Interview by Miriam C.
Two times in one year, that’s the exact times of how much times I’ve attended Epica show this year but this time was more special because the Dutch symphonic metal band was playing at the legendary Patronaat in Haarlem and the show was even sold out. If you have asked me this a couple of years ago, no way in hell I could believe that one day I would have interviewed Simone Simons in person. So, with this new release out (and I’m referring to the EP “The Solace System”), the winning of the Metropole Orkest contest and this upcoming tour with VUUR and Myrath, I thought it was the right occasion for to take stock of the situation since the last time Femme Metal Webzine spoke with her [read it here].
First of all, hoe gaat het?
Goed! I’m just back from this 2 Belgian shows and yesterday, we had the first one in the Netherlands and today we’re in Haarlem which is a sold out show so we’re very happy!
So, I’m starting from a general question: “The Holographic Principle” was released almost 1 year ago and until today, what do you think about the feedback, how the media and the fans have received Epica’s latest album? Did you think that was better this time than with “The Quantum Enigma”?
Well, each record is special and it has a different sides to it, I think that “The Holographic Principle” is the heaviest metal CD that we ever made so, there’s a lot of information and there are super strong songs there and the fans seem to love it. Of course, there are fans that are saying “ “The Quantum Enigma” is my favourite record” but there is also what I have with other bands for certain periods in your life you get… yeah, certain CDs mean a lot to you so you always think there’ll be a favourite and very personal but the feedback has been amazing and we’ve done the biggest world tour so far, the biggest audiences that we had so things are going really well and the feedback is great and the fans love it and we put so much of ourselves in the music. Writing it, recording it and touring that is great to get great feedback because sometimes you get tired like “What!? I don’t wanna do this anymore” and the fans inspire you to get going because, you know, the music means a lot to them like other music has meant to you and that’s the biggest drive for us to keep going.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed because I had a few time to listen to both “The Holographic Principle” and “The Quantum Enigma”and I can tell you that the first one is much more heavier than the second one and it has a clear influence from death metal which I really love and in conjuction of this, there’s a distinct musical evolution in the Epica sound, so I think it’s a different and brand new approach….
It’s how the music evolves, we cannot set a plan and say: “That’s how we want to sound”. All the five guys here they write the songs and then we pick the best songs and that’s how Epica sounds at the moment but I guess, the death metal influence come from Arjen and Isaac because they are former members of God Dethroned. I like that Epica has so many different sides and it can be still symphonic metal but at the same time really pop-py and it can be brutal, blast beats, death metal which can represent absolutely the hard side of Epica.
So, on the 1st September 2017 your new EP “The Solace System” was released. Would you like to partake with us more about the overall process because in it we can find 6 brand new songs….
Yeah, when we went to the studio to record “The Holographic Principle” we had 18 songs. So, there were 6 songs left that somehow didn’t fit in the overall picture and everybody, including our producer, made a list of the songs that we liked and since we didn’t want to publish these songs as bonus tracks in different versions – like it’s happened in the past – we thought to keep them together and release an EP. We’ve not done that before and considering that these songs were really good it was a real pity to scatter them over for different versions.
Ideally, without any doubts “The Solace System” can be considered an appendix from “The Holographic Principle” and I was wondering to know from the musical and lyrical standpoint, where it can be placed?
Well, the songs from “The Solace System” aren’t 100% related to the concept of “The Holographic Principle”, that’s why it would also easy to leave them out. The song “The Solace System” and “Decoded Poetry” is from Isaac, “Architect of Life” and “Fight Your Demons” is from Arjen, and lastly, “Immortal Melancholy” and “Wheel of Destiny” are from Mark: so, they were the songwriters of the songs. Mark and I split up the songs, we always do this. He writes the songs that he musically compose and we sometimes write songs where the lyrics aren’t connected to the red line but I can tell you, there’s this distant reference to the topics that we constantly like to write about.
As per introduction for the new EP, you’ve released the self-titled single with its official video which is an amazing animated videoclip created by Davide Cillani. How this collaboration started?
This was an idea from our keyboard player Coen and he wanted to do something new for these 3 songs – because there’s a third one coming too – to try out something new but also because we didn’t have any time in between touring, to record any videos, to have any proper photoshoots and so, that’s how we come up working with that artist. Coen wrote the script and when the third part will be released, people will get the bigger picture. So, a lot of people are wondering: “What is about?” and even I, sometimes I don’t even get it and Coen said: “Wait for the third song!”. The script has been written and once we solve some management issues, it will be released.
Would you like to tell me in what specifically consists this contest that Epica won and what does represent for the band? Also, would you like to introduce the Metropole Orkest?
The Metropole Orkest is one of the most famous orchestras in The Netherlands and it worked with many different artists and winning this competition for us means a lot because, as you know Epica‘s main musical feature consists of real orchestral instruments and out of 500 contenstants, Epica won thanks to the fans’ support: we’re really thankful that the fans voted for us.
I was surprised because there were such really famous Dutch artists involved in the contest….
Yes, we are going to record a pre-existing Epica song and we’re planning to do it somewhere in the middle of December. Coen is the one who’s in touch with the Metropole Orkest and he’s constantly communicating with them. We are going to re-arrange an Epica song and I’m really looking forward to it because it’ll be another milestone in our career, I guess.
On November, Epica will be back on the road in Europe along with VUUR and Myrath. What are your expectations?
I love Anneke and all her music since before I started singing in the band: she’s a great voice, she has a new band and finally, it’s nice to tour with her. Also, I’m really looking forward to it and for Myrath, instead, is totally completely different – I know what Zaher Zorgati sung on the latest Ayreon‘s record but I never really met him in person. We played together at Epic Metal Fest but I didn’t manage to meet them and I’m really curious of how their music sounds in a live contest. This is a nice package and it would be the last European tour for this cycle but we’ve still planned to visit the UK, Ireland, South America and on top of this, we’ve already confirmed some summer festival shows.
But after these dates, what are Epica‘s future plans?
To write a new CD without a deadline and we’ll gonna take it easy because we are going on a full force for so much time. We’ll gonna let our creativity come to us whenever it’s there and we’re not imposing ourselves a deadline and we don’t want to block the creativity: everybody will write songs at their own pace and we’ll get together after a certain time and move forward from there.
Photocredit by Tim Tronckoe