Interview by Ary R, Massimo M. & Alessandra MDespite her longest music career, Amanda Somerville has become a guarantee in the metal panorama. On the occasion of the new Avantasia European tour, we had the chance to talk about the recent and latest news with this amazing American singer. A special thanks goes to Serena M, who helped us in the transcript of the article! Thanks Serena 🙂 Today we’re here with the amazing Mrs Amanda Somerville. How are you doing?
I’m doing quite well, thank you very much, still doing well, still busy since the last time we spoke.You’re back on tour with Avantasia a few days ago. In 2011 Tobias Sammet said “No more Avantasia shows”, but this sentence of his has been denied since he’s back on the road. What was your reaction about Tobias in changing his mind?
No, I was not completely surprised that Toby changed his mind because he changes his mind a lot about a lot of different things which is his good right to do, so no… but I was, you know pleasantly surprised that I was asked to be a part of it again and of course the time frame and everything and how expensive this tour was, so it’s really, really a big tour and a lot of places, lots of countries that I’ve never been to before so…that was really cool.The press is acclaiming this record as “the best Avantasia album so far”. In your opinion, what are the strong points of this new album?
I agree with the press, I think it’s a really great album.. Hmm I think that Toby does a great job with, you know, going back and doing some old school stuff but yet at the same time being progressive and moving on and, you know, developing further.. Which I think is really cool. He does a good job at displaying new guests, having, you know, new sounds and voices apart of the record, which is really fresh and exciting.Is there a song of this album that you like the most?
Oh, I’m really, I’ve told you before, I’m very tough with favorite questions because it’s hard for me to pick favorites and it depends on the mood that you catch me in, you know, I’d say favorite different songs everyday but… And I can’t never choose just one (she laughs). So, I’ll tell you some of my favorites are “Black Orchid”, “Invoke The Machine” and “The Great Mystery”.Is there any song from Avantasia that you prefer among all the other ones?
Same thing as for question four. I really have a hard time choosing favorites but I must say that my all time favorite Avantasia songs are “The Story Ain’t Over” and “The Scarecrow”. Those are such gorgeous songs and a lot of fun to listen to and to sing live so, yeah, those are some of my favorites.If you could choose another girl to put in Avantasia family, who will be the chosen one?
Oh boy, if I can chose another girl. Jeez, I don’t know! I really don’t know! I think I didn’t know if you asked me before and I still don’t know. Maybe Emily Autumn, I think she’s a pretty cool chick and we don’t yet have like a violinist part of Avantasia so I think she would be my choice, Emily Autumn.You’ve always shown a great taste for wardrobe and clothes. As you know, Milan is the worldwide main center/city for fashion. Have you got any chance to have some shopping here?
I thank you very much, I do appreciate that! Unfortunately I did not get any time to shop in Milan while I was there so… But so that means that I have an excuse to come back and go shopping, right? (she laughs)The power of your mezzosoprano tone colour is widely known thanks to your many cooperations in the metal universe. Would you like to share something with us about your artistic/vocal education?
Well, thank you very much! I’m actually not a mezzo soprano, I can sing in that range but… It’s kind of funny, everybody kinda jump on the band wagon with this all mezzo soprano thing and I’m not exactly sure where it came from but I’m actually an alto or a contralto in classical terms so that’s the range that I feel, personally, most comfortable singing. But I can, you know, I have a pretty big range, I can sing anywhere from tenors and sound like a guy to soprano and squeak up there. I don’t think my voice sounds the best in those ranges so… But, yeah, I can do it and I filled in for choir members that were missing, you know, guys that were lacking and the momma sopranos way up in the high end. But I was never actually classically trained, I’ve never had vocal lessons. I studies music with my grandmother, she was the one who taught me how to read music and the basics of playing the piano, where I was a terrible student. But I grew up in a very musical family and they gave me my foundation as far as my musical education and I had a really great music teacher when I was in elementary school, named Mrs Piers, she really, really saw potential in me and supported that which I’m grateful for. But most everything I learned from my family. My dad is a folk guitarist Banjo player, singer, songwriter. My mom has a beautiful voice, she plays the flute and she played a little bit of saxophone, some piano… My sister sings and plays piano, my nieces are musical, both grandparents on both sides, a great uncle of mine, the brother of my mum’s father, played with Sammy Davis Jr so… You know, I kind of got it from all different sides.
Have you ever thought of performing in some classic opera singing?
Oh well I did when I was younger, when I was in my late teens, I was very fascinated and kind of interested in doing classical singing more, more in the operatic, you know, theater range. And that’s actually how I kinda taught myself Italian. I was dating an Italian guy for a while and I was all, you know, in my Italian mode when I was about 18 and Puccini’s “La Boheme” is one of my all time favorite operas and so that was kinda of where I was going with that. But I decided to go with jazz instead, I was performing with jazz orchestras and quartets and smaller jazz combos anyway. And that’s what kind of put me through college when I was, you know, paying for insurance and books and stuff like that and doing some cover gigs and then I got into doing my own, my own stuff, I completely got away from doing cover gigs and when I moved to Germany It was just me and a piano or me on the piano doing vocals and a drummer and a bass player so… Yeah opera kinda got left by the wayside.Talking about your collaborations, that in your case are so numerous, what do you like the most in sharing the stage with other bands compared to your independent production?
I love, actually, the diversity and doing something new, working with different people…you always learn something by working with new people about yourself , about your voice… Personally and musically it’s just kind of a fun change of a new good challenge, though I have to say that performing my own material and the things that I wrote that is the most fulfilling and that’s really where I feel like I am the most, yeah, the most complete as an artist.Recently it has been told that you’re considering to cooperate again with Michael Kiske. Would you like to tell us something more? If I remember well, the first (and the only one released) album got very good feedbacks from the press, but also from fans…
Yes, this is true, we are making a new Kiske/Somerville album and we’ve been working on songs for it, I’ve been writing songs together with Sander and Matt, Sander has been busy I know, Matt produces the album, writes songs for it, plays bass etc. And so we’ve been really busy preparing for the recordings that will take place in October/November and I believe the album will be released early 2014 so… Very much looking forward to that.Kiske is a great artist, known to everyone because of his former career with Helloween and in the last years he cooperated with Avantasia, he released a few solo albums and now he sings for and with Unisonic, together with Kai Hansen. What is your personal opinion about this musician?
Yeah, I really love Michi, he’s a great guy, he is a great musician, he’s a lot of fun to tour with, he’s quite a young soul, I mean that, he’s just kind of got this childlike enthusiasm and silliness about him so.. He’s very down to earth and he’s a good friend, he’s been there when I’ve needed him and on the stage and off the stage so I’m really looking forward to working with him again doing this, and hopefully doing some live stuff as well.Before joining Tobias Sammet on this new tour, you’ve been on the road for Rock Meets Classic. Would you like to tell something about this “project”, for those people who still don’t know it?
Yes, I’ve been part of Rock Meets Classic for four years in a row now, I’ll be joining them again for 2014, which I’m looking forward to, Alice Cooper will be headlining so that will be super cool, really excited about that. I’m, yeah, I’m the choir director and Matt Sander asked me if I would like to be a part of this project that he heads up, he’s the musical director of, and it’s basically very huge like classic rock artists that were really big in the 70’s and 80’s, mainly, coming together and there are anywhere, from 3 to 5 headliners and there’s a rock band and a 44 piece orchestra from Prague, that’s part of this, and a 5 person choir that I head up and sometimes I do a solo feature, or a duet or something, with one of the main artists. So that’s… It’s just a lot of fun. It’s a very luxurious tour and how can you pass up, like, you know, singing this amazing hit songs with the original artists? Last year we did, or.. Actually, this year, but the last tour we performed like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with Bonnie Tyler, you know. Hearing, it’s just amazing when we did… “Waiting for a Girl Like You” with Lou Gramm from Foreigner. It’s just incredible so… It’s a lot of fun and a new challenge so, something that I’ll be part of again.Before performing with RMC, you’ve been on the road with Delain and right after with Magnum, where Bob Catley sings in. what could you say about this last experience? For those who don’t remember it, Bob is another member of the “Avantasia family”…
Let’s see…Hmm yeah, being in Tour with Magnum and Bob, that was great. We got together the whole idea kind if formed because of our connection together with Avantasia and Bob asked me if I would consider actually going on tour and supporting Magnum because he and his manager Annie thought that was a good match and it was! It was really, really a great experience, it was very successful, we were welcomed with open arms by the Magnum fans even though, you know, it is different, they’re not used to, you know, this chick fronted stuff (she laughs) so… But it was a lot of fun and it was a really great tour, we sold ,wow, a whole lot of CDs and a lot of merch on that album so the tour was successful, kind of all the way around.Would you like to spend some nice word for Bob?
If I have some nice words for Bob? Oh yes, I have nice words for Bob. This man is not only an amazing singer, this guy…I just absolutely love him, he is like the uncle that everyone wants to have. He’s hilarious, he’s got a great sense of humor, he is a very, very caring human being and I mean… Wow, the stories with this guy that I can tell are just incredible, he’s been around for a while and… But you’d never know it, you know, he talks about him being the old guy in Avantasia but he is, I mean, just as big as a kid at heart as the rest of us are and he is an absolute joy to be around and to work with and to tour with.More than once, you’ve said very great news for Tobias Sammet, who in a recent interview said that he’s really happy and proud of having you in the ‘family’ and he said that you’re more ‘well-ordered’/ ‘well-organized’ person and he is not 😀 Was he right? 😀
Well that’s very sweet that Toby says that, I’m happy to be part of the Avantasia family as well. For him saying that I’m more well-ordered and well- organized than he is, uh…ok, if that is his assessment then great! I can be very well well-organized, I can be also the most chaotic person ever so uhm… At home I, you know, I’m the more organized person in like certain departments and Sander is the other, you know, more organized in other ways but… Wow that Toby would say that! I think this guy, I mean, for being just a little bit older than I am, the stuff that he has managed to do in his career and put together and take on the road, are just incredible to me. So, Toby, what he does is very, very impressive to me and he is a heck of a businessman, he’s got really a good control on his position in this market and so I really, you know, I really admire him for that, so him to say something like that is kinda surprising to me but I’ll take the compliment and just say and just smile and say “thanks”!As soon as this tour will be over, will you focus yourself on something new? A second album for Trillium, maybe? Some new collaboration?
Yes I have a lot of stuff in the pipeline for planning. Actually the next project that will be released will be HDK, which is the project that Sander and I had done together since 2007, the first album came out in 2009 and it’s a much heavier, metal project that anything else really that I’m involved in, although this album which will be out in the next couple of months, sometime I think before the end of the year, before the end of 2013. I have to ask Sander because he’s doing all of that and things are just kind of crazy right now so I don’t have an exact date for you right now. But this album is going to be more going back to his roots, his After Forever roots so it’s a lot more melodic and I’d say pretty but there is another guy involved with the project and he does amazing vocals on this and helped us write the songs so it’s the 3 of us this time and it’s quite different from the first album but I just love it, I’m absolutely in love with this album and it’s called “Serenades of the Never World”. And after that comes out we will be doing the new Kiske/Somerville album and then the new Trillium album so I’m just kinda like writing up a storm writing songs and recording demos and checking, you know, music arrangements and everything like that so…lots of stuff going on.Thanks so much for your time Amanda. You’ve have carte blanche to say something to your fans and our readers 🙂
Thank you Ary, I’m sorry this took a while to get back to you, it’s a bummer that the original interview didn’t work but in any case I would like to say “Mille grazie” to all of my Italian friends and fans and Somervillains whom I love so much and I can’t wait to get back in “Bella Italia” to play some more “musica”. So “ciao” for now, see you hopefully soon!