Interview date

07 Mai 2014




Interview Mark Jansen, Ariën Van Weesenbeek (by mail)

Hi and thanks for taking some time to answer my questions for the French webzine Aux Portes Du Metal.

Mark: You're welcome :)

Your new album “The Quantum Enigma” will be released in Europe on May the 2nd. Can you tell us what the concept and the themes of this new album are?

Mark: "The Quantum Enigma" means that in quantum physics we can't observe little particles without influencing them. It's been proven in a very famous experiment called the dual slit experiment. As we are all made out of an infinite amount of particles, what does all of this mean for the world as we know it? Is the world still there when we're not watching? Or is it a holographic projection coming from ourselves in a way? What is real and what is an illusion? The "solid" matter as we know it isn't that solid after all. It's all energy which is spinning and turning in a way that it gives us the illusion of being solid. "The Quantum Enigma" is pointing out such questions which are dealing about, thoughts, dreams, illusions of the mind. "The second stone" talks about Alzheimer; people who get this disease die mentally for a first time, then after a while they die physically for a second time. "Victims of contingency" talks about taking responsibilities for your deeds, and the power to learn from mistakes in order to grow as a human being. "Chemical Insomnia" talks about the sleeping pill culture that goes totally out of proportions these days.

In which state of mind did you start thinking of this album? Do you consider “The Quantum Enigma” as a key album for Epica’s future?

Mark: Yes, as we looked back with Retrospect on our first 10 years we wanted with TQE to make a fresh start for the new decade and the intention was definitely to make a big step forward. If we succeeded in that is up to our fans to decide of course but I must say that we are very happy with the result ourselves.

What was the starting point of the process? Which track did you compose first? And which was the last?

Mark: I think "Natural Corruption" was one of the first as it was written already for the "Requiem for the Indifferent" sessions but at that time it didn't fit and wasn't good enough yet. We rewrote it and then it felt like a solved puzzle and it gave us a good feeling. There's no clear starting point of the process as we individually compose songs. When we have enough songs (this time even way to many haha) we sit together and start selecting the best tracks for the album recordings. We did select 18 songs among 30 and those are the ones that appeared on TQE and the 5 tracks that didn't make it to the album will be used as additional tracks on several editions of the album. Hopefully we can release in the future also an edition with all tracks because they still belong to each other.

I read in an interview that this new album sounds more heroic and somehow more like a soundtrack. Did you try to change your musical style or did you just follow your instinct to compose your new songs?

Mark: We always just follow our instincts and don't analyse and think things over too much. We always work hard, try to select the best people around us and after that you have to let it happen. There are definitely soundtrack elements involved on the album, maybe even a bit more than before indeed but we were not consciously aware of that.

Was the whole band greatly involved in the music composing process?

Mark: Yes the whole band was involved and I think that the songs did benefit from that, as we could select the best tracks from everyone and throw away the less convincing ones.

Are Mark and Simone still the only ones to write the lyrics?

Mark: We write lyrics and think about the topics but also Coen was involved this time so even on the lyrical aspect it was more of a group effort than before.

What is your favorite track in this new album?

Mark: I get this question in almost every interview and each time I give a different answer. Every day my opinion changes, haha. Today it's "Victims of Contingency" but tomorrow it can be another one again.

Can you explain the main idea behind the cover of the album?

Arien: The story behind the album cover represents humanity’s view of the world; on the cover, you see the mountain and the eye, which is how we see the world and there's the underwater world that’s much bigger than the world we actually see. There is a lot of mystery with the boat searching for the answers, the questions of life we have. The buddha stands for spiritualism. You also see the symbols that represent the elements : earth, fire, water, air. And there are also the DNA and molecules : the matter of life and death that are ones of the topics as well.

Mark: There's much more to see but we leave that open for imagination :)

On this new album there are two guests Daniël de Jongh from Textures and Marcela Bovio from Stream of Passion, how did you decide to work with them? Did you enjoy this experience?

Mark: Both are very nice people and easy to work with. So yes we enjoyed a lot working with them. Marcela is responsible for the backing vocals and Daniel did some ethereal voices and even some additional screams in the Quantum Enigma. We decided to work with Marcela as Joost (our producer) is very used to work with her and we knew her already so it was an easy choice to make. Daniel was an idea of Coen as he wished for something extra in the intro of TQE, it worked out really cool!

Is it true that Mark did a lot less vocals on this album? Can you tell us why?

Mark: One journalist who heard the album thought even I did more grunts. I think it's not really much less (if it's less) but I do only grunts if they are really functional. Not just to put grunts for the sake of having grunts. They really need to add something. In my other band MaYaN I can sing a lot. In Epica I'm happy with a bit less grunts so I can focus more on the guitar parts and running around on stage :)

Last year Simone gave birth to her first child, I guess it had a great impact on your work habits? Will it influence touring?

Mark: Yes it surely will but there's always a way to manage things. We'll still tour a lot this year even though we will adapt our schedule a bit to her needs.

Isn’t it too hard for her to balance her family and work responsibilities?

Mark: It's always funny that most people think it will be hard for her while another band member (Coen) has two little kids and is in the same situation as her haha. Everybody who has kids need to find a way to balance work and family responsibilities that's no different when you play in a band. Sure we tour sometimes but when we're not on tour it has also some advantages that we can spend more time at home compared to most other people with a day job from 9 till 5.

Last year you played with a full orchestra for the very special RETROSPECT show which lasted 3 hours. What a great way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the band! What memories do you keep from this show?

Mark: Great memories, it was a dream coming true and finally we had our long wished dvd. It was a night to remember. Many fans from all over the world joined us and even all Epica's past band members. Once an Epica member always part of the family. Floor Jansen (Nightwish) joined us on stage as well. Those fans who couldn't attend the show could watch it by live stream. It couldn't be better.

Mark, Ariën and Rob have just released a new album with MaYan, how do you handle this busy schedule?

Mark: We take MaYaN very serious but it will always need to fitt Epica's schedule. Epica has the priority. That's the only way to make it work. There's often not much time next to Epica so MaYaN can only play shows and record an album when the Epica schedule allows it. Therefor there's much less pressure on MaYaN, like I said we take it very serious but there's no pressure from the record company to release an album for example. We just record one when the time is ready.

You will come to play in Europe this fall with Dagoba. Are you happy to come back to France again?

Mark: Yes definitely! France is one of the best countries for Epica, already since the beginning of the band. We'll also play for the first time in Olympia in paris, a big step forward. Dagoba will join us and we have received already many great reactions from our French fans about that.

Why did you choose Dagoba as your support band ? Some people think it is a weird choice because your musical styles don’t match. What do you think about that ?

Mark: In the USA we usually tour with bands that do not match much, people over there love this variety. In europe we are a little less open minded about that but I think it has some advantages to offer an interesting package. First of all for the variation and secondly there's less overlap between the fan bases so that might result in a bigger crowd.

What is your best memory in France? What is your worst one?

Mark: The best is that I love the landscape and my friends from France, very nice people. The worst one is the food we got in our early years. Cold chicken with rice. That was truly horrible sometimes, haha.

What do you think of the French audience?

Mark: It's a great crowd! Wild and enthusiastic. That's the way we like it. There's most of the time a great interaction between crowd and band going on, an exchange of energy.

What are your favorite bands and musical styles?

Mark: I listen to various music. Muse, Opeth, Megadeth for example but I also love a band like Clannad. Besides that I like to listen to classical music and film music.

What are your favorite French bands?

Mark: The Old Dead Tree was a really cool band from France, I like their music a lot.

Will you play in some festivals this summer?

Mark: Yes we try to be selective and play fests in all parts of europe. But also not too many as we want to play some European Tours as well later on the year and the beginning of 2015.

Do you have something to say to the people who download your music illegally?

Mark: Enjoy! ;-)

And finally, do you want to say something special to our readers?

Mark: Thanks to all of you for reading this interview, hopefully you got excited and will check out our new album TQE and hopefully we'll see us on the road!!!

Venez donc discuter de cette interview, sur notre forum !