Interview date

20 Septembre 2014




Interview Rikard Zander (face to face)

Thank you for answering the following questions for the webzine auxportesdumetal.com. First, it is said that before coming back with "Hymns For The Broken", you almost called it quits. Can you explain what happened after "Glorious Collision" and why Evergrey almost died?

Well, you know, our former drummer had an offer from Sabaton to go and play drums for them, and also Marcus, the guitar player, had a lot of projects to work with. So eventually it was just me, Tom and Johann left in the band. We had a lot of experiences before, Jonas and Henrik left after the "Torn" album, and it felt like again we had to look for new members, new musicians. At some point we felt that we should just quit, because it is so hard to go out and search for new people, get to know them, and start to write music for a new album. We know it’s a lot of work. So at some point, we were thinking of just quitting actually. But I’m glad we didn’t!

So is it when Henrik and Jonas came back that you thought it could work again?

No, actually we decided before. We signed the deal with AFM records before they joined the band. So first we thought that we would write for the album and then ask Jonas if he wanted to be our session drummer for the album. He was not very interested in that, but then he understood that he wanted to join the band again. When we realised that they wanted to join the band again, they were perfect for us because we needed new members. We knew them musically and personally, which made it easier. They also brought a lot of new music: Jonas had written a lot of songs during the last years for Evergrey. I don’t know why, but he had. So when we could mix what I and Tom had written and what they had written we made "Hymns for the Broken"! So it was excellent.

How was it to work with a new producer such as Jacob Hansen? How did he contribute to make "Hymns For The Broken" what it is?

Well he didn’t really produce, we produced it ourselves. But he mixed it. But I think he is the best mixer Evergrey has ever worked with, because he understood how Evergrey should sound. How we think Evergrey should sound. So I think at least for the next album we will work with Jacob Hansen again. Because when he got the album to mix it, it was really good, but he took it to another level. We are really glad that we had the chance to work with him.

In 2010 we interviewed Tom, and he told us that he couldn’t write songs for Evergrey when he felt happy. Is it still the case in 2014?

I think we start to write songs more or less when we have to. We started to write songs when we signed the deal with AFM. Because we knew that we had to make an album. I don’t know, maybe it’s easier to write when you’re not happy I don’t know, I haven’t really analysed that. I think you usually write about your experiences. We don’t write when in depression, but when we are over it and can look back at it.

Is it the music that calls for dark lyrics, or the lyrics that demand a dark music?

That’s a very good question! I think it’s both. Tom writes all of the lyrics, and some lyrics even before there is music. So he just has the words on the paper. And there are some lyrics he writes when he hears the music. Evergrey always have been melancholy, we never wrote happy songs. If we started to write a happy song it would not be Evergrey. So I think it goes both ways.

What are the lyrics for "Hymns For The Broken" mostly about?

It’s about finding yourself more or less. The whole concept is about revolution, if you see the artwork with the flags and everything. But it’s more a revolution inside yourself to figure out who you are and what you want to do. It’s very introspective. It looks like it’s standing on the barricades but it’s introspective.

Talking about the artwork, it’s quite different to what we could expect from Evergrey, it has a revolutionary touch, as you said yourself. What was the concept of the artwork?

The idea was that we liked those old revolutionary Russian posters. We like how they looked. Nothing political. The colours, the way they speak about revolution. We had the idea that we would do something with that. Then we gave some of the old posters to an artist. Actually Tom's tattoo artist. He used this to make the album cover.

"Hymns For The Broken" is a very good album. According to you, what does it bring to the discography of Evergrey?

It’s hard to say exactly what it brings to the discography. We never try to copy an album. We try to write in a new way. We try to progress, to make something new, and maybe to let ourselves be free in the writing. If there has to be a ten minute song, so be it. This is our ninth album, so we do this because we love the music, not to make money, because we don’t make much money in Evergrey. So we do what we want to do. That mixed with the return of Jonas and Henrik made it fresh.

You shot a video for the song "King Of Errors". How was the shooting and are you satisfied with the results?

It’s a great video. We shot it in the harbour of Gothenburg, 85 meters in the air. It was a very good place to shoot a video, because we are from Gothenburg. It fits well with the song I think, we like it very much.

Would you like to shoot another video?

Yes, we have actually. It will be released very soon.

Listening to "Hymns For The Broken", I found it beautiful and powerful but maybe not as complex as your early works, as if you had decided to go for more simple and efficient structures. Has the way you approach writing changed with years?

Like I said, we always try to find new ways of writing. It’s not something we think about, we just write. I don’t know how to answer it. We write music and then we see how it sounds.

With time, it seems that the keyboards have become more and more important and now play a part as crucial as the guitars, do you agree?

Yes, it’s the job of Jacob Hansen, the keyboard sounds as important as the guitar. Previously, we worked with mixers that think Evergrey was a guitar band, so they put the keyboard down. Evergrey is a band with guitars and keyboards. This is the big success of the mix. Keyboard is very important for the atmosphere.

Are you planning a European tour?

Actually, we have nothing booked. We want to. Not this year, next year probably. This year we will just do weekend shows, so we’ll see.

I hope you will not forget France.

Of course not! We will be here for sure, absolutely. Hopefully we will play Hellfest this year.

You recorded a great live album after "The Inner Circle" was released. Since then, four albums have been released... Don’t you think it’s time for a new live dvd?

Yes, I think so. We have been talking about it. Just talking, so we will see. We released a very good DVD. We don’t want to do the same thing again. We want to find something different this time. We are really proud of that DVD, so it’s going to be really hard to make something better. Maybe in a smaller club, I don’t know. We’ll see. But we do want to do another live DVD.

Do you have any other projects besides Evergrey?

I've just started playing with Tiamat. I play live for the concerts. I also just recorded a solo album. But I don’t have a label yet, so I don’t know when or if it’s gonna be released. Tom does a lot of guest appearances, and Henrik and Jonas, they are still in Death Destruction, the band they started when they left. They still have that. And Johann gets offers everywhere, he does a lot of stuff.

Can you tell me a bit more about your solo album?

It’s definitely not metal. It’s very far from metal. It’s something I wanted to do for a very long time, and finally I’ve done it. But I’m not sure how I’m gonna present it yet, I don’t think it’s for Evergrey fans. I don’t know, but it’s more like basic rock music, like old school rock’n roll. So I’ll see what happens. I’m glad I did it.

Is there a specific question you just can't bear anymore in interviews?

It’s a good question, but I don’t know yet, I haven’t done so many interviews. There was one question, one time: "You released eight albums, can you tell me a little bit about every one of them?"... Can’t you google it or something?!

What is your best memory of a live concert?

We've so many great shows, but the DVD, when we recorded it, it’s still the number one memory I think.

How was this show different from the others?

It was the fact that we were filming it, that we had one chance, I mean when bands do a dvd, they have two shows, so they can choose the best parts, but we had one evening. Now it’s easy to cheat a little bit, you can always change things, but I think I nailed the whole show. I changed only one thing: during the show, one of my cable disconnected, so what could I do…

Do you think it’s a bad idea to change to many things in a live DVD to make it perfect?

Yeah. I think so. I think it’s boring.

What is the most surprising thing that happened to you during a tour?

There's a lot of Spinal Tap moments. I remember one time we played a festival in Spain, and we were waiting for transport to the festival, waiting outside the hotel, we waited for something like two hours, and the transport never came, and when it finally came. We thought: “Oh, great!”, and it drove like, around the corner, and there was the festival... so stupid!

Do you have some finals words for your French fans and our readers?

I really hope we can come and play live for you soon. Too bad I can’t give you exact dates, but I’m pretty sure we will come next year, and I hope you will be there and I hope you will like our new record "Hymns For The Broken".

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