5 Questions With Johannes Eckerstrom of Avatar: New Album ‘Feathers & Flesh’ + ShipRocked
Avatar began this year as part of ShipRocked 2016 because fans voted them as a must see band on the boat and now they’re going back on the high seas to do it again next year. Before that, Avatar have a long road of touring ahead and we had the chance to catch up with frontman Johannes Eckerström to talk all about the new album Feathers & Flesh, as well as his ShipRocked experience and more. Check out our interview with Johannes Eckerström of Avatar below:
You guys will be back on ShipRocked in 2017. What did you like about it the first time and what made you decide to come back for another year?
What I liked most obviously were the shows especially the second one for some reason. Some shows, it’s not tied to the size of people – some shows you just push yourself into a certain state of mind. Every show should be special and they all are in there own way but sometimes they are even more special and the second one was like that and I carry that with me. In all honesty being on a ship like that can be pretty rough as an artist. We were not the biggest names there so we could walk three meters without being stopped but all in all,, everyone is just excited to be there. It was interesting to step my foot into Mexico for the first time and all that. Again, the shows were great so it’s a great reason to come back.
The new disc Feathers & Flesh is a concept album. Talk a little bit about the idea behind the album.
It’s a fable written by us, an original work. It started with the initial idea that we wanted to do a concept album -- it started with one idea that I had was to use pre-existing fables and then twist the perspective on that because they are all built from certain archetypes. There’s always a big bad wolf and stuff like that but what if the wolf was nice and that kind of thing. I kept that idea with me when we decided to work on the album and it turned into an original fable written by ourselves but there’s still a lot of twisting and turning those archetypes, the wolf is a nice guy, our owl is anything but wise and lots of things like that.
Were you influenced by other forms of literature, film or television while you were writing for this album?
Yes, I was inspired by a bunch of sources, this fable, this book that we’re giving with the album is told in an epic poem that includes the lyrics which are basically dialogues and monologues between the animals. Through the poem we get to tell the story more in detail. The poem is follows a rigid pattern with rhyme and structured in a way that reminds me of when I read Edda, the Viking Saga, or the parts I read from The Divine Comedy and stuff like that just more medieval story telling when poetry was being used to tell a story so I was inspired by older ways of writing. Edgar Allan Poe also has a part in that like The Raven, the fable is kind of like a short story in the form of a poem with more layers to it.
As far as the overall creative and recording process on this album, does recording become easier for you with each record?
One thing that was clearly easier this time -- because most of it, it was about trying to make it harder every time, we always want to keep ourselves on our toes and stay challenged -- but one thing is that you start to recognize when it’s time to call it a day but that’s more for the writing process. Instead of sitting there giving ourselves deadlines for when things should be finished and writing for 24 hours only on a high from coffee and tobacco. Nowadays we’re able to at some point in the evening feel like, “I’m hating this song now, I’m going to stop and I’m going to open a beer and I’m going to cook and we’re going to listen to Simon & Garfunkel. That’s it and we’ll start over tomorrow” so we’ve been able to do that more often.
Then while recording the album there was not really time for that because this album is like 30 percent longer than anything we’ve done in the past which makes a difference but then the studio time we booked is similar in length to what we’ve had in the past albums. It just happened that we had lots more that had to be done in that amount of time, there were crazy time constraints and it was our most ambitious project yet. That made it really rough and we were pretty burnt out at the end, now it’s worth it because the result is amazing. Everything was done in a short amount of time, we really started writing this album in April of last year and we were touring in between, there were lots of shows.
Speaking of lots of shows, with a new album comes lots of touring, so what does the rest of the year have in store for Avatar?
After touring the States, we go to festival season in Europe and we come back for a few dates here in August. It looks like we’ll come back here to the States in the fall again and we want to tour Europe, as well, in the fall. It’s all about bringing the new stuff to the stage.
Our thanks to Johannes Eckerström of Avatar for the interview! Pick up 'Feathers & Flesh' at iTunes.
Check Out Avatar's Video for "The Eagle Has Landed"