Avatar, no not the 2009 sci-fi film epic by James Cameron, the Scandanavian band fronted by Johannes Eckerstrom have been on somewhat of a creative spurt of late releasing three albums in the last four years. We sat down with the frontman at Download Festival to get the details on how to enter Avatar Country.
How’s your Download experience going so far?
It’s good, but we always feel we get short time slots at Download which isn’t great.
I interviewed you at Download 2016 when Feathers & Flesh had just been released and now here we are six months into Avatar Country, you seem to be in a bit of a creative flow at the moment?
Oh yeah, there has been a creative spurt. I never want to feel comfortable as an artist, there always has to be change. When Feathers & Flesh was done, we were all convinced the next one shouldn’t be a concept album. We felt though that now is the time to open up our borders and tell the truth about our king in Avatar Country. There was no other way of doing it, inspiration came knocking and it was super fast and intense. This album, we knew about the music before we wrote it. It wasn’t very experimental, it was a focus that was very clear and intense.
Do you think that the album has any real world overtones to it, especially how the world is politically divided at the moment?
Our king is real and Avatar country is real. Everyday politics happen in Avatar Country so it definitely is set in the real world.
You were talking about when inspiration strikes, on this record was it a one person inspiration or was it a band thing?
Well, it has to start with one person, but then the band get in on the discussion. It’s very much a band idea.
What inspires you as an artist to create the art you do?
Many people for many different reasons. The Avatar King for one. Right now though its Leonard Cohen or The Beatles. They are the ones who laid the groundwork for songwriting. In Metal, it would be Devin Townsend, he has really taken the divide between the audience and the artist to another level.
You talked about the character of the Avatar Country king, we have a Queen in the United Kingdom, do you think your King would be a good ruler of our land?
I think that the King of Avatar Country is a great king and we accept dual citizenship. Talking politics again in Avatar Country, he is the only leader in the world who has 100% approval rating. An election is a waste of time! Everyone loves him!
All of the songs on Avatar Country have King in the title, that’s pretty unique!
Yeah, when you have a King like us, we worship him and hang on his every word.
What’s your favourite concept album?
Mine would be Pink Floyd’s The Wall, more recently it’s Steven Wilson’s Hand Cannot Erase. I love that album, sometimes it’s good to pick something recent as well, something not from the 70s and 80s.
Final question, have you ever thought about putting together a show with an orchestra?
Oh yeah that would be great to expand our sound, I feel our music would be great in that type of arena.
Avatar’s latest record Avatar Country is out now. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and their official website. Avatar will be on tour in the UK with Halestorm in September, limited tickets are available here.