quinta-feira, 20 de setembro de 2012

Interview: Epica - Making the Difference

(Para ler em português, clique aqui)

With 12 years of career, the symphonic metal band Epica became, disc after disc, tour after tour, probably the biggest name ever in evidence in the world, releasing albums that surpass every time their predecessors while maintaining a unique feature but daring other ways.

Isaac Delahaye
His newest work, "Requiem For the Indifferent" (2012), brings the pinnacle of maturity of Simone Simons (vocals), Mark Jensen (guitars and guttural vocals), Isaac Delahaye (guitar), Rob van der Loo (bass), Coen Janssen (keyboards) and Arien van Weesenbeek (drums).

The group walks through classical music (releasing DVD with live orchestra and preparing commemorative show in 2013), is currently on a world tour, which has already passed by the main European countries, reaching the extensive touring in the U.S. and Canada (part of Power Prog Festival alongside other greats Metal bands).

The Latin American portion of the tour comes a few days ago from the group's concerts in Brazil and talked with Issac, who managed a break in the band's busy schedule to talk exclusively to Road to Metal and the Brazilian fans. Isaac told us about the theme of the new album and the band's songwriting. He also talked about the role of social Epica, besides the memories of the show in Porto Alegre/RS, a city that the group returns to play Sept. 30 for new show and much more. Check it out!

Road to Metal: Nowadays there is a lot of bands that starts to get out of borderlines, from different cultures. What do you think is the most important characteristics that allow a band to be something new?

Isaac: There always have been bands which broke boundaries and invented some new musical "rules". Most of the time it's all about being honest about what you do. Every big band just has something unique, something honest, something you can feel. So that's also something you need to focus on when you start a band, write music, record an album or play a show. You can't fool people. If you fake it, they'll notice.

Road to Metal: The band always stood by the accuracy in the construction of the songs and the themes of literature and art in your albums. "Requiem for the Indifferent" talks about a new era, where we face challenges as the religious and cultural differences, economic crises, natural disasters, etc.. Simone said in an interview for the magazine "Roadie Crew" (Brazil) proposed that the album is doing an alert on these issues and the need for change. How is the artists and bands role, regarding people's awareness to these issues? 

Isaac: Well, the first and most obvious thing we did is recording an album on which we talk about these topics. Every revolution starts with someone saying that there is something unjust. Epica has done a lot for charity already, and also as a touring band and as a company we always try to do business in a polite way, not in a greedy way. On every level in life there are things which can be changed for the better.

Road to Metal: A song that proves very well the extremism against difference is "Infernal Warfare”. The song was written about the murders by terrorist Anders Breivik, in Norway, and dedicated to the victims, right? Recently we noticed some episodes involving prejudices against foreign artists in some countries. As Dutch musicians who travel the world, there are still as witness reports of xenophobia in some states?

Isaac: Yeah, it indeed is about the killings in Norway. 
We never really experience fear from foreigners. The world has become a pretty small place with internet allover the place, and talking English also helps to travel allover the world.

Epica with Ruurd Woltring at Dutch NTR TV show, "Niks Te Gek"

Road to Metal: Recently Epica participated in the Dutch TV show "Niks you gek" recording a song composed by a young man with a mental difficulty. How was that experience of going to the studio and record the composition of another person, but especially knowing they were realizing a dream of a special fan?

Isaac: This once again is such a thing we really like to do, because we're making someone else happy; we can make a difference, a change. There's no money to be earned by such a thing, so probably many bands wouldn't even consider this. But we wanted to make this guy's dream come true. We get so many requests from fans, for a lot of different things. Unfortunately it's impossible to do all of it, but we like to do something special every now and then.

To read our review (in Portuguese) click here

Road to Metal: The band usually walk along the interesting thematic albums. We had, for example, the theme of the Inquisition. The fans wonder how the band comes to these issues?How the band’s process of composition did works? How is decided the lyric’s themes? For this new album, for example, that speaks about actual and common problems that affect the human race?

Isaac: Basically we start with the music, and then the "feel" of the song can show you what the lyrics should be about. To come back to Internal Warfare: it is a very frenzy song, pretty aggressive. So it fits these lyrics. And a ballad is more intimate, handling about personal problems. Other songs have a sort of arabic feel, so then they are about topics which exist in that part of the world. 

Epica in Porto Alegre (Brazil) (04/07/10). Photo: Sophia  Velho

Road to Metal: The band played for the first time in Porto Alegre in 2010. I remember the fans anxiously awaited for that show!!But unfortunately I could not go, for being away from the city. What memories can you tell us about the shows in Brazil and what the expectation of returning to Porto Alegre/RS (30/09/2012).

Isaac: I remember we had technical difficulties during the day, so we had to wait a very long time to do soundcheck. But this was all solved by the time we had the show. I also think this was the last show of the tour, which always makes it a little different from other shows for some reason. And yeah, of course, the fans. You guys are LOUD! :)

Shows in Brazil approaching. Road to Metal will follow the concert in Porto Alegre

Road to Metal: The transition between the bankrupt Transmission Records renowned for Nuclear Blast was followed with concern by fans, as the band spent time waiting for the departure of the old for the new label. How’s to work with Nuclear Blast? What is the importance of a good contract now in this age of illegal downloading Free?

Isaac: Now that Roadrunner isn't around anymore, Nuclear Blast is probably the biggest metal label nowadays. We're very happy to be part of their roster, and they have a very powerful team. We have 1 more album to go under Nuclear Blast and then we have to start negotiations again for future albums. But I suppose there won't be any problems to sig anew contract with Nuclear Blast. 
Contracts are always important cause they set the rules, both for label and band. And with all the illegal downloading, we just need to find other ways to earn money so we can keep doing what we do. Most people forget that by illegally downloading the music of bands they like, these bands actually are having difficulties to keep going.

Road to Metal: Epica is constantly invited as headliner of European festivals. Recently confirmed that the band will play again in Metal Female Voices Fest. In 2010 the band performed at this same event, recording the show in audio and video. The forecast was the launch of a DVD? The band also plans to release this material? If yes, when?

Isaac: This is a very big misconception actually. The promotor asked us if he could film our show and put some songs on a DVD for the Metal Female Voices Fest. We agreed, and then he used this as a promotional tool to get more people to the festival :) We might use it as a bonus, but if we do a DVD, we'll do it during our own show, with our own audience, and not on a festival.

Road to Metal: Well, thanks for your attention, we are waiting for you!!! I would ask to you to let a message for Brazilian fans, to end this interview!

Isaac: Sure! Thanks for having me. And I'm really looking forward to be back in Brazil. Not only for your awesome meat restaurants, but most of all to hear you all being the loudest crowd in the world again. I hope to see all of you during one of the Brazilian shows, cause it's gonna be a big party!

Road to MetalEduardo Cadore/Carlos Garcia  (to Marlon  Schettert and Cris Feiber: thank you for supporting the site)
Edition: Eduardo Cadore/Fernanda Nascimento
Photos: Disclosure/Sophia Velho

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