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Epica formed in the Netherlands in 2002. As a result of their success, they will have their 1000th show anniversary on the 14th of April. Well known worldwide, the band needs no introduction. Metal Imperium had the opportunity to talk with the guitarist Isaac Delahaye...

M.I. - Epica played in Lisbon (Altice Arena) on the 21st of November. How was the show?

It was great! It was a venue we haven't played before and there were lots of people there, for I say, weekdays are always kind of tricky, you never know what you're gonna get, but they were very passionate and it's been a while since we were in Portugal. Well...

M.I. – August...

Well, yeah! In festivals but I mean like a club show. It’s been a while so... It was really good to be back. Yeah, I like the country, I like the fans. They’re always pretty passionate, so I’m happy.

M.I. - And how is “The Ultimate Principle” tour going?

So far, so good. It’s a cool package, you know. Vuur which is kind of a new band, but with a lot of familiar faces, you know, which bands I really like, you know, they did this very special blend of metal music and the kind of Arabic eastern kind of vibe and I like that a lot. Great guys. So far, it’s going really well. It’s the second tour of the same album. And obviously this was the first time we played in Portugal for the new album. We’ve done one European tour before this one. So,...

M.I. - I guess you are always on tour... (laughing)

Yeah, we don’t have a lot of rest. (laughing) Let’s put it that way.

M.I. - By the way, what’s your secret, as a band, to be always on tour (and almost at the same time writing and recording)?

I don’t know if there is a secret. We always have stuff going on and yeah... 

M.I. – And great ideas too...

Well, you know, we try to come up with some cool things we always have for kind of a new project or something just like the “Attack on Titan” stuff, we’ve just announced like a Japanese animated series and the guy who writes the music for that he asked if we could cover his songs for the animated series, which we did and it’s something which is always coming in between and, you know, I think that’s the cool thing if you can combine those things. If you’re all the time on tour, you miss writing music, you miss doing other stuff and if you’re writing the music, you miss kind of going on tour again, so it’s always a good mix of both things. The same with festivals and just shows. If you’re always playing headline shows, then you’re happy that you can do some festivals, meet other bands, friends in other bands and then by the end of the festival season, you’re like “Yeah, let’s go back to the headline shows!”. So, it’s not always the same thing we’re having and that’s great.

M.I. – And different countries and different people...

Yeah, exactly.

M.I. - Which songs from your 7th (full-length) studio album do you think have more impact on the audience?

It’s hard to say. In the past, we could more or less see on the sort of reactions of the people. It was easier to see which ones they like or which one they didn’t like but the reason for that was that in the past we didn’t really rehearse which is kind of strange but we didn’t rehearse before going into the studio. This time around, like for the latest two albums, we really sat together and make sure that the basic structure, all the details are already set and that really translates well life, I think that’s the reason why for this tour. We played all the songs on the album. Whatever you play, they kind of like all of it. Something that’s a good sign, you know. We were lucky enough to start with 25 songs or something and then 12 have done the album, so we could really pick up the time and of course there’s something for everyone: we have the really hard song, we have the ballad. We have everything.

M.I. - Could you tell us about your new EP “The Solace System” released on the 1st of September?

So, it’s basically you can see “The Solace System” in the latest album “The Holographic Principle” as one big album. As I just said, we started with over 25 songs and then we decided to only record 18 and only 12 could fit on the album and there wasn’t enough space for more. So we put as much as possible on “The Holographic Principle” but then we still have those 6 songs and we thought they were too good to not release anything. So we decided to do an EP with just the 6 songs, which then fit on the album but we still see as one big thing, you know, and so that’s why we became up with this idea, so they were already recorded together with the other songs and now like one year after the release of the album, we’ve decided to release this EP. People like the songs as well and it gives us more attention now as well. 

M.I. – Even more attention.

Well, I don’t know, it’s good to have your face in the picture every now and then I guess, so...  

M.I. - How do you feel while performing on stage? 

I love it. That’s the reason I’m in a band. 

M.I. - Do you think you are a part of a whole?

Yeah, I mean, well, not every show. Most of the times but every now and then we have some kind of audience which is not very responsive or something. It can just be the country you’re at or just the day you’re playing or the venue you’re playing. Wherever the reason is, sometimes you don’t have that instant connection with the crowd and then it feels like work so to speak. But then some days and that was the case in Lisbon: going stage and the energy comes back and you can give a lot of energy to the crowd and also within the band. So then I kind of feel whole as it’s one thing. Usually happens but not always. There are musicians who like writing or recording better, but I like performing, I like to play on the stage, see the reaction of the crowd, you know, just putting up a good show.

M.I. - Your lyrics are about varied topics (such as religion, physics, ...). Who does the research work?

Oh well, the lyrics are written by Mark and Simone, like around 50-50. Simone deals more about personal issues and then Mark is more into the scientific stuff, about society in general, and usually he tries to read a lot about whatever he can get in his hands, like scientific stuff or psychology and whenever he has a book which is really interesting, he starts to read more about that topic and usually does the basic stuff for the next album. So that’s a lot of reading and watching documentaries and that’s basically how it’s done.

M.I. - Do you like Portuguese food? What’s your favourite dish?

Well, yeah. I don’t know if there’s a favourite or something. I’ve never had bad food in Portugal. Whatever I’ve been eating here has always been great. I like the country. People in Portugal tend to speak a lot in English. They’re really good at English as well and I don’t speak Portuguese so that’s a good bonus. And the weather is mostly nice.

M.I. - Portuguese is difficult, I guess.

Yeah, yeah, it sounds funny. (laughing)

M.I. - “The Quantum Enigma” started a new era for the band. Do you think there’ll be other one? Future plans for Epica?

Well, you know, every now and then you kind of have to reinvent the same thing just to make it interesting, right?! And that’s what we did for “The Quantum Enigma”. Basically we didn’t change... I mean all the ingredients are still the same but it’s just the way how you look at it. As I said, in the past we didn’t really rehearse together and for “The Quantum Enigma”, we started to do that. We have a different producer, a different studio. And it was basically after the first decade of Epica, after ten years, you know, and then if you have ten more, if you listen to the same thing again, it gets boring. So we thought it was time to switch it around and I’m pretty sure that as long as it keeps going, at some point, we’ll have the same thing again, so it’s not because the last two albums were received really well that we always stick to that or something. So as a creative person, as a musician, you always try to come up with different ways of doing the same thing.

M.I. - Any last words to your Portuguese fans?

Yeah, like I said I love being here, I hope that people liked the shows. I hope the people had fun and that we can play many more shows here ‘cause like I said I like this country. 

M.I. – OK. Thank you very much for your time. I wish you the best.

Thank you very much. I hope you liked the show too.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Dora Coelho