In our latest huge exclusive, Rocksins was delighted to be able to have some time with guitarist Isaac Delahaye and singer Simone Simons from Epica, who were in London for a day to promote Epica’s new forthcoming album Requiem For The Indifferent (if you’d like to read a review of Requiem For The Indifferent please click this link). Read on to hear what they had to say about the new album, their side project MaYaN, Simone touring with Kamelot and many other things.
Jamie: Ok, I’ll get the standard boring stuff that I’m sure you’ve been asked five times already first..
Isaac: Only today *laughs*
Jamie: Requiem For The Indifferent is out in a month’s time now, are you looking forward to it being out there and getting it out to the fans?
Isaac: Yeah! That’s what we do this all for.
Jamie: (To Isaac) Am I right in thinking that this is the first album that you’ve been fully involved in the writing process?
Isaac: Yeah where I really composed songs.
Jamie: (To Simone) Has it changed how the band have written and done things from the previous albums?
Simone: Well Mark is still the main composer but everyone who wants to write songs is more than welcome. Of course if we like the songs then they’re going to be on the record. I think Isaac offered three songs and two of them made it to the record and they definitely stand out because they’re a bit different, they’re really great and offer a little bit of a new sound.
Jamie: I know both of you and Mark are involved in MaYaN and the MaYaN sound is quite different to the style of Epica, do you think writing the MaYaN album has helped to focus things or influenced the writing of the new Epica album?
Isaac: I think Mark really needed the MaYaN album to be able to write that stuff to be able to be all fresh and to have a new Epica album. Design Your Universe was a very good album and it was received very well, to top that is of course not always easy to do and he needed to focus on something completely different and then come back to Epica. MaYaN was very fun to do, we also toured it. Some people say it’s almost like the same lineup but I think it’s pretty different from what we do with Epica. But it was very refreshing indeed, after that we could just go full power on an Epica album again and I think it worked for everyone.
Jamie: I certainly haven’t heard too many albums like that before.
Isaac: The MaYaN album?
Jamie: Yeah, I thought it was great.
Isaac: It was certainly very interesting because it kinda started as a project from Mark and Jack and Frank the other guitar player fooling around and seeing what you can come up with and then it became pretty serious in a short time because Nuclear Blast was interested so then they said let’s just make a band and ask some guest vocalists and in the end the guest vocalists are basically all over the album and that’s very nice to see how it spontaneously grew.
Jamie: Do you think you will all go back to MaYaN at some point?
Isaac: Oh yeah, I think there’s going to be a follow up. Actually when I was writing stuff for Epica Mark said when I was working on one song and he heard that one and he said “nah, we should use that for the next MaYaN album”. So it didn’t make it onto the Epica album, maybe it’ll be on the next MaYaN album, we’re just collecting ideas right now, there’s no real plan yet. Probably it will be after the whole crazy circus with Epica.
Jamie: Simone with you being on tour with Kamelot a lot of last year, did that affect the timetable and the process for the new album or were you able to do lyrics while you were on the road?
Simone: Whenever I have free time then I try to travel with Kamelot because they’re friends and Oliver is my boyfriend so whenever possible I’ll do it but not if it harms Epica in any way or if it will delay the whole process. I was in America with Kamelot last year in September and we had already started recording the record but until it’s my turn that was in October it was ok. I try to plan it really well but whenever I have free time I can tour with Kamelot or other bands. Last year I did about eight tours, not only Epica and Kamelot but other bands as well.
Jamie: You weren’t at home much then.
Simone: No *laughs* only a couple of months last year.
Jamie: I know there are various different lyrical themes to the album, there’s lots of crazy and not necessarily good stuff going on in the world right now and quite a lot of that is reflected on the album. Do you think there’s any one major theme that takes precedence over the others?
Simone: It depends where your interest lies. Of course the financial crisis is a huge topic but if you think about dictatorship and how people suffer from that, money is of course a universal thing right now but having respect for each other, feeling safe in your country and that your opinion is being respected is in my opinion more important than money but unfortunately money is important and keeps it all together. That side of things is collapsing slowly and I talked awhile ago about the whole money issue and I said why can’t we just have a system where if you want a dress or whatever you can give three chickens and you get the dress. Obviously that’s how it all started with money and bartering.
Isaac: There’s this new movie In Time..
Simone: Oh yeah I wanna see that..
Isaac: It really made me think, I don’t know if you’ve seen it?
Jamie: No I haven’t seen that yet but I know the one you mean.
Isaac: It really made me think because it’s basically about that there is no money in the world anymore but people basically have to buy time and time is the currency. Everyone lives up until they are twenty five and after that you stay twenty five in appearance but your clock is ticking down so you need to make sure if you go to work then you get more time or if someone dies they can give someone time, like all the expressions “do you have a minute?” that’s a very different view that you get from this. You also have for instance all the rich people are the people with lots of time and you see them just walking very slowly and they don’t rush and they have all the time in the world so to speak, literally. Then you see the lower class people who have to work and everyone is really hurried and they run to their work to save time like that. It’s a very interesting way to see things because you have the rich who have all the power and the time and then you have the poor who are stressed out and constantly working and they have no time, it’s a race against time. It’s a very interesting movie if you start thinking about it. My Aunt like ten years ago something she tried to start a system like bartering, she lived in a very small town and she said like ok if I go to the bakery and I want some bread then he can ask something back from me. She tried it out and some people in the village tried it with her but in the end it didn’t work it’s like I need the bread everyday and there’s only so many things you can trade.
Jamie: Somewhere it falls down.
Isaac: Yeah so in the end people think “this is not good”. It is what it is I guess.
Jamie: Thinking about that kind of thing, particularly the film you mentioned gives you quite a lot of themes for writing stuff potentially.
Isaac: Yeah, and that’s the thing, you always have to see stuff in the right perspective. Like Serenade of Self Destruction is about suicide but seen from different perspectives. Like you have people who don’t have any other way out and then they commit suicide, then you have people who do it for their religion, it’s all different.
Jamie: Do you guys have a favourite song each on the album?
Isaac: No, they all suck! *laughs*
Simone: The one he said just Serenade Of Self Destruction I like a lot, it’s a long song and it contains all the sounds of Epica.
Jamie: Is that the last one on the album?
Jamie: That was one of my favourites, sorry I haven’t got to the stage where I know all the names yet.
Simone: Yeah, the first one the last one and the ballad *laughs* those are the ones you can pick out easily.
Isaac: For me it’s the opening track Monopoly On Truth, I really like that one because it’s for a guitar player.
Jamie: There’s lots of good riffs in that.
Isaac: Exactly, so I like that a lot, that’s my favourite.
Jamie: Going back to something you guys said earlier about Mark, have you felt the pressure from trying to live up to the last album?
Simone: Yeah, a little bit. You always set the standard a little higher and each record you want to improve yourself. Design Your Universe was a great record so we wanted to continue the same style and if you think too much about it it gets a little bit scary or you might get writers block but luckily that was not the case. Mark still had some songs on the shelf which he picked up, Isaac contributed two songs, Kuun our keyboard player wrote two songs, we’re always searching for the right sound and everything. The songs are not always clear but as they developed, as all the melodies came into place you start to get a good feeling about it. But after a certain point when you’re stuck in the music after months and months of working on it you hate the album and you can’t think straight anymore and you’re like “oh my god I can’t say if this is any good or not I kinda hate it right now, I can’t listen to it anymore”.
Isaac: That’s kinda the problem with being in Epica because it’s not like we’re a death metal band with all respect to death metal bands that can just get together and make a lot of noise and that’s it. It’s all the little pieces which only basically in the end will fall together. During the whole process you’re still like “oh we need to get the choir sessions recorded” because we don’t always do the choir at the same time as the actual recordings that is usually something that is added at the end of the stuff. Also you come up with vocal lines but you come up with backing vocals, there’s so many little details which are only there at the end of the trip. That’s sometimes scary because you think I hope all the pieces will fall together because they have to.
Jamie: You guys do write quite complicated songs…
Isaac: Exactly, so that’s what I mean, with all respect we’re not a punk band or a three piece, it’s quite complicated.
Jamie: Once the album is out you’re doing some shows in Mainland Europe in Italy and Spain and Germany, any chance of you guys hitting the UK somewhere on there?
Isaac: Of course! *laughs* We don’t have anything really confirmed yet, last time we were in the UK we did a special UK round so if you include it in a European tour you might have the danger that you only play London, maybe one extra show. So we really like the fact we have the UK on it’s own because there are lots of places where you can play and most people only do one show and that’s a pity. We are a band who is touring a lot all over the place, if you do it you better do it good! *laughs* For instance we said earlier today Ireland, we’d love to play there. So maybe with this album. So we’ll be back but it’s still in the works because right now we’re really focusing on the release and then the European tour. So we’re working on the right, but nothing confirmed yet.
Jamie: Have I seen that you’ve recently been added to Metalcamp (Slovenian Festival)?
Simone: Yeah we’ve played there before, it’s got some lovely sights, ice water from the mountains, people skinny dipping *laughs* and just people enjoying good music. It’s nice because so many festivals are in industrial areas but there you are in the middle of nature and it feels like a holiday. So we’re happy that we can go back there, we love playing festivals. It’s a time for you where you can get new fans whereas when you have club shows the fans go there because they know you, or the majority know you but at festivals it might be that only a few people know you so for us it’s a great way to get Epica out there.
Jamie: Quite a few people have asked me if there’s any chance of you guys going back to Bloodstock this year as I know you’ve played there before?
Simone: I’d like to, when is it actually is it in the Summer?
Jamie: Second week of August.
Isaac: Maybe, I don’t think I saw an offer yet for that one, we have a UK booker so maybe he’s working on some stuff but the same thing again that we’re so focused on the album that it’s hard if they ask about stuff that’s still far off…
Jamie: It’s like “not now”.
Isaac: Exactly so. But it was a cool festival. That was the first time I saw Five Finger Death Punch, I saw the name and I really didn’t know what to think but they were huge, they were headlining (interviewer’s note, I think Isaac got mixed up with Hammerfest as I don’t know that 5FDP have ever been to Bloodstock). They wouldn’t headline in Belgium or in Holland so it was really something big in the UK and America. So it’s interesting playing a festival like that and I really discovered this band and I really liked them. But we’ll see, I don’t think we have any UK offers yet.
Simone: I hope we will get an offer.
Jamie: I hope so too, I’m sure a lot of people would want to see you guys, whether it’s a festival or a tour.
Isaac: I’m sure we will be back, don’t worry *laughs*
Jamie: Obviously making money as a musician isn’t the easiest thing in the world these days, I’ve seen a lot of musicians have started to offer lessons through this new website called Bandhappy. A lot of people seem to be taking to it as I guess it’s a good way to interact with your fans and make money from the comfort of your own living room or home studio, is that something you’ve ever thought about doing?
Isaac: I think the drummer from Textures, the Dutch band, I saw that on his Facebook that he offered that and then I checked out the website and I also saw a guy from Unearth I think or maybe All Shall Perish…
Jamie: Buz from Unearth is doing it I think..
Isaac: So I checked it out and I was like “I’ve never heard of this”. Maybe I’ll do that someday but I already teach guitar when I’m home with private lessons and I really like that if you’re face to face with someone you can point or actually take their finger and put it where it needs to be or you can move their arm and put it how it should be, that would be different online.
Jamie: I’ve always wondered how effective it is with that kind of thing online.
Isaac: Yeah I’m not really sure because I’ve never done it.
Simone: Oliver (Palotai, Simone’s boyfriend from Kamelot) has been doing it with Skype online lessons and it’s funny because he has to hear his headphones and he’s screaming so loud because he can’t hear himself but then when I walk by I see that the camera is on his hands so you can only see the guitar and he says it goes pretty well so long as you have a good Internet connection. But he’s always yelling through the house and he can’t hear himself, it’s funny.
Isaac: Maybe I should try it at some point, I guess there are people out there who would like to maybe have a lesson with me because I’m the guitar player from Epica *laughs* I don’t know. Maybe it is old school of me but I really like the interaction with an actual person in the room. Also talking to people, Skype is a very good way of course for musicians to stay in touch with home so to speak. But still there is nothing which beats the real thing.
Jamie: I completely agree.
Isaac: I’d rather be face to face, but maybe I’ll try it.
Jamie: If you guys don’t mind I’ve got one last Epica question then I might hit Simone with a Kamelot question if that’s ok. The tenth anniversary of Epica is coming up soon, have you thought about doing anything for it or are there any plans?
Isaac: Also not confirmed yet, but there are plans. We were brainstorming about stuff but the thing is if you get offers for stuff, like you could say it’s tenth anniversary but still we have a new album which is also very important and you need to promote that as well. With our busy schedule it’s hard to do both.
Simone: There will be a huge party that’s for sure. What we’re going to do exactly we’ll have to wait and see what our budget is going to be and our time schedule because we are going to do many tours this year and like Isaac says Requiem For The Indifferent has our main attention right now and then we can celebrate, have a nice party…
Isaac: Have some tea…
Simone: Get loaded, get drunk, play some music, hang out with the fans and celebrate our ten year anniversary.
Isaac: There we need to know the planning and that’s still a little in the works now.
Simone: We will definitely celebrate it though, ten years is something special.
Jamie: Especially with the way things are not very many bands make it to ten years so it’s a big deal.
Simone: It makes us feel old *laughs*
Isaac: Well we are! *laughs*
Simone: Old farts! Grandpa and Grandma playing in the metal band. We’re not that bad yet.
Isaac: That’s why I said tea!
Jamie: I don’t think you guys are exactly Motorhead quite yet.
Isaac: Not quite yet.
Simone: We’ve still got some years I think.
Jamie: I’m a massive Kamelot fan, so I have to ask; Has it been completely different being around the band and the atmosphere with the band with Fabio as opposed to Roy and also singing with Fabio compared to Roy?
Simone: Well Fabio is Italian and Roy was Norweigan, Roy I’ve known for years, Fabio I could often not understand because he’s got a heavy Italian accent and he is a little bit more eighties style where Roy was a little bit more modern. Their voices are totally difference but Fabio can sing all Kamelot songs live as to where Roy was not singing the older songs that much anymore because they were simply too high for him. Stage presence wise they are completely different. I think Fabio is now the best solution for them, he’s the temporary replacement, they are still searching for the perfect singer and haven’t found the perfect combination of a great voice with great charisma which fits with the band. Singing with Fabio is also totally different than with Roy as he was sometimes totally out in space and didn’t know where he was and I could be waiting for him and Fabio is very theatrical in a different way. He also sweats like crazy, Roy too but Fabio is a real Italian sweat-er *laughs* he really pushes me against his body and its like “oh I can smell you’re Italian” *laughs*
Isaac: Smells like pizza! *laughs*
Simone: Well no *laughs* but he is of course not like Roy, it’s difficult and it’s the same thing with Nightwish; Are you going to take a new singer that sounds the same or who is completely different. Everyone is going to complain about it anyway! For now Fabio is doing a really good job and that he’s amazing live and it’s not like nobody came to the shows anymore, it was really beyond our expectations, the amount of people that came to see it and we’re really pleased and afterwards they said they enjoyed it as much as when Roy was in the band.
Jamie: I saw the tour when you were here in April and I think a lot of people didn’t know what was going to happen and thought it might be the last chance to see the band because we didn’t know if it would carry on after Roy left, and I thought Fabio was just as good if not better than Roy, he was brilliant.
Simone: He’s got a great voice and he is fantastic, he’s got a different voice but he’s an amazing metal singer, he can sing the high songs and the low songs and also he has great charisma.
Jamie: Do you not think Fabio will end up singing for Kamelot full time, you think they will get someone else?
Simone: Well if they thought about it probably wouldn’t have searched for anybody else but they have difficulties finding somebody and they are currently writing a new record so there is a little bit of time pressure and I think Fabio would be up for it. But we’ll see, time will tell. I’m sure Tom (Thomas Youngblood, Kamelot guitsrist) wants to continue so there will be a new Kamelot record.
Jamie: I just got an email about their new tour coming here in November so it sounded like things were happening.
Simone: Yeah, they are doing everything possible, if there is not another singer I think Fabio is still going to do it, he knows the songs and things went pretty well, but there’s definitely a good future for Kamelot.
Jamie: Great, well that’s satisfied my fan curiousity! (Isaac laughs at me) Thank you both very much for your time!
Isaac: You’re welcome.
Epica’s new album Requiem For The Indifferent will be released on Nuclear Blast Records on the 9th of March (13th for North America). Epica will be on tour in mainland Europe throughout April and May 2012. Any news of UK tour dates, as well as any other news from Epica will be brought to you here by Rocksins.com. For anyone with a further interest in Isaac, Simone and Mark’s side project MaYaN you can read a review of the fantastic MaYaN album Quarterpast by clicking on this link. For more rock & metal artist interviews please keep checking back with us for regular new exclusives.