Interview with Avatar’s Johannes Eckerstrom

Johannes Eckerstrom is the lead singer for the Swedish metal band Avatar. The band has a new album coming out on February 14th via E One Music titled “Black Waltz”. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Johannes recently about the band and their upcoming release.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some band ground on the band?
Johannes Eckerstrom: We formed about 10 years ago when we were all still in our teen years. Essentially the lineup has remained the same since that time. We have released 3 albums in Europe and we are just about ready to embark on the U.S. market for the first time. Our sound is extreme metal but with our own added twist.

AL: What are some of the bands influences?
JE: We started off finding a common ground amongst all of us. At that time it was clearly death metal and melodic death metal. From there we took things further and were very extreme and technical. By the time we reached the point where we had to make the decision go further we knew we would have to become something very cool and introverted. When we were writing our third album we realized that we had forgotten what we all loved and originally agreed upon. We found new common grounds and starting including things with a groove and a beat. We referenced a lot of our old school heroes. The music is still extreme metal but with a mixture of rock and roll. It was cool to reference our past. For me Ozzy Osbourne was a big influence when I was younger. He was always a huge idol of mine. By our fourth album we had learned a lot about groove and hooks. Today we are being describes by some as a mixture of death metal, industrial metal and rock and roll. I figure why not go with that because those are our core influences

AL: What can you tell us about the upcoming album “Black Waltz”?
JE: I have never felt the need to lie and I can honestly say that I think this album is our best yet. For me the album is really new and cool. We have this mixture of styles where no one specific style takes the upper hand. We let the songs become what they needed to be. When we were feeling a groove or certain part during the recording process we just let it go. Sometime later we are Pink Floyd! (Laughs). We have tracks that are straight forward rockers. We have tracks that will make you want to hurt people. Then we have the tracks that give you an idea of what mushrooms are like. (Laughs)

AL: What has been the hardest part for the band breaking into new markets like the U.S.?
JE: It’s still super early. The album doesn’t come out till Feb 14th and the single just came out. We have done some interviews so far but it all is super exciting. We are starting fresh as we are the new boys in town. We have been around another town for 6 years where we learned all the tricks. Right now we are in an awesome position. We have a cool label and booking agent along with great management. We are looking forward to coming over and playing in the states very soon.

AL: What are the bands tour plans?
JE: We are doing everything at once right now. We have a cool set up of people but at the same time we have a punk band style to us in that we keep control of everything. We are doing everything we can to launch the new album on our own. Nothing is definite at this time as we are picky. We want to come there with the right bands and at the right time.

AL: What else does the band have going on right now?
JE: We have a video out for the song “Black Waltz” that is really awesome! We worked with an American side show group called Hellzapoppin. That group also helped us with some photo shoot stuff. There are guys driving spikes into their noses and pushing beans out their eyes. There are a lot of interesting things going on and it is all real. The video will also give people some indication of what they can expect visually when they see us perform live. At this point we are currently working on an equally awesome video for another song of the “Black Waltz” album. We start shooting that in a couple peoples but I am going to hold on to what that will look like.