Edguy – Always the Joker(s)

Saturday, 30th March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

The old adage “There aren’t enough hours in the day” has to apply for Edguy’s Tobias Sammet. The man simply doesn’t quit. And probably doesn’t sleep. Between Edguy and his star-studded Avantasia project, Sammet has been cranking out albums on an annual basis with nary a dip in quality. Coupled with Avantasia’s recent burst in touring and the songwriting for Edguy’s newest Age of the Joker, you’d have to wonder how many 5-Hour Energy Drinks Sammet consumes on a daily basis. Probably a lot.

Continuing with the jovial, but all-out rocking feeling that has permeated the Edguy discography since 2006’s Rocket Ride, Age of the Joker is another frolic through Sammet and co.’s tongue-and-cheek wilderness. There’s the usual array of anthems (“Nobody’s Hero,” “Pandora’s Box,” “Fire on the Downline”) and silly, but infectious numbers (“Robin Hood,” “Two Out of Seven”) to satisfy those who like their metal light and fun.

Sammet was kind enough to phone Blistering on a Monday afternoon to wax on Age of the Joker, along with his demanding workload, why he’s allowed to call metal “rock and roll,” Conan the Barbarian, the Catholic Church, and much more. Here’s what the seriously funny German had to say… 

Blistering.com: With all of the work you have done recently with Avantasia, is it easy to get back into Edguy mode?

Tobias Sammet: When we were finishing the last two Avantasia albums [Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon] and I was leaving the studio after doing the final masters, I was really burnt out. After such an undertaking, such an adventure, I thought it was perfect. I still think it is, but when you when you think something is perfect and you can’t do it any better, you lose your motivation for going on. It’s always the same. After four weeks, six weeks, that feeling sets in again. That urge to create new music and all of the sudden, you’re over what you’ve done in the past and you’re no longer thinking about what you’ve done in the past.

Creating music is not only a profession for me, it’s something I need to do. After a couple of weeks, it was literally going back to the keyboard, starting from scratch and starting to compose. It doesn’t make a difference if I’m composing for Edguy or Avantasia…at first I just want to have a great melody, harmony, riff. Then I arrange it, and then I start to take it to the other guys, where individually, it starts to take shape over whether it’s Edguy or Avantasia.

Blistering.com: So because the last few Avantasia albums have been so successful, does that help you recharge your batteries for Edguy? Does Edguy become more important since you were away from it?

Sammet: [pauses] I’ve never thought about it [laughs]. Avantasia is what I consider, a studio project. Of course, it has become a touring entity in 2008 and in 2010. And we just did a headlining show in front of 110,000 people, 8:00, primetime slot at Wacken, so I can’t just call it a studio project. Originally, it was designed to be a one-off studio project. I never really considered it to be a serious competition to Edguy. And still, I don’t think it’s a constantly-operating project because I don’t even know if there will be another Avantasia album or tour. I don’t really think about it. What I can say, it was great to have that experience. I have great memories from [it]. It’s great to create that little playground for me [laughs]. All the things I can’t do with Edguy like working with Alice Cooper and the Scorpions and have all of these musicians on one album creating this big concept. It’s something I enjoy doing.

But it’s a great feeling to go back to Edguy and just do 11 tracks of rock ‘n’ roll, but I don’t want to say “rock ‘n’ roll” because heavy metal fans get upset when I say that even though they’re the same thing [laughs]. Okay, I’ll say it: I’m so much heavy metal, I don’t even care what the heavy metal people think. I am the ultimate outlaw [laughs]. I really enjoy going back and writing 11 songs that were in no way connected to each other, just really great rock ‘n’ roll songs, heavy metal songs that work on their own, along with the band-thing, the fantastic five-piece band thing. This is my day-to-day… I don’t want to call it “business,” because again, heavy metal fans don’t like that word.

Blistering.com: I know what you mean.

Sammet: It’s just something I do on a daily basis, while Avantasia is a little hobby in-between.

Blistering.com: You mentioned the five-piece “band thing,” so it must be nice to have the same lineup for this long, right?

Sammet: We have a very good atmosphere, although sometimes we hate each other [laughs]. Just like every family. We never have fist-fights. Nobody of us is used to being a hired-gun and nobody of us is used to lineup changes. Nobody has played in serious bands before, except for the bass player [Tobias “Eggi” Exxel].

Blistering.com: No one cares about bass players anyway.

Sammet: Nobody, really. I’m not even going to mention his name [laughs]. But no, seriously Eggi has been a band that was serious before, that even had a record deal. I got to know Jens [Ludwig] and Dirk [Sauer], our guitar players at the age of 10. We started playing together when we were 13 and founded the band when we were 14, so no one is used to lineup changes so that makes it a much more difficult to leave the band. But no one has other options or ways to make money [laughs]. Nobody is really talented. We were so lucky to be in this band and to be on the road with each other and we all know we couldn’t do this without each other. I think the mood of the band is really good and if you see an Edguy show, you can sense it.

Blistering.com: Well, you look like you’re having quite the good time in the “Robin Hood” video.

Sammet: Usually, I hate shooting videos. Everybody in the band hates shooting them. You have to wait 12 hours a day to just do your little spot and do the same thing over and over. This was a little different. The day before the shoot, we met to have our wardrobes fitted and realized that this is so much fun, that we’re in this surreal setting and we’re in this absolutely silly green tights and leggings. It was ridiculous right from the start. There was waiting, 24 hours worth of waiting and the horses were pissed-off, we were pissed-off, the director was pissed-off because it was raining [laughs]. It was really a difficult situation, but I think it was most definitely our best video shoot except for shooting the Avantasia video with Klaus Meine (Scorpions) because you can’t shoot with Klaus Meine everyday. In this case, we had a great time and you can tell. If you can imagine, five friends, running through the forest with a bow and an arrow, wearing really silly clothes. It was great fun. That’s a moment when you really know why you’re doing this.

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