On March 27th 2011, Epica played the Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park in Istanbul-Turkey with Draconian and Tristania. As LebMetal, we had the opportunity to interview the band on several topics such as their lyrical themes, personal interests and more.
The interview was done by our own Karl Sawaya and friends Johnny Francis and Mona Bassil. All pictures were taken by Mona.
The tour has been going on for a while now, aren’t you guys exhausted?
Coen : It’s true we’ve been on the road for quite some time now, but we don’t mind it. We love discovering new countries and meeting new fans.
Have you played in the Middle East before?
Mark : We played in Israel, Turkey and Tunisia. A good experience so far.
Are there any technical differences between performing in Europe and in the Middle East?
Isaac : Not necessarily, we’ve had some constraints in European countries such as the UK and the Czech Republic. Here in Istanbul, things are looking good, and anyway we have our own technical crew to help us.
You perform in small venues back home such as Tivoli in Utrecht, and on bigger stages such as international festivals. Which ones do you prefer?
Mark : Small venues are more intimate, we get to interact more with the fans. As for festivals, we reach out to a bigger audience, which is cool as well. Festivals such as Graspop and Metal Female Voices Fest are important since we get to play alongside other international bands.
Epica’s music is heavily influenced by classical music and movie soundtracks. Who are your favorite composers?
Coen : I’m a big fan of Bach’s, Hans Zimmer and John Williams.
Isaac : I’m not really into classical music, as much as I’m into easy listening, something I got from my mom (laughs).
Mark : I listen to Rachmaninov, his compositions were avant-garde and if u add drums to them, they would sound quite Metal.
Most themes you explore in your lyrics are related to religion and politics. How come, especially that life in the Netherlands is rather peaceful compared to the Middle East?
Mark : These problems are also present in developed countries. Religious fanaticism is really something to worry about, as are wars conducted for oil and money. Things are always heating up. Actually, I heard a theory on the radio the other day : if the majority of a population is aged between 15 and 30 years old, like in Arab countries, the feeling of rebellion comes more naturally to them. Where there is youth, there is anger.
In the song Kingdom of Heaven, there’s a line about Quantum physics. Why the use of scientific terms in metal music and whose idea was it?
Mark : Mine (laughs). The way I see it , everything is energy, and it can be influenced by collective consciousness. It controls everything around us and is the basis of the whole universe. It’s an interesting topic that I felt like sharing with the fans.
How much time does it take to record an album?
Coen : It depends, the last album, Design Your Universe, took about 9 months to be completed.
Isaac : the guitar lines took 3 months to pre-produce and 2 months to record.
Does work take a lot of your time? Do you have time for personal life? Because Coen for instance has just had a baby.
Coen : in the UK leg of the tour, it was the 1st time I felt away from my family. It’s a bit hard at first, but I always manage to see them.
If you have time to travel for leisure, where would you guys go ?
Isaac : Australia
Mark : Japan, definitely.
Coen : New Zealand, China for the culture and the way of life. My parents went to China, they told me it was really beautiful.
How come “The Embrace that Smothers” began with part 4 on your 1st album? What about the first 3 parts?
Mark : They are in the first After Forever album.
What musical differences are there between Epica and Mayan?
Mark : Mayan is not a project anymore, it’s officially a band now. We are planning on doing live shows. 3 people collaborated on the 1st album, the 2nd will include more musicians. People asked for heavier drums on Epica’s albums, but we couldn’t do it so as to not affect Simone’s vocals.
Mayan’s music is therefore heavier and more technical, and relies on more growling.
Do you have time to practice?
Isaac : I’m freaking out because I’m practicing Mayan songs while touring for Epica (laughs).
What subjects do you tackle with Mayan?
Mark : Even though I have a fascination with the Mayan civilization, the lyrical themes are rather violent and contemporary : corruption, abuse of power, the mafia, the war on terror ,etc… So basically it’s all about politics. But the themes might change depending on my readings.
Will Epica ever release a live DVD?
Mark : Honestly, with all the piracy and the clips on Youtube, we don’t see how we can afford it. It’s very costly, and people are buying less and less original CDs and DVDs despite the low quality of uploaded media.
Will we ever see Epica perform live in Lebanon?
Mark : If there’s a promoter that has the balls to bring us to Lebanon, we’d love to come (laughs).
Anything you’d like to say to your Lebanese fans?
It’s really cool that there are fans in countries we’ve never visited and we know so little of, plus it’s good to know that there r metal fans who dare to be different in that part of the world.
Mark : Funny thing is, there’s a Lebanese girl who collaborated with me on Mayan’s album : Some of the lyrics were influenced by her political views. I’d like to point out that she’s a Muslim, because some accuse me of being biased against Muslims, and that’s completely ridiculous.
Anything you’d like to add?
Mark : If we can’t come to our Lebanese fans, then let them come to us, especially if we’re in a nearby country! Just like you guys came to Turkey to see us.