» Michael Håkansson - Evergrey
« back


Swedish metallers Evergrey have had their last effort The Inner Circle out for a few months by now, and when we got the opportunity to ask them a bit about the situation regarding the reactions, thoughts and other things, we lined up for a short chat with bassist Michael Håkansson.
The following is what he reveales..........

Thomas: You have a new album out called The Inner Circle, what can a yet unitiated listener expect from this one? I believe that with every new record you've done you have progressed and matured as a band and as songwriters, will that be something that can be heard on this one as well?

  • Michael: The new album is the darkest, heaviest Evergrey album so far. But it's still the most melodic and slowest album. There are more mid-tempo based songs on 'The inner circle' compared to previous albums. The sound is also quite diferent than all of the other Evergrey albums. It sounds very big and expensive. I think that everyone has progressed as songwriters since 'Recreation Day'. That album had more of a "live" feel to it. On the latest album, we have just been concentrating on writing, what we think, is good songs.

Thomas: What lies behind the choice of the name The Inner Circle for your upcoming album, is it only for the "inner circle" of Evergrey fans or will it hopefully appeal to new fans also?

  • Michael: "The inner circle" is a concept album, about cults. And we will follow a person who gets draged into this cult, and makes all the drastic changes to devote his whole life to this cult, And the cult is called "The inner circle". This is a total fiction story, and we're not writing about any certain religion. It could be which religion you ever want it to be.

Thomas: Previously you have worked with producers outside the band but this time Tom and Henrik will be handling that part by themselves, isn't there a risk to perhaps become "blinded" of your own work by doing that and not see the weaknesses and strengths, I mean that it must be hard to maintain a certain level of self
criticism? It must be a comfort to have someone unbiased from outside the band pointing out what could
be done and not?

  • Michael: Actually, we thought of bringing in a producer for this album. But after a while we realized that it would be better to do it ourselves. So we decided not to, just because we wanted the album to sound exactly like we wanted it to sound. And I agree that it might be easier when you have someone, who tells you when it's good, and when it sucks. Compared to five strong individuals who can keep on fighting for one certain note for hours and hours.

Thomas: You recorded in Division One Studio, and if Im not wrongly informed that is Tom's own studio, did that mean that you could take all the time you needed in the studio without worrying about not having enough time in order to make the album you want?

  • Michael: Yes, Tom owns the studio together with our soundengineer Arnold Lindberg, and our american friend Kyle Stout. I think the studio was built in six months or so. And "The inner circle" is actually the first "real" recording that was done in Division One Studios. Since the studio is owned by Tom and Arnold, we could basiclly be stuck there forever and work on the album. It was a good move that we made a deadline before we started the whole recording process. But, you should also know, that owning a studio isn't free, even when it is your own.

Thomas: Hopefully you are feeling satisfied with the final result and now as the album is done and I haven't heard it yet I am obligated to ask; is it your best album so far?

  • Michael: We are all very satisfied with the final result. I mean, the production is just outstanding in my opinion. I think it is the best Evergrey album, because I don't feel that there is one single song on the album that is "not good". And I think all the songs is very even, compared to eachother. I'm not saying that they sound the same, but there's a connection between every song that makes the album very strong I think.

With your last album Recreation Day you did a cover of Dilba's song Im Sorry that you also did a video on, did that song have the effect you desired? Were you able to reach out to a bigger audience than what you had done in the past? If so, do you think that effect will last with your new album as well, any new covers to expect?

  • Michael: Yes I think so. We gained a lot of new fans by that song. The video was played on Tv for a long time, and it's still on rotation on american MTV2, on the 'Headbanger's ball' show. As well as our videos 'Blinded' and 'A touch of blessing'. I heard a while ago, that our new album has sold more copies now, than what 'Recreation Day' has. And that's a good sign that we have gained a lot more fans since the last album. But I don't think we are going to do another cover again. But, you never know for sure..

Thomas: Throughout the years there has been some changes in the Evergrey line-up leaving Tom as the only original member, which effect has these changes of bandmembers had on Evergrey?

  • Michael: Yes, there has been A LOT of member changes in Evergrey. If you count all of the members who has been in Evergrey through the years, we could start a fill up a whole soccer team. (laughs) Personally, I think Evergrey has matured as a band more and more within every member change. The only reason there has been so many changes, is that previous members has not been as devoted or enthusiastic to the band as they probably should be.

Thomas: How does a song come to life in the camp of Evergrey, do you individually write the music and then put the pieces to a whole or do you write the music together? I have also seen you been compared with Savatage and as Tom writes most of the lyrics, is he perhaps a Swedish mountain king? And does he perhaps write most of the music as well?

  • Michael: It depends. Mostly, since Evergrey is a guitar-based band, Tom or Henrik usually comes up with a riff or a melody, and then we start working from there. Or if Rikard has some keyboard riffs, we use them and then come up with the guitar parts. We come up with a lot of riffs, harmonies and melodies, and the hardest part is trying to match them with eachother. Sometimes it's very easy, while sometimes it's so hard that we're going crazy and start pulling our hair out.

Thomas: Where do you collect inspiration from and which bands has influenced you, earlier I mentioned Savatage and I would also draw some similarities with Nevermore, are those bands something that you have been taken influences from?

  • Michael: I would say that we get inspired by eachother, by sharing ideas, jam, or just hanging out with eachother. And then of course every member has their own influences, but I'm not sure that Nevermore is one of those bands. I mean they're a kickass band, talanted as hell and we're friends. But I would say that our biggest influences varies from Norah Jones, Sting, Pink Floyd and Outkast to Meshuggah, Pantera, Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal..

Thomas: You have recently been touring in the United States with Arch Enemy among other bands, how did the American fans respond to your music?

  • Michael: We arrived a couple of weeks ago from a tour we did together with Iced Earth and Children of bodom in North America. We toured all over the States and Canada, and did totally 26 gigs. We had such a great time, and we got along very well with both members and crew. The American fans has responded extremely well when we have been touring in the States. We are gaining more and more fans over there the whole time. When we did the Arch Enemy tour, we were the "soft" band, compared to the package that went on that tour. I mean, three death metal bands, and one, not as much death metal band. (laughs) We thought that we would get lynched or something, with our keyboards and clean vocals. But we got up on stage and we crushed! We won new fans every night, even though it wasn't really "our" crowd.

Thomas: Have you been touring any other continents apart from Europe and America, and how would you say fans from different parts of the world would differ from one and another?

  • Michael: I think that the American audience are friendly, cheering and crazy. But I haven't got used to the whole "mosh pit" thing they have over there...

Thomas: The Inner Circle will be the third release with InsideOut that also will release re-issues of your two first albums, seems like you have a healthy relationship with them, is everything going as you would like there?

  • Michael: Yes, Inside Out has been very helpful and supportive to us, especially when it comes to touring and toursupport.

Thomas: You were supposed to have been opening for Ozzy Osbourne at some dates on his European tour, an opportunity I understand you really were looking forward too, how did you react when you first heard news about his accident?

  • Michael: We got so disappointed, because we had been looking forward to this so much. But then we got ourselves together and started to concentrate on writing and recording the new album instead.

Thomas: You were nominated for a Swedish Grammy award, an award that in my opinion you should have received but that your Gothenburg neighbours The Haunted grabbed, did that come as an disappointment to you? Must have felt flattering to having been nominated, but it also must have felt way much better to actually have won?

  • Michael: Yes, we were very flattered when we got the nomination. It was also very exciting to be at the Grammy awards in Stockholm. Even though we didn't win, we had a blast, the whole evening. At least those of us who didn't pass out during the evening. (laughs)

Thomas: Something that I always have been wondering is where the name Evergrey comes from, it must mean more than that your music is always of the colour grey, at least to me your music has a much more diverse colour-scheme of beautiful colours than just grey?

  • Michael: Because when it was time to decide a name for the band, no one in the band had either a job or something to look forward to. Everything just blended into a gray mass. That is how they came up with the name, I think..

Thomas: And to round this off I would only like to say a big thank you for taking the time to share this with us, and if there is anything more you would like to add or share with the readers of Metal Covenant, feel free to use this last space as you like…

  • Michael: Make sure to check out our new album "The inner circle", and take the time to listen to it. See you on the road. Until then, stay fuckin' metal!!

That will be all for now, thank you for bringing metal music to us and Metal Covenant wishes you all the best for what the future has in store for Evergrey.
Keep it heavy.

Related links: