Mark Jansen - Epica
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.
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.
MettleMaiden: They are the ones who understand Epica as being more than another "Beauty And The Beast" type band.
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?
MettleMaiden: I am pleased to hear that there was some discussion, and that he did not leave you high and dry.
MettleMaiden: Almost as if that is what was meant to be....
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.
MettleMaiden: Yes it is! It must be interesting to work with the former drummer and guitarist of God Dethroned.
MettleMaiden: Oh really?
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?
MettleMaiden: So, he is a fan then?
MettleMaiden: So, am I to assume that he did not record it in the studio with you?
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.
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?
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?
MettleMaiden: That is what it means to be mettle....
MettleMaiden: The new album is your crowning achievement thus far.
MettleMaiden: I should say so....
MettleMaiden: This is why Metal fans are so dedicated to their music. They make it personal.
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.
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!
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?
MettleMaiden: That makes sense....
MettleMaiden: We saw that movie. I really felt it was overdone, you know your typical Hollywood B$, barely touching on the topic; more concerned with action, and special effects.
MettleMaiden: I completely agree with that concept. With all this 2012 hype going around, and with the movie and books, and people's fear based thinking, believing that the world is going to end, there is just too much mortal dread.
MettleMaiden: You are probably right. It sounds like what the Christians are always alluding to from the Book Of Revelations. All that B$ 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.
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.
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!
MettleMaiden: So many of us have ridiculous mortgage rates. Mortgage comes from the Latin word for death!
MettleMaiden: I know that feeling! That's why I no longer work for any company. I am my own boss, so to speak.
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.
MettleMaiden: Most people are focused on earning a living, rather than making a real life for themselves.
MettleMaiden: Neither do I....
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.
MettleMaiden: The Pharmaceutical companies are big business, and totally corrupt...
MettleMaiden: That is so sad, but disheartenly true!
MettleMaiden: We should be determined to change, and accept some level of responsibility....
MettleMaiden: This is because people are indolent, and lazy.
MettleMaiden: I concurr!
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.
MettleMaiden: You mean we are all humans, who need to realize what it means to be humane to humanity.
MettleMaiden: Are you familiar with Dannion Brinkley or Joseph Scanlon?
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.
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.
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.
MettleMaiden: My husband and I have read and researched all about this phenomena. He has several books by Dr. Raymond Mooney.
MettleMaiden: That is skeptical and cynical science for you...
MettleMaiden: So, he has lost most of his funding?
MettleMaiden: I completely agree. If you go against the grain you are ostracized.
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"!
MettleMaiden: God forbid you try something different that might actually work better!
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.
MettleMaiden: No, we are not going to evolve as long as we allow others, institutions, governments, and religion to dominate our life.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MettleMaiden: Thank You! My husbands supports my decision to pursue this too. He is always excited about learning something new, 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.
MettleMaiden: Yeah! I totally grew up playing 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.
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!
MettleMaiden: Our six year old son loves Sega. He is even better at "Sonic Hedgehog", than his own father!
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!
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.
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?
MettleMaiden: So it was low budget film, or what we call a "B" movie.
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?
MettleMaiden: They changed your work! This can not be the "Joyride" movie with Lee Lee Sobieski?
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.
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!
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.
MettleMaiden: 'The Classical Conspiracy' actually sounds a lot like a movie soundtrack, with you paying homage to Harry Potter and John Williams.
MettleMaiden: I can only imagine...
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.
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!
MettleMaiden: You mean like an empath?
MettleMaiden: My husband uses a great deal of foul verbal conflagration; however, most of the time it is nonsense, and it makes me chuckle.
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.
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.
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?
MettleMaiden: Really? That is something I would love to hear! Which song? From which album would you select? 'Whoracle', 'The Jester Race'? ....
MettleMaiden: I am sure you will give it your own special touch.
MettleMaiden: Which is why the cover is so damn cool!
MettleMaiden: You make a good point.
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.
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.
MettleMaiden: I credit Liv Kristine for revolutionizing this concept, and paving the way for what is now commonly called Gothic Metal.
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.
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.
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?
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.