Avatar – Hell Is Where the Heart Is
By: David E. Gehlke
Blistering.com: You mentioned the rock ‘n’ roll aspect of the band, and “In Napalm,” I think is a perfect example of that. The opening riff gets stuck in my head all the time.
Eckerström: With this album, every song has a very unique story. They have their own specific paths and with that song, it was one of the few ones, pretty much all the music was written as one piece before there were any lyrics and vocals to it. Usually, one of the guys shows up with a riff, and then we try something on it like a chorus and move it around. That song was formatted when we were younger. Jonas [Jarlsby], one of the guitarists wrote it very linear. Immediately, it sounded awesome. It was an intense, very fast riff, but filled with harmony, that had this rock ‘n’ roll western-type of feeling. That was nailed immediately, but then it took a while to figure out my job on the song. We took this long, long detour…we threw away some parts and put some back in, trying to figure out where the chorus should go. And we threw away, and started to work with it again and three months later, the song was exactly the same when we first wrote it. The detour was worth it, because that’s where I found the lyrics and vocals.
Blistering.com: At least in terms of your performance, I’ll point to the title track (“The Black Waltz”) as being perhaps your best on the album.
Eckerström: That song is fun because it’s been around for five years. Most of it is exactly as it seemed like it was in the beginning, but there was this little thing that makes sense. There’s always this little detail that makes everything fall into place. We tried it for our two albums, but then we got that last touch of “awesome” [laughs]. We were almost finished and had enough songs for real and to be able to go into record. But then, one thing lead to another and I was humming this melody to the guys like, “You remember that ‘Waltz’ song from way back when?” They were thinking the same: “We should try that ‘Waltz’ thing!” We were all thinking about this song, so we picked it up, and exchanged some chords and I re-wrote the lyrics and it was done [laughs]. It was magical. In a way, it’s pretty clear that this evident that this album is a huge change compared to where we were on the last album or the two before that. At the same time, we can take a five year-old song and it fits perfectly.
Blistering.com: Before talking to you today, I visited your website and the “Themes” portion of it. How do you go about choosing a topic to discuss?
Eckerström: Instead of having a normal news feed and having a blog here and there, we wanted to put it all into one. We would post news, but use this blog for news and try to connect it to all others like Facebook and other home pages. So we take the news, but if anyone has something cool to share, go crazy, do it. It was a spontaneous thing. Schindler’s List was on the TV and that totally got me thinking about the things I was thinking when writing the album. So I actually had something to talk about; a whole story to tell about the album concept-wise. We didn’t do a concept album, so it was my spontaneous way of explaining the lyrics without giving away too much.
Blistering.com: What’s the live situation looking like?
Eckerström: For the rest of the Spring, we’re working with a booking agency TKO, and Live Nation over here. We’re busting our asses to make things happen. There’s still nothing put in stone, except some cool festivals in Sweden. I won’t be a guy who gives away too much, but we’re negotiating and America is happening. There’s some deals hanging in the air that we’re working to get through. It’s not official, yet [laughs].
Blistering.com: I think you would appeal really well in America.
Eckerström: I’ve spent one week in Austin, Texas. I only know about American bands that Europeans like [laughs]. I guess we’ll see what happens. We have a cool booking agent and management, and we totally believe in what we’re doing. We’ve done so many interviews for this album, much more than any other Avatar release, even in American markets. The whole set-up is there, so hopefully there are some people in some offices who think they can make some money off of us [laughs]. It’s a good thing to me.
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