“Epica” Interview by Christina Thompson
First off, how did the concept for Holographic Principle originate? I know the answer (due to research) but I found it fascinating the amount of work that went into the concept before the songwriting process. I don’t think the average fan can even imagine the amount of your own research that was invested.
Mark: Thank you, you’d be surprised how many fans actually talk to me about this concept and my sources haha. Of course some fans are not interested in the lyrics and that’s also fine by me but I’m happy when people show interest and want to dive into the subject as well. I got fascinated by this after writing about The Quantum Enigma, which states that everything you observe in quantum physics will be influenced by your observation. Therefor you can’t know the status, position and shape of this particle once you’re not observing. I kept looking for more information and bumped into The Holographic Principle theory. Especially the lectures by Leonard Susskind were very revealing and interesting. I have read some books and watched documentaries before the time was right to start writing my lyrics about the theme.
How do you then go from concept to song writing, being a six person band with each member from different metal backgrounds as well as having their own unique personalities? How does everyone get their own influences incorporated?
Mark: We all write music and the music inspires me to write the lyrics. My own music is quite easy to match but also the music of the others inspires me a lot. Simone and I share the job to write the lyrics and usually there’s a lot of overlap naturally but we also discuss the topics. Everyone is free to add ideas and everybody is free to write music, we use the best ideas.
Holographic Principle was recorded live in its entirety—which you had not done before. I cannot even begin to imagine what went into such a project. Can you share with the MHF community what it took to get this accomplished? Not just musically, but let’s face it—all of the talent that went into this project as well instruments, time, etc., must’ve cost a small fortune. That’s a helluva massive undertaking both in productions as well as budget!
Mark: Each and everyone of us gets still headaches when we think back about all the work that went into this album but it’s all worth it. I am very happy we invested so much time and energy into making the best possible album with the best possible sound. Of course the budget needed to be in line with the big ideas but we have a great record company Nuclear Blast who believes in us and gave us all recourses we needed to record all orchestral parts live. The only disadvantage is that once we set this standard for ourselves there’s no way back, we have to do this next time again this way haha.
An interesting side note: Holographic Principal wasn’t just a title or concept. There was also a very limited edition box set which is actually holographic and sold out nearly as quickly as it was released. Not only was this a cool idea for diehard fans out there, but did you also see it as a cool “measurement” of your success as well?
Mark: Yes this album sold so much faster and in bigger amounts compared to the previous one, it did surprise us but it’s also a confirmation for us that we’re on the right path and doing things right. That’s a nice feeling.
Considering the complexity of your music, set lists must be quite the challenge for live shows. How do you make the decision on what gets added as opposed to what doesn’t make it? Are there any certain favorites within the band where it can be a really difficult choice and feels like you are being forced to choose one “child” over another, or can you be rather clinical about it and make decisions just based on venue, crowd size, etc?
Mark: Even though I usually make the final setlist everybody has a saying in it. When 5 people in the band say it doesn’t work so well to play this song while I love playing it I listen to the opinion of the others. The same counts for the fans, if the band loves to play a certain song but the fans clearly prefer to hear other tracks then I’ll kick the song out. It’s sometimes hard to find a balance between what we want and what the fans want. Besides that 90% of our fans love to hear certain old classics while 10%, the diehard loyal fans would like to hear some different songs as they visit many of our shows. It’s hard to find that balance as well as it’s impossible to keep both groups 100% happy at the same time. So it’s a bit of giving and taking for both.
With all you have going on with Epica as well each member having personal and private lives…..EPIC METAL FEST?? How do you find the time to also put on your very own festivals in the Netherlands as well as Brazil? I am amazed as well as exhausted for you! What prompted the idea of Epic Metal Fest?
Mark: When we organized the Retrospect show, it took us 1.5 years of preparations, we felt like now we have the experience to organize more events. EMF became the fest we had in mind for a long time. Of course it’s not just us doing everything by ourselves, there are many great people around us who are taking care of parts of the job as well but we are at all times in control about all the decisions.
Is the next album a thought at the moment? Can you give us a hint on the direction you might go with it?
Mark: I started composing already, I don’t know about the others but I’m very motivated for the next one. Have some ideas in mind about the direction as well but we still need to discuss that with all as well. So cannot hint to you while I haven’t spoken about it with the others yet.
Is there a favorite story of a live show that you will never forget and can share with us?
Mark: Every tour funny things happen, but what I will never forget is a show in Tunis (Tunesia). We were the very first international metal band to play Tunesia. Our fans were very emotional during the show, I saw hundreds of people crying of happiness. That’s something you’ll never forget.
If you have anything else you would like to share with the MHF community, please feel free to do so now and thanks for your time!
Mark: Thanks a lot for this interview. At the moment I’m working on new music for Epica as I said but also writing some new tunes for MaYaN, my other band. Laura Macri, my gf has just released her solo album on which I have written quite some music and next to that she’s working on a new metal project as well. All exciting times!!!
Christina Thompson/MHF Magazine