» Mark Jansen - Epica
« back

Interview conducted November 28 2009
Interview published December 12 2009

For all those Epica fans who read my conversation with Simone Simons earlier this spring, I am sure you will be really inspired by the discussion I recently had with founding member - Mark Jansen. He is a man of many talents, from playing guitar, writing music, composing scores, or just growling like a beast with the mellifluent vocals skills of his pulchtritudinous female counterpart.

My opportunity to speak with him came rather abruptly, giving me less than 24 hours notice, to prepare, and familiarize myself with their greatest achievement of all in their brand new album - 'Design Your Universe'. I took a deep breath, enjoyed their discography of accomplishments, paced myself, and let everything unfold naturally.

I must admit that I was quite surprised, and rather pleased with the direction our conversation took, once he called. As the engaging dialogue steadily progressed, I quickly began to realize that Mark was a kindred spirit. He enlightened my awareness for quantum physics, and mettlephysical realities. We even discussed some of the more enjoyable pursuits, outside of the metal milieu. One such casual, but exciting topic concerned our appreciate for the history of video games!

So join me on this journey into the unknown, and numinous mind of the man who is epic, and sincerley a true mettle heart.

MettleMaiden: Hello Mark, I sincerely want thank you for taking the time to do this interview, given your busy schedule. As you may well already know, I am a big Epica fan.

  • Mark: Thank you, I am glad to hear that! I can tell this is going to be a good interview.

MettleMaiden: Thank you for the vote of confidence! First of all, I want to congratulate you and the band for creating, and writing another excellent album. I actually started listening to it again yesterday with lyrics, and I must say you have written some thought- provoking subject matter for this album.

  • Mark: Yes, we put a lot of effort into the lyrics. Although many people do not read the words too much, nowadays. I suppose that most fans just choose listen to the music. Perhaps there are still about 25% of people who actually do care about the lyrical content.

MettleMaiden: They are the ones who understand Epica as being more than another "Beauty And The Beast" type band.

  • Mark: Yes, indeed, so, we put a lot of thought into the writing process and lyrical contributuion for those who are more dedicated and sincere. We read a bunch of books, in order to find topics to write about, which would make the listener think. We endeavoured to make the subject matter the best possible, and most inspirational topics, which we could devise.

MettleMaiden: Well it definitely shows! I am glad you did your research. I usually do not read them myself, mostly because of my busy schedule, but I am glad I did. Now, this is the first recording you have made with guitarist Isaac Delahaye, how has this been working out, as concerns the writing process, and recording for the new album?

  • Mark: First of all, I have to say that we are really happy with him. When Ad Sluijter told us he wanted to leave the band, we talked about it; because, we were only two months away from recording the album.

MettleMaiden: I am pleased to hear that there was some discussion, and that he did not leave you high and dry.

  • Mark: Yes, and it is obvious that we had time pressure concerns. Fortunately, the person with whom we really wanted to replace him, wanted to join. So, we worked really hard with Isaac during the last month and a half on the guitar parts, and I think it worked out better that way, overall.

MettleMaiden: Almost as if that is what was meant to be....

  • Mark: Well, yes! You see, Ad was really not into the band anymore, he was just not motivated enough; all the while Isaac was very excited and driven. We really needed to grab this energy, in order to bring the album to a higher level.

MettleMaiden: Well, it definitely sounds like he came at the perfect time. I understand that he is also the second member in Epica that was previously in God Dethroned.

  • Mark: Yes that is right (laughs for a moment). That is a funny coincidence.

MettleMaiden: Yes it is! It must be interesting to work with the former drummer and guitarist of God Dethroned.

  • Mark: Indeed, because, Ariën Van Weesenbeek is well-known as one of the best metal drummers out there. So, it was quite a coincidence to have Isaac join; but, like Isaac when we approached him, he was not in God Dethroned anymore.

MettleMaiden: Oh really?

  • Mark: He was looking for a challenge, so before Isaac joined God Dethroned, he played a show with Epica in 2003. At that time, he was an unknown guitarist, who played for one show instead of Ad. We have just stayed in touch over these last few years, and that's why we asked him to join. not necessarily because he was in God Dethroned.

MettleMaiden: I did not think so, but it is interesting, overall, and he definitely adds to the sound of Epica. You also have a guest appearance by Sonata Artica's Tony Kakko, how did this come together?

  • Mark: When we were touring in Europe with Sonata Arctica, Tony was often found backstage with us. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but one day we asked Tony if he would be interested in singing on our new album and he said, "Yeah sure, I'm really into that and I like your music."

MettleMaiden: So, he is a fan then?

  • Mark: I guess you could say that. We kept in touch, and once we wrote the song, we sent it to him with vocal guidelines, and he did his own thing, and put his heart into it. Then he sent it back to us, and we used it.

MettleMaiden: So, am I to assume that he did not record it in the studio with you?

  • Mark: He was quite busy at that time, and couldn't come to the studio.

MettleMaiden: Sonata Arctica did just release a new album - 'The Days Of Grays' - which was a marked improvement from their last few endeavours. We were planning to see them, but had to cancel at the last minute, sadly.

  • Mark: That is a shame. These days it is so easy to record your music in a home studio, and then send it over the internet. Basically, with today's technical advances, that's how a lot of the new music happens.

MettleMaiden: You have to hand it to modern technology! To promote your new album -'Design Your Universe' - you performed in Amsterdam, was this an album release party? Did you perform the whole album?

  • Mark: Yes, we did, in fact.

MettleMaiden: Well, it seems the album is doing well, as it debuted at #8 in Holland, and in the top 50 here in the US Independent Billboard charts. How does it feel for your musical accomplishments to do so well?

  • Mark: It feels great! Once you are done with the work, it feels like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders; because, with every new album, we strive to sound better than the previous one.

MettleMaiden: That is what it means to be mettle....

  • Mark: With 'The Divine Conspiracy', we really struggled to get the right sound. We wanted to improve upon this, so we worked really hard to make it better, and even more memorable.

MettleMaiden: The new album is your crowning achievement thus far.

  • Mark: It pays off in the end, and it is a great feeling to see how in every country, we chart higher than before. For Epica, that's a well earned reward for all our enduring effort.

MettleMaiden: I should say so....

  • Mark: Even though I think our music is getting less commercial, it's getting louder and heavier, and it is still better than before. Even with all the downloading, there are metal fans that are buying the album, which is a great thing about metal music.

MettleMaiden: This is why Metal fans are so dedicated to their music. They make it personal.

  • Mark: Exactly! A lot of mainstream bands don't sell CDs anymore, because everyone is downloading their stuff. I have nothing against downloading, as long as there are enough of our fans buying the music.

MettleMaiden: Well, even if they do download, at least they come to the show and purchase some merch. There are also the people that buy downloads through Amazon and other notable sites.

  • Mark: I know, today's teenager doesn't even know what it is like to buy a CD anymore. So many young people grew up downloading, and it's so easy to just download something for free, listen to it until you are tired of it, and then drop it.

MettleMaiden: My husband and I try to avoid illegal downloading. We are grateful that our local library carries such great Metal and Classic Rock titles. We always look forward to our digital promos, wich we receive throught the pod cast. This is how we received the new Epica. I feel that it is a great way to experience new music!

  • Mark: Yes, it is, indeed...

MettleMaiden: Speaking of your new album 'Design Your Universe', I have come to realize that you are continuing the New Age Dawns series that you began with 'Consign To Oblivion'. What made you decide to revisit the Mayan Prophecies, and Hunab-Ku concept, which of course, suggests that the world will end in 2012?

  • Mark: It was pretty much the proper time frame, and this financial crisis made it all the more pertinent.

MettleMaiden: That makes sense....

  • Mark: I thought I had to write about it again, and include the link with 'Consign To Oblivion'. However, the new songs are longer on this album. So, I just thought it was the right moment to come up with the New Age Dawn titles again. The time is ripe for it. People are really into the subject with 2012 popping up everywhere, there is even a movie about it.

MettleMaiden: We saw that movie. I really felt it was overdone, you know your typical Hollywood B$, barely touching on the topic; more concerned with action, and special effects.

  • Mark: I really don't believe in the end of the world, but I feel that people will have to go to the next level of consciousness.

MettleMaiden: I completely agree with that concept. With all this 2012 hype going around, and with the movie and books, and people's fear based thinking, believing that the world is going to end, there is just too much mortal dread.

  • Mark: Those who fail will have a difficult time, but I think this is only the beginning of what's going to happen. I really think that in the next three years money will become valueless.

MettleMaiden: You are probably right. It sounds like what the Christians are always alluding to from the Book Of Revelations. All that B$ about the "Mark Of The Beast", and how money is the "Root Of All Evil", as if! Money, like Time is energy, which may either used to benefit, or destroy.

  • Mark: It cannot go on like this, for instance your government is printing money out of nothing. There is no reason for this new currency.

MettleMaiden: It is quite possible that this will actually cause more harm than good. By flooding the market with new money, it will only make the economy worse; thus devaluing the dollar.

  • Mark: It is all one big snowball effect that will only take one person with a needle to smash everything into nothing. You have already seen it with Lehman Brothers, (the largest bankrupcy in US history) how easy it was for a big bank to fall.

MettleMaiden: What's really sad is that the bulk of the wealth is owned by 10% of the population, while everybody else just suffers. Obama is now going against his promise and bailing out the very bankers who caused this crisis during the Clinton administration!

  • Mark: That's right, the rich get more rich and everyone else just become slaves to them. They have to work harder just to pay their bills for their houses. Then the real estate prices are not fair; even in Europe you have to pay way too much for a house. I mean, you have to work your whole life to pay for your own home, in which to dwell in peace!

MettleMaiden: So many of us have ridiculous mortgage rates. Mortgage comes from the Latin word for death!

  • Mark: You are right! All these people work for the small amount of rich people, so in a way all these people are no more than mere slaves, themselves.

MettleMaiden: I know that feeling! That's why I no longer work for any company. I am my own boss, so to speak.

  • Mark: Why work to only pay these high bills? That's not the way it has to be.

MettleMaiden: No it does not have to be that way. People should create money by following their bliss, and doing what they love for a living.

  • Mark: Precisely...

MettleMaiden: Most people are focused on earning a living, rather than making a real life for themselves.

  • Mark: I think it is because of the current world situation. With the financial crisis, I think that is what the Mayans prophecied, already. I've been reading a lot about the Mayans, and personally I don't believe in the end of the world in 2012, like many other people do.

MettleMaiden: Neither do I....

  • Mark: I think the crisis we are dealing with now, is for all this innane greediness to come to an end. We are becoming more avaricious, and always wanting to lean on the backs of other people. It has become a really sick world in which we now live.

MettleMaiden: It seems like everyone wants to play the victim, and have someone feel sorry for them. People are very reticent to accept any responsibility for themselves. It is just easier to blame the government, and others.

  • Mark: Exactly! Instead of using the best medicines, we use the best promoted toxins, because people receive a percentage fee for selling them. We take them blindly, not really knowing what they truly contain.

MettleMaiden: The Pharmaceutical companies are big business, and totally corrupt...

  • Mark: The world we are living in, does not seem to care what is best for our neighbor. More are focused on ripping them off, so they can build a bigger house than their neighbor.

MettleMaiden: That is so sad, but disheartenly true!

  • Mark: Face it, this is the kind of world we are living in, today. Now, you see the financial crisis ocurring, and things are finally begining to change, as more people become aware. It's a very tough ride and people are seeing their money devalued. This is the only thing that can happen, and that will happen, in order to get people to change.

MettleMaiden: We should be determined to change, and accept some level of responsibility....

  • Mark: All this chaos is ongoing, because we are now in a dead end world, and we are destroying the Earth. Even though the leaders of the world are coming together to talk about nature, and discuss Global Warming, very little is actually happening.

MettleMaiden: This is because people are indolent, and lazy.

  • Mark: All this dialogue and discussion has only reduced pollution by 20%. This doesn't make any sense to me! I feel that you need to make big changes; otherwise, it doesn't make any difference, whatsoever!

MettleMaiden: I concurr!

  • Mark: I guess there needs to be a big natural disaster, or money shortage. Something drastic and catastrophic needs to happen to get people to work together again, and on the same page.

MettleMaiden: Yes, people these days really have the attitude of "What is best for me" instead of "What is best for everyone". We are all one and all connected. Your studies of Quantum Physics, clearly elucidate this notion.

  • Mark: Exactly, I think people are linked in a genetic way. This is not altogether equalistic, like it is now. People are made like this, all connected, sharing the same DNA.

MettleMaiden: You mean we are all humans, who need to realize what it means to be humane to humanity.

  • Mark: Well spoken! I think how we are suppose to act, and be is generous, kind, loving, and willing to help each other out, when times are tough. We are one community, and in fact one big family. Unfortunately, the way things are now is far from being that ideal.

MettleMaiden: Are you familiar with Dannion Brinkley or Joseph Scanlon?

  • Mark: No, who are they?

MettleMaiden: Dannion Brinkley was struck by lightening in 1975, and had a near death experience, I believe twice. He has been credited with prophesizing several things, because he claimed there would be a great castastrophy between 2000 and 2005.

  • Mark: Funny how between 2000 and 2005 nothing catastrophic really happened...oh yeah maybe the 911 thing, over there.

MettleMaiden: That is what people believe is the great calamity of which he spoke. So many act like 911 is the new Holocaust. They are stuck in their victim energy.

  • Mark: It is a sad event, but such is the history of our existence, really!

MettleMaiden: Ancient prophecies are often misunderstood. People always are determined to fuse the horizon, by interpreting the prophecy in a modern context. In other words with Nostradameus, I feel people tried to make his prophecies mean much more than they were originally intended.

  • Mark: They always make the prophecies fit in to their version of reality. What you are saying about near death experience is something I wrote about in the song "Kingdom Of Heaven". I believe that the experience really happens, and that many have had one. Unfortunately, it's not alright to talk about it. So, all these people have had an experience, but they cannot talk about it because doctors say, "it did not happen, you were only dreaming".

MettleMaiden: My husband and I have read and researched all about this phenomena. He has several books by Dr. Raymond Mooney.

  • Mark: Fascinating! It is so sad that they are being told that their genuine experience is not real, or even valid.

MettleMaiden: That is skeptical and cynical science for you...

  • Mark: I think it should be taken seriously and investigated more. There is this Dutch guy, who started to investigate NDEs in a scientific way. All the other scientists are laughing at him, which means he struggles in vain to raise anymore money to investigate this "nonsense".

MettleMaiden: So, he has lost most of his funding?

  • Mark: That's what always happens when a scientist comes up with something really useful. The ones who dare to draw outside the line are the ones that are having all the difficulties. They make no money, have no support, and have to do it all on their own. Surprisingly, they are the ones who make the most productive progress in science.

MettleMaiden: I completely agree. If you go against the grain you are ostracized.

  • Mark: I myself have studied psychology, and I noticed that when I was at university the professors, and even students were very rigid; not willing to open up to any new ideas. You have to reproduce it exactly as they did, if you want to make it to the next year, otherwise you are out.

MettleMaiden: That is your textbook empiricism, it always has to be proven in a lab!Nobody likes to be challenged with their "proven" theories. They just feel that their conclusion is right and that is it! You can forget about even buying in to "Intelligent Design"!

  • Mark: Oh yeah, they prefer to stay on their safe roads. They would rather remain with the norm, and make very little progress in a field that they know about; when instead, they could be making huge advances, simply by taking small risks.

MettleMaiden: God forbid you try something different that might actually work better!

  • Mark: Yes, they are afraid, that's the thing. They fear losing their job, or being proven wrong.

MettleMaiden: It is pretty sad how close minded people can be! Is this not the very definition of evolution? We must move ahead, advance, progress, or else regress and reach entropy.

  • Mark: Are we reallly evolving, though?

MettleMaiden: No, we are not going to evolve as long as we allow others, institutions, governments, and religion to dominate our life.

  • Mark: That is so true...

MettleMaiden: This makes me reflect upon the late, great comedian George Carlin who commented in his stand-up routine, "The planet is not dying, as it has survived all these so-called natural disasters, for countless millennia. The earth is not going away, we are!"

  • Mark: I have his show saved on my I-pod, and he is really getting the point across here. It's either up to people to just laugh about it, or else finally do something about it.

MettleMaiden: I feel his comedy is food for thought, careful rumination, and then philosophical digestion. Carlin inspires you to think for yourself, then act on his suggestions. He really made a lot of good points in his speech, even if it does make one laugh. After all, laughter is good for the soul.

  • Mark: George Carlin is one of those American comedians who is actually funny. I'm not too much into your American brand of comedy. I'm more into the British style , but this guy is really humorous.

MettleMaiden: I agree, we are big fans of his. I love all of his stuff. However, the Classic British humor is awesome, as well. I adore Monty Python, "Fawlty Towers", but also Ricky Gervais.

  • Mark: We watch a great deal of American television here, and that new Sci-Fi series "V", I don't get that.

MettleMaiden: That is a remake of the old "V" series from 1983. We actually started watching the old mini-series again; ever since the re-imagined version aired, recently. It has been fun to see how cheesy the graphics were, but this was before CGI.

  • Mark: What then, is that new show called?

MettleMaiden: It is also called "V - The Visitors", and we watch it on ABC - home of "Lost". They will air four episodes this year, and then it will return in March 2010 for nine more dramatic shows.

  • Mark: Really? What about the original show from the past?

MettleMaiden: "V - The Original Miniseries" came out in 1983, then in 1984 there was "V - The Final Battle", which was followed by a short lived television series of 19 episodes. The actual '85 TV show, is more lame than the original mini-series. The new show seems quite promising, with Elizabeth Mitchell from "Lost" in a lead role.

  • Mark: Really? I'll have to keep that in mind.

MettleMaiden: "Lost" Season Five will be out on DVD December 8th. I am a fan of this very engaging show. I also love the writing of Showtime's "Dexter". It makes me want to study more about forensic science.

  • Mark: You have a good mind for that....

MettleMaiden: Thank You! My husbands supports my decision to pursue this too. He is always excited about learning something new, as am I.

  • Mark: As am I!!!

MettleMaiden: Anyway, the graphics from the '80s "V" shows are bad, but it is fun to look back on something from 20 plus years ago, and compare it to today's technology.

  • Mark: Things from the past are not always that bad. Personally, I like to play the really old Nintendo games like "Mario Brothers 3".

MettleMaiden: Yeah! I totally grew up playing Atari.

  • Mark: Yeah, I remember Atari.

MettleMaiden: I loved it, and I use to really have a blast playing "Super Mario Brothers". I played that game so much that I would always win. So, I eventually invented new ways for Mario to die, since I often became bored.

  • Mark: Really, bored with "Marios Brothers"!

MettleMaiden: Yeah, back then many games were not as challenging as they are now! Today, they even have that "Five Minutes To Kill Yourself" interactive game for free, which you can play at Adult Swim - home of Dethklok!

  • Mark: (Laughs) Oh yeah, new ways for him to get killed, how cool! When I was a kid, I had to choose between Sega Mega Drive and Nintendo. I chose Sega.

MettleMaiden: Our six year old son loves Sega. He is even better at "Sonic Hedgehog", than his own father!

  • Mark: (Laughs again) Later on when I was 25, I got my hands on a Nintendo, and every now and then I play "Mario Brothers", because I really enjoyed playing this game at a friend's place. So, finally after all these years I have it for myself.

MettleMaiden: We were looking at the new Nintendo Wii system, and they have an updated version of Mario Brothers. We want to get that for our son for Christmas. Although, I know I will play it a great deal too!

  • Mark: Yeah, but I'm a bit afraid that if it doesn't give me the good dry feeling, of the past. I'd be disappointed, which is why I like to play the games from the golden era.

MettleMaiden: With all this technology sometimes you do just want to go back to something simpler! The Wii does offer downloadable versions of the Classic games, though.

  • Mark: Yeah, because nowadays, the games are too advanced for me. I just don't get it. The older games are not so advanced, being a little more ugly in the graphics, but that's how I like it.

MettleMaiden: I am always glad to talk to a fellow gamer. Looking back, the graphic were cheesy, but also unique. Let us switch gears here and focus on another area of your talent. You have been inspired by musicians such as Danny Elfman as far as writing musical scores. Have you ever considered or been offered a chance to write a score for a movie?

  • Mark: Absolutely, if I get the chance I will definitely do it. We already made the score for a Dutch movie. It was a cheap movie, some Dutch movies are not quite comparable to Hollywood productions.

MettleMaiden: So it was low budget film, or what we call a "B" movie.

  • Mark: Yes, but it was a nice start for me. It gave me some necessary experience. We released the score for the movie on CD ('The Score - An Epica Journey' in 2005).

MettleMaiden: Wow, I was not aware that you released a movie score on CD! I'll have to get it! What was the name of the movie?

  • Mark: It is called "Joyride", but I do not recommend it. They took what I wrote and changed it, and altered my art.

MettleMaiden: They changed your work! This can not be the "Joyride" movie with Lee Lee Sobieski?

  • Mark: No, it is another film. That is why Epica released 'The Score' without mentioning the movie. I was not happy with the way they used the music. I do not want to have any connection with the movie anymore, which is a shame.

MettleMaiden: I do not blame you, I would be pretty upset too! I am glad that you are still willing to do another movie score after that dreadful experience.

  • Mark: In the future, I would only do it again if it is a good movie with a good plot. I will be very selective, and only work with someone professional. I would prefer someone who will not tell me that the music is great, and then change it without discussing it with me. I am actually looking at some offers right now, and one is looking interesting. So who knows?

MettleMaiden: I give you my sincere blessing with the pursuit of that endeavour. I know that given your talent, you could really be put to good use. I am really sorry to hear about your first experience with movie scores. Personally, I would love to see a movie where you wrote the music. If you had creative freedom of expression like Danny Elfman or John Williams, that would be awesome!

  • Mark: I always look for challenges, and I think this would be a good experience for me, if I find a movie I like. At least I did gain some awareness, and learned from it.

MettleMaiden: Even Christofer Johnsson of Therion was able to have artistic freedom to write a musical score in the '90s. I believe that it is only a matter of time before you find a movie which you will want to score, and whereby you will be treated fairly, and diligently.

  • Mark: I think so too.

MettleMaiden: 'The Classical Conspiracy' actually sounds a lot like a movie soundtrack, with you paying homage to Harry Potter and John Williams.

  • Mark: When I was working on these tracks I really re-composed these songs into more metal versions than the originals. The careful listener will detect how Metal classical music and film scores can be. The composer can do whatever he wants with it, and perform it with a metal setup. To rewrite these songs, was really fun for me, yet it was a lot of work, too.

MettleMaiden: I can only imagine...

  • Mark: I was really happy when I was done. Now, when I listen to the CD I get a good feeling overall, and I'm glad we did it.

So am I! It is a very good release. I spoke with Simone about the album early this year, she was pretty happy with it too, and also felt it was a good experience.

  • Mark: That was a great adventure, but even with a bad experience I am the kind of person who will take something positive from it.

MettleMaiden: Like the cliche': "Every cloud has a silver lining". I am actually the same way, the ultimate optimist. I tend to drive people crazy, since I always look for something positive in any situation. I just think that life is too short to be angry about something.

  • Mark: Exactly, plus it is better for yourself to think and act like this. Your life is a lot more exciting, and it is better for your environment. People who are pessimistic are not fun to have around.

MettleMaiden: I know too many people who like to complain, and I cannot be around them, because it is emotionally and physically draining. I truly believe that not all vampires suck blood!

  • Mark: Absolutely, they take all your energy and you start feeling dead inside. I am also a person who takes on somebody's mood.

MettleMaiden: You mean like an empath?

  • Mark: Yes, this is why I like to be around optimistic people. I truly prefer to be in the company of someone who enjoys life. I don't like to have around those type of people who always complain, or swear all the time.

MettleMaiden: My husband uses a great deal of foul verbal conflagration; however, most of the time it is nonsense, and it makes me chuckle.

  • Mark: Really, how so?

MettleMaiden: His anger is so brief, and caught up in the moment, then it quickly abates; unless of course he is feeling ill, which is a whole other situation, altogether. He stubbed his toe the other day, and he cried out, "Bionic buttplug, dildo dicking cheese sandwich! I mean c'mon, how could you not laugh.

  • Mark: Yeah...say that again!

MettleMaiden: "Bionic buttplug, dildo dicking cheese sandwich! Our son did not even know he was cursing, as he left out the common expletives. He just rattles off nonsense. Half the time he has no recall what he just uttered. I guess it is like a funny form of Tourette's.

  • Mark: It then does not sound like he is bitter, or filled with hatred and scorn. Like you said life is too short, so why not relish each moment!

MettleMaiden: That is right! I want to live it up! For instance, something you did that I am sure was a lot of fun was the Death cover of "Crystal Mountain" from the 'Symbolic' album. Do you have any plans to cover a Traditional Metal song?

  • Mark: Yes, I would really like to do a cover of In Flames, in the future.

MettleMaiden: Really? That is something I would love to hear! Which song? From which album would you select? 'Whoracle', 'The Jester Race'? ....

  • Mark: I cannot say yet. 'The Jester Race' is one of my favorite albums, so possibly I might choose one from there.

MettleMaiden: I am sure you will give it your own special touch.

  • Mark: It all depends on which song fits best for Epica to cover. I was able to attend my first In Flames concert when I was 16. Death have also been a big influence.

MettleMaiden: Which is why the cover is so damn cool!

  • Mark: I suppose that maybe for some people it sounds weird for Epica to be influenced by such brutal bands, but if you take away all the sopranos, choirs, and orchestra, all that remains is a Death Metal band, instead of Symphonic Gothic Metal.

MettleMaiden: You make a good point.

  • Mark: There are a lot of people who think to themselves, "Oh Epica is soft and weak Gothic Metal, so we are not going to like it...". I recently found out that some of these people really liked the last album because it was so brutal. That is good to hear that it surprised people.

MettleMaiden: I always envisioned the band as being more like Theatre Of Tragedy, or even Leaves' Eyes, of whom my husband will interview in a few weeks. Death or In Flames are Melodic Death Thrash or Eurothrash.

  • Mark: I agree....

MettleMaiden: I also always considered Epica, like your former band After Forever, as being a more "Beauty And The Beast" sound which was popularized in the 90's with bands like Within Temptation, or 3rd And The Mortal.

  • Mark: When Theater Of Tragedy formed it was more of an eye opener for many bands, who began to realize that you can have a female vocalist.

MettleMaiden: I credit Liv Kristine for revolutionizing this concept, and paving the way for what is now commonly called Gothic Metal.

  • Mark: I agree, because before then it was not accepted to have a women singing.

MettleMaiden: Well, unless is was more like Doro, or Holy Moses. I guess Epica has aspects of those both with the melodic orchestral elements, but also that thrashing drive.

  • Mark: I am actually influenced by older bands like Megadeth and Slayer, over the modern bands. That's why I started playing metal, in the first place!

MettleMaiden: Now look where all this has taken you! Well, we need to wrap this up, so you can move on to your next interview.

  • Mark: Oh my, yes we are over our time, but this is so much fun...

MettleMaiden: I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming 2010 winter tour. We are going to catch you in February in Cleveland, with Blackguard and Threat Signal. Is there any chance that you might play all the New Age Dawn songs in a row?

  • Mark: Well we are going to play some of them, but not all.

MettleMaiden: Then I can expect a good mix, which should be most entertaining. I will let you get to your next interview now. Thank you again though for taking the time out to do this.

  • Mark: Thank you for the interview as well, and I will see you in Cleveland.

Related links: