Avatar - 05/02/2010

AVATAR is a melodic death metal band from Sweden, it was founded in 2001. Their first EP ‘4 Reasons to Die’ was released in 2004 and in 2006 they released their debut album ‘Thoughts of No Tomorrow’ at the young age of eighteen. Their second album ‘Schlacht’ was released in 2007 and their big break came in the same year that Avatar was picked by In Flames to support them on their sold-out Scandinavian tour.


Within a couple of weeks the band will release their third and self-titled album. They have developed a new, more mature and melodic sound on this album which was mixed by Tobias Lindell (Europe). Avatar recently toured Europe with Hardcore Superstar, more European tours are planned for the winter and spring of 2010.



It appears there is much to talk about, so we tracked down Johannes Eckerström (Vocals) to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com


A couple of years ago we talked about your previous album ‘Schlacht’, can you give us a little update of what’s been happening since that release?


Johannes: Well, with ‘Schlacht’ we did lots of shows in Sweden and Europe and we also went berserk in Texas supporting it. It has been all fun and games, giving shit loads of blood sweat and tears, as always. Late 2007 and the whole of 2008 was all in the name of ‘Schlacht’ and it was a hell of ride, in many perspectives. We ended up pretty exhausted. Those songs are damn hard to play, HAHA!


How did you launch into writing material for  your new album, ‘Avatar’ and how much time did you spend on composing the songs?


Johannes: We’re always writing with different levels of intensity, which means that there always are some songs to work with when it’s time. For this album we started just like that, but ended up throwing 99.9% of the things written after ‘Schlacht’ away. We made a clean start again on January 1st, extremely hung over. In order to evolve in an interesting direction we needed to totally redefine what Avatar stands for. We simply want to entertain, but we want to do so with fucking amazing music. This led to more focus being laid on the songs as a whole. This demanded more work than we have put into the band ever before, which means a lot coming from us. We didn’t sleep for days sometimes.


Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?


Johannes: Most of it is different, or at least redefined. This meant studying every single part of the song, making it optimal for where we wanted the whole album to go. We wanted to put a lot more rock’n’roll into the songs combined with more straightforward metal than we’ve been writing before. The melodies were first priority as always, but this time it was on a whole new level.


How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Avatar?


Johannes: It’s like bondage sex. It weird, painful and dark and the climax is amazing. One or two guys in the band will have a fragment of a song and they develop it. We all get involved adding our personal spices to it, we mess it up a thousand times and then voilá! The best song you’ve ever heard.



What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Avatar’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


Johannes: More rock’n’roll, more real grooves, more melodies in the vocals and more naked feelings. Music made for a live situation that would fit well with our newly bought light effects!


Why did you choose to name your new album ‘Avatar’, can we regard this as a new start?


Johannes:  Oh yeah, it’s definitely a new start. This music feels fresh and it motivates us as artists and showmen in a way we’ve never felt before.


Can you give us a little background information on the songs, is there a story behind them?


Johannes: There’s a separate story to each song spanning from tributes to Starcraft 2, Bonnie and Clyde and Booze to stuff from our own lives and heads. The main theme is alienation and retribution.


Where do you get your inspiration for writing lyrics and can you tell me more about them?


Johannes: As stated above, inspiration is all around. I pretty much use whatever interesting I see and filter it through my mindset at the time. I use angles in a story that I can relate to. It mostly turns out quite dark…


How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics apart from listening to your music?


Johannes: Everyone has their own way of enjoying their oreos, man! I appreciate the ones who do get into it, though. It’s a really cool thing when people tell me about how they relate to what I’ve written. But hey, if you just want to enjoy the music as music, it’s okay. It’s all good!


How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did with your previous albums? How much time did you spend in the studio?


Johannes: The writing and recording of this ‘Avatar’ held us hostages in the studio between January and July. I totally forgot what clouds looked like!


What do you think are the main differences between your debut album and your latest ‘Avatar’?


Johannes: That is a really tough question. Everything has changed and everything feels better. Even though there are a couple of tracks on ‘Thoughts’ that will stand the test of time, the arrangements and sounds on the new one makes it incomprehensible.



The new album was mixed by Tobias Lindell, what made him the perfect man for Avatar?


Johannes: We had heard good things from him and also about him. He has a great craft plus loads of inspiration in him and he went far beyond the call of duty on this one. He didn’t ask for permission when trying crazy things out. He just did it and showed it to us and we loved it!


In which elements on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?


Johannes: The large sound came from him. It’s as huge as the sound and it’s made to play loud! He also put in lots of cool samples and little synthesizer things we hadn’t thought of, e.g. the chain saw stuff and some of the organs and strings in the background.


Have you received any feedback on the album yet?


Johannes: People love it 99% of the time, honestly and the live sets have become even stronger than before thanks to this new material, so the crowds are pleased.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?


Johannes: This album couldn’t become better than it is. We gave it everything we had at the time. There’s nothing to regret. Changes come with new albums…


With a couple of albums and EP’s under your belt, how far has Avatar surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?


Johannes: The dream always grows and we are never finished but still we feel greatly rewarded every day we get up to go to the studio. The fun we have and the things we get to create together are our main driving force. Every day is Christmas in the world of Avatar.


What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?


Johannes: There are no low points, even if there might have been times when hard lessons had to be learnt. On the other hand, there have been a lot of highlights along the way. The shows with Megadeth, Stone Sour, In Flames, Obituary to name a few, the festivals and the simple joy of nailing a track are all great highlights in our careers and in our lives.


What makes Avatar different from the other metal bands out there?


Johannes: We simply work, play and dream harder than all the other new bands out there. We want it all to be great, the songs, the shows and the parties. We make it visual without being just another gimmick band and we work our asses off on the songs without forgetting the fun of it all.


What can we expect from Avatar in the near future, any live shows or festivals this summer?


It’s all being booked at the moment. I strongly recommend people to stayed tuned on what we’re up to on myspace.com/avataronline, avatar.net and twitter.com/avatarswe.


Is there anything that has been left unmentioned?


Johannes: Eugene is a kick ass name! One of my favorite pro wrestlers, hehehe…


Thanks for your time!

Eugene Straver


Thank you, dude! Cheers! / Johannes Eckerström





Johannes Eckerström - Vocals

John Alfredsson - Drums

Jonas Jarlsby - Guitar

Simon Andersson - Guitar

Henrik Sandelin - Bass guitar


Former members: 

Viktor Ekström

Christian Rimmi

Daniel Johansson

John Isacsson



(2004) 4 Reasons to Die (EP)

(2006) Thoughts of No Tomorrow  

(2007) Schlacht

(2010) Avatar