Interview: Epica

Photo by Tim Tronckoe

On February the 26th Epica is going to release their new album, titled Ωmega. Recently, DutchMetalManiac’s Glenn van der Heijden already reviewed Ωmega here and now he also interviewed Epica’s vocalist Simone Simons.

Hey Simone, how are you doing?

I’m fine, it’s a sunny day today so it’s a beautiful day! How are you doing?

The same, I’m glad we can do this interview.

Yes, a lot is possible digitally.

These are strange times indeed. Congratulations on the new album, it’s great! I feel that you guys have really made a strong album.

Thank you.

What are the reactions so far?

Very good, when you look at the reactions on the first two singles we released. The reactions from the press are also very positive, so we are on a roll. We hope that the fans are going to be happy with it as well. But we feel great about it.

Good to hear. How has the whole process been like making this album? It must’ve been different recording an album in these times or wasn’t it?

Actually, everything went fine until we had to record the vocals. This was half way in March. We succeeded in recording the child’s choir and the orchestra. We recorded the orchestra in Prague and the choir in The Netherlands. This was finished at the end of February and the vocals from Mark and myself were scheduled in the middle of March. Mark lives in Sicily while I live in Germany so we had to puzzle a little on how to get it done.

I can imagine that. When I was listening to the album, it seemed to me as if you brought a lot of elements back from albums from the older days.

Yes, I think you’re right about that. Some elements that we used in the beginning of Epica have indeed returned, the Arabic melodies for example. Songs like Seal of Solomon and Code of Life kind of have that old Epica vibe with them. The songs were written by Mark and Coen, they have been with the band from the beginning, so that’s right. I myself am a big fan of those Arabic melodies so I am glad to have them back.

It sounds amazing if you ask me, and I noticed it right away. There are elements from the old Epica, but there are also new elements. I was wondering, being a band for so long, how do you guys make sure that you have fun making the music?

After The Holographic Principle we took a small break from touring to be more at home, after almost 17 years of touring and making an album every two years. For Ωmega, we wanted to retreat, write our biography and after that return with recharged batteries, highly motivated to make music together the old-school way.

The album really sounds like that, it seems to have brought you guys closer together and it feels more of a group effort than ever before.

It is.

There are no tours right now and we don’t know yet when they will be back, we are all hoping that it will be soon. But you guys are a band who normally do a lot of touring, how are you guys coping with the fact that you can’t do that right now? Is it difficult not to be on tour?

It certainly is. We all miss it. Originally the album was supposed to release in September and the tour would then start in Europe in October, together with Apocalyptica and Wheel. This has all been rescheduled, the album release to February, but the tour we had to reschedule again. Now the album is released and we still can’t tour. Maybe some summer festivals, but I am realistically optimistic, keeping in mind that that also might not be the case. Then we would have to look to other possibilities.

Are there other possibilities? Maybe something like live streams? Would you guys be in for that?

Yes, I think at some point we won’t have any other choice, because we really want to promote the album and play the new songs. The only problem we have is that we all live in four different countries. I myself live in Germany and we have a lockdown until mid-February, with a chance that it may be extended, we just don’t know. Mark lives in Sicily, which faces a really strict lockdown as well. Isaac lives in Belgium and the rest of us live in The Netherlands. We don’t know how long everything will take and we really can’t say anything about it so fingers crossed.

So even with that kind of solutions it would be a real challenge?


Where does the title Ωmega come from?

Mark is the one that came up with the title Ωmega. This is kind of a rule in the band. He came up with the Ωmega point as an end to the Kingdom of Heaven trilogy. We eventually decided on the name Ωmega because it’s beautiful and powerful at the same time and it basically means the same. The Ωmega point essentially is the end of the universe where everything comes together and becomes one with creation. It’s the evolution of our consciousness in a way that we can grow as people and become one with the source of the creation.

That’s beautiful.

Simone is busy with homeschooling her son Vincent. One moment, homeschooling is a big challenge right now.

I understand. That must not be easy to do in these times.

No, but the red wine really helps. Simone laughs

That’s an honest answer. What kind of things do you do to relax and stay sane?

Hiking in nature and going to the toilet to relax. My husband took over for a couple of mornings, but he also has a lot of work to do so we kind of have to organize it a little bit. But next week I have planned my interviews later in the day so I can help with my son’s schoolwork. But I’ll admit, it isn’t easy.

No worries, I completely understand. We all have to deal with the situation we are in at the moment.

Yes, you’re right. Vincent is sitting next to me now and he is not happy. We are all not happy with the current situation, but it is what it is.

Exactly, and yet there is really positive album coming out. Something to be proud of and look forward to, I think.

That’s true, it’s a little bit bittersweet. It is nice but at the same time it’s too bad that we can’t enjoy it the way we normally do, with being on tour and stuff.

I really like Rivers, it’s a beautiful song. It seems to me that on this album you vocally push yourself even further, giving it everything you’ve got. Do you agree with that?

I think I do see it the same way. It is my goal to always ask the best of myself and my vocal performances disregarding the situation we are in. I think that this album has a little bit more emotional depth because of the situation we were in recording the vocals in mid-March and April. Being in the unknown, not knowing where this all was going to lead to. I think Rivers became a great song when I listen to it and that’s the most important. We try to touch people with the vocals, music and melody.

You succeeded in that. The song really hit me. Then I thought Epica is such a heavy band and then a relatively quiet song comes along. Maybe with these songs it is even more important to get the feeling across. It might not be really metal, but it actually is my favorite songs on the album.

Thank you. We hear that more often. That the proudest metalheads can relate to the Epica ballads as well.

Might just be that that’s the reason they are listening to Epica. Who knows?

I wouldn’t mind that! Simone laughs

Some time ago you were on the new album of Ayreon. What was it like to work with Arjen again?

If Arjen asks me, I will always say yes without even hearing the music.

I think that Arjen is a type of person that you can say yes to indeed.

Arjen is a musical genius if you ask me. On top of that, he is a really nice guy to work with. We’ve known each other for a long time. I’ve been a fan way before he even asked me to sing on an album. It’s always a blind date for me, but every time I know that it’s going to be something crazy. He prepares everything for me down to the detail, so that I can practice my vocal lines when I’m still at home. He then records all of the vocals with session singers so that I can fully prepare myself. In 2019 I also participated in the Electric Castle anniversary live shows and that was a lot of fun.

I was there and it was absolutely phenomenal. It must’ve been quite an experience to be able to do that together with all those lovely people.

Yes! It was a lot of fun. All of them are super professional and talented and they still love what they’re doing.

Do we need to know anything about Ωmega that hasn’t already been said? Or is there something you would like to say?

We are excited about the release of the album. Despite the fact that we are living in different times right now, I hope that it can give people a little bit of hope. Music is really important, it’s some sort of therapy. It was like that for me in the beginning with Epica and it is again with Ωmega. I hope it will be a spark of light for a lot of people in the coming months until we can see each other again.

I have no doubt of that. It is one of the better albums in recent years.

Thank you.

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