Evergrey - 12/10/2008

EVERGREY is a progressive metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden and was founded in 1996. The band released their debut album ‘The Dark Discovery’ in 1998 and since then EVERGREY have brought out six studio albums and one live cut. All of them made the top 20 in their native Sweden and the last two made the top 10. On top of that, their DVD was number 1 for four weeks and nominated for a Grammy in Sweden. The band has toured around the globe several times, together with In Flames, Nevermore, Throwdown, Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Iced Earth, among others.

On May 08, 2008, EVERGREY announced that they had signed a deal with Steamhammer/SPV. This deal includes the release of their new album and the entire back catalogue. It also was announced that the new album, ‘Torn’, will be released early in September. As the deal includes the band’s entire back catalog, there is a possibility of re-releases of previous Evergrey albums with the inclusion of added bonus material.

The first stage of this ambitious target will see the release of EVERGREY 's new studio album, ‘Torn’, at the beginning of September, featuring eleven compositions, described by Englund as a "modern mix of ‘In Search Of Truth’ and ‘Recreation Day’. The tracks are all guitar-oriented and very atmospheric. They have exactly the sound that our fans expect from us." According to Englund, the slightly more experimental direction of EVERGREY 's previous release, ‘Monday Morning Apocalypse’, has given way again to old strengths and virtues. "Two years ago we needed an album with a slightly different approach and an expensive producer, just to find out how that sort of thing works. It was the right album at the time, but now we have returned to our typical trademarks." This is one of the reasons why the tracks on ‘Torn’ were self-produced by Englund together with drummer Jonas Ekdahl. In addition, the band has a new bassist, Fredrik Larsson having been replaced by former Stratovarius musician Jari Kainulainen.

So there is much to talk about and drummer Jonas Ekdahl was available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

Your new album ‘Torn’ came out a couple weeks ago, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!

 

First of all, congrats with your new album, how are you?

Thank you very much, and I'm fine, thanks!


How did you launch into writing the material for
‘Torn’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

First me and Tom started playing together almost two years ago in the studio. Henrik was helping In Flames at the time, covering for Björn during a North American tour. So me and Tom where jamming in the studio, and this was the time where "Soaked", "In confidence" and parts of "Numb" where composed. Then we took a break, and launched the writing process several months later, and started writing for real this time. Most of the time I was at Tom's place and wrote songs together with him. Henrik wrote for the most part at his place, and the same goes for Rikard. In the beginning we all hooked up once or twice a week to check out how things where going and to share ideas with each other. But later on, we finished all of the songs at Tom's.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Some songs came together real easily, like  “Broken wings” and “Torn” for example. “Soaked” was a very tricky song. Since it was the first real song we wrote for the album, and we took a break from it for so long, it was hard to change what we wanted when we finally sat down and started working with it a second time. I don't know how many hours we spent on that song, trying to change this and that. But in the end, we decided to do some minors touch ups, and then leave it as it was. And I'm glad we did, because it's one of my favorite songs on the album. And it's also cool that it basically sounds the same on the album as it did when we started jamming it out, nearly two years ago.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record
‘Torn’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

The goal was the same as on every album we've done, to just go for it and do whatever we feel is right. And on 'Torn', we just wanted to kind of let ourselves go, and just play and have fun. I really think you can tell, because to me the songs are very vivid and the whole album has this kind of cool live vibe. Also we felt free to use our skills a bit more, specially since Jari joined our gang. He really knows his instrument and it was awesome to do cool fills and grooves together with him. I think we are a perfect match as a rhythm section.

 


A couple of months after the release of ‘Monday Morning Apocalypse’ Michael Håkansson left the band, how did you feel about that at that time and did this have an influence on the songs on your new release?

At that time it was really surprising, sad and it came out of the blue for us. He said he wanted to do something different with his life, music wise. He was very determined about that, and even though it felt like crap for us, we couldn't do anything but wish him well in the future. We are still good friends, and he was at our release gig in Gothenburg two weeks ago. It was a bit strange but cool to see him smiling in the crowd, when I was so used to see him beside me on stage.


So you have a new bassplayer now, can you give us a short introduction of  Jari Kainulainen?

He's Finnish, lives in Norway and plays in a Swedish band. He calls himself "mega scandinavian" haha. He played with the Finnish powermetal band Stratovarius before Evergrey. He's got an incredible talent, and he's one of the best bassplayers I've ever seen and heard in my whole life. I'm very proud to have him onboard Evergrey, and to be able to play together with him.


In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to
you and is there any typical way that a Evergrey songs comes into being?

Not really, it usually starts with a guitar riff, a melody or a keyboard- riff, chords or something like that. And we just take it from there, and just get in the zone and try to feel what kind of song we want to have. Then we add what we feel the song needs, we create parts and melodies and stuff, and just try to make it all connect and fit with each other. That's the hard part. Writing cool riffs is quite simple in comparison, because making all the parts of the song fit into each other can be a real pain in the ass sometimes before you get it right.


Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?

Tom, Henrik and me wrote the songs for the album. Rikard also wrote a song, together with Tom. But Tom writes the lyrics, and he always write about stuff that affects him in some way.


Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

We always write the music first, then Tom start writing the lyrics, when he feels that he has a nice vibe from the music of the song. That way, he can find lyrics that fit the music in a nice way.


On this new release the sound seemed to go back a little to your older albums like ‘Recreation Day’ and ‘In Search of Truth’, was this a conscious choice?

No, I wouldn't say that. But I think the album has some of the same feeling and atmosphere that 'Recreation Day' and 'In Search of Truth' have. We can't think about our old albums when we're trying to write a new album. It's hard to write a new album as it is haha.

 


How hard was it to come up with a follow-up on ‘
Monday Morning Apocalypse’ and what do you think are the main differences between this previous album and ‘Torn’?

I don't think it was that hard, as I said, we don't think about our old albums when we are writing material for a new album. We just write what we feel is great music and what feels good at the moment. I think the big difference between 'Torn' and 'MMA' is that 'MMA' is a more straight forward metal album, with the song structure of the basic hard rock formula.


Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘Torn’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

It's just a really powerful word, it stands out, and you can interpret it in several ways. And it's just a really cool album title.


How did the recording process proceed this time, did you work differently than on previous albums and how much time did you spend in the studio?

Everything went smoothly in the studio. The recording took about 6 or 7 weeks, and the mixing took another week. That's how long Evergrey is used to being in the studio. Except for when we recorded ‘The Inner Circle’, we where in the studio for six months then. An unbelievably long time, like Metallica long time, but so cool to be able to have that kind of time in the studio. It's not like you really have to stress things. On the new album we had the legendary Fredrik Nordström from Studio Fredman come in to set a good sound and then help us out with the mixing. Fredrik is a great and hilarious guy who is really cool to work with. And I really want to work with him more in the future.


On ‘
Monday Morning Apocalypse’ you worked with an external production team for the first time, but this time the production was done by yourself. How did you experience this and what did you learn from this?

Yes, working with Sanken Sandqvist and Stefan Glauman was very helpful for us, and we have applied a lot of stuff they taught us on 'Torn'. Recording MMA was a bit different, since Sanken and his assistant Stefan where in charge of the production. And we had to think a bit differently. We didn't have as much time to try different ideas in the studio as we had on ‘Torn’ for example. And as I said, a lot of things we learned from MMA that we found helpful, we used when we recorded Torn.


Did you run into difficulties due to doing the production yourself?

No not really. We are really comfortable with working with each other and we all know what we want and what we are after. And we know enough to handle the technical aspect of the recording too. If we ran into trouble we would just call one of our friends who knew how to solve to problem and then we would be back on track again.


Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

Yes, we got a lot of great reviews for it, and people really love it which is just awesome! Also, our limited edition version of 'Torn' was already sold out before the album was even released. Unbelievable, especially if you think about how the whole thing with internet and downloading goes nowadays.

 


Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

Of course it's nice to read good reviews and get nice feedback, but in the end we are doing this for ourselves.

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Do you have any favorites on
‘Torn’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

I'm so happy with everything how ‘Torn’ ended up. And I don't wanna change anything on it. Everyone in the band has really worked their asses of for this album and I think it shows. My favorite track on ‘Torn’ is “Soaked”, it's a really cool song with a great atmosphere and a great and powerful chorus. We got the chance to play it live, and it rocked! I can't wait to play it live again. “These Scars”, is dark and epic. Carina does some great singing on that song as well. “Numb”, is really groovy, dynamic and heavy, a killer song.  And “Still Walk Alone” I love for it's technical parts and really heavy riffs. Riffs handpicked by Henrik from his finest riffbank.


You recently signed a record deal with Steamhammer/SPV, what was the reason why you joined them and what are their (and your) plans after the release of this album?

We wanted to try something different, we needed a change. And SPV was the record company that we felt was the most interesting. I'm really excited with signing with SPV and I'm so interested to see what they can do for us, and what we can do for them. The plan for 'Torn' is to get out on the road, and I can't wait to do that. That's why we do this, to play live in front of an audience. We just love it. But on the other hand, who doesn't?


Which song is your favorite one to play live? And hich song do you find the most challenging one to play live?

“Broken Wings” is a big favorite of mine. It's so powerful and for most parts it's a really easy song to play. So I can just focus on playing really heavy and groovy. It’s the same with “Soaked” and “Obedience”. I love playing those songs. I have to say that “Fear” is probably the most challenging tune to play of the Evergrey songs. But it's also really fun to play at the same time.

 

What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?

Recording our DVD is definitely a highlight of my career. It was so cool to record a DVD in our hometown, Gothenburg, and having all of our friends and family there watching and supporting us. Also having a choir and a string quartet on stage with us was a cool experience. Another big thing for me was when I did my first tour in the United states. I'd only dreamed about touring the states when I was younger, and so going over there and playing was a dream come true. A low point was without a doubt when we got confirmed to support Ozzy Osbourne in Scandinavia in 2004. We where so damn excited when we got the gig it was crazy. But not even 24 hours later, Ozzy broke his neck and canceled the tour..that's so Ozzy..haha!

 

 

How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences, are there any particular bands that’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?

My musical inspiration is very wide. I like everything from jazz and hip hop to death- and black metal. My favorite artists are KISS, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails and Richie Kotzen. But I don't use them in any way when I write music for Evergrey. When I write Evergrey songs, I only think Evergrey. It's quite difficult to explain how I think when I'm writing, because I try to get into an "Evergrey mode" and just play.


What can we expect from Evergrey in the near future, any touring plans?

We're doing some promotion work at the moment and we have some shows booked in Sweden. We are also doing some fly-in gigs in cities like Warzaw, Poland, Romania and Russia. In December we are opening for Whitesnake here in Sweden. We are doing two shows, supporting them in Stockholm and in Gothenburg. That's gonna be awesome! We are all big Whitesnake fans and to be playing with them is so cool. Hopefully, David Coverdale won't break his neck, haha.


Where do you see the band going within the next 5 years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

 That’s tough to say, I don't know where we will be in 5 years, but I hope that we will have grown even more as a band and that we’ll get even more fans around the world. We have just released a new album, I don't wanna think about the next album for a long time. We'll see what happens when we start planning to write a new album again, then maybe I will be able to tell you. But now it's just impossible.


Any last statement?

Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for your time.

Eugene Straver

 

 

Lineup

Tom S. Englund – Vocals / Guitar

Henrik Danhage – Guitar / Backing Vocals

Rikard Zander – Keyboard / Backing Vocals

Jonas Ekdahl - Drums

Jari Kainulainen - Bass

 

Former members

Will Chandra (1996-1998) - keyboard

Daniel Nöjd (1996-1999) - bass/vocals

Dan Bronell (1996-2000) - guitar

Patrick Carlsson (1996-2003) - drums

Sven Karlsson (1999-2001) - keyboard

Christian Rehn (2001-2002) - keyboard

Michael Håkansson (1999-2006) - bass

Fredrik Larsson - (2007) bass

 

Albums:

The Dark Discovery (1998)

Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy (1999)

In Search of Truth (2001)

Recreation Day (2003)

The Inner Circle (2004)

Monday Morning Apocalypse (2006)
Torn (2008)