In a new interview with Rocksverige, AVANTASIA leader and EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet answers the question of what his favorite singer is:
“It’s a very complicated question. It depends on the phases I go through, but it would probably be Ronnie James Dio [BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, DIO]. But if you ask me again in an hour, I’ll probably name Lou Gramm [FOREIGNER], and tomorrow morning I’ll say it’s Steve Perry [JOURNEY]. It might be one of those three, but Ronnie James Dio is something out of this world.”
When asked what exactly Ronnie had that the other singers didn’t, Tobias replied:
“Magic! Fire! [Laughs]. The way he sang those lyrics. His approach. He had a distinctive voice with medium frequencies. He sang very high, but it never seemed to make him uncomfortable, and it never sounded harsh. He had a tremendous range, and he could feel the words he sang.
Anyone can become a skilled singer, and you can see that when you watch talent shows. You can hear singers who sound like Mariah Carey in her prime, and it’s always amazing, they have great technique, but to fill a song with character and life is a different thing. That’s where the true quality comes in. You tell that story to the listener.
Anyone can sound perfect these days. Especially in the studio with its technology. But not everybody can do it like Lou Gramm, Steve Perry, David Coverdale [WHITESNAKE] or Geoff Tate [QUEENSRŸCHE]… I think everybody in AVANTASIA has that quality. They don’t just sing beautifully, they put their soul into it. They make the song three-dimensional and make the words come alive. That’s a singer’s greatest skill – to excite you, to move you, and I think that’s much more important than sounding like Mariah Carey with a perfect pitch.”
When the interviewer remarked that many of the great rock and heavy metal performers never make it to the finals on shows like “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” Sammet said:
“Absolutely right, and I agree with that 100 percent. I don’t think I’m the best singer in the world, but I would never get past the second round because people would say I sound weird and have weird frequencies. A lot of those singers we love are not million dollar singers. They have a story to tell, and their whole life is a story.
I was just arguing with someone about the Paul Stanley [KISS] voice situation. I say Paul Stanley has been on the front lines for 50 years, and he’s Paul Stanley, because there is no other Paul Stanley. He’s the best Paul Stanley, and he’s the only Paul Stanley there is.
I’d rather hear Paul try to take difficult notes than have a perfect substitute with no history, no character, no Paul’s patina. That goes for all my favorite singers. I’d rather hear Rob Halford [JUDAS PRIEST] straining and suffering a bit when he sings “Painkiller”. Halford will always be Halford. There’s only one Rob like that. The history, the magic. It’s the same with Ronnie James Dio. I saw him on the HEAVEN & HELL tour, and you could tell that Ronnie’s voice had gotten a bit subdued, and everything was a couple of notes lower than the studio versions, but it was still Ronnie James Dio. Damn Ronnie James Dio!
There’s a deep magic in listening to the originals, and that’s what I want from music. I want authenticity, I want soul, life, scars, flaws and road wear. Everything that makes these legends who they are and what makes them come up with their own interesting stories that fascinate me.”