Diamond Oz of Metal Underground conducted an interview with guitarist Mark Jansen of Dutch symphonic metallers EPICA prior to the band’s April 13 concert at O2 Forum in Kentish Town, London, England. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the response to the band’s 2016 studio album, “The Holographic Principle”:
Mark: “It’s been a great response. The fans have been really happy. We’re playing many new songs [from the album] live. We always have to try to find out what people like to hear. I think the new songs go over really well. When we released the EP [‘The Solace System’], we added another song into the setlist from the EP. There’s quite some new stuff for us to play and people are enjoying it. We try to balance with what we played the last time, so we changed quite a few songs from the previous time to offer the fans a refreshing setlist, so there’s eight different tracks.”
On using the leftover songs from “The Holographic Principle” for the “The Solace System” EP:
Mark: “This time, we thought we had many songs that could have been on the album, but there wasn’t enough space. Earlier, on our albums, we had songs that were simply not good enough. Sometimes, there’s a song like ‘In All Conscience’ that shouldn’t have been on ‘The Quantum Enigma’, but often, there are some tracks that are not fitting in a way or quality-wise, not good enough. But, this time, we had a lot of tracks that we thought were great tracks that could have been on the album, too, but we decided to keep them together and release them as an EP.”
On the themes of EPICA‘s lyrics, many of which warn against people becoming too dependent upon technology:
Mark: “Yeah, the thing is, it’s more like technology is a blessing, but you can use it in different ways. You can use it for the good and you can use it for the bad. That’s more like it; I’m happy that it’s there and happy that it exists, but it’s a decision what you do with it. That’s like everything in life. You can take the good out of it or the bad out of it and that’s always the choice you have to make.”
On using a real orchestra for the first time for “The Holographic Principle”:
Mark: “That was the first time we did it like that. In the past, we worked with just string sections and real choirs, but now, we thought, ‘What can we do now better than in the past?’ Then we came up with this idea. You can record an orchestra in two ways: You can go to an orchestra and they’ll play all of your stuff, but the thing is, somebody makes a mistake, you cannot change it since it’s one session. If you take them separately to the studio, you have much more control over the sounds. When you record the strings, you hear only the strings and not any brass crossing through it. So, that has a big advantage, but it’s very time-consuming and you have to write two scores, which is a lot of work, yes. These people, they need to get paid as well. In the end, it’s very expensive. But luckily now, we are on the level now where we can ask for the budget and they go along with it so we can realize this.”
On what’s changed for EPICA since their 2002 formation:
Mark: “The lineup, because we’ve had three lineup changes in 16 years, which is not that much. MEGADETH is a good example of one authority guy [Dave Mustaine] and there’s some people happy and people not happy and they leave and get new people. EPICA is much more like a democracy, where everybody has a say in what we’re doing. I think that’s why people stay in EPICA much longer, because they feel like they’re important.”
After two years of non-stop touring worldwide, EPICA will perform the last batch of festivals of its current touring cycle this summer.
EPICA‘s latest release was “The Solace System” EP, featuring six songs which were created during the sessions for “The Holographic Principle”.