Epica - Mark Jansen

It’s beyond doubt that EPICA has been growing with every album and in fact in Europe this band has a solid fanbase. In the US the band's fame is still growing but with “Requiem For The Indifferent” things have taking a steep rising course. So, METAL KAOZ met Mark Jansen before the show in Joliet, IL and had the following most interesting discussion.

Hello Mark! How is going the tour so far?
So far it’s a great tour; the venues are packed and it seems that EPICA has been growing in places like New York, Philadelphia and Canada, where there were more people than ever before and now we are curious how will be the West coast. L.A. of course and San Francisco is always good, but the other shows, we’ll see if we have done some progress.

Actually, “Requiem For The Indifferent” did very well here in the States.
Yeah, we were also surprised that there were many CDs sold especially in the US; there were 2-3 times more than the previous album.

Do you have anything to do with choosing the bands for this tour?
Yes, we heard all the bands and we had to give our approval if we were going to accept a band or not. And there was only one band that we didn’t listen to since the promoter’s wish to have them in this tour. It was DESTINY POTATO but they drop off from the tour.

…it was a ‘hot potato’, after all (laughs)
Yeah! The name was silly and maybe it’s a great band but a lot of fans were already making fun of them. It’s a ridiculous name (laughs) but we didn’t hear the music, so maybe they sound great.

You have changed bassist, right? Was any specific reason for that?
The last one and a half year he got more busy with his other job so he couldn’t be fully dedicated to EPICA anymore so the right time came to have a discussion and say “what it’s going to be?” He said, “yeah, I really want to do this work and tried to balance things as much as possible" but then it was not possible anymore to do so...

It’s getting hard with the bands to survive economically, right?
Yeah, but we are doing well I think; we make a living from the music and how many bands are able to do that? So, as we make a living out of music we expect full dedication from everybody and if somebody wants a job next to it, then this should not harm the activities of the band. And when you have a very intense job next to EPICA, it’s simply impossible, you cannot combine that.

How was the experience recording “Forevemore”?
It was nice; the guy had a wish and it was for the Dutch TV program and they contacted us and asked if we wanted to do that.

Did you actually meet the guy?
Yeah, we met him in the studio. He recorded his vocals and we spent two days together. He felt like a band member for those two days. I heard from his parents that after those two days, he felt like he fell from a cloud. He was having such so good time and after those two days he was back in reality. Must have felt like a cold shower for him (laughs). He said that these two days were the best of his life and I’m very happy we could make his wish come true and also we liked his song. It was not hard to make a nice version out of that because the song’s basis was already very good.

It was only digitally released, right?
Yes, that’s right.

Are there any thoughts to include it as a special edition in or something else?
Well, that depends on Nuclear Blast; but I don’t really think they want to take that risk. So they wanted to do this as a digital release and if it sells go really well then they’ll probably make a physical version as well.

So, the last EPICA album talks about kind of the current situation in the world, right? With all the classes between the different politics and stuff, so do you think there is light at the end of the tunnel? Will humanity make it through or as the Mayans said this will be the end of the world?
I don’t think the Mayans say that; they discovered that their calendars stop at a certain time. Maybe this can be a start of a new era; many people believe that Mayans did predict the end of the world, but I couldn’t find anywhere saying that they have predicted that. It can be the start of something new but it’s beautiful; in almost all religions you can find the same theme that in the beginning people have hope, new ideas and it starts developing, and it all starts with the best intentions, and then sooner or later there is some corruption stepping in and greed and then the system collapses. And I think we are now on the edge of this collapse and money actually is based on nothing, it’s air. So, as soon people don’t believe in it anymore, the money system will collapse, and everything that we build will collapse too.

So we can start all over again.
And then yeah, for sure, if that happens, there is chaos and who knows what will happen. But after that there will be a chance to build something new with new good intentions. Until it evolves exactly like the previous situation (laughs).

You see the glass half full, Mark.
Yeah (laughs) I always see the glass half full. If there isn’t any hope, then there isn’t a reason to be around anymore.

So, we saw a post in Facebook that you have already recorded the next album, is this correct?
No, it is not recorded. We have been writing some songs and it’s developing very well. We have about 10 songs but it’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. And before entering the studio to record, it will take a while since now we are very busy with the preparations of the 10th anniversary show that we are going to do next year and that’s going to take a lot of time as well.

So are you talking about only music or do you have a concept already behind the upcoming EPICA album to support it?
So far it’s only music; we start now discussing some topics but that’s only in a premature phase.

So there is no timetable about book a recording studio and I don’t know, stuff like that?
No, we avoid using timetables too much because then you are force to finish something. Also, inspiration comes when it comes. And when you have to go to the studio, you need to have finished before, and when you think we have only six great songs, you don’t want to record because that’s could be eleven great songs as well.

Any hints about the music?
Well, it can still develop in many directions (laughs). We are still in the ‘developing’ process.

Ok. You talked about the 10th anniversary show; so how many songs are we talking about?
We are thinking about a very long setlist, we don’t know exactly how long it’s gonna be, but don’t be surprised if it’s gonna end up like 3 hours or something like that. It’ll be a whole evening with EPICA.

Wow! And I know you probably won’t tell me, but what about the guests?
We are still working on that; (laughs) we have some guests in mind, and one of them really wants to do it. But still has to wait for his or her schedule(laughs).

Come on, that’s not even a hint (laughs)! So you are going to have a full stage, all the effects, pyros and stuff?
For sure it’s going to be the biggest show we have ever done. And also the light engineers are already thinking about the whole concept and have some great ideas. Also, I cannot reveal yet what he has in mind, but if you realize what he told me already, then it’s going to be awesome (laughs)!

So, is there any chance to film this and get it on a DVD?
It’s an idea; we are also working on that. This depends a bit also on Nuclear Blast; if we do a DVD, we wanted to be a magnificent DVD and not just a simple recording. And for a magnificent DVD, you need a good budget. And at the moment it’s hard to get this budget but in the end (I hope at least) that they will do it.

It will be a shame for us, come on! We are on the States, how can we get there?
We want a DVD out of this but we can’t promise anything yet until the deal is fixed.

Regarding the upcoming album, have you thought of using Sascha Paeth as the producer?
Yeah, for sure Sascha is going to be involved again at what extent we have to wait and see. Sascha is a really good guy and he’s been very important for the band since the first album. So, there is no way that we are going to work in a different studio, with different people and don’t have him involved. But it can be possible to record the drums or the guitars closer to home. That’s a possibility. We will still see what’s the best for us to do.

Awesome. So after this tour, we are talking about next year of course, you are having the Australian live dates and then the anniversary show, and then?
First it’s the anniversary show and then it’s Australia. We are also working on some Asian dates and then we want to do a lot of summer festivals again.

So, when does the recording of the new album fit in all of these?
We have to see (laughs). Things go like they go; of course we think about the schedule, but we don’t over-think it. Like I said, inspiration comes and when the album is finished we will start recording it. But we are not going to push it; take things step by step.

Is it possible to write songs while on the road?
I used to do that but I don’t have the recording facilities with me during this tour, so now I don’t write myself anything but usually when I’m back home from tour, then I have some like 3 or 4 days lots of inspiration suddenly.

After the tour? You aren’t burnt out (laughs)?
No, it’s relaxing actually. Because after the tour you are indeed tired but then when you sit down and compose, for me it’s like a spiritual moment. It’s not tiring at all.

Last question: will you play “Crystal Mountain” today?
No, we don’t play that song anymore; we played it in a certain time period. It’s a cover and we have a lot of fun playing it but time changes and maybe in the future there will be a moment that we will play it again because people keep asking me about it.

Yeah, it’s nice.
Yeah, and when many people ask for this, then we just have to do it.

Also I would like to ask you about MAYAN; is there any work there?
Yeah, we also worked on some songs already with MAYAN; there is not much time but every now and then we sit together and write some songs. There are quite some ideas already that have just to be worked out. Also we have to see when will record the next MAYAN album. It depends also on different factors, time is definitely one of those, but it’s going to be a next album.

Can you ever think of getting MAYAN with EPICA on the road?
I would like that but since many guys in MAYAN play also in EPICA, not everybody is as enthusiastic about this idea as I am.

You’ll have to do double time, right?

Well, Mark, if you have anything to add, please do.
The only thing I can say when we come back to make the circle full, hopefully that the problem in Greece gets solved fast and...

(interrupting) …I once again see the glass half full but we don’t think that things will change that fast.
Yeah, but I think it’s a worldwide problem; it’s just concentrated at this moment on Greece but you can see the same problems in Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and it’s just gonna start somewhere and then sooner or later this whole system is going to collapse. I’m pretty sure it’s like domino: the first domino falls, then the rest follow.

It’s not good, right?
No, but sometimes chaos is needed to get rid of the rotten part and then start fresh all over.

…and get back on the same circle…
Yeah, but until this circle closes again, it might take another 2000 years where many generations will live in peace and happiness and love.

Well, I think that’s the best way to finish this interview.