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Avatar Waltz Into Flint

Avatar makes their Michigan debut this Saturday, when they play the Machine Shop in Flint.
Avatar makes their Michigan debut this Saturday, when they play the Machine Shop in Flint.
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Most rock fans that have heard the Swedish band Avatar think that the band is brand new to the scene, but the band has been churning out albums in their homeland since the early 00’s. With their fourth album, “Black Waltz” released last year, the band made the decision to expand their touring market into the United States, and early 2013 brings Avatar’s initial U.S. tour. When speaking with vocalist Johannes Eckerstrom before a gig in Fayetteville, Arkansas, he initially “didn’t know what to expect for our first time (on tour). There were no promises made to us, but it’s been amazing so far and it’s been sh—tons of fun so far.”

Fans seem to be showing the band some love for “Black Waltz”, Eckerstrom just says it’s all a part of an evolutionary process for the band: “It was a long journey to figure out what we wanted to write. Our work ethic boiled down to the basics of metal- which are the riffs and the grooves. We jammed more on this album than ever before and was really a team effort”. Even though the recording process took a bit of time, Eckerstrom feels that all this work sets things up for the live show, which he feels “is a piece of art in itself, and we’ve been working on the “Freak Show” video”- which just premiered on You Tube. In an era where videos seem to be more disappointing and visually bland, Eckerstrom and the band expanded the horizon and vision of the visual aspects for the band, stating “the process finally clicked for us, and we took great pride by doing it ourselves and gave us time to flesh out the ideas”.

For the band, their visual and musical vision has expanded much since the band debuted almost 15 years ago, and like with anything else- the band maturity and experience within the industry has changed, but still looks at the past in a fond light: “Obviously, you’d want to go back and there’s a bunch of ways you’d change, but we take great pride in the past. I see those albums as documents in time that shouldn’t be changed. When we wrote out first album, we were 17 or 18 years old and didn’t know sh—back then” says Eckerstrom. But by listening to “Black Waltz”, it’s easy to tell that Avatar may be more of the more intriguing entries in metal music today.

For the band, one of the more pleasant surprises is the fact the band is getting some attention at American rock radio, something Eckerstrom isn’t used to in his home country: “It’s great that there’s radio that’s geared at our type of music. When listening to the radio in Sweden, there’s not heavy music on there, except for one station that has a show for one hour on Sunday nights. I associate radio with groups like One Direction. I want that sort of radio at home”.

For now, the band is running through their North American dates, doing a mixture of headlining shows and opening for Sevendust and Lacuna Coil. According to Eckerstrom, the band has not locked down any American dates beyond this tour, but would like to see the band back in the States later this year. But for now, they’re happy see fans enjoying things- but there is one thing about American metal crowds that have surprised Eckerstrom as he stated “I thought the mosh pit culture would be a bit rougher here, but at the end of the day- metalheads are metalheads and people are enjoying it”.

Avatar play at the Machine Shop in Flint on Saturday, February 23rd. Tickets are $8, and are available at etix.com. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at www.avatar.net.

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