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  INTERVIEW WITH MARK JANSEN AND ISAAC DELAHAYE OF EPICA ABOUT NEW ALBUM 'THE QUANTUM ENIGMA'

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

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Dutch symphonic Metallers Epica are an international success story and have just released their sixth full length studio album 'The Quantum Enigma'. MetalTalk caught up with guitarists Mark Jansen and Isaac Delahaye backstage at the O13 in Tilburg, hours before their sold out album launch show.

MT: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can we start by looking back a little at Retrospect, your tenth anniversary show released as a DVD. This has been a great success for you, do you feel that it was the end of an era and time to start a new chapter for Epica?

ID: As the title says it was a retrospective and was looking back at what we had done and achieved and now it's time to look forward and do something different.

Article continues below...

 
 


MT: I was just wondering if this was a conscious thing, a feeling of it was time for some changes?

MJ: It's like a summary of all the chapters we did before, an end of an era and now it is time to write some new chapters. With this album we did some different things, a new producer, a new mixer. We also wrote the songs in a different way, more as a group effort. This feels like a fresh, new beginning. It's not totally different as the new album is clearly still Epica but the fresh wind is needed to fully motivate everyone for the future. This was really good for us.

ID: For me it was just exciting to record the album and that was because things were just different. On one hand you think I hope that everything will go right but also we could just end up making a horrible album! You go for a different producer and it could just be total bullshit so you don't know! It was exciting and also the new people around us were so excited and ready to go for it and I think everything added up and made the whole thing refreshing for us as a band. You can go from touring to the studio to touring to the studio and we switched it around and it was just the best thing we could do right now.

MT: It sounds like you were really happy with new producer Joost van den Broek. Do you like the different sonic feel there is to this album compared to 'Requiem For The Indifferent'?

epica

MJ: The new producer, the main influence he had on the group was that he was there from the beginning, to get motivated himself and to get the best out of everybody. He was the kind of guy who kept the overview but was also there in the early stages when it was little groups of people writing the songs. He was there when we were working on the sounds. He was there when we were working on the details, he was there when we were recording and he was even there for a few days of the mix. He was everywhere! He can't have slept for many hours as he was everywhere at the same time(laughs).

He was sometimes working on other projects simultaneously and I still don't understand or get how he managed to do all these things at the same time. He must have a huge amount of energy but that was what we needed, a guy who got the last 10% out of us. We could have made another album the same way as the last one and would probably have had the feeling afterwards that it was lacking something and could have been better. That's what we wanted this time, that we would be totally happy with the end result and wouldn't listen to it and think it could have been better. Joost was the right guy for that job and made that happen for us.

MT: You've touched a little bit on the songwriting already. I was wondering how the songwriting process works for Epica? Every album is seventy minutes long, every song has lots of ideas within it so how the heck do you put it all together?

ID: That's a good question(laughs). The thing is that it's always different for who is recording. This album has songs from five band members, everyone but Simone has put song ideas on the table. From there we just like Mark already said sat with Joost the producer. I had written a couple of songs and he flew over to Germany where I used to live and we would work on my songs and he and Arien would work on his songs and so on. Mark writes differently than I do, I'm more a typical guitar writer starting mostly with the guitars whereas Mark goes more from a melody or more from the orchestration so that's really different. Obviously Coen with his piano is also doing something different, Arien as a drummer writes in grooves and more rhythmical ideas, Rob with has bass likes to write from a drum and bass groove.

MT: Is it that people come in with song ideas and you all work on those song ideas together?

ID: It's more like that you write the song and then we work on it. Things could switch around, it might be that my intro is cut off or something but the basic idea is that with these kind of songs we went to a rehearsal room or the studio and rehearsed through everything. That's also different from the past where we did the pre-production in our home studio and send it over to each other, kind of tweaking it as we went but it's different if the other band members are right there and you can say hey you should be playing this note or that note. You can go way more into detail and tell your drummer that I want the kick drum on that part of the beat or that should be the groove and that's what adds up to the whole thing. That was really refreshing to sit together with musicians and not sit in your home studio with your technology. It was a whole different way of writing.

MT: That sounds like it would be a lot quicker as well.

epica

MJ: It took longer actually! You can change things quicker and adapt more easily but there are more steps in the process. Usually when we wrote the songs we send each other stuff via the internet and put things here and there and we start recording. Also after the recording you find out which songs work well live and which songs don't and now all the songs have been played together as a band and we know which things work live and which don't. Actually we already know that all the new songs work well live so it will also be nice to select now which ones we will keep on playing live. It will be more or less the fans choice as many people say we want to hear this song or that song while we like them all! We could play the whole album so it's what they want.

MT: As we are at the album release show will you be playing the whole album tonight?

MJ: Yes, now it's our party!(laughs)

ID: Yes, just once in our life we get to choose what to play (laughs)

MJ: It's not all new songs as it's fun to play some old songs that people know so it will be a mix between old and new.

MT: The new album 'The Quantum Enigma' has a theme running through it. I, like I suspect many other people, had to go and look up what a quantum enigma was(all laugh). Is quantum physics a subject you guys think about a lot?

MJ: First of all if you have a title sometimes people don't remember it and don't know what it's about but for some reason the title 'The Quantum Enigma' has something about it, something mystical. It's easy to remember the first time you hear it so it has the advantage that it makes people interested in the topic. Like you did, you go and look it up and if it raises your interest then that's exactly the thing we want to achieve and once you get sucked into the topic I think it's very interesting to know more about it. That's something we wanted to achieve as it's so fascinating, all about quantum physics and what's going on in the universe and the microscopic world which has an influence on the world as you know it. If something is proven in quantum physics it will have a direct influence on the things around it. What does that mean? What does that imply for the world? The way we see the world, is that just because of how we view it? If nobody sees it would that mean it was different? Is it an illusion, is it real? You can really philosophise for a long time about it but I like it. I hope many fans will start doing that.

MT: You have touched on quantum physics before in your lyrics, in 'Kingdom Of Heaven' on the 'Design Your Universe' album. Has it been sitting in your mind for a while to come back to this subject?

MJ: That didn't happen consciously, it was like with the music. You sit down and get a sort of feeling with a song and you start writing and it has all to do with the things that already interest you. Over the last couple of years I've been reading books on the subject and they found their way into the lyrics. So it wasn't consciously that we decided we were going to write about this now, it just happened. It's hard to say how it happens. It naturally evolves.The song 'The Quantum Enigma' wasn't intended to be a sequel to 'Kingdom Of Heaven' but the way lyrics evolved meant that it naturally became one. There were even some music references which fitted. It happened naturally, it wasn't meant to be like that in the beginning.

epica

MT: Writing about quantum physics in your second language, you guys really like a challenge, don't you? (all laugh)

MJ: I have also done some email interviews and I have to choose my words carefully as if you write one word wrong it means the opposite of what you are trying to say sometimes! You really have to think carefully about what you write on such topics.

MT: The fan reaction to the album has been overwhelmingly positive, you must be really pleased.

ID: We are. There's a lot to process on the album, we've been working on it for months and when I heard the final mix I was like damn, there's constantly so much happening and so many layers to it, I was really happy with it and it's gratifying to see it has gone over so well.

MT: I feel myself that you guys are getting gradually a little heavier in style. You have always been a heavy band among all the other styles which you incorporate into your sound but are you going more in that direction?

MJ: The new songs advantages are that the things that are supposed to sound really heavy do sound really heavy. If we would have done this sound in the past then we would have have sounded this heavy on previous albums. Every sound has its' advantages and now when it's supposed to be brutal with almost Fear Factory style riffs it sounds really brutal and that's the effect we like with this new sound. Now when we want to sound really heavy, we sound really heavy. In the past that was not always the case.

MT: I wondered if Arien and his drumming style was having an influence. You get the impression he's sitting there saying faster, louder all the time!

MJ: Yes, it's exactly like that(laughs). If we would let Arien write all the songs we would be a lot heavier and faster!

ID: I was there in the studio when he was recording his drums and sometimes the producer and I would have to say please leave some room there for the vocals or whatever. The drums are the first thing to be recorded so he needs to leave the rest of us some room(laughs).

MT: He has an insanely busy style but is fantastic to listen to and watch.

ID: He is sitting there with a smile doing his stuff and I have to say sometimes can you do a little less?(laughs) Of course he's like no problem and does what we need him to but in other stuff we challenged him as he is just so incredibly good. We said can you take this idea further and go beyond insane and he would just figure it out in two minutes and play it! That feeds into what we talked about regarding Joost the producer, we were all kind of challenging each other. I could also walk into the bass recording and ask for this or that, it was a great experience.

MJ: If Arien was a construction worker he would make extra walls, more rooms, he would make the house completely full, he's just that kind of guy (laughs).

MT: You have one UK date on the tour dates announced so far with this album at the London Forum on December 6th. Will there be any more UK dates?

ID: So far we have no other options arranged, we might be doing a festival there but nothing is confirmed yet. We have divided the tour into two parts because Simone now has a kid and Coen has two kids so we don't want any legs of the tour to be too elaborate. We therefore have to choose where to go carefully and in the past we've done a separate UK run, doing a UK tour separate to any other plans.

MT: So you have no plans to play the UK outside the London date in December then? After the 2012 tour when you even played Scotland for the first time I was hopeful we would see more of you!

MJ: We would like to play everywhere but you have to make decisions because of the kids, we have to pick what shows to play. If we wanted to we could play a show every day of the year but it's not possible for us unfortunately. We get letters from everywhere saying why don't you come play here, don't just play Mexico City, there are other cities in Mexico and so on(laughs). We can't please everybody. Also I've personally been doing this for seventeen years now and sometimes you want to be at home and do things that normal people do (laughs).

ID: Like getting drunk on the couch (laughs).

MJ: The UK is a market on its' own and we would love to work it harder but we're pretty busy until summer 2015 already so that's something we'll have to look at down the road along with Scandinavia and Russia and other areas which are off route, harder to get to places. Until then I hope the one date makes everyone a little happy (laughs).

MT: How do you see the future of Epica going forward?

MJ: I never look too far ahead as things always go differently than you expect but personally I would like to see us keep this line up for a while to keep it consistent and see what we can do with this sound we have.

ID: The main thing I learned from this album is that while music is a business it has to be fun other wise you can't go on with it. I think this was really refreshing and that we have taken everything to the next level. We already wrote the songs, we already worked on them but if you motivate each other, have nice people around you and are a good team then that's what I hope for this. It's my job and I want that it's still exciting to me and that five years from now I can say yes, got a new album to record! The new songs are great, that's something I really enjoyed this time working with a new producer but so long as the spark is there I want to keep doing it.

MT: Well we at MetalTalk definitely want much more Epica in the future. Thanks for your time and good luck with the show tonight and the tour ahead.

Online:
http://www.epica.nl/
https://www.facebook.com/epica
https://www.youtube.com/user/epica

Line up:
Mark Jansen-guitar, grunts, screams
Coen Janssen-synthesizer, piano
Simone Simons-vocals
Arien van Weesenbeek-drums
Isaac Delahaye-guitars, vocals
Rob van der Loo-bass


8.5.14





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Sanctuary continue that legacy that they started decades ago, delivering yet another fresh take on "classic-sounding" Metal...

electric mary ELECTRIC MARY ANNOUNCE MINI ALBUM AND UK TOUR
Australian five piece Electric Mary are back to spread Rock n' Roll's genuine flavour to Europe...

accept ACCEPT REVEAL LIVE CLIP OF 'PANDEMIC' FILMED IN FRONT OF 750,000 PEOPLE AT WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL 2014
UK fans can catch the band live at The Forum in London on the 27th November 2014...

hornet HORNET ANNOUNCE NEW EP AND SINGLE
"We really wanted to just expand the sound we already had by incorporating more of our influences to make our sound more modern and diverse..."

jimmy barnes JIMMY BARNES ANNOUNCES NEW 30th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM 'HINDSIGHT'
2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Barnes' debut as Scottish born Australian rock singer-songwriter...

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE SUPPORTS ANNOUNCED FOR FORTHCOMING TOUR
London based hard rockers Neonfly will support in the UK mainland, with Northern Irish Metalheads Conjuring Fate doing the honours at the Belfast and Dublin shows...

within temptation WITHIN TEMPTATION TO HEADLINE BLOODSTOCK 2015
Within Temptation appear as a UK exclusive. Prog Metal titans Opeth will also appear on the bill...

emigrate EMIGRATE CONFIRM NEW ALBUM FOR UK RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
'Silent So Long' is the second album from the band formed by Rammstein's Richard Kruspe...

highway to hell WINNERS OF HIGHWAY TO HELL 5 ANNOUNCED
Texas Flood are the overall winners from an outstanding field, winning a contract and an appearance at Hard Rock Hell...

grim reaper THE LEGENDARY GRIM REAPER RETURN TO LONDON
Get down to the Boston Music Room on 27th September for Grim Reaper with Amulet and Dark Forest...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR NOVEMBER 2014
The 30th anniversary celebrations continue with a world tour including a trip to North America and a nine date UK leg...

eric martin MR. BIG SINGER ANNOUNCES UK SOLO ACOUSTIC TOUR
Eric Martin will play nine unplugged dates in December 2014 with a mix of solo and Mr Big material...

absolva ABSOLVA ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST
British classic Metallers Absolva are delighted to announce the appointment of new bassist Karl Schramm...

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM PLANS AND UPDATED TOURING SCHEDULE
Manowar will headline Loud Park Festival in Tokyo on October 18th 2014 and will then resume the 'Kings Of Metal MMXIV' World Tour...

skyscraper SKYSCRAPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'MONDAY MORNING'
This dynamic band has been taking critics by storm with their inimitable brand of melodic hard rock...

the more i see THE MORE I SEE ANNOUNCE OCT/NOV TOUR WITH SAVAGE MESSIAH AND BULL RIFF STAMPEDE
Featuring world renowned guitarist Gizz Butt, the band always deliver incredible live shows that combine passion, energy and breathtaking musicianship...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND REVEALS Zē DETAILS AND ANNOUNCES SPECIAL ROYAL ALBERT HALL PERFORMANCE
Devin Townsend is extremely pleased to announce the release of long-awaited new double-album...

blastfest AT THE GATES, DARK FUNERAL, ROTTING CHRIST AND MORE ANNOUNCED FOR BLASTFEST 2015
Bergen, Norway, former home of the legendary Hole In The Sky Festival and considered thee black metal capital of the world...

exodus EXODUS REVEAL SPECIAL GUESTS ON NEW ALBUM 'BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT'
Bay Area thrash Metal provocateurs Exodus proudly announce the special guests appearing on their latest showcase of unrefined rage...

panzer PANZER STREAMING LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'THE LAST MAN ON EARTH'
Brazilian thrash/stoner act Panzer have just released a new lyric video on for the second track of the album 'Honor'...

bush BUSH ANNOUNCE OCTOBER 20th RELEASE FOR 'MAN ON THE RUN'
Multi-platinum alt-rock band Bush have announced an October 20th release date for their highly anticipated new album...

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'LIVE FOR THE FIGHT'
The video features Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) who is playing bass for the band on the forthcoming European Tour...

giants of rock GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL: FIRST BANDS ANNOUNCED
The reformed Family and pomp rockers Magnum will headline the event...

weapon uk ESTRELLA TO SUPPORT GILBY CLARKE ON TOUR AND ANNOUNCE A NEW SINGLE
The band are currently gearing up for a thirteen date trek with Clarke that includes dates in Wakefield, London and Edinburgh...

weapon uk WEAPON UK ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER
Weapon UK have tour dates confirmed in support of their critically acclaimed album 'Rising From The Ashes'...

amulet AMULET DEBUT ALBUM 'THE FIRST' RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER: FIRST TRACK NOW ONLINE
The album track 'Mark Of Evil' has just been uploaded to Soundcloud. Raise your fists and bang your heads on this one...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER'S GUITARS STOLEN FROM GERMAN RECORDING STUDIO
German police are examining evidence and the studio for fingerprints and DNA evidence to help catch the criminals...

jimi jamison JIMI JAMISON OF SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY AGED 63
Jimi Jamison, lead singer of Survivor, very sadly passed away on Sunday night...

distorted harmony DISTORTED HARMONY UNLEASH FOOTAGE FROM 'CHAIN REACTION LIVE!'
The Tel Aviv quintet are looking forward to bringing their show to Europe this November...

ensiferum ENSIFERUM TO BEGIN RECORDING SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM NEXT MONTH
"We are convinced that this will be a ground breaking album for us and the whole genre. Modesty? What's that?"...

les-fest wildfire LES-FEST WILDFIRE ANNOUNCES FURTHER ACTS FOR SUMMER 2015
Max Raptor, Anihilated and more join the stellar array of main stage bands...

mystery deeexpus THE HOUSE OF PROGRESSION & THE MERCH DESK PROUDLY PRESENT MYSTERY & DeeEXPUS LIVE
It's a night of Prog at The Borderline on Tuesday 9th September, one of three chances to see this unique pairing...

butcher babies BUTCHER BABIES ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR UPCOMING 'UNCOVERED' EP
The breakthrough Metal act have chosen five of their favourite tracks to get a makeover...

avenged sevenfold AVENGED SEVENFOLD RELEASE NEVER BEFORE SEEN ORIGINAL VIDEO FOR 'UNHOLY CONFESSIONS'
Take a fresh look at the 2004 track taken from the essential 'Waking The Fallen: Resurrected'...

reckless ambition RECKLESS AMBITION AND DIRTY LIONS TO PLAY THE ROCK PATCH THIS SATURDAY
Anyone who hasn't seen Reckless Ambition, then you are in for a real treat...

meshuggah MESHUGGAH ANNOUNCE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS IN EUROPE
Celebrate 25 years of musical deviance on this tour which includes a date a London's Roundhouse...

mr big MR. BIG CHANGE RELEASE DATE FOR NEW ALBUM "...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL"
The original line-up are back with some of their most powerful material to date and their signature hard rock sound...

well eavy 'WELL 'EAVY - VOL. 1' COMPILATION TO BE RELEASED BY HANGMAN - AMULET'S OWN LABEL
Get down to the free entry release party in Camden on 29th August...

slipknot DEF LEPPARD TO PERFORM NFL PRE-GAME SHOW AT FIRST LONDON NFL GAME OF 2014
Joe Elliott: "I know what the atmosphere in the ground is like for 'our' football so I'm really looking forward to performing there before the NFL game..."

slipknot SLIPKNOT REVEAL NEW ALBUM AND TOUR INFORMATION
'.5: The Gray Chapter' will be released on October 21 followed by US dates with Korn...

hard rock hell HARD ROCK HELL 8 ANNOUNCES MORE ACTS
The Vintage Caravan, Blue Pills, Horisont, Spiders and Santa Cruz have been added to the line up for November...

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