Interview: Johannes Eckerström of Avatar. ” Seeing us in the past was pretty much the same as watching us fuck. Now our show fucks everyone in the room.”


A Quick Chat With…. Johannes Eckerström of Avatar

With touring still unable to go ahead Swedish metal outfit Avatar presented new album ‘Hunter Gatherer’ with an elaborate live stream event ‘Avatar Ages – the age of Dreams.’ As 2021 came to an end they were finally able to take this live across the U.S. We caught up with front man Johannes Eckerström ahead of the Europe leg of the tour to find out how things are in the world of Avatar and what we can expect from these much anticipated shows.

Firstly, hello and thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

“Thank you. Pleasure is mine.”

Hunter Gatherer had its live preview in January with the streaming of ‘Age of Dreams’ how did you find that whole process of putting together the shows to be streamed as opposed to being in front of an actual crowd?

“Initially I was very much against the idea as I felt the main ingredient of any live performance was missing. I simply couldn’t see it be done well without an audience. John managed to change my mind, and as it turns out the whole thing presented a lot of unique opportunities and challenges that were exciting enough to do it. It was great to work on so many songs, and when all was said and done, against all odds. the whole experience turned out to be very deep and meaningful. It felt like real shows. We felt watched if that makes sense. The sense of being together and playing as brothers was also very strong. In short, it was a good process, but I would rather do a real concert every day of the week.”

How did you find that connection with the fans when preparing for the ‘Ages ‘ shows? Seeing all the videos from fans was really heart-warming.

“Yes, we were moved. I’ve made a point over the past year or so to make it very clear to them that whatever they think we do for them, they do for us a thousand times over.”

The setting was impressive and elaborate and it seemed to be a much-needed release for your creativity, did you feel you had a lot more freedom to create the show just how you wanted it without as many restrictions and what obstacles did you have to overcome in this new environment?

“Well, there are always budget limitations, but you are right. One of the cool things of doing the stream the way we did was that you have more dimensions to work with when you play in a studio for cameras instead of in a studio for a live audience.”

How did you find the process of recording the album in the more live style, what were the pros and cons of this different method for you?

“We did it on ‘Hail the Apocalypse’ as well, and a hybrid on ‘Avatar Country’ and ‘Feathers,’ so we are pretty used to it by now. The only thing that might be considered a con is probably that there is a bit less room for studio trickery, which is the point anyway of what we’re trying to do, so I consider it a pro.”


The pandemic was a difficult time for everyone but what were your silver lining moments or experiences? Was there anything you were able to explore in your professional or personal life that you wouldn’t have otherwise achieved?

“First and foremost, I got to be home more with my wife and my dog, and seeing as our pup just died, I can’t overstate how grateful I am for every second I got because of all this. Other than that, I worked out more and wrote a lot, quit using tobacco and did almost not go crazy.”

You have just finished the U.S stretch of the ‘Going Hunting’ tour finally able to take ‘Hunter Gatherer’ on the road since its release how have you found being on stage again? Has there been any apprehension, or does it feel like you never left?

“In some ways it was business as usual, but we also felt we had been gone, in the best way possible. It felt valuable.”

The single ‘Going Hunting’ was released right before you took yourselves back out into the world and really seemed to encapsulate how it felt to be stifled for a prolonged period, what was your main inspiration when writing this song?

“Being an outsider, growing pains, and finding your voice in the darkness. The story of the songs starts before the pandemic, and its roots lead bang to adolescence. I think we all felt dirty for a while, didn’t we?”

Did the process of creating the live stream performances influence or change how you approached putting together the concept for your live shows for this tour?

“Not really, as far as can remember. Maybe it helped us go to further on the idea of an ever growing light show and all that, but most of the ideas, and the thoughts behind them, were already in motion while we toured Avatar Country.”

What can we expect from the new show on this tour run, what are you excited to show us?

“If you think of ‘Avatar Country’ as a pornographic experience, I’d say that what we bring on the road this time is erotic. It’s more real, darker, and runs deeper. It’s a slow deliberate build towards a climax. Seeing us in the past was pretty much the same as watching us fuck. Now our show fucks everyone in the room.”

The Album took a heavier direction is this reflected in the theatrical aspect of your performances on this tour?

“Yes, but it’s all there. It’s our past, present, and even our future.”

The UK stretch of this tour will be the first time you have been back on our shores since 2019, what are you most looking forward to about playing to your European fans?

“Well, I wish we would’ve made the UK dates, but we’re keeping our eyes fixed on the future. The answer is that I simply look forward to seeing everyone again.

We are excited to be welcoming you back to the UK when you can and wish you the greatest success with the tour! Finally, before we wrap this up is there anything you would like to say to our readers out there?

“If you run fast enough you turn into the devil!” 

Interview & Livestream Images By Rebecca Bush

Images By Johan Carlen