Simone Simons of Epica: A Definitive Theory

"Having the five writers adds to the undeniable strength of the band, it makes Epica very diverse".

The holographic principle is a property of string theories and an alleged property of quantum gravity.... You following? The string theory states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as programmed on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region.... I hope you’re following as there will be a test later.... To break it down, the idea behind The Holographic Principle (the latest album by Dutch Symphonic metallers, Epica) is that the universe is a digitally generated hologram.... A delicious and skull scratching concept indeed, though this theory paved the way for one of the most ambitious albums for the band to date both lyrically and vocally recalls Simone Simons as she takes Metal As Fuck through the process...

It has been 6 months since Epica toured Australia already and during those shows, the crowds got a preview of material from the latest album The Holographic Principal, so we’ll get into the album shortly, right now though I’m curious as to how the band’s summer was first of all “It was great, we had some festivals – not too many as we were releasing the album, though we have holidays in site. Until then we are still in working mode, but soon we can put the feet up and be lazy”. [Laughs] The gigs over summer gave the band great opportunity to prepare the crowds for the latest album, so when will the band begin playing the new material? “We are really excited; we start to play the new songs on October 1st at our festival”. [Epic Metal Fest, Netherlands]

So in regards to The Holographic Principal – what was your original vision for the album and do you feel you have achieved it? “I think with The Holographic Principal we definitely set another level for us. With the Quantum Enigma we were so pleased with how the writing and recording process went that we continued in the same style. This time around we had five song writers with twenty seven songs to choose from, we worked with more live instruments instead of samples and we went very much into detail - all the band members were jamming the songs both individually and together to see how they would feel in the live setting as simply listening to a song on a computer it doesn’t always mimic how the song will feel in the end”. It sounds like a massive production and it was noted that this album in particular was the most ambitious to date for the band – so with all of these elements encompassed through the recording, what challenges did you face if any? “For me personally, the challenges I found were dealing with this stupid cold I had, I had this stupid cough that was really annoying. I was eating a lot liquorice [Laughs] and I had to try and hit all the notes with this issue of sounding husky, and we had to keep our heads cool as we were working with a producer and a schedule, overall though it worked out in the end”. How was it working again with Joost [van den Broek] as producer? “It was great, we’ve worked with him previously – he is a very cool guy. He is very calm and had a great character, he looks younger than he actually is, so when you think of someone with experience it’s generally not the young guy but don’t be fooled [Laughs] Joost is great and I absolutely love working with him”.

The songs that feature on the album asked for a lot of variation vocally, as you had incorporated a lot of styles – so was there a lot of room for you to let loose vocally? “Yes, for me to experiment my styles difinitely but also for the guys to write their vocal lines too and then I could use my own or compliment theirs. The guys always have a vocal range in their minds when writing so working on the piano is the best way I can do this as I can create my vocal lines by playing the music on the piano and I had to become one with the music I guess you could say so I would listen to the music without their ideas of the vocal lines, so I couldn’t be distracted by them because once you hear that melody you can’t let go of it”.

The bar was set very high with Quantum Enigma so to surpass this, what measures did you incorporate into the material this time around? “Science has been a big inspiration storyboard for Mark [Jansen – Guitars] he is the one that often comes up with the titles for the albums, he is the one reading the books, watching the documentaries and I in turn become inspired behind these ideas - the theories involved in science and our realities. The guys, of course have their own writing styles and tastes and having the five writers adds to the undeniable strength of the band, it makes Epica very diverse”. When was it during the recording process, you realised the album was reaching its full potential? “Actually it really came during the mixing and mastering session at the Nuclear Blast office in Germany. Prior to that I had only heard it through my headphones, so it’s a completely different experience when you hear it through a massive PA system, it’s like god blows your mind”.

It was Coen [Janssenkeyboards, synthesizer, piano] who mentioned for the new album you wanted to evolve as a band on specific levels – can you take us through these levels? “What we do mostly is to take the latest record and start from there - so we wanted to generally start on the same path, though with the Holographic Principle we incorporated the choir and of course the live instruments. In the past we’ve worked with strings and other things – this time around we had such a selection and it worked out very well”.

Epica of course are shortly going on holidays however what touring plans do you have in place to promote the new album afterward? “Well we start with Epic Metal Fest of course then North America in November, then in January 2017 the European tour will begin. There are a few things in the works at the moment but unfortunately nothing we can confirmed right now”.

The Holographic Principle is available now through Nuclear Blast