Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with basist guitarist Isaac Delahaye of Dutch female-fronted symphonic metallers EPICA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: This new album of yours [“Requiem For The Indifferent”], when did you start working on it and how long did it take to put it together?
Isaac: Well, let me just explain how we work. First we work on songs individually where you just write stuff at home and whenever you feel comfortable with what you already have, you put it on the table and then everybody can take that song and wok on it, so the first process of doing something individually… for me personally, I started writing right after “Design Your Universe”. You go on the road and you fiddle around, and whenever I’m at home, I record my ideas and basically, it’s not like half songs or anything, it’s just riffs, and then whenever we’re thinking of making a new album, I just go through all that and you make riffs here and there fit with each other and make songs like that. Mark [Jansen, guitar/vocals], who’s the main composer in the band, apart from the intro, he wrote eight songs. We’re basically three bandmembers writing the songs, Mark did the majority and then Coen [Janssen, keyboards] did two other songs and then I also wrote two songs. After you have the basic stuff, you give it to the other guys. For instance, between Mark and me, we are both guitar players and I really write music from a guitarist’s point of view, so I write the technical riffs and the melody and the solo, whereas Mark will start with the orchestra. Just have some basic guitars and then put more emphasis on the orchestration and then he gives his song to me and says, “OK, that’s your job. Make the guitar more interesting!” So that’s how we work, and that basically started around June last year. We started sending stuff to each other and during the summer festival season it was mainly weekend shows, so we were just flying out to wherever we were playing and during the week was when you really had time to work. By the end of summer or by the end of August, we were finished with the pre-production and in September we started recording and the whole thing was finished halfway into December. Basically we have everything and then we go into the studio and do it for real.
Metalshrine: You worked with [producer] Sascha Paeth again. What is it that he brings to the table that have made you work with him for such a long time?
Isaac: Well, basically he’s the EPICA judge. We work on stuff and then we go to Sascha and he’s the one who has fresh ears and who hasn’t heard anything about the music and he then says, “Well, this song is not even EPICA, so don’t waste your time and focus on other songs!” because we always write more songs than what actually ends up on the album. Or he could say, “This part is too long.” And so on. He can really listen to everything since he’s outside the band and he also has very instant creative moments, like he can come up with a melody on the spot and it’s much better than what we thought of. He thinks differently, apparently, than most other people and therefore he is of big value for us and that’s why we keep going back. We had two of these “Sascha rounds” where we went there and then changed stuff and then went there again and changed stuff and then the eventual recording. Basically, it’s the whole Gate Studios team, because it’s not only Sascha. They really have a good team there and Miro Rodenberg is the guy who does all the orchestration for us, so it’s like we have our own studio with our own sound. Miro has so many good sounds and he makes it sound really good and that’s a huge part of the music, of course. The whole studio team is very important for a band like EPICA, but not only EPICA. EPICA decided to go there because of KAMELOT and they also still go there and then other bands like RHAPSODY. There are so many bands going there and it’s because the whole team is really good.
Metalshrine: You have Simone [Simons, vocals] in the band. Are there different dynamics in the band when there’s a woman, like being on the road and so on? Putting five guys together, there is a certain way of how they express themselves and stuff like that. Does it change having a woman in the band?
Isaac: Well, I have been in a different band with only guys, and I’ve been on tour with only guys and no girls whatsoever, and it is definitely a different scene, but that was more the death metal scene. Let me tell you this: from the outside, maybe Simone looks like an angel and that she can’t do anything wrong, but it’s no problem for her to be around dudes who are swearing or whatever we do. She can really keep up with that, and sometimes when she says something, everybody turns their heads, like, “Did she really say that?” [laughs] Of course, she grew up like that, she was barely 17 when EPICA started and it has been a part of her world for a very long time and she just turned 27. For her, it’s kinda a normal environment and it is, of course, different in a way. Like, for instance, I quit smoking because I couldn’t smoke on the tour bus anymore or backstage or on stage. I didn’t have that problem before, but now it’s also forbidden everywhere. Apart from that, maybe you have the opportunity to shower a bit more often. [laughs] She’s not a party animal, because she can’t, because she’s a singer.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.
“Storm The Sorrow” lyric video: