Mark Jansen


The following is an interview that The Temple managed to score with guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen of the band EPICA before they head out on an Australasian tour, including their first ever show in New Zealand. Terry approached Mark to discuss work on the new album, including the addition of live-recorded brass, how it may-or-may-not be related to "The Quantum Enigma", upcoming editions of Epic Metal Fest, and the upcoming tour.
By Sgt Slayer 666
March 3, 2016
Mark Jansen (Epica) interview
How is work coming along on the writing and recording of the new album?

We are currently recording pianos and Isaac is recording the solos. Early next week we'll start recording the orchestral parts: the strings and brass. Drums, bass and rhythm guitars have been recorded already so we are on schedule!

Do you have any special guests planned for the upcoming release?

No, but that doesn't mean that it won't happen for sure. We always look what's needed or missing on a song and if there's a certain voice missing we will contact the singer and ask if he or she can sing on that song.

Is there a concept or story tying the tracks together?

Yes but I cannot go too much into detail about that yet. What I can say is that it's a continuation of the Quantum Enigma. Where that album ends the new one continues. Therefor I see both albums as brother and sister.

Are there any new tricks or new elements that the band are using this time around?

For the first time we record real brass on a studio album. This will enrich the sound. Also the pre-production process was more intense than before. We tried to lift everything up to a next level.

After 7 albums with Epica what would be one of the most important thing you have learned when it comes to writing and recording?

I've learned that it's extremely important to keep innovating yourself and your music without losing your basic elements. For example: we can still play songs from our first album in a setlist today and they don't sound out of place. But when you play the first album and right after you play the Quantum Enigma (album) than you hear the big evolution we've been going through. Also the new band members always have their space to add their ideas to Epica's music and this did enrich our sound as well.

What would be one of the most important things you have learned about being in a band?

The most important thing is to let your bandmates be who they are. Everybody has a unique character and you need to respect each other for that. This is the only way to make it possible to be on the road with each other for so long.

How excited are you for the upcoming Australian and New Zealand tour?

I'm very much excited as it's only the second time we come to Australia and the very first time to come to New Zealand. I personally fly in 2 days before the show to be able to see some things around Auckland. I love to travel but hate to fly. So when I arrive a few days before it gives me the opportunity to go out for sightseeing.

What were some of your favourite memories from playing down under in the past?

My visit to Rottnest close to Perth, that's a beautiful island with a unique animal that looks a bit like a beaver haha. I had a great time there. Rented a bike and cycled all over the island, stayed in a beautiful bay, swam in the sea, etcetera. I remember also the fantastic crowds we had at each of the shows. Very much into the music and welcoming us like old friends.

Being this will be your first time playing in New Zealand will you be pulling out a different set list than you would for some of the countries that you have visited before?

We have 2.5 hours of music we studied where we can chose from to make a setlist. As some guys are currently in the studio we have to pick from the pool of songs. Our setlist will always be a bit different from our previous setlist and as we never played in NZ before, any song we play will be the first time ever in NZ… For sure we will play songs from every album and sometimes we also put a choice for the crowd in the set.

Have you played any of the new tracks live yet and will you be playing any on the upcoming tour?

No, we won't play any new tracks. First of all as we want to keep them secret for a little longer and when the album is done we can start focusing on integrating new songs in the setlist.

What's your favourite part about touring?

I like to meet people, ride my bike in unfamiliar places and play the shows and share the energy with the crowd. What I like least is flying in an airplane, not because I am afraid of it but because it's very boring.

Do you guys write on the road?

We write wherever we can and whenever there's inspiration. At this moment we're fully focused on the new album so not yet writing any new songs for a future album.

Last year you curated your own metal festival Epic Metal Fest; will there be another one this year?

Yes there will be even two editions. One in the Netherlands and one in Brazil, around the release of our new album. The first edition was a success so that made it possible to continue the festival.

How did the selection of artists for the festival work?

We made a big selection of bands we would like to have on the festival and some others were touring around that time so we could present a strong line up. Sepultura we added last minute as it was offered to us and that was an offer we couldn't refuse. It was beyond our budget but it's a great band so we took the risk and I'm happy we did it. They played an awesome show.

What would be a few of your biggest career highlights to this point?

It might sound pretentious but I don't mean it like that, there are so many that it's hard to chose but if I have to name a few. Our first south American tour where we got welcomed like the Beatles such massive fan response, awesome. L'Olympia in Paris sold out, one of the biggest and most famous venues of Europe. Paradiso NL sold out, when we had to rent the place ourselves as the local Promotors thought Epica wasn't the right act for Amsterdam. Retrospect DVD and show with orchestra. The Classical Conspiracy show in Hungary with a full orchestra.

Have you met any of your musical idols?

I met during the years many musicians that I respect a lot. I've had only two idols when I was a kid and those were Jim Morrison and Slash. Jim I won't meet anymore and Slash I've never met yet. Slash would be the only musician in the world that I would ask to take a fan picture with, hahaha.

If you could write or play with any musician; either dead or alive; who would that be?

I would start a metal project with Rachmaninov, I'm sure his classical music would fit very well to metal.

Could you please give us some words of advice for young musicians?

Definitely, try to do what you like the most and don't listen to what others tell you to do. They are all wrong if it isn't exactly what you want to do yourself.

Thank you, Mark, for your time; I am looking forward to the new material and the upcoming show.

Thank you for your time and efforts as well! I hope to see you on the tour.

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