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Avatar: “We intend to leave the strongest impression anyone ever has”

It’s taken many years, albums and even petitions to draw Avatar to our far flung Australian stages, yet even still we’re not ready for the impact the Swedish metalers are planning to make upon their arrival.

That’s not to say that Australian fans of the band aren’t still spoiled. Since their 2006 debut album Thoughts Of No Tomorrow, Avatar have gone on to sustain a hyperactive release schedule amounting to their most recent epic, Dance Devil Dance. Yet their live performance has merely been the stuff of legend. To add to the tease, many of our other favourite bands touted their wares, from Iron Maiden, to Vinnie Paul, not to mention Trivium’s Matt K Heafy all among those doing the utmost to let their fans know Avatar rock live.

In a matter of weeks Australian fans will finally get to see what all the fuss is about with a brief, but effective east coast run in August. As BLUNT would learn speaking with vocalist Johannes Eckstrom, the band are more than ready to impress.

There’s so much lore behind Avatar, whether it’s the music or the live incantation. When you give so much to your creative output, I’d love to know how you re-fill your cup, so to speak.

Johannes Eckstrom: When your work is your life; your art, is your life, you’re wired to, not necessarily wired to always work, but always wired to that job.

I like to study Judas Priest concert footage. I mean, look at Rob Halford. You cannot teach charisma, but I try to steal things. Then it’s whatever podcast I listen to or conversations; any form of communication might revolutionise what I say on stage. What kind of people you meet, what they say, what you’re not talking about. I don’t know. It becomes an extremely wide and general answer because it’s just so much I can fit into it.

I like to work out in my free time. It’s my job to be able to push my body to move while singing the songs and trying not to sound terrible. So everything is interconnected, because if it’s not about the live shows, it’s about writing. Being able to move forward with what you create is to have room in your life for things that are exactly not that.

Well, that was what I was getting at. I imagine to be able to refill from the high octane live show that you do, you really do need to at the other end of that tap into podcasts and the relaxed walks at the local park.

Johannes: It’s exactly that. Sometimes when going on the longer treks with the dog, for instance. You don’t need to talk to a dog, meaning that you have those silent retreats out there. And the amount of music that comes to your brain if you just let go.

Only yesterday I did exactly that, going for a longer hike and not listening to somebody else’s voice, whether it’s being music or talking or whatever, or not having anyone else with you but the dog. And as such, suddenly that blank space needs to be filled with something for whatever reason. And now I have myself mumbling a new riff with a drum beat on my phone. It’s these observations we don’t look for.

It’s just important to let random life hit you with impressions. There is something about letting go and letting things come to you so you have something to work out.

Your constant tourers, but this will be your first trip to Australia. Now I understand we’re speaking in terms of ‘work’ but does this tour feel like more than a business trip?

Johannes: It’s never a work trip wherever we go. Now that being said, it’s incredibly special when you get to go somewhere for the first time. The first time is the hardest; We need to make some kind of statement so people show up, so that next time becomes easier. But it’s also about everybody who goes through the trouble to have us come over, to make them think that was worthwhile. So there’s a lot at stake in terms of what impression we leave, and we intend to leave the strongest impression anyone ever has.

There’s a lot to prove on stage what makes those shows feel particularly special. But then it’s just, for me as an earthling, to go somewhere for the first time … If I don’t see a kangaroo, I’m pissed.

The magic is that then everything is different. Then you walk into the gas station like “Huh, That’s not our Snickers. Cool.” And just how the pavement looks, whatever is mixed in with the cement. Like that realisation how much more beige Southern US is and how red Northern US is and how made out of wood North Scandinavia is.

All those little things become huge the first time you’re around, getting those first impressions. You only get to do it once.

Avatar Australian tour dates

Tickets on sale now.

Friday, August 25
170 Russell, Melbourne
Tickets: The Phoenix

Saturday, August 26
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: The Phoenix

Sunday, August 27
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: The Phoenix