Dynamic lead singer Simone Simons was kind enough to grace A&GS with her presence not too long ago via Skype. New album The Holographic Principle was about a month and a half from release, and Simone’s excitement about it was palpable right from the get-go. We got an inside look at how it came to be, among other things, so sit back and enjoy:
Amps: Tell me about this new record of yours, The Holographic Principle.
Simone: Well, it’s a labor of love, blood, sweat, and tears.This is a big project that is now finalized. The CD will be out soon, and we’ve been working really hard. We had a huge selection of songs, about 27, because all five boys have been busy writing songs at home, on tour, somewhere in space. I don’t know how they came up with so many, but we worked together with producer Joost van den Broek who also did The Quantum Enigma. Jacob Hansen did the mix, and we recorded 18 out of the 27 tracks. We recorded many real instruments instead of using samples, so it’s been the biggest production for us so far with also the best result. It’s a bit heavier than our last one, a little bit more guitar-oriented, and the vocals have become more rhythmic and diverse. Overall I guess we justify our name, EPICA, without sounding immodest.
Amps: I noticed that it’s heavier right away. And as far as that cover art…PLEASE tell me that’s gonna be on a T-shirt!!
Simone: Oh yes. T-shirt, probably a hoodie, too. Our lead guitar Isaac (Delahaye) and bass player Rob (van der Loo) are doing the merch, so I’m sure with this beautiful artwork we will have some great stuff.
Amps: “Universal Dearth Squad” stands to me as one of the heaviest tunes you’ve done, and “Edge of the Blade” while heavy, has this anthemic quality to it.
Simone: Both songs are from Isaac and we gave him the nickname “Mr. Major” because he always writes songs in major key, and they’re always very happy and fast. Very ADD, like a bouncing ball, because that’s how he is (laughs). And it reflects in his songs. Picturing “Edge of the Blade” I can see him doing some weird little dance right now.
Amps: What is happening with the live shows for 2016 and beyond?
Simone: Well first we have the two Epic Metal Fests, one in The Netherlands, one in Brazil. After that we will be heading to North America for a nice long tour. And then it’s Christmas at home. After that we’ll tour through Europe and then do the summer festivals, then hopefully another European tour.
Amps: Who handles the lyrical portions of the songs?
Simone: The lyrics are written by Mark (Jansen, rhythm guitar) and I. We split them up 50/50 and he came up with the idea of The Holographic Principle, which is in a nutshell that we are living in a hologram and we will start to realize that through the development of technology and virtual reality glasses. The images you see are so realistic that you start to doubt which world we’re actually living in, and which one is the real one. Movies like The Matrix and Inception are very much connected to the idea and the overall theme. He is always reading science books. Me, I’m more the philosopher. The thing I find interesting is that the mind is so powerful and you can manipulate your dreams, or have a dream within a dream. It’s fascinating. I really drew a lot of inspiration out of that.
Amps: What do you do to take care of the voice when you’re on tour?
Simone: I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I might have a drink once or twice a month. I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I sleep a lot. I have kind of a healthy diet, with the normal amount of chocolate every day (laughs). I do srink coffee, which is not so good, but I kind of got hooked on it. I play sports whenever I can, and listen to my body. If I wake up tired, then I’ll take it easy. If I feel great and energized I might go out on show day and do some sightseeing, or on a day off. If I’m really tired I’ll just keep to myself, because when we’re on tour, the show for me is most important, even though I like to be a tourist with my camera, exploring. But my energy needs to be used first for shows.
Amps: Away from music, what do you do to relax and unwind?
Simone: I watch movies, I cook, and I bake. I can either get lazy and lie in bed or go for hikes in the forest. I like to do mini one-day holidays, like in the south of Germany, it’s lovely there. I can totally recharge my battery there.
Amps: What kind of movies do you like?
Simone: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, Horror, but not too gory. I also like TV shows like Penny Dreadful, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and The Walking Dead.
Amps: You’ve been at this a while, so what are you feeling with a new record about to come out?
Simone: I’m excited. With each one you’re excited because you put so much of yourself into it, and you want people to like it. But first, you have to like it yourself, then other people will follow. But you should always keep writing the music that YOU love, and not worry about it. It’s a way of expressing yourself; it’s art. But I’m sure people are gonna catch the EPICA bug on this one.
Amps: What advice do you have for the young girl at home in her room listening to your music and wanting to be a rock/metal singer?
Simone: Well, first of all use the internet. That’s a great tool to connect to people. You shouldn’t hope for some cute guitar player to live in your village, because the world is at your doorstep through the internet. EPICA is made up of members who are scattered all over Europe. Always keep on believing and never think that dreams don’t come true, because if you work hard…it’s a combination of working hard and being lucky. You have to be persistent. There will be times when things go uphill, then downhill, but you always have to stay the course. Keep working for it.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the EPICA fans out there in the world?
Simone: Thank you for your support. Because without you we couldn’t do what we do. It’s an awesome job, a special job that we have. And we can’t wait to play the new songs for you live.
Listening to Simone talk about not only the album, but everything else they have going on got me pretty excited about all things EPICA, dunno about you. The Holographic Principle is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. I think it’s one of their best works yet, and the live show this time around should be insane. Pick up your copy, and be sure to catch them on the road. You won’t be disappointed either way.