Interview with: Ad Sluijter & Mark Jansen from Epica.

1) the band was formed as "Sahara Dust" with Helena Michaelen as vocalist, what had happened since then to the "Epica" as we know it now?

Ad: Helena was asked to leave. while leaving - she also took our former drummer away. so - besides a new vocalist we also had to look for a new drummer.
This took some months but finally resulted in Simone Simons and Jeroen Simons (not related).
A month after the line-up was completed we recorded a two track demo and did one gig before entering the studios for the recording of the full length album.
The rest - you probably know.

Epica - Band Photo

2) what does the name "Epica" really mean? and how does it connect to the spirit of the band?

Ad: Epica is a place in the universe where you can find all your questions concerning life. Some of our lyrics deal with this subject.
Mark: It's connection to the band is especially lyricwise. We have some philosophical lyrics and these suit perfectly to the meaning of Epica.

3) there are many kinds of influences on the band's music, what are the main influences?

Ad: The main influence in our music is orchestral fil music with as favorite the composer Hans Zimmer (oa Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Crimson Tide, The Rock)
Mark: band music influences are: Nightwish, Kamelot and a lot of old metal stuff from our youth. bands such as: Megadeth, Anthrax, Gorefest, Death, Carcass, etc.

4) what mostly attract you in the Arab/muslim culture?

Mark: I love the sun so in most Arab countries there's enough of this ;-)
Besides I like the music a lot. I love eastern music and that's why I like the band Orphaned Land too. they integrate a lot of different cultures in their music.

Epica - Band Photo

5) Mark, there is a big reference between the album of your former band, After Forever, mostly in the continuation of the "embrace that smothers", and some reference in the lyrics ("run for a fall"). do you see in Epica a continuity or a new page in your life and profession?

Mark: I see Epica as my wish becoming true!
In After Forever it was no longer possible to continue with my musical preferences so it was better to start a new band and feel total freedom in composing again.

6) what is the relationship between the two bands (Epica & After Forever) and how the decision to make a concert together fell?

Mark: The decision to make a concert together was made by Sander Gommans (AF) and me. The relationship between both bands is O.K. now and we'll do more shows in the future together.

7) It seems that the lyrics touches almost everything that the world surrounded by (existence, religion, politics, and so). where does it all come from?

Mark: These lyrics come from me and my inspiration comes from all the misery in the world. Religion is basically a great thing but it's often misused to gain more power. I think we lost contact with the basics.
Often when I watch the news it's dealing about the Israelian-Palestinian conflict, it hurts me a lot to
see these images of war. I've read a lot about this matter and I know how complicated it is for both sides of the story. But I have still hope that there can be a solution in the future. Once the last hope is gone we're lost.

8) how do you see the combination between politics and music?

Mark: I see it as a must to combine these two things.
I can't make the world better but writing about politics make people at least think about it. That's better for me then writing about useless topics.

9) how do you explain the success of dutch metal bands world wide?

Mark: I think the musician are very dedicated to music and their record companies are very dedicated to the music and the money. This combination explains a lot
of the success. The world of today is making money as quick as possible. Dutch bands are easy to handle.
Of course I would like to live in a peaceful world without all the stress of making money but I'm born in this world and have to survive too.

10) in the last few years, a lot of bands canceled their concerts in Israel, mostly concerning to political matters, or safety reasons (the pictures in th international media not flattering - maybe a CNN syndrome).
Do you think that an Epica concert in Israel is possible (at least in your concern) ?

Ad: We want to play everywhere where it is possible.
If it is possible in Israel, than we will come for sure!
Mark: Indeed, I've spoken yesterday to the guitar player of the Dutch band "Sun Caged", they
received an offer from Israel and they don't go because it's too dangerous. I told him that the chance to die in a car accident in the Netherlands is much bigger than to die in Israel because of a bomb. I think he realized what I meant. If we get an offer to play in Israel we will come.

Eran Cohen
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