"Hurricanes And Halos" Out TODAY!
Their guitar player Marcus Jidell talks wit us about new album.
Interview by Margherita Realmonte (Meg)
Hi guys, I'm really pleased to welcome you to Les Fleurs Du Mal Webzine.
LFdM: Let's start with a short introduction of each one of you. How would you describe your band to those who still don't know it?
Marcus Jidell: The short version is: We play a mix of 70’s Black Sabbath and Crosby Stills and Nash with a modern organic and heavy sound.
LFdM: Avatarium is a very original name. Why did you chose this monicker?
Marcus Jidell: Leif Edling came up with it. An avatar is like a half god. Like a god in the shape of a human. To us, Avatarium is a place for half gods where you can glorify humans or beings. A room for worship, we all have different things that are important to us in life. A room for serenity. We were thinking of something like that - a place to contemplate different things in life.
LFdM: How would you describe your upcoming album? The title is very evocative, I dig it a lot! Is there a particular reason you decided to call it like this?
Are these hurricanes a metaphor related to all the scary stuff happening in the world recently?
Marcus Jidell: Our new album has a lot more energy and also faster songs than we usually play. We love the slow and heavy stuff, but always felt that something was missing in the live set. Now we can make a great mix of songs and different moods in our concerts. Avatarium’s music is about light and shadow and about exploring both the dark and bright sides of the human mind. We are not about politics, but more about emotions and how humans interact with each other. To me, the name “Hurricanes and Halos” reflects how people can do evil things, but still, in their minds, think of themselves as good persons. It’s really scary how people can get that manipulated by religion and politicians. But it can also just reflect our inner minds that can be so diverse in different situations and with different people.
LFdM: I watched the lyrics video of Into The Fire/Into The Storm and there are scenes of todays TV news, there are politicians, policemen, social turmolis... Are there some references to this topic in Hurricanes and Halos? Using those images was a specific choice?
Marcus Jidell: It’s just our reaction to what we see. I just don’t want people to get used to these extreme situations we have today. In Sweden, we have a right wing party that a few years ago was an open Nazi act and now they are Swedens second biggest party. We should never see that as normal - if we do, then we are really fucked! It’s the same thing with a guy like Trump actually...
LFdM: On your facebook page I had the chance to see the cover artwork of the new album. It's very beautiful and somehow very impressive too, why did you chose that image? What's the meaning behind it?
Marcus Jidell: It’s Erik Rovanpera who did it. He is an great Swedish artist and we are very happy about the cover.
I think that the colours really suit the music and it’s influenced by the song “Medusa Child”.
LFdM: Which are the main differences or similarities between this new album and your previous works?
Marcus Jidell: Avatarium is a band that is constantly on the move, musical wise. We don’t like to do the same things over and over again. To learn and develop music is to grow as a person, so everything goes hand in hand.
Rickard Nilsson and Mats Rydström, our organ and bass player, also really contributed to the sound on this album. They are both amazing musicians and I’m very proud of having them in the band.
I guess we’re continuing the path we started with the first album, we’re playing dark, heavy and poetic music - but this album also has a little light shining through the clouds.
LFdM: Is there a song, or more than one, of the new album you feel for some reasons closer to? If so, would you like to tell us why?
Marcus Jidell: I actually love all the songs on the new album and I'm very proud of what we accomplished.
But with a gun to my head I guess I'll chose "Starless Sleep" because that song has so much 60's vibe in it but still sounds like nothing I ever heard before. I think that song really have all the ingredients that makes a great Avatarium song. It's dark and poetic but with a warm, organic and heavy sound. Avatarium never sounded better.
LFdM: Which songs of the new album do you think would work better live? What is your ideal setlist?
Marcus Jidell: Come to the show and you’ll see! (laughs)
LFdM: How does the songwriting process work in your band? First the music, then the lyrics...
Marcus Jidell: It depends on who you ask. For me, it always starts with riffs and vocal melodies. I usually have some words in my head that I like, but they don’t stay that often, I guess, since I don’t write the lyrics. Sometimes I have a lyrical theme though, that I want to use. For example when me and Jennie-Ann Smith wrote “when breath turns to air” – it’S a song about loss and how you can visualise the afterlife of your loved ones.
I’m not as used to writing songs like Leif Edling is – he s one of Sweden’s absolute greatest songwriters, but I learned a lot from working with him and I’m very inspired by his creative thoughts.
LFdM: How would you describe your sound?
Marcus Jidell: Big, heavy, organic and warm with a lot of dynamics. You get metal and hard rock mixed with jazz and blues. We also are very influenced by folk rock and folk music. I guess you can hear a lot of Swedish folk music in our songs actually.
LFdM: Who were your music heroes when you were kids?
Marcus Jidell: My parents only liked classical music, jazz and our Swedish troubadour/storyteller Evert Taube, so I guess that's the music I heard in the beginning of my life. At the age of 6 or 7, I remember hearing Iron Maiden and Saxon for the first time and I guess that changed my life. Even though I didn't understand what it was, I immediately fell in love with the sound of the electric guitar. Same thing happened a few years later, when I heard Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Dio and a bunch of other stuff. And then, it happened once more while I was digging deeper in the blues in my late teens. When I look back now it's kind of natural that I like big bombastic music, because of me listening to classical music and opera as a kid. Also from jazz I got the love for emotional, groovy and organic sounds. And last but not least Evert Taube maybe gave me the feel for acoustic and folky music.
LFdM: Is there a band or a musician you would love to work with, both live or in the studio?
Marcus Jidell: Many good musicians and bands around that I would like to produce, but of course it takes a lot of time.
So the timing must be right.
LFdM. Is there some deceased musician you would have loved to work or share the stage with?
Marcus Jidell: David Bowie, BB King and a bunch of others.
LFdM: How do you spend your spare time when you are not recording or touring?
Marcus Jidell: Spare time? I don’t have much of that but sometimes I actually sleep for a day or two because I’m totally worn out.
LFdM: Did you plan an extensive world tour? Do you think you'll manage to get a date in Italy? What kind of live act should we expect?
Marcus Jidell: At this moment, we are planning a tour and hopefully Italy will be included.
I think that Avatarium is a band to experience live, since we put so much effort in our performance and many times the songs grow and actually get even better than on the albums. You can expect a band that loves to play live and we are the real deal. No backing tracks or click tracks.
LFdM: What is your opinion about social networks? Do you find them useful for your career
Marcus Jidell: I think it goes both ways as with most things. We are more into playing and writing music then to socialise on internet but sometimes it’s nice to get a little contact with your fans. The best way of meeting your fans is - of course - in person when we tour!
LFdM: What kind of advice would you give to young musicians trying to reach a record deal?
Marcus Jidell: Follow your heart and gut feeling. Don’t do music you think people will like, make music you like.
Thanks a lot guys for your time and kindness, it's been a pleasure for me! I hope to see you performing live here very soon, meanwhile, can't wait to listen to your upcoming album!