Interview: EPICA
Title: Community spirit

Next year, the symphonic metal darlings will make the two decades full as a band. Together with the singing figurehead Simone Simons, Epica are among the leading representatives of the genre. Currently, the six-member formation releases the very special EP „The Alchemy Project“, on which so many musical guests participate.

When the Dutch performed their streaming event „Omega Alive“ at the sad height of the pandemic, it was enthusiastically received. Guitarist Mark Jansen remembers:

„It was very well received. We got so many great reactions that we decided to release it on dvd as well. As some bands did do a streaming event already we didn’t want to just do another one but do a next level one. Luckily everything turned out well.“

How have you used the time since the spring of 2020 for Epica mainly beside songwriting?

„We are living fast changing times so it’s all a matter of making swift changes as well when necessary. We used the time to work on our collaboration project (especially during times of crises it is even more important to emphasise the importance of working together for humanity). We also did the live stream show which was a lot of preparation and in the summer of 2021 some shows (summer festivals) were starting to happen again. Besides that I had a lot of things to do at home as well so I used the time wisely.“

The unusual „The Alchemy Project“ and the result with all the guest musicians, which are co-writers and performers in one - how did the refreshing idea for this come about?

„We were brainstorming what we could do and Isaac came up with the idea to think outside the box and work together with many other musicians that we appreciate and respect. Next to that like earlier mentioned I liked the idea a lot of co-operation. First of all as that is what we truly need as mankind and secondly it gave us the chance to create new music that we otherwise would have never created. Beyond our limits.“

Invited participants are musicians from Fleshgod Apocalypse, Insomnium, Soilwork, masters of their game as Tommy Karevik, Phil Lanzon, Roel van Helden, Charlotte Wessels, Myrkur. How - quickly - did the selection and contacting take place?

„That went very natural, we contacted some friends that we know already from touring with them or for other reasons and started writing with them. One thing led to another and before we knew we had already quite some tracks, even so many that we had to make a selection. So some cool ideas with great musicians even didn’t make it to the album.“

Who of you guys out of Epica arranged the lion's share of the new song material?

„I think Rob did most but as always in the end we all worked very hard on it and added all of our creativity.“

How did your collaboration for the new work go in these difficult times?

„We worked a lot by the internet, sending each other files, doing Skype sessions and recording demos. It worked really well like this. Just the final steps we did in the studio, making final demos and the recordings.“

How was the selection of songs for it done? Was it difficult for you?

„It’s always difficult and easy at the same time. The songs with most votes win and the difficult part is to drop the other songs.“

Do the songs thematically also revolve around all kinds of (sound)alchemy?

„There’s a wide range of topics, every song gave inspiration for a different type of lyric and some are inspired by the challenging times we are living in.“

Why only an EP and not a whole album - do you have any song surprises saved for the near future?

„We didn’t have the time to record more songs. But if people like it and want more we will definitely think about a follow-up.“

Nearly everything has changed since Covid - the world, the music business, the societies - how much have you changed, how much have your views on true art changed now?

„Everything has changed indeed and I knew pretty quickly that nothing will ever be the same again. I won’t complain however, that’s how the universe works and challenge accepted. We all have a responsibility to make this world a better place and therefor we have work to do on our selves. As only by making progress in ourselves we can contribute to the whole. Typing negativity on the internet doesn’t help it only makes things worse imo. I understand all of the frustration that people are dealing with but we will all need to act wisely.“

Anything you would like to add?

„Thanks to everybody and hope to see you all on the road. Let’s hope all shows will happen again from here on.“

© Markus Eck, 23.10.2022

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