EDGUY - “Now Hear This!”

February 21, 2009, 11 years ago

By Carl Begai

edguy feature

The cartoon that was Edguy is now Hi-Def quality metal programming.

It’s all a matter of perception and taste, mind you, but between mastermind Tobias Sammet releasing his third star-studded Avantasia album (The Scarecrow) in 2008 and the new Edguy platter, Tinnitus Sanctus, the scores of power/speed metal fans that have dismissed the band for years as a cosmic joke are finding it harder to slag them. The Scarecrow commanded a certain amount of respect right out of the box in light of artists such as Roy Khan (Kamelot), Rudolph Schenker (Scorpions), Jorn Lande (ex-Masterplan), Eric Singer (KISS), and Alice Cooper lending their talents to the album. Tinnitus Sanctus, with the exception of an intentionally ludicrous bonus track ‘Arent’t You A Little Pervert Too?’ tacked onto the end for a laugh, is toned down and much heavier than its Loony Tunes 2006 predecessor, Rocket Ride. Depending on who you talk to this isn’t necessarily a good thing, and between the two albums you have to wonder if Sammet’s seemingly more serious approach on the new music was a reaction to the Rocket Ride fallout by the media folks that figured he’d carried the joke too far. Sammet dismisses the notion as nonsense.

“No, it’s not a reaction at all because we’d be sissies if we gave in to someone bashing us. Everybody who knows me knows that if somebody bashes me I’ll amplify and overdo whatever it is they hated the next time out (laughs). I’ll do that until that other person fucks off.”

Complaints that have surfaced regarding Tinnitus Sanctus have nothing to do with the band’s choice of artwork or potentially idiotic lyrical / video imagery. It seems the album’s lack of trademark high speed acrobatics have rubbed some fans the wrong way. It’s refreshing to hear Sammet admit the move into a more mid-tempo groove was intentional rather than copping the industry’s typical “natural evolution” bull.

“I can’t speak for everybody in the band, but I got sick of that ‘high velocity at any price’ approach. If you really have to say something at that speed, like in ‘Speedhoven’ for example, then it’s fine because it’s supposed to be fast, but I really don’t want people telling me what to do. I’m not going to record a fast song just for the sake of recording a fast song. That doesn’t make sense, and to me the mid-paced songs give you many more opportunities to put energy, melody and atmosphere into them. The music breathes so much more, and that makes it much easier to give the song a heart and soul. There are so many power metal bands playing fast songs and one song sounds like the other, and quite often I get the impression that those songs are being created from a blueprint.”

The end result is a much more aggressive Edguy that (finally) makes Sammet’s claim he and his bandmates have no designs on being the next Helloween or Gamma Ray believable. It’s also strong enough to purge Rocket Ride from memory.

“It’s very good you say the album is more aggressive because that’s my point of view as well. It’s not that kind of aggression that you have in mind when you listen to those black metal albums with their triggered computerized drums that people mistakenly call ‘heavy’. In my opinion that’s not heavy at all. The new Edguy album is very rough, edgy, and in-your-face, and that’s something I’m really proud of because it’s not a predictable album. It’s darker and deeper. We’ve never denied that we have fun doing what we do, and it’s pretty funny to break the rules and have some tongue-in-cheek elements in your heavy metal. The big difference between this album and the Rocket Ride album, which I really enjoyed, is that Rocket Ride was so obviously goofy. It was too obvious.”

It’s fair to assume the creative process for Avantasia influenced Sammet’s writing for Tinnitus Sanctus as part of the whole “natural evolution” routine given the album was written in part during The Scarecrow recording sessions. He admits it’s possible.

“The Avantasia stuff was completed – just the songwriting and composing – towards the end of 2006. It was recorded in 2007, but during that period I wasn’t spending 24 hours a day in the studio. There was a lot of free time in between, and whenever I have an idea I try to capture and record it and put it on the shelf, so that when it comes time to really work on a new album I’m really focused on those ideas and I can play around with them. That happened in January / February this year. We started working on the new album and went through the ideas I had, and I dove into the process of arranging the songs. You never know what to expect during the creative process, you never know how long it’s going to take to come up with something you can use or until you have 10 songs completed. But, there was no deadline. The only thing we knew for sure was that there would be a new Edguy album. There was no pressure because if there hadn’t been enough good songs we could have delayed the album and released it in spring 2009. We only confirmed the deadline when we knew we had enough great material.”

Moving from working on Avantasia with a large number of artists back to the Edguy family of five, was it hard going from calling the shots back to hearing from four other people before any decisions could be made?

“It wasn’t easier and it wasn’t more difficult,” Sammet states. “I was just working with different people. With Avantasia, and especially with The Scarecrow album, working with Sascha (Paeth/producer) was a case of me coming up with ideas that clicked with his. He would work from where I might drop a song idea, and that was different for me. I think Sascha is more experienced than any of us in Edguy, but it wasn’t any more difficult with Edguy. I had ideas and I had to adjust myself to the new old situation, because with Sascha I think we could produce an album every two weeks (laughs). Once that was done it was very easy and very smooth to put the new Edguy album together.”

Edguy is Sammet’s focus for the forseeable future, but regardless of how well Tinnitus Sanctus does there will always be a demand for another Avantasia album. The sooner the better judging by the success of The Scarecrow and the world tour that followed.

“I think there are a lot of people that don’t know about my work with Edguy and Avantasia,” Sammet says of The Scarecrow’s success, “and those are the ones that got interested in Avantasia because of Alice Cooper and Rudolph Schenker and some of the others. That definitely helped, so when we were travelling I was signing a lot of CDs that had been signed by Schenker or Cooper before me (laughs). The album was bigger than I ever expected it to be, and I’m really happy about that.”
“I was surprised by how well the album actually did,” he admits. “I don’t have any sales figures, but the record company was really surprised by how well received it was. The music market is like the stock market these days; you never know what to expect. Markets are crashing here and there, and the music industry is in a very weird, shocking state right now. We don’t know if there’s even going to be a music market in five years. I believe people will always be interested in music, that’s for sure, but you can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

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