Avatarium - Marcus Jidell

Avatarium - Marcus Jidell

AVATARIUM have released their fourth record after seeing Leif Edling taking a couple of steps away from the band (he was still involved in the making of “The Fire I Long For”). If you include the addition of two members to the band’s ranks and the making of the new record, you will understand why METAL KAOZ got guitarist and producer Marcus Jidell on the other side of Skype to learn more about... pretty much everything about the band, the new album and CANDLEMASS' Grammy Nomination. Interested? Check out what was discussed below.

Avatarium - Marcus Jidell

Hello Marcus, this is Dimitris from METAL KAOZ in Chicago.
Hi Dimitris, how are you?

I am good, what about yourself?
I am fine.

Are you freezing in Sweden?
Oh yeah, it is cold. We just got the first snow and ice and you can see cars and people slipping in the streets.

I know that feeling, man! We got our first snow of the season in November, believe it or not.
Oh my, I know that winters in Chicago can be harsh.

You bet they are. Anyway, I believe we had enough of the weather chit-chat. AVATARIUM have an impressive streak releasing one album per two years, so is it all about experience or inspiration or both?
Playing music is a learning process and you need to be curious and enjoy this. I think this has most to do with the decision to make something. I mean, if you want something then you will make time for it and try to do the best you can.

Absolutely. With yours and Leif’s involvement in CANDLEMASS fans may be expecting a specific song-writing from AVATARIUM.

So, how many degrees of freedom do you have in AVATARIUM?
Well, I feel that AVATARIUM is really a place where we can express ourselves in a great way. Especially what we did in the second album; we really showed that in AVATARIUM we know how to keep the sound the same in every album. It is a band in progress and a band that always likes to develop our music. I feel a lot of freedom in this band but at the same time it is good to have a stage, so to speak, or a concept like we do in AVATARIUM writing dark, heavy and poetic themes music. And when we write music, we try to fit these three elements. Because if you do not have a concept, you know, it can be weird. To me, there is freedom but with a concept that we try to maintain. It is more about keeping the vibe and the emotions.

I will get to this when we start talking about the music of the new album. But before doing so, I would like comment on the album’s cover artwork; I think it is the most minimalistic cover artwork in AVATARIUM’s backcatalogue and you don’t even have the title on it.
Exactly, we wanted the cover artwork to be clean and to hopefully bring up some imagination when you look at it. Hopefully, you will get some ideas when you look at it.

Right, and to my mind, having such a cover artwork means that the band wanted to reintroduce itself and say that there are no boundaries in AVATARIUM.
Yeah, this is not a bad thought (laughs).

You can give some credit for that… (laughs) Leif decided to step down from AVATARIUM, right?
Well, he has not been playing with us live at all actually, and this time he did not write as much music as he usually does. He wrote three songs on this album, so he is still involved I would say.

How did this affect the song-writing dynamics of AVATARIUM?
I think it gave us an opportunity to express the band that is playing live. For us, this was a good step but also an important one because we really needed to be a big part of the writing process. Although all of us have always been involved in the arrangements and this is why AVATARIUM sound as they do, but to be able to work from the start with all the songs and come up with the concept and how the album will sound, made a difference and I think you can hear this. It is a different album for AVATARIUM even though it is still AVATARIUM.

I think I sensed that while listening to the album; I would say that the sound has been widened without missing the elements that made AVATARIUM what they are.
That’s good.

The lineup has Rickard [Nilsson] and Andreas [Johansson]; were these guys involved in the song-writing process?
Not in the actual song-writing but they were really involved in the arrangements. They were involved from the moment we started working on the demos and in the way we built the songs. They have been a big part in this and it is great to have them both. Aside from great musicians they are really close friends to me and Jennie-Ann and this means a lot. I really trust them so much and since I am also the producer it is important to be able to communicate with everybody in the band and get their honest opinions about everything so we can really do our absolute best. I think we have a good flow and a good communication within the band.

And be able to spend time touring, right?
Oh yeah, that's also important. Touring is much easier when you’re enjoying each other’s company.

You mentioned the dark atmosphere of the album that I think there is except from “Shake That Demon”; what is happening on that one?
(laughs) You know, this is a little bit faster song. I think it turned out a great up-tempo Rock song.

Oh yeah, it did. Did all the songs the band wrote make it into the album?
We have a lot of songs that did not make it in the album. We wrote a lot of songs but we did not finish all of them. At some point we felt that we should not work more on those and moved to the next one. I don’t think we have anything that we will record in the future but that happens when you write music.

However, do you know if there will any singles or cool EPs to be released in the near future?
There is nothing that I know of. But you never know.

As you said, you did the album’s production but you did not do the mixing and the mastering.
No, I did not. I do not think one should do everything. I mean, I don’t think it is a good idea to be musician, songwriter, producer and mixer / mastering. And if I did not have such great band members, I would have not done the production. Nicklas Flyckt who did the mixing is great and I always wanted to work with him. I had worked with him with on the CANDLEMASS album and now I worked with him for AVATARIUM. He is one of the top guys in Sweden.

Do you see yourself stop producing AVATARIUM albums in the future?
I don’t think so but if we had the right producer, I could. Someone like Daniel Lanois or someone like that (laughs). Daniel is one of my heroes as producer and if he would want a job (laughs) I would gladly let him do it.

I hope this interview reaches the right ears (laughs)
You never know.

What are your plans to support “The Fire That I Long For”?
We are going to do some shown in Gothenburg, Sweden in January then we have announced ‘Wacken’ in Germany and maybe we are going to play in some more summer festivals in Europe. Hopefully, we will do some touring in the beginning of next Fall. We have a booking agent that wants us to tour and there are a lot of people who wants us to do so. And we want the same but I and Jennie-Ann – we are married – have a son who turns two years old in February; it is a little bit tricky...

A little bit? Well, I can only imagine how difficult it can be.
He is the most important thing. But we want and we will play live. Maybe for this time we can find another way like playing in weekends something like that. Of course, it would be great to go overseas. I would love to come and play in Chicago. I have been only one there and I would love to play there. Hopefully, we will get some additional fans there and if we continue with AVATARIUM we would definitely like to go overseas at one point.

Well, my question had more to do with AVATARIUM crossing the Atlantic…
We’ve crossed the Atlantic once when we played at ‘70000 Tons Of Metal’

Sure, but it does not count like touring North America…
Yes, exactly; it was more like a cruise.

Maybe we can convince Leif to bring CANDLEMASS in the US, last time I think it was in 2008, and have AVATARIUM to open for them.
That’s actually a good set-up with CANDLEMASS and AVATARIUM.

That would be awesome! Speaking of CANDLEMASS, are you involved at all in the two special shows planned for April 2020?
In Sweden, you mean.

Yes, in fact I and my wife have already bought tickets for both shows.
Oh, you will be in Sweden. Well, I and Jennie-Ann will be there, so if you see us please say hello.

Well, we don’t like bothering people…
No, it is great to meet new people, so please do.

Are you involved in the event?
No, we will be just attending the shows.

And I think you are part of the Grammy nomination for the song “Astorolus - The Great Octopus”, right?
I produced the song, so in that way I am part of it. That was really unexpected and amazing thing of course.

Do you think that such awards have any meaning to the musicians especially in the Metal scene? Usually, all these awards go to mainstream bands.
Yeah, for me as a producer it shows that I am doing good work. It also shows that you don’t have to always do what everybody does; a band like CANDLEMASS, they have been doing this for so long and they have not followed the trends or anything like but still they get recognition and awards. So, I think this is really important, especially when kind of underground bands get such recognition.

I see what you’re saying. What about THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM, is there any activity there?
Not at the moment. Because now, Andreas [Johansson] is playing with AVATARIUM as well (laughs). But you never know. I am very proud of that album but right now I have AVATARIUM and Leif is working hard with CANDLEMASS. I and Lief meet every week and talk about different things but we have not talked about THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM for a while but as long as we live there is still a chance (laughs). We love the concept, it’s fun.

Well, you can always put a festival together with CANDLEMASS, AVATARIUM, KRUX, THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM... the whole nine yards (laughs).
Yeah, that would be something! (laughs)

In 2013, you released “Pictures From A Time Traveller”, right?
Yes, that’s true.

Do you have in mind to do something like that again?
I started writing some songs; I think it was three years ago so I have some instrumental tracks but are very different; more ambient like a mix of Swedish Folk music and Blues in an ambient way.

That sounds interesting.
Yes, I have some songs that I like. So, I may record them when I find some time. You know, it is something that I can do when I have extra time and can afford spending some months without getting paid. Because it does not pay well when you play instrumental music. But it is something that I love doing so I really want to record these songs as soon as I have the opportunity. I have been doing so much the last few years, also as a producer, so I have not gotten the chance. I feel like that I have go opportunity to work with so many people because I learn in the process too. I am glad you asked about this and hopefully I will be able to do this.

Thank you, Marcus, for your time! See you in Sweden in April.
Absolutely, come and say hello. It is going to be really fun. It’s been great talking to you!