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Interviews   

Evergrey has recovered again


At the end of this interview you will know everything about the crisis that Evergrey went through and above all Tom Englund (vocals/ guitar) and Rikard Zander ( keyboards/ back vocals) who are the only survivors from a heartbreaking separation.

Actually we have spent most of the interview speaking with Tom about that episode which almost  cost the band its life. The leader proves to be particularly talkative concerning how the facts took place and honest regarding his feelings. He gladly shares with us some pieces of dialogues (« I felt that I wanted to prove myself to you ») and some of his thoughts (« Maybe we did do seven great albums and I should be happy with that ») he had at that time.

Glorious Collision, a punchy album, with a significant title, is a reaction both in its music and its lyrics to that difficult year 2010. An album which could be the soundtrack of those moments when we had to recover from a devastating collision.

« ‘Maybe we did do seven great albums and I should be happy with that you know. […] Should I just quit playing music?’. […] In the end it was just Rikard and I trying to write songs. We wrote three songs for this album in a week. Then we thought ‘well ok, this is the answer so this is what we are going to do‘. »

2010 must have been a difficult year for you: your musicians left and your material was stolen. My first question is easy: how are you?

I’m great. I’m greater than in 2010 (laughs). Yes, but then again the band members left because I wanted them to leave and they wanted to leave you know. It was a mutual decision that we decided together in order to stay friends and to maybe keep Evergrey alive. This was not even important to us at the time. We just felt that we couldn’t go on like we were. Then there was that fucking bullshit with the breaking in of our tour bus and well that is a different story you know. All in all I think that mentally I am probably the strongest person you will ever talk to (laughs).

You declared that this series of departures never endangered Evergrey’s career…

It did definitely! I told them “hey guys we can’t do this anymore, you can’t be in the same band as me anymore”, and these guys are my best friends you know. Immediately after Henrik left my house, a single second later, the next thought came into my head “oh fuck what the hell am I going to do now? Am I going to continue?” Then I started to think and I asked Rikard the keyboard player “hey man what do you want to do?” and he said “what do you mean?” and I told him “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore”. I just knew that I didn’t want to do it with them. So I told Rikard that I needed to think for a while, like a week or ten days or whatever time that I needed to think is what I told them. That’s what I did.

Did you ever lose hope when it was just the two of you? Didn’t you think that it might be the end of the band?

Well I didn’t know. I didn’t even have an opinion because I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue. Maybe we did do seven great albums and I should be happy with that you know. Then we would have a career with nothing to be ashamed of. On the other hand I immediately thought (sigh) “does this mean that I should start another band or should I just quit playing music?” Music has been a part of my life since forever. There were all of these existential questions that I started asking myself. In the end it was just Rikard and I trying to write songs. We wrote three songs for this album in a week. Then we thought “well ok, this is the answer so this is what we are going to do”.

What were these songs that brought you back to business?

It was the first song “Leave It Behind”, the first single “Wrong” and “Out of Reach”.

« ‘Frozen’ is about the point you come to in no matter what relationship were everything becomes a routine, so you no longer appreciate each other for what you are. You just go on and on with your daily life in the same way that many people do. You never stop to think ‘am I really happy in this situation or am I just going on because it’s convenient?’« 

So the lyrics of the first song “Leave It Behind” were related to the fact that you wanted to move on and leave all of this shit behind?

Yeah definitely! All of the five first songs are most definitely related to the relationships within the band both before and after. “Leave It Behind” is about me feeling as though I was speaking upon deaf ears and that I was misunderstood because nobody could hear what I was saying. I felt like when they were talking, they wanted me to read their minds. “You” was about certain aspects of betrayal and “Wrong” is the song in which I realise that I am the guy who was wrong after having thought that I was right for ten years. “Frozen” is about the point you come to in no matter what relationship were everything becomes a routine, so you no longer appreciate each other for what you are. You just go on and on with your daily life in the same way that many people do. You never stop to think “am I really happy in this situation or am I just going on because it’s convenient?” you know. Then “Restoring The Loss” is about the moment in which we started picking up the pieces and started moving forward.

The title of the album mixes a very positive adjective, « glorious », with a quite negative word, « Collision ». Is this opposition a symbol of your come-back? As if the explosion of the band last year was a blessing in disguise?

Yeah. I mean you go through life everyday encountering collisions of different sorts you know. Perhaps you collide at work with your colleagues because of opinions or if you have been unlucky enough to have in-laws pass away in your life. This would also symbolise a collision which would be devastating for you as a person. However, it will also alter your way of thinking and put your mind and your compass in a new direction. Perhaps at first you are unable to see the positive things, which is quite natural. When I had to tell my best friends in my band that I didn’t want to play with them anymore, that was a fucking devastating collision for me you know. Then again, that decision and that collision has led me to where I am today. That is why it’s called Glorious Collision.

The album is really punchy. Considering the situation you faced, we expected a bitterer one. Even if there are a couple of sad tracks, like « Wrong » or « Free », it seems that you wanted to show your enthusiasm, for having survived and for being back….

Yeah maybe unconsciously it was like that (laughs). I spoke to Henrik the guitar player, who also has a new band and we have both recorded new albums now, and I said “it’s really strange but during the process I felt that I wanted to prove myself to you”. In a way it was very important for Rikard and I to prove ourselves to the old members. This was unconsciously. We didn’t sit down and say “hey lets show those motherfuckers how we write a great album!” It was not like that at all you know.

« At that show, before we started playing, we didn’t know if we were going to get home or if the bus company was going leave us in Lyon. Then 2 minutes before, we decided to give this motherfucking bus 6000 Euros so that we could go home. »

You came to France last may, to play the rescheduled dates that you had previously cancelled. It was the occasion to discover the new line-up. The new musicians are really talented, and sing also very well. Was « a perfect command of the voice » a (sine qua non) condition to be recruited?

No we didn’t even try anyone man! (laughs) We just met them through friends. We asked friends if they knew anyone and they said “yes, here’s a good guy… Here’s a good guy… Here’s a good guy…” Then we met with them and tried to become friends first because you can say yes to anybody but you need to have a talented guy on the instrument you know.

Did you ask them if they could sing?

No I didn’t ask. That was a pleasant surprise.

I guess you were lucky then!

Yeah. In fact it was at that Lyon show you mentionned that all of our instruments were stolen! (laughs).

(laughs) Yeah but it turned out that this show was really special, magical.

At that show, before we started playing, we didn’t know if we were going to get home or if the bus company was going leave us in Lyon. Then 2 minutes before, we decided to give this motherfucking bus 6000 Euros so that we could go home. It cost a lot of money but at least we knew that we would get home.

I saw you play at this show and I thought that you guys looked really tired but I was impressed that you were doing the show and that you were there for your fans and did a great show for them.

I’m glad it looked that way because in our heads it was total chaos.

It was as though you were thinking that the fans don’t deserve this…

Yeah : ‘let’s forget about it for an hour and a half’. We also needed a break and to be positive for a least an hour and a half.

The keyboard work is really brilliant on this album. Rikard’s arrangements are discreet, but clever. It looks like he has more fun arranging the music than being a solo keyboard player. Do you agree with that?

The things is that Rikard and I understand each other really well. I can say that I need this and within a few seconds I usually get exactly what I want and vice-versa. Rikard trusts me and my composing one hundred percent. We started off being just two guys writing the songs and then it was very easy for us to sit down and compose without having to think about anyone else. Rikard and I are very alike in the mind when it comes to music. It’s the song that’s the most important. It’s the arrangements, the build up and the dynamics that make a song. That is perhaps the area in which we differ from the guitar heroes in Evergrey you know (laughs). Even the new one you know, who always loves the guitar. But I think it’s cool that we come from different angles and views on music.

You wife Carina appears again on a bonus track of your album, as it has been the case for years now. Did you ever consider making her more prominent in your albums?

Don’t you think I’ve done that now? (laughs) I gave her a whole song!

Yeah but that’s just one song.

Yeah but it’s my band. She can get her own band! (laughs) But actually you should know that for this album she wrote the chorus for “Out of Reach” and for “Frozen” so she does have a prominent role on this album.

We don’t know much about her career outside Evergrey. Can you tell us more about it?

Well there isn’t any. She is starting a project with a friend right now which is not metal at all, in fact it’s not even rock. It’s very electronic and it’s just starting now. I just hope that she does it for fun you know.

Is it her first project?

Yeah. She has never been interested in being a rock star. She likes to sing a lot but she never wanted to make it a career. We also have a child so that also alters the way of life and how it could and should go.

« In fact the simple videos are not necessarily the cheapest ones. It’s actually the other was around (laughs). When you make a simple video, the quality of film is what costs money. When you do a storyline video, the concentration on the actual film is taken away because you think of the storyline instead.« 

The video-clip of « Wrong » is very plain, very sober, there’s only the band playing. It was already the case for Monday Morning apocalypse…

Actually, on Monday Morning Apocalypse we had a storyline video as well for that track, there are two versions. This is actually the first time that we don’t have a storyline. I think that these kinds of videos are the hardest to make because it’s hard to make them interesting enough.

Yeah, because you have to entertain the crowd.

Exactly. But this one also represents a new band in a great way and I can see that from people reviews and reactions. They like the approach that the band has taken with this. I think that there have been about 11 000 views of the premiere since yesterday evening (note : interview conducted on february, the ninth). I think that this is quite good.

Do you think that the music and the lyrics of Wrong speak for themselves and that the song does not need anything else?

Yes I think that it’s about me telling you that I was wrong. I think that we shouldn’t be too smart about that. We should just listen to the lyrics which are quite profound. But it’s also quite nice. In fact the simple videos are not necessarily the cheapest ones. It’s actually the other was around (laughs). When you make a simple video, the quality of film is what costs money. When you do a storyline video, the concentration on the actual film is taken away because you think of the storyline instead. Quality is expensive.

« So many heavy metal people in the world try to be so fucking […] I think that when you deal with a lot of musicians and you ask them these questions, you are dealing with people who are very fragile and who might have dealt with a lot of shit. This is why they have chosen to be in music in the first place. »

You declared on that video: « The song will give all dark, tough and depressed people a soundtrack and most certainly a legit reason to cry your hearts out. » (Note : Tom starts laughing) Can we say that this song is an encouragement to loosen up and to cry instead of brooding over?

What I meant is that so many heavy metal people in the world try to be so fucking tough you know. I think that we have always been a band that wear our hearts on the outside. This is a song where we look quite tough but then we play a very soft song. So we trick you in a way (laughs). Then I will see on metal sites “this is actually tougher than most of the songs out there and this is a fucking ballad” or other stuff like that. It’s quite fun.

In this song, and in general in Evergrey’s discography, your voice expresses such sincerity that we have the feeling that you are having a heart-to-heart with us. Is Evergrey such an outlet for you?

Absolutely. It’s my only outlet and it’s my only conscious therapy as well. I think that when you deal with a lot of musicians and you ask them these questions, you are dealing with people who are very fragile and who might have dealt with a lot of shit. This is why they have chosen to be in music in the first place. So yes, it is my channel and my outlet to rid myself of shit that I don’t need within my system.

In France, Evergrey is less and less popular. We were disappointed to observe a decrease of attendance to your concerts, and, recently, the titles that you presented online generated very few reactions in France. Why is this, according to you?

I don’t know and I think that it will change as well. I got the statistics from RadioMetal.com the other day and it wasn’t that depressing I can tell you (laughs). As for the shows, we have to work with the right people and do it at the right time you know. The last time we were there was about two and a half years ago, so of course that has some sort of an impact on it. You have to release albums and make yourself known for new things in order to stay interesting. We will see what happens.

Interview conducted on february, the 9th by phone

Transcription : Izzy & Isa
EVERGREY’s website : www.evergrey.net



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