! But there are technological tricks like Skype that we use right now to talk which is a blessing!
Metal-Rules.com: You are absolutely right. Now, there is a question about metal as genre and its process through the years. Heavy metal changes throughout the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated in 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s, and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s. We are in the middle of the new decade. What do you see for the future?
Hm, I think there is a comeback of the early days of heavy metal, where people really like playing their instruments and did not spending their time in studio on tricking and fixing the donsie parts of the songs via computer. I think music is getting more organic and emotional than the music produced in the first years of the 00’s.
Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick some musicians to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
Ronnie James Dio because he was being he greatest singer has ever been around. Johnny Cash or Johann Sebastian Bach (w.n.: the German composer, not the ex-vocalist of Skid Row) because I love classical music. I would like to see the way the play and write songs. If I had to choose a bass player, I’d say Geezer Butler. Now, we have to hire a drummer! (hehehe), I would choose Ian Paice (Deep Purple).
Metal-Rules.com: Fantastic! You are the only musician I interviewed, that he picks up a musician outside metal! Thank you for this interview. It was a pleasure to talk to you even I couldn’t see you!!! I wish to you as a solo artist and your new band ‘Avatarium’ all the best!!! I will let you know when the interview will be up and available.
I thank you, I really enjoyed it! It was my pleasure; hopefully we may play live in Greece, so maybe see you there!