Interview date

Octobre 2009




Interview Mark Jansen

Hi, I'm Ostianne for the French Webzine Aux Portes Du Metal.

Hi, it's nice to meet you !

How do you feel few days before the release of "Design your Universe"?

Very excited! We've been waiting for this moment for many months, and now, finally it's gonna be release. I was also happy on last Saturday (10th October), 'cauce it was the first time the album was on sale, at the released party, and we sold already 650 CDs the day. I was very happy to see there was such a run on CDs. It was for me also a special day, I had for the first time the CD in my hand, I didn't see it before so it was a very special moment.

Ariën joined the band for "The Divine Conspiracy" and Isaac joined it while you were working on "Design Your Univers". They both come from the death metal scene so do you think they contributed to make this album more metal or more "death" metal?

Yes, I think so, because since Ariën is in the band, the way of drumming is completely different than before. Jeroen Simons had more guess influences on his way of play, and Ariën van Weesenbeeks' way of playing is more metal oriented. And you hear the difference very obvious. We had written songs for the new album before Isaac joined the band, that's right, but he also worked a lot with me on the final detail. And his way of playing the guitar is more death metal than we use before. So there were more possibilities for guitars line, and we kept on sending each others files with updates. So that's why the guitars have been lift to a next level I think.

For many people you have listened to this new album, it's the album of maturity. What do you think about that?

Yes, I think so. We always try to find new elements to integrate in our music. And we always try to reach a next level of composing and also playing wise and singing wise for Simone. And I'm happy we found the right formula to do this album and serve this way the things we tried. We worked harder than ever before on the last details, and I think it's the most mature album of today. Hopefully we can keep on going in this line and there still many things we want to try out, many ideas for the future. I think with this way of working we found the right balance and we want to keep on going like this for the next album.

I'd like to talk about "Kingdom of Heaven" which is the longest song with a lot of elements and ambiances. What gave you the inspiration for this song?

The bases of this song were written already many years ago, three years ago. I wanted to write it for a side project, which was more black-death metal project, because I knew I couldn't use these things in Epica because our former drummer didn't like to drum like this, but since Ariën joined the band I thought I could use it for Epica as well. And I kept on writing on this song and changing stuff. It took three years in the end to be done. So for me it's very a special song. I also dedicated to my grandmother who always been there for the band, always do great job for the band. She passed away at the beginning of this year and every time we play the song she is in my memory, so she is always there with me. I remember her in very positives waves. That song is for me very deep.

As usual, for this album, the last song gives the title of the album. Is it one of your trademarks?

Yes, I think it started with the first album. With the second one, it was a coincidence. And then we thought "let's keep on going like this". As soon as the last song title doesn't fit to the album, we won't do it anymore. But every time, the title of the last song was also a great album title. And as it's a very long song, there is many lyrics in this song that's why it covers most the time the albums. "Design You Universe" also fit very well as an album title. So we could go on with this tradition.

"Design Your Universe" represents the freedom, the possibility to change our world. Do you think we are the only master of our destiny and we can change the world with will?

I think so. I think if we really want to, we can. But so far not many people want it to. We live in a world where money is more important than nature. It developed like this and economics were boosted and stimulated, and we didn't care about nature and I think that's why we didn't really want to make a change, because everybody are really focus on their own wallet spilling it, getting what their neighbours have to, the grass of the neighbour home is always greener than at our own home. And now, we really see it's not a way to go. Because people get more individual and don't work together anymore, it's everybody on its own. I think to live together in this world, it's very important to work together again. We have to work together otherwise; we destroy all that we have: we destroy the earth, we destroy ourselves. I think we can, if we really focus on it, to make this change. So far, many people tryed, but it never happened. More and more people nowadays realised that we have to do something otherwise it will be awful for the future generations.

When you write your lyrics, do you set a line you don't wanna cross because you think you may go too far or you don't have any limits?

I don't have limits. Of course when you write, sometimes you delete something, thing which is not appropriate, maybe goes too far, but it is because I think myself it's not right to do. If everything that I think it's right, I write down with no limitations. For myself I have limitations, when I think I'm wrong with something. But for everything else, I write down.

And do you think you can change people state of mind with your words?

I'm sure we can! Many people write messages that they find support in our music. People who had very difficult times in their lives find support, and they started feeling better. If somebody feels better by listening to our music, that's already a change of state of mind!

Simone and you are both songwriters. Do you think it's important for Epica to have two different sides of writing?

Yes I think so. I think it's interesting for people to have two completely different lyrics writers, with different way of writing. I think that keeps the interest. There are people who feel more connected to Simones' lyrics, there are people feel connected to my lyrics. It's a good thing indeed, there is more variation.

On this new album, there is the continuation of "A New Age Dawns". Do you think you have explored the subject as a whole or will you write again about it in the future?

Oh, I think every time there is more to explore in this subject, and so much to learn. Every time there are many books I want to read, things that fascinate me. So I think it could never stop. I'm not sure if we will continue this subject in the future because we never think about it. It is possible. It just depends on if there are reasons to continue it or not.

If we except "The Score" and your live album, I noticed your first and your third album had songs in common ("The Embrace That Smothers") and Simone appeared on the albums covers. For the second and forth one, which have "A New Age Dawns" in common, Simone doesn't appear on the cover. Is Simone presence on albums covers is linked to a concept or some songs?

(Laughs) Oh it's funny you see a connection, I didn't realise that. We didn't think about that but, you are right, it is a connection, but may be, we can come up with some conspiracy behind it! (Laughs) But the fact is we didn't think about it!

Your video clip "Unleashed" intrigues a lot of people. What is its real meaning?

I think it's very funny. I also read on forum people discussing it "what's the meaning behind the video?" (Laughs) That's good because when it's not too obvious, people start to talk about it and create a buzz. Because that's what a video should do, people start to talk about it. So I think in that way the video clip accomplish his goal. And the meaning behind it is that the main character in the video got shot in his apartment by burglars. But he doesn't realize that he is dead. So he is still there, His wife sitting there, he tries to getting contact with his wife, but his wife doesn't see him because he is dead, he passed away. He doesn't realise it. And then he get haunted by the band members, who follow him everywhere; in a way try to tell him that he has to get out of there, and go the light for example, to where he belongs because he is dead. So he should not stay on the earth anymore. We have to haunt him and get him out of here.

Epica seems to be omnipresent in the metal scene since its creation. How do you explain that?

Yeah, we were very lucky that from the beginning on we had quite good start. The very first shows were not at well visited yet, but as soon as the name got spread better, then more and more people went to the shows. And from the beginning on it was very important for us to have the best quality possibility on CD, to have best quality possibilities for live shows, and as we always worked on details, and get the details better, that's why we established our name very fast. And grow in such a court time so fast. And that's why also we realised so many CD already in a relatively short time. I think these are the reasons.

This week-end, you have played in Paradisio to present your album. What were the public reactions?

We had great reactions. What I read on the Internet and what I heard after the show, people were very pleased with the show. We did huge efforts to make it a big show: there were big lights show, pyro, and some special guest. Ad Sluijter, our former guitarist was playing with us for one song. So I think all the people who were here were happy about it. Also the new songs were received very well. I'm happy it went so well.

Talking about guest, there will be two guest at the Metal Female Voices Festival, is there one who had already play with you?

(Laughs) One had played already and one never played with us.

And you won't tell who they will be before the show?

Yes, I promise that I wouldn't tell anybody! (Laughs) Otherwise it's not a surprise anymore!

You will record a DVD at the Metal Female Voices Festival...

We will record DVD material, but it's not sure yet if we will use it or not.

Ok, and, if you choose do some footage, is it because you have a special relation-ship with this festival, which one of the reason of its creation is to help Epica to play in Belgium?

Yes, we definitely have a special relationship with Metal Female Voices Fest, and they like to say it was created to give Epica opportunity to play in Belgium, and then the festival developed just like Epica very fast, and become very big. That's why we play also many editions of Metal Female Voices Festival. We only missed one, and that's was because we think it wasn't right to play always at the Metal Female Voices Fest, otherwise it may be get boring for the people. But now, we have a new album, there will be footage for the DVD, so all this things together and the fact we will do the biggest show we ever done before... So yeah, we have a very special connection to Metal Female... It was always like this, and we always tried to create something new on Metal Female Voices Fest so I look very much for this show and it's surely one of the highlights of 2009 for me, with the Paradisio show, and The Classical Conspiracy show, and Wacken Open Air, so this four shows are definitely my highlights of the year.

But you haven't play in France this year, so may one of your show here will be one of your favourite too!

Yeah, we will play at Elysée Montmartre, that's always one of my favourite shows too. And also Lyon, it's always great to play there. In France, there's always good crowd for Epica. So maybe at the end of the year, I will say I have five or six highlights!!

You will play two times in Paris, and you will do a special show the 6th November. Why?

We get the chance to play two shows in Elysée Montmartre because previous time, it was sold out and there were some people who couldn't go the show anymore. So we decided this time to do two shows at least, everybody who wants to can go to one of these shows. And for the people who want to go to the two shows, we want to create at least, two different set-lists. So one show will be the album presentation, so people who like the new album can best go to the 6th because they will hear all the new songs. And people who go the 7th, there will get a mix of a lot of old songs with some new songs. The old songs that we will play on first day, won't be played on the second day.

To end this interview, can you say few words to your fans?

What I want to say it's I really look for the European tour, and to end it in France, it's always a good ending, because you end in Elysée Montmartre. Paris in one of my favourite cities in the world, and Elysée is one of the nicest avenues in Europe; so to end at Elysée Montmartre is a perfect end to the tour because to play in the most highlights place, that's always the best end. Because, if you have to play in Elysée Montmartre, and then after you have to play for example in a small club in Germany, you feel a little bit disappointing. Even thought you don't want to, you feel a little bit disappointing. It's better to begin a tour in small clubs and then you developed 'cause then you are very enthusiastic from the beginning to the end! So I hope to see the fans to the shows!