Evergrey 19/02/2011

“ Evergrey never changed, we only used new elements!”

Vocalist Tom S. Englund is the face of progressive metal band Evergrey. Their latest opus “Glorious Collusion” (SPV/Steamhammer February 2011) is a milestone for the band; it marks more than ten years of experience and most of all the debut of a new line-up. In the ten years that I have followed this band, the Swedish man never lost his energy or demanded less than everything from himself. Finally, it seems, they are getting what they deserve: widespread attention and a bulk of new fans.

A whole media circus arose around Evergrey’s new album and Tom is a bit overwhelmed by it: “We never had this much interest from the media and fans. It is a relief after the changes we have made.” He sounds very happy and energetic on the phone.

Changes

Wasn’t it hard to push the new members further in order to deliver this album, to get what you wanted?

Tom Englund: “It was a very positive thing, it helped not knowing them so well. I could be as pushy as I possible, because we aren’t friends or too close. It is all about the music and what music needs concerning Evergrey: to be as good as possible! That was the problem with the old line-up, because I was friends with them, I was thinking ‘ what will he think when I say this’ and that didn’t work well for the band.”

Did it take you long to make the decision to continue Evergrey with Rikard Zander (keyboards)?

Tom Englund: “It happened in one night, after a long time of knowing that we weren’t having fun on stage. We were all mature enough to deal with that and wanted the best for the band.  Now I like being in a van with the others and driving to the Netherlands for a gig; I have missed that for a long time. We have a lot of fun on stage and that is such a difference to me.”

On this new album I feel a lot of energy and power coming back, is this something you felt as well during the recording process?

Tom Englund: “ It is fine that you feel energy, but it isn’t what I feel. I want to make every album the best album I can. I am extremely pleased with all the albums and it is hard for me to compare them. This time we had different surroundings, like other studios and we made a new appearance in certain ways. “

Recordings

The new album has many layers and many contradictions in its songs. It is a very colourful collection of what Evergrey stands for nowadays. Englund reveals more about the recording process:

“ This is the most easy album we ever did. Rikard Zanger (keyboards) and me worked together in a very good way. Also Marcus Jidell (guitarist) contributed on two songs. Rikard and I had finished ten songs even before we met the new guys. After that, we wrote three songs in one week, so it all went very easy. “

You recorded ‘Recreaton Day’ in six weeks, how long was your studio time for this album?

Tom Englund: “We had more studio time with ‘Glorious Collusion’ because we used different studios. It took six months in total and that includes the writing of the songs in the studio.”

Is there a big difference between working with a concept and writing lyrics for thirteen individual songs, each with their own story?

Tom Englund:  “ It is easier to write songs, each with an own story than using one concept for a whole album. I can’t say it is less emotional, because I can’t compare those albums. Every album is closely connected to you during the recordings and then it has its own life. I do have a good feeling about this one.”

Positive

Before I get the chance to continue, Tom bellows down the phone that during our interview the world premiere of the new Evergrey video ‘Wrong’ is taking place on Metalvideo: “ You have to check it out. It is amazing; suddenly those huge magazines are talking to us. They never paid attention to us and now this is my fourth week of interviews and promotion!”

Englund continues enthusiastically: “It is for the first time in fourteen years that anyone praises an Evergrey album and likes it. It is like we have hit a button and everyone suddenly understands. The world has grown to understand us finally – haha. No seriously, I think the melodies are more accessible.”

What is your dream concerning Evergrey, as you have seen so much happening during your career and have experienced high peaks and dark low with the band.

Tom Englund:  “ This one of the dreams! Having great reviews and knowing that people like the album and to gain more fans. For example two-thirds of the journalists hated ‘ Monday Morning Apocalypse’ and suddenly they are writing those beautiful sentences to describe this new album, that is amazing!”

Deep

Ten years ago when I interviewed Evergrey for the first time, I was looking for a deeper meaning in their music. Englund immediately said ‘ we aren’t that deep’ something that stayed in my head. I wonder if, after all those years, this has changed.

Tom Englund:  “We had a dark period before the changes took place, but you only discover that afterwards. It is not that dramatic: people are looking for a story, but it simply became something that wasn’t fun anymore.  Now I am happy every second, we all have that common feeling in the band.”

On another level, the singer denies to be very deep, only using his experience: “ Rikard Zander and me sat down after the break and decided to write what we liked.  It just happened and we aren’t great thinkers.  We are very serious during the writing process and there is a lot of knowledge of how to make an Evergrey album. We don’t plan a ballade after a very uptempo song for example, it just happens.” 

As a singer, is it hard to know when the vocals are right, in the light of self-criticism?

Tom Englund:  “ The lyrics and vocals are never perfect. You learn over the years when it is all right. Also I produced other bands and then you discover that it often gets worse when you do things over and over. I just feel it when I have done the best I can.”

I decide to tease Tom a bit and ask him if he has given all he’s got on this album. The only criticism I can think of is that his vocals sound a bit like other albums now and then: elements that have been used before, melody parts that are very common.

Tom Englund:  “ It is totally the opposite, I worked on the ultimate level on this album and put everything in it I could. Because I wanted to prove that I didn’t need anyone else and did it on my own. I never laid back on things, but this time I wanted to prove it even more for myself. The new album is more understandable, although it has more layers. I did something right, hence all the attention. Evergrey never changed; we only used new elements. The voice never changes so don’t expect a totally different album. If you want a different album, listen to another band.”

Teamwork

You and Rikard Zander are a good writing team, something worth exploring more in the future?

Tom Englund:  “ We just had fun writing songs, at that time we had no record deal and just sat down together, not caring who liked it: we did this for ourselves. It was so easy, simply turning my head to the left and asking ‘ do you like this’ and then Rikard would say ‘ good or bad, or change this.’ It is fantastic, just two guys involved!”

Then Tom gets more serious: “ After five seconds we made a decision about an idea without stepping on someone’s toes. We both have a similar mind, knowing what we want in music and we don’t have to explain our feelings or decisions.”

Plans

Together with power metal band Kamelot, Evergrey will tour in Europe in May and April, something he looks forward to: “ It will be fun I guess. It is a different audience, so a chance to reach new fans.”

Once again, the singer remarks that he is walking on clouds, because he is so happy with the good feedback and then the new guitarist Marcus Jidell is mentioned, because Tom isn’t the only one who made a big change in life: “ It is very refreshing for Marcus to work with us. He told me that he found his musical brother in me, which is so nice! For the first time he can play what he wants, without being judged.  He is different than Hendrik Danhage, and it is great that he doesn’t copy him and stays close to his own playing, with new influences and ideas. That changed our sound in a very good way.”

With all the positive energy, easy writing process and lots of ideas, it is simple to conclude that an album will be written soon after this one, right?

Tom Englund:  “ We are very consistent in our recordings. Since 1998, almost thirteen years we have written an album every two years. So let’s see how it goes this time. It would be nice to make a DVD with the new line-up, but it is hard to break the other one. Only when we have a totally new concept.”

You are very active on social media, is it something you like or simply need to do to promote the band?

Tom Englund:  “ Evergrey used video updates in 1999, long before bands started doing that. It ‘s an overkill all those networks. We recently discovered Facebook and it is a good marketing tool! You can reach so many people.”

 

Text: Silvia Deurwaarder

 

 

Current Members:

Tom S. Englund - Vocals, Guitar
Rikard Zander - Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Marcus Jidell - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johan Niemann - Bass, Backing Vocals
Hannes Van Dahl - Drums

Former members:

Will Chandra - Keyboard
Daniel Nöjd - Bass, Vocals
Dan Bronell - Guitar
Patrick Carlsson - Drums
Sven Karlsson - Keyboard
Christian Rehn - Keyboard
Michael Håkansson - Bass
Fredrik Larsson - Bass
Jonas Ekdahl - Drums
Jari Kainulainen - Bass
Henrik Danhage - Guitar, Backing Vocals

Discography:

1998 - The Dark Discovery
1999 - Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy
2001 - In Search of Truth
2003 - Recreation Day
2004 - The Inner Circle
2005 - A Night to Remember (Gothenburg Concert CD&DVD)
2006 - Monday Morning Apocalypse
2008 - Torn
2011 - Glorious Collision