Hello Mark, Greetings from Athens, Greece, thank so much for this interview! How is everything going, considering all pandemic inconvenience?
Hello there, nice to meet you, thank you too!
Given the circumstances, that tend to be really harsh as we cannot travel, and play shows with the band, I’m actually doing very well. So given that very few things are allowed right now, I’m having a good time. I’m not too much at home lately; I’m going around, doing some bike rides, now I’m in Sicily, South Italy, I’m catching up with some friends because for a long time I couldn’t see anybody.
“Omega” was out a couple of days ago!! Could you tell us a few words about the concept of the album, as well of the title, I mean, were you guys inspired by “Omega Point Theory”?
Yes by the theory. The theory states there will be a future where everything in the universe spirals toward a final point of unification. And that is the Omega Point. I thought it was a beautiful concept, and it was the starting point to write many of the lyrics in a kind of spiritual and old wisdom teaching way. So there’s a lot to take from old civilizations, thus we used their wisdom in our lyrics as well.
Did you come up with any difficulties throughout the recording procedure due to Pandemic?
Yeah, we were pretty lucky because we had recorded all drums, bass, guitars, and orchestra parts before lockdown started. Then, due to Pandemic I couldn’t record my vocal parts in the studio, so I had to record them in my home studio. I was fortune though, cause I just had a new home studio where I could easily record my part of vocals by myself. Simone, found a studio in Stuttgart, did some test recordings and tried some several microphones, so at a certain point she found the right set up. Also her recordings have gone pretty smooth with our producer helping her via Skype calls, giving her instructions, and so she completed the recording of her vocal parts. All in all we were pretty lucky and we did not face too many problems.
Epica’s lyrical themes are generally related to spirituality, religion, society issues. Should we expect something different on the new album?
This new album, “Omega”, has definitely a very big spiritual touch because both Simone and I believe that there is so much ancient wisdom that is still out there to be reached and discovered. It’s like an endless source of information. So it gives us a lot of inspiration to write lyrics about these topics. We never know of course what a next album in the future will bring, but at this point we really felt like being strongly connected to such spiritual topics.
If I’m not mistaken, Greek Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist), and Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) provide some guest vocals on the album, for a couple of songs (“Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State” and “Code of Life”). How did you end up in both of them and how did you find your collaboration?
Well the album was pretty much done when we felt like two more final details were missing. One was the Arabic atmospheric vocals, and for this part we chose Zaher, because we knew him well as we had already toured with him. Same goes for Vicky, we‘ve toured also with her and we knew her very well. We were looking for a really strong “spoken word” female part and we thought right away that she fitted perfectly right there. So she recorded it and fitted right. Vicky is an amazing person, probably the kindest person that I know in the music industry.
Epica combines symphonic along with death metal lines; however there are some really strong thrash and black instrumental transposes. Are you always intensively seeking for this diversity or is this something that comes out naturally most of the times?
Actually, when we compose music we don’t think too much, we just let us flow, we let the energy flow. For me it’s very important that we let this happen instead of overthinking, cause when you do that you drive away from the essence of what you want to achieve. Sometimes we just create beautiful music and even more crazy staff may come out, so be it! We go wild from time to time and we don’t want to stop this approach. For example, even in “Kingdom of heaven” we had that black metal part that came out so naturally, and you know, that’s the fun of making music after all. We just let the magic happen.
It’s very interesting that each and every song has different elements, I mean, its own music identity, but yet again when it comes to the album itself is totally solid outcome.
That’s exactly what we are aiming for; to have this feeling of completion, but every song should have its own identity!
Through the years the band was always very active as far as live shows are concerned. How do you think music industry overall will respond to the re-opening – once allowed- of live shows and fests, will it ever be the same?
Well … that’s a difficult question because nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. Personally, I think things will be different. I think it will never be like in the past, especially in the first years people in order to enter a live show may have to verify that they are vaccinated and that kind of staff. I really hope that it won’t evolve like this, but I have this feeling that that’s the way it’s going to be. Hopefully, at a certain point everything will get back to normal, but at the same time I do believe that it’s gonna be forever changed somehow. We’ll see…
What should a fan in your opinion do in order to support his favorite band/bands nowadays; considered things can be difficult financially without live gigs and touring?
Yeah, that’s true! Especially now that we cannot go touring, that is basically our main source of income. So we appreciate it even more now when people buy the actual album or our merchandise. For a band like us makes a huge difference when people buy the physical album and t-shirts. That will help us keeping the band running, literally. Without the physical sales would be simply over. I’m really thankful for the people who support us this way!
Releasing already eight full length albums, I’m sure it hasn’t always been an easy path; there must have been ups and downs through the years. Could you give as some highlights of your career? Which was also the toughest moment for the band so far?
The highlights were definitely the big tours and shows that we did. Sometimes even a small show can be a highlight, because the atmosphere can be so good that you do remember it forever. Highlight for me is also having cooperated with so many great and talented people that always want what’s best for Epica, and push us out of our comfort zone. For example, working with Joost van den Broek (our producer) is always a highlight because it’s such a great guy. Same goes for Sascha Paeth, our former producer that still works with us on some vocals lines; he’s such an amazing guy. Working together with the band on new music material can be also considered as a highlight. For example, he had a great time working together in the Netherlands, we sat all together in a house and worked on new songs, amazingly refreshing feeling. Of course there are always downsides as well. One example is when Simone’s father had an accident, and we were in the middle of the tour and she had to fly back in Germany. The rest of us didn’t know if she was going to be able to continue with the tour, so we stayed one more week in America hoping she would be. The situation was not improving, so the whole tour got cancelled. Such moments are very difficult because you have a certain amount of costs and you cannot get this money back from an insurance company, because nobody wants to insure such tours. So, this kind of moments can be very hard, but we were all really happy that she was with her father that he survived in the end without any complications. After that you decide how you are going to solve financial trouble. We have always made it, despite all difficulties we had the last 20 years, we went through, we‘ve always found a way to overcome everything. Whenever somebody is going through a difficult moment, health and family is the first priority after all.
You have a huge fan base here in Greece. Can you recall some memories from your latest performances here? (If I’m not mistaken your last appearance was in Rockwave Festival back 2017).
Yeah, I remember it was extremely hot; it was in the middle of the summer, middle of the day. I think it was one of the hottest shows I’ve done in my life [laughter]. I definitely remember that because of the heat, but also the people were still so passionate and it was like the Greek people didn’t feel the heat and they were giving us their best, so I loved it. I hope we’ll be back soon.
Well… that was all, any last words for your fans out there?
“Μου αρέσει ο ήλιος” (I like the sun in Greek)! [laughter] Well, i know some Greek words because I have some Greek friends, I know some difficult ones too … “Σ’ αγαπώ πολύ μωρό μου” (I love you baby) [laughter], and rock is “βράχος”, and plural of rocks is “βράχια”, and “μονοπάτι” (path).
I’m pretty amazed, clearly you like mountains. Are you staying in Greece from time to time and you’re keeping it secret [laughter]? I mean even your pronunciation is suspiciously good…
[laughter] I used to visit Greece; somewhere in the middle of the mountains (I cannot recall the name of the village right now). Greece is a really beautiful country and I love the variations of the landscape, and the food is delicious of course, I love feta cheese [laughter].
Thank you for your time! It was a pleasure! Wish you guys all the best and hope to see you soon in Greece.
Thank you; let’s hope that live shows will be back soon, fingers crossed!
“Καληνύχτα” (Good night in Greek)!
“Καληνύχτα”, “ευχαριστώ πολύ” (thank you so much).
Thank you too, I wish you a good evening and hope to talk to you again.