Mark Jansen – Epica

 

Interview by Miriam C.

Although we haven’t still have had the chance to give a thorough listen to this fantastic (at least we presume so) album, we asked Epica‘s  Mark Jansen to introduce us this brand new opus called “The Quantum Enigma” in his own words. We’re sure of one thing:  TQE will be the breakout album for Epica. Discover something more about this new work in the following Q &R!
 
Would you mind telling us something more about how “The Quantum Enigma” was devoloped? When you have started to draft out the first ideas for this album?

The first ideas emerged 2 years ago when we started writing songs for the album. When we had enough songs we sat together with producer Joost van den Broek and selected the best songs. Still a quite big amount of songs (18). After the selection we did rehearse those songs and jammed a bit in order to make them better. We worked very hard on the final details with the whole band and Joost, this effort resulted in improved compositions. We also worked on the sound of the bass, guitars and drums. We have tested several amps and tried out multiple combinations in order to find the best possible sound.

After a long time collaboration with Sascha Paeth, “The Quantum Enigma” was recorded with Joost Van den Broek (well known for being the former After Forever keyboardist). First of all – I don’t want to discredit Sasha‘s over-the-top work, I’d like to ask you how was working with him and how did this collaboration come to birth?

Working with Joost was very refreshing and that was also the reason why we switched. Sascha is a great producer and we could have recorded many more albums with him but we wanted to avoid the risk of repeating ourselves. We wanted to sound refreshing. Joost is a guy with a lot of energy and much talent. He did a great job and got the best out of us as well.

Moreover, in your honest opinion, while you were working on the recordings, has Joost‘s work influenced Epica’s sound and viceversa?

We talked to Joost what we wanted to achieve and he agreed. The goal was to change some things of pour sound without losing the principles of Epica. So the new album still needed to sound like Epica but with a new approach.

Let me tell you, “The Quantum Enigma”‘s cover album is fantastic, congratulations! I’m sure, although I haven’t still had the chance to listen to the album, that is strictly connected with the lyrics included in TQE. Would you mind telling us something more about its meaning and above all, who is the creator of the artwork?

Thank you, the artwork was made by Stefan Heilemann, he knows exactly what we want. We gave him all freedom and the lyrics to make whatever he wanted. He came up with the cover and once more he surprised us with the beauty of it. We’re extremely happy with his work.

“The Quantum Enigma” also marks the beginning of the collaboration behind the mixing desk with Jacob Hansen. When you have contacted for the first time and in which elements did Jacob helped to improve Epica‘s sound?

I won’t say improved although I love the new sound. But I don’t want to make it seem I didn’t like Sascha‘s sound. The old albums have a great sound too but with a different approach. Now we were looking for a more ‘in your face’ sound. A tiny bit heavier and modern but still typically Epica. The advantage of the new sound is that it hits you like a bomb and that you can hear better what’s been played by the drums, bass and guitar. It’s heavy but not over the top heavy.

The press release says: “We’d like to think THE QUANTUM ENIGMA marks the beginning of a new era”, for which reasons? Moreover, if you can drow a line between “Requiem for the Indifferent” and “The Quantum Enigma”, what are the main differences that you can notice?

With “Retrospect” we looked back on the past 10 years, with “TQE” we thought it’s about time to be ready for the upcoming 10. “RFTI” was a more progressive album, with “TQE” we did focus more on the song itself again and have a central role for strong melodies. Like we discussed above the sound is also a big difference. As well as the way we have worked on this album, more as a great team effort rather then individuals writing music.

Probably it’s always the same old question and you’ll probably be annoyed to reply to it all over again, but when your fans will buy your album, what will they discover? Will they face a concept album or will they find out a simple story?
concept or simply a story?

It’s not being annoyed but if it’s about the concept behind “TQE” it means:  we can’t observe anything without influencing it in the quantum physic world, little particles behave completely different when we observe than compared to not observing them. As we as human beings exist of those particles we can ask ourselves the question. Is the world still out there when no one observes it? What is truly real and what’s an illusion? Based on these scientific concepts we started a philosophical discussion on our new album about the mind, thoughts and dreams.

I really love the fact that I can choose between almost 5 different versions – which version you’ll suggest to buy and why?

I suggest to buy them all so you’ll have all tracks hahaha. We had to make a selection for the album but in fact I love all 18 tracks that we have recorded. But if I really had to chose I’d take the ear book. It has great artwork and many additional acoustic tracks.

Simone, recently gave birth a nice babyboy, so I send again my congratulations to the whole Epica family –  but indeed this great news is setting an important limit: touring. How will you manage this ‘situation’?

The short answer is yes 🙂 She’s very motivated to hit the road again and there will always be a way to manage.

What are Epica‘s next plans for 2014?

Summerfests, European tour, Latin american tour and USA tour.

Well, we’re at the end. Please Mark, greet freely your fans and our readers. Thanks!

Thanks for all the support over all those years! See you on the road :)))

 

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Credit Photos 

Photos by Tim Tronckoe