Marcus Jidell sheds the mask on Avatrium’s sophomore album ‘The Gird with the Raven Mask’
QUOTH THE RAVEN…
From the very start Avatarium took off like a rocket with a lot of tours and a very well received debut. Was it clear for you from the start that it would be more than a one off project?
When we started to work on the Avatarium album I think we all felt that we had something special going on. To find a band where everything just works musically from the start is very rare I would say. The first rehearsal was filled with great vibes as well as the album recording and the first show. I have been playing in a few bands by now and I never experienced such a strong unit as Avatarium . We also had the great opportunity to work with a serious record label and a booking agency that helped us reach out to people with our music. When you find a band with this great potential you have to get out on the road and play your music. Also it is the best way to make a band tight and get better musically and artistically. For us it’s very important to never stand still, but to keep on getting better at everything we do, so that’s why live shows are very important, At the end of the day there’s nothing better in the world than to play a show with a energetic audience and to feel the power of a real rock band.
Although I wouldn’t call you a complete vintage band like Kadavar of Graveyard, you do have a lot of that vibe going on. The interest in retro rock has never been so great, where do you think this comes from?
I think people are starting to get bored by the computerized music actually. There has been a long period of music without heart and soul I must say. Just go to a live show today and there is a really big chance that at least half of what you hear is on tape. That is totally wrong in my book. That’s not live, that's freaking karaoke. Music to me is one of the most human things one can do, doesn’t matter if it’s classical music, hardcore metal, blues, jazz or whatever, you know. If you fix all your performances in a computer you lose the human touch and that is why a lot of the music you hear today sounds exactly the same.
Avatarium are very influenced by the great bands from the 60’s and the 70’s. Bands like Cream, Beatles, Crosby Stills and Nash, Mountain, Led Zeppelin,, Black Sabbath and a bunch more. We try to catch the vibe these great bands had but we also try to find our own way to write and perform our songs. I see us not as a retro band but a modern band influenced by old school music, if that makes any sense to you.
How does it work out to have your wife in the band and on tour? I can imagine it can be fun on the one hand, but you also risk taking the troubles from work home with you.
It is very important to separate the band things and the personal matters and I think we are quite good at this actually. But of course it takes a lot of effort and interest to make it work.
Like everything else in life it’s a learning process that keeps on changing all the time and you need to be open minded and responsive. Jennie-Ann and I actually met through music so the situation is not completely new for us. Being on the road sometimes is quite stressful so we need to be aware of this and do the best we can. I guess we’ll see after the November tour how things turned out but I’m really looking forward to tour, that's for sure!
Like on the ‘All I Want’ EP you’ve worked together again with percussionist Michael Blair. What do you feel does he bring extra to the songs?
Michael Blair is really an extremely talented musician plus he really has his own unique way of understanding music. He’s the kind of guy who just comes in and makes the song 5% better, you know. To work with a musician with his knowledge and background is always a trip. Every time I meet him I learn new stuff and that’s maybe what it’s about with encounters: to help each other to open our minds and find new ways of understanding. Both in in music as in life in general.
Also Michael has a magic bag with a lot of strange stuff that he hits and manages to make music out of. He is extremely sensitive and knows exactly where to put in his sounds and rhythms just by intuition, which is really what true musicianship is all about in my book.
What did you try to do differently for this album?
We really wanted to capture the sound we have when we play live and since I’m the only guitar player there’s way much more distorted organ live so we used that in the studio as well. Carl brought in his big leslie and turned the volume on loud. Hehe.
It also doesn’t hurt that we also get a little closer to the Deep Purple and Uriah Heep sound here. As the producer of the album my main goal was to bring out everybody’s personal touch in the songs and I really think that you can hear each member in the band shine here.
We recorded the basic foundations live to get the rough live feel and I didn’t let our studio engineer move or repair anything. I think people were a little frustrated in the start of the rehearsals and recordings but now it seems like everybody are very happy with the result. When we were done with the recordings I told David Castillo who mixed the album that he had free hands to put his mark on the mix as long as he kept the feel. It was all very well prepared and recorded so he just had to polish it and give the songs the final touch and he really did an amazing work with the mix I must say.
Instead of a painted cover you’ve opted for a photograph with Jennie- Ann and a raven mask, which quite literally puts her forward as the face of the band?
When we did the photo shootings with the very talented Linda Åkerberg we started to play around with portrait pictures and Linda took this great photo of Jennie-Ann and the Raven. We really liked the Hitchcook style and among many different album cover suggestions this was the one that finally everybody could agree to use. It’s a million dollar pic and that’s why we used it.
You’ve done quite a lot of touring already. Will you take a break now that the new album is released or will you go straight back on the road?
We will tour in November and until then we’re working with promotion, doing interviews and also rehearsing the new songs for the tour.
I’m also right now on tour in Europe with Soen and actually doing this interview in the tourbus.
See you in November!! The tour will be awesome, we are super stoked about playing our new material and we have two great bands opening for us: The Vintage Caravan and Honeymoon Disease. It will sure be a night to remember!