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Epica will be playing in Portugal, at the VOA - Heavy Rock Festival, in August. The band is also getting ready to release a new EP named “The Solace System”, which includes songs that weren’t incorporated in their last album “The Holographic Principle”. Mark Jansen, who started the band, has told us all about it, here it is:

M.I.-  Epica's 7th studio album "The Holographic Principle" was released last year. How did you come up with the idea for such a prominent title and what did you want to express through it?

“The Quantum Enigma” was already dealing about Quantum Physics and the fact that, when we observe little particles in the quantum world, we influence them by the sole fact of just observing. It’s fascinating. “The Holographic Principle” is a theory that the universe as we know it, might be a hologram, it would mean that we live in a sort of matrix. That’s fascinating too and it would explain quite some inconsistencies with older theories. 

M.I.-  Which do you consider to be the most striking track of this last album and why?

The title track. It took me years to finish that track and, also, with producer Joost and all Epicans, we have worked several months on it afterwards. But when it was finally done, I can only say that it was worth all efforts. It’s still my favorite track of the album. It contains all Epica’s elements and it has some very cool twists.

M.I.-  What stood out more/what best characterizes the creative/writing process of this album and how does it usually work? Is it you, Mark, who takes over the creative phase of all the instruments or is it that, one instrument "leads" and, then, each musician in the band makes up their own instrument's part?

It’s quite different than that. We all write music and, when we have our songs finished, we sit together and work on each others tracks. So, let’s take Rob, for example. When he writes a song, he also composes the guitar parts and orchestration. Even a vocal line! But everything can be changed. We always go for the best result and that’s more important than anything else. So, when a song needs to be destroyed in order to make it better, we do it.

M.I.-  Usually, every two years, Epica release a new studio album. How are you able to combine your life on the road with the musical composition of the albums? Do you guys "take a break" in order to do so, or do both things happen simultaneously with the shows and then, only in a "final stage" of the creative process, do you step aside from your busy life on the road in order to straighten things out for the album?

Up ‘till now, that was indeed the way we always did it, but that’s going to change a bit as now, after seven studio albums, we feel that, a little break to work on the 8th album, will be welcome. During “The Holographic Principle” sessions, we were still touring and, even though that has advantages, it also takes a lot of your energy and an idea of a social life gets reduced to almost zero, haha. So, for the next album, we will take a little more time to have everything more balanced.

M.I.- By the way, which album do you consider to be the most important one in Epica's career and why?

I can’t pick one to be the most important, they all have been important in a way and for different reasons. They always say a third album is the most important one in a band’s career, as it decides if you are a one-day fly or a band with a long career. We delivered a strong 3rd one, I believe, so we could stay, haha.

M.I.-  So, Epica were born in 2002 and have had, indeed, a remarkable career, with a group of fans that keeps growing bigger and bigger, a whole diversity of shows with numerous bands and in different countries all over the world, seven studio albums, collaborations with other bands, oh well... So far, what was the biggest obstacle you had to face in order to conquer all of this?

The bankruptcy of our first record company; we were in the middle of a process of going to record a 3rd studio album, so all of this became unsure. Almost no one knows that, in order to keep on schedule, my father funded the whole third album, as he believed so much in us. Of course, we paid him back after we got a new deal with Nuclear Blast, but, without his help, we would have had a delay of a year, at least. I’m still very thankful to him. Behind the scenes, he’s still working for Epica, as well.

M.I.-  After all these years, are the "current" Epica any different from the Epica who released "The Phantom Agony" or "Consign to Oblivion"?

We have 3 different band members. Each one of them brought something new to the table. If it’s besides that, sound wise, any different, I can best ask to you. We are in the process, so it’s hard for us to be the butcher who judges his own meat :) I think that, every person who is 15 years older, has learned many things in life and so did we: all this life experience, in a way, gets translated into our music.

M.I.-  You guys are coming back to Portugal in August, to play at the VOA - Heavy Rock Festival. In fact, you guys play in Portugal a lot (which is great for us)! How do you characterize the Portuguese audience? Do you "carry" anything from your Portuguese fans with you or have you been playing in so many countries that you can't tell us apart anymore? [No hard feelings if that's the case, of course. ]

Metal fans all over the world have more in common than differences. That’s a great thing. But when you compare Portuguese fans with northern European fans, I must say I like the way Portuguese fans experience a concert, they show their passion more than northern Europeans. And, for a band, that’s great, the more wildness and passion during a show, the more energetic we get. When Northern Europeans drink a lot, they sometimes reach this level of passion as well, hahaha.

M.I.-  In a sort of a "spoiler spirit" (but not too much), what can the Portuguese fans expect from Epica’s show in August?

We will play some songs that we haven’t played yet, from our new EP or from the album "The Holographic Principle"; we’ll have to see, as we haven’t made the set yet, but it will be a nice mix between new work and old classics. 

M.I.-  Here’s our final question: if you guys could choose one band (that you haven't been on the road with, of course) to tour with, which band would it be and why?

Opeth, as they play the best cock-rock in the world! 
Thank you so much for your time, we’ll see you in August at VOA! 

Interview by Evie