Evergrey – frontman Tom Englund about new roads
photo: Evergrey, Monica Duffels
“ Evergrey never changed, we only used new elements!”
Vocalist Tom S. Englund is the face of progressive metal band Evergrey. “Glorious Collusion” (SPV/Steamhammer February 2011) is a milestone for the band; it marks more than ten years of experience and most of all the debut of a new line-up. For those ten years that I follow this band, the Swedish man never lost his energy or demanded less than everything from him. Finally they get what they deserve: a lot of attention and more fans.
A whole media circus started around their new album and Tom is a bit overwhelmed by it: “We never had this much interest from the media and fans. It is a relief after the changes we made.” He sounds very happy and energetic over the phone.
Wasn’t it hard to push the new members so far to deliver this album, to get what you want?
Tom Englund: “It was very positive, it helped not knowing them so well. I could be as pushy as I can, because we aren’t friends or too close. It is all about the music and what music needs concerning Evergrey: to be as good as possible! That was the problem with the old line-up, because I was friends with them so I was thinking ‘ what would he think when I say this’ and that didn’t work well for the band.”
It is a long process to make the decision to continue Evergrey with Rikard Zander (keyboards) at that time?
Tom Englund: “It happened in one night, after a long time of knowing that we hadn’t fun on stage. We are all mature enough to deal with that and want the best for the band… Now I like it to be in a van with the others and drive to the Netherlands for a gig; I missed that for a long time. We have a lot of fun on stage and that is such a difference to me.”
On this new album I feel a lot of energy and power coming back, is that something you felt as well during the recording process?
Tom Englund: “It is fine that you feel energy, but it isn’t what I feel. I want to make every album the best album I could have done. With all the albums I am extreme pleased and it is hard to compare them to me. This time we had different surroundings like other studios and make a new appear in certain ways.”
The new album has a lot of layers, many contradictions in songs and it’s a very colourful collection of what Evergrey stands for nowadays. Englund reveals more about the recording process:
“This is the easiest album we ever did. Rikard Zanger (keyboards) and me worked together in a very good way. Also Marcus Jidell (guitarist) contributed on two songs. Rikard and I had finished ten songs even before we met the new guys. After that we wrote three songs in one week, so it went all very easy. “
You recorded ‘Recreaton Day’ in six weeks, so how long was your studio time for this album?
Tom Englund: “We had a longer studio time with ‘Glorious Collusion’ because we used different studios. It took six months in total and that includes the writing of the songs in the studio.”
Does it make a big difference to work with a concept, or write lyrics for thirteen songs with an own story?
Tom Englund: “It is easier to write songs with each an own story than using one concept for a whole album. I can’t say it is less emotional, because I can’t compare those albums. Every album is close connected to you during the recordings and than it has it’s own life. I do have a good feeling about this one.”
Before I can say more, he almost screams at me that during our interview the new video ‘Wrong’ has its world premiere online on a big metal magazine: “ You have to check it out. It is amazing; suddenly those huge magazines are talking to us. They never paid attention and now it is my fourth week of interviews and promotion!”
Englund continues with enthusiasm: “It is for the first time in fourteen years that anyone praise the album and likes it. It is like we have hit a button and that everyone suddenly understands. The world grew to understood us finally – haha. No seriously, I think the melodies are more accessible.”
What is your dream concerning Evergrey, because you have seen so much and had high peaks and dark sides with the band.
Tom Englund: “ This is one of the dreams! Having great reviews and knowing that people like it and having more fans. For example two-thirds of the journalists hated ‘ Monday Morning Apocalypse’ and suddenly they are writing those beautiful sentences to describe this new album, that is amazing!”
Ten years ago when I interviewed Evergrey for the first time, I was looking for a deeper meaning in their music. Englund immediately said ‘ we aren’t that deep’ something that stayed in my head. I wonder if after those years that isn’t changed.
Tom Englund: “We had a dark period before the changes, but you discover that afterwards. So it is not so dramatic: people are looking for a story, but it simply became something that wasn’t fun anymore. Now I am happy every second, we all have that common feeling in the band.”
On the other level the singer denies to be very deep, only using his experience: “ Rikard Zander and me sat down after the break and decided to write what we liked. It just happened and we aren’t great thinkers. We are very serious during the writing process and there is a lot of knowledge how to make an Evergrey album. We aren’t planning a ballade after a very uptempo song for example, it just happens.”
Isn’t hard to know when the vocals are right, because you are the singer demanding and criticism yourself?
Tom Englund: “The lyrics and vocals are never perfect. You learn over the years when it is all right. Also I produced other bands and then you discover that the more you do it over, it often get’s worse. I just feel it when I did the best I could.”
To tease him a bit, I wonder if he gave everything on this album. The only critic can be that his vocals sounds a bit like other albums now and then: elements that are used before, melody parts that are very common.
Tom Englund: “It is totally the opposite, I worked on the ultimate level on this album and put everything in it I could. Because I wanted to prove that I didn’t need anyone else and did it on my own. I never laid back on things, but this time I wanted to prove it even more for myself.
After a moment of silence, the charismatic singer tries to analyze his new album a bit:
The new album is more understandable, although it has more layers. I did something right, because of all the attention. Evergrey never changed; we only used new elements. The voice never changes and so don’t expect a totally different album. Then you can listen to an other bands with a totally different sound.”
You and Rikard Zander are a good writing team, something to explore more in the future?
Tom Englund: “We just had fun writing songs, at that time we had no record deal and just sat down together, not caring who liked it: we did this for ourselves.
It was so easy, simply turning my head to the left and asking ‘ do you like this’ and then Rikard sad ‘ good or bad, or change this.’ It is fantastic, only two guys involved!”
Then Tom get’s more serious: “ After five seconds we made a decision about an idea without stepping on someone’s toes. We both have a similar mind, knowing what we want in music and we don’t have to explain our feelings or decisions.”
Together with power metal band Kamelot, Evergrey will tour in Europe in May and April, something he looks forward to: “ It will be fun I guess. It is a different audience, so a chance to reach new fans.”
Then again the singer needs to mark that he is walking on clouds, because he is so happy with the good feedback and then the new guitarist Marcus Jidell comes up, because Tom isn’t the only one who made a big change in live:
“ It is very refreshing for Marcus to work with us. He told me that he found his musical brother in me, what is so nice! For the first time he can play what he wants, without being judged. He is different than Hendrik Danhage, and it is great that he doesn’t copy him and stays close to his own play, with new influences and ideas. That changed our sound in a very good way.”
With all the positive energy, easy writing process and lot’s of idea Evergrey has, it is simple to conclude that an album will be written soon after this one, or not?
Tom Englund: “ We are very consistent in our recordings. Since 1998, almost thirteen years we write an album each two years. So let’s see how it goes this time. It would be nice to make a DVD with the new line-up, but it is hard to break the other one. Only when we have a totally new concept.”
You are very active on social media, something you like or simply need to do to promote the band?
Tom Englund: “ Evergrey used video updates in 1999, long before bands started to do that. It ‘s an overkill all those networks. We recently discovered Facebook and it is a good marketing tool! You can reach so many people.”
Then it is time for the frontman to do more promotion work.