Fireworks Magazine Online 85: Interview with Evergrey


Interview by Ian Johnson

It was a cold Friday in London when Fireworks got to speak with Evergrey drummer Jonas Ekdahl about the band's new album, 'The Atlantic'. With this release being the third part in a concept trilogy, Ekdhal explained the hard work needed to keep the story alive over three records, why playing the whole three album cycle live in one go is a definite no-no, what this new album's story is all about and pissing off Jacob Hansen.

Evergrey - Interview Fireworks Magazine

'The Atlantic' is the third part in a concept trilogy of albums dealing with different aspects of relationships. But is this really the last part because it doesn't sound like it?

(Laughs) We'll see, who knows? It was planned as a trilogy but there could be more, that's what's great about song writing, you never know where it will take you. That's in the future though (laughs), for now we're concentrating on the new album.

Talking of the new album, this is your eleventh, did you ever think you'd reach that milestone?

I think what surprises us most about getting to number eleven is the musical climate we're in and the type of music we play, which isn't that popular – if that's the right word – outside a certain circle. With all the music available today and the way people consume it, we're just so happy that fans and music lovers still like what we're doing and buy our music. We're happy to still be playing at the levels we do and we all still, every one of us, enjoy making music together. We're so fortunate to be able to still do what we do after so many albums together. These days to get to double figures making any album or playing any kind of music is a rare thing.

What was the motivation to write a trilogy of albums about a single concept?

Actually, it felt pretty natural to us and something that we felt we had to do. We just said lets go for it; and we did go for it in a big way. In the end the music and lyrics came naturally to us, so in truth everything just fell into place for us as the concept grew.

What came first? The story or the music?

With us what happens is we concentrate on one album at a time. So even though the music is following a storyline, each album is written and played as a separate part of the story. So when we did 'The Atlantic', even though it's part of a trilogy of albums/stories, we concentrated on where this album's music and story took us, rather on trying to make it fit exactly in with the other two parts.

The guitar riffs are very heavy but the verses and choruses are very melodic. A strange mixture but it works. Why such different musical styles on the songs?

I don't know to be honest with you. When we wrote the album it just felt very natural for us to have those different song parts and different elements. We think that this a pretty aggressive album but also very diverse, so we needed to go first heavy, then light, then everything else in between. This gives the music a dynamic feel and we love doing music like that, mixing melodic choruses and heavy guitars together really seems to be for us.

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What is 'The Atlantic' all about? The cover artwork with the roaring sea, the old sailing ship and the castle with the raven's head all speak of a journey.

Yes you've got it. It's about the way relationships can break people up and then you set sail on this ocean of emotion, and the stormy seas you have to cross are part of the journey. When you get to the other side you're not the same person you were when you started out your journey. Who will you be when you've crossed that ocean? Have you changed, are you the same person? All these things are in 'The Atlantic's' songs and lyrics, you just have to discover them.

I read that Tom S. Englund (vocalist/guitarist) thinks this is your most heavy and intense album so far. But to me, I feel that it is one of your most accessible albums.

I can see what you mean but when we write an album we just go with it until everything makes sense to us. You don't really sit down to write a song and say I wonder if this thing will work here or that thing will work there, it's more important for us to get the vibe of the song and music right, that's when things will work. It doesn't matter if it's heavy or melodic, get that vibe right and everything falls into place. So when Tom and I wrote the album we never thought the guitars and songs would be so heavy but I like that, just letting the music take you to the place it wants to go. That's what's exciting about writing songs, seeing where you and they end up. And with all the other guys adding in their own musical bits here and there the songs move and change all the time, which I love.

The production, done by the band with the help of Jacob Hansen, is wonderful!

Tom and I produced it. It was a shit-load of work for us to get it right but we stuck at it. Actually the bass and drums were recorded basically live in the studio, with maybe one or two overdubs but basically what you're hearing is live bass and drums on the album. Then the other guys added their parts during the pre-production but what held us back was we had a fucking break-in at our studio and it fucked up the time schedule for the album. But maybe that's a good thing in the end because we took a little longer at that stage to get the production just right. We pissed Jacob off a lot because we had this vision for the album and we didn't want to stray one inch from that. So we were a real pain in the ass for Jacob when he was mixing it for us... sorry Jacob.

When you tour this album how are you going to fit songs from the three parts of the concept together?

Good question (laughs). It will depend I suppose on what kind of show it is. We've got a tour in March coming up and festival dates. So if it's a festival show, you're on stage for a set amount of time, so you can only play so many songs. Same if you're supporting someone, again you're limited to how long you've got on stage. Headlining will be a different thing of course, much longer on stage so more songs but that will cause it's own problems of what to leave in or what to leave out of the set-list.

What about playing the whole of the trilogy back to back and filming it?

(Laughs a lot) Wow! Holy shit man, that would be something wouldn't it? I don't think so though, no one would stick around for three hours would they? Even I wouldn't and I'm in the band! (laughs) It would be like a Bruce Springsteen concert. God it would take a lot of time to learn and remember all those songs too. It's a nice idea but I don't think so!

As we talked about earlier you now have eleven albums. Was this always the plan for the band; to get this far and then continue?

I don't know, is the honest answer. I don't think any musician who gets to make albums ever thinks they'll get past the first one. You can never say that you're going to make ten albums, or whatever, because you just don't know what's going to happen. You hope you're going to have a long life in a band or as a solo artist but you never know. We're just so happy to have made eleven albums. And we love working together, that's probably our big secret, that we love making music together and if the fans love what we do then we will hopefully get to album twelve, thirteen, fourteen and more.

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