Here is an interview I recently did with band leader and mastermind Henrik Flyman of the Danish act Evil Masquerade. Evil Masquerade has pretty recently released their third album simply called THIRD ACT. The band has also gone through some line-up changes. We spoke about all that and much more regarding Evil Masquerade.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Escape Music for providing the promo pictures of the band
Thanks to Stefan at Zink Music for lending me more pictures of the band as well
Hi again Henrik, really nice to talk to you again, what’s up? First of all I’d really like to congratulate you to all the great reviews you got for the recent album THIRD ACT, could you ever imagine that the album would go so well?
Hi Anders, likewise. Thanks a lot for the compliments. Of course we had our hopes about it, but then again – it’s completely impossible to predict the outcome of how art in any form will be received in the commercial world of music biz. Therefore we try to expect as little as possible and focus on what we really can do something about - and that is making the best music we can.
How many copies have you sold of your two previous albums?
Since the albums have been out on several labels in different parts of the world with separate deduction periods I couldn’t really tell as for today. Certain is that we have sold too little to be able to go on any proper tour throughout the world. But be that as it may. We will continue doing what we do because more and more fans seem to find their way to us with every album we put out. I just learnt that our official website rounded 200.000 visitors recently and that is very ok for a band in our position. I predict that we’ll do pretty well concerning album sales before long as well. At least everything point in that direction, so we couldn’t be happier.
I’ve read somewhere that you locked yourself in the studio when you were about to write material for this album and wrote so much that it could be enough for two albums. What is going to happen with the left over material that didn’t make it onto this album?
True. The leftovers will not see the light of day. That was what I decided when I wrote the material and I plan to stick to my initial plan. Of course it could be tempting to use some of it anyway just to save energy, but than I wouldn’t be true to my self and it would also be lazy to release those songs only because they exist. I may be many things, but lazy isn’t one of them. My song archive is pretty well filled these days - so I don’t feel the need of adding material there that will never be used anyway. I have a lot of really cool music from the past laying around that I might use someday as compliment to newly written songs. Right now I just feel like composing brand new music. That forces me to stay really focused and help me develop as an artist.
Have you alone written all the material to this album and how long did it take to write? What are the lyrics about this time?
Yes. I wrote music for 2 third acts in a period of 5 months. Creativity was kind to me, so it was very easy to come up with the songs in a short time. The lyrics are mostly about present time reality - seen from an Evil Masquerade fantasy world’s point of view.
Why the title THIRD ACT? The cover art-work looks really fine, who’s done it and what do you think of it?
The choice of title is almost too obvious. It’s very Evil Masqueradeish and hints clearly that this is our 3rd album. The front cover is once again painted by the Danish artist Katja Handberg. We’re all very happy for it and I think it reflects the music perfectly.
How long did it take to record THIRD ACT? And in which studio did you record it in?
Everything is done in my studio Digital Bitch in Copenhagen, except drums and two keyboard solos. The album was recorded during several sessions so it’s a bit hard to say exactly how long it took to complete, but I would estimate the final recordings to something like two weeks in compressed time.
You have once again produced the album by yourself, is that something you’re going to continue with when it comes to Evil Masquerade?
Yes. I see no point in doing it differently. I have the best view over the music and find it easier, and more effective, to do it myself instead of explaining everything for someone else. Besides that, I can’t think of anyone that would put as much heart and soul in doing it as I do.
What’s it like to produce your own album? And what do the other members think of you as a producer?
Like I just said, I find it easy because I know what I aim for with the songs. I also know the arrangements down to the detail and that is very helpful to get the most out of the production. I assume the other guys think it’s ok since they’re still around. At least most of them [laughter].
Frontiers Records have released your previous 2 albums here in Europe, what do you think of Frontiers Records as a label and do you think they have a done a good job promoting the albums and so on?
I don’t know them personally, so I won’t comment on them that much. I think they probably did a pretty ok job even though we clearly weren’t a high priority for them. But I assume they got the albums out in a satisfying way since I haven’t heard any complaints about them being hard to get in their territory. They got us a decent amount of interviews and a lot of reviews. Without knowing too much about their strategy - I’d say they did pretty well.
Why have you resigned from Frontiers Records?
The deal was done so that we both could evaluate the options after each album. As far as I know this was the best decision for us at that point. But I have no grudges against Frontiers. They’re a good label.
You are now signed to Escape Music, why did you chose to sign on for them? And for how many albums are you signed for?
Escape came up with the best offer back then. Without revealing too much private contract details, it was their interest in releasing us as their main priority act that made me sign the paper. We may release many more albums on the Escape label but, just like before, that’s something that will be decided upon after each album. It always takes time to get to know new business partners, but as far as I can tell - I think they’re doing a fine job and we get along really good.
Do you see any problems with Evil Masquerade being based in Denmark and Escape Music in Britain?
Not at all, I mean… they sell our album in the whole of Europe and they have to have their office somewhere. I don’t have a problem with our Asian label being in Tokyo either. They’re both just a phone call away.
Musically I think that Evil Masquerade have returned to the sound you had on the first album, a more neo-classical/progressive metal sound this time, am I right? Do you think that Evil Masquerade have developed musicwise and if so in what way?
I heard others saying that as well, so I guess you may be right in some aspects – even though I don’t hear it myself. I’m sure Evil Masquerade has developed in many ways. We always try hard to do our absolute best and by doing so it’s almost impossible not to improve. We enjoy that refreshing feeling of improvement every time we do a new album. That keeps us motivated and makes us feel that we’re doing something unique and important at the time. The direction we go with a new album is decided by the music itself and we just follow anywhere it takes us. That’s what makes it very interesting being a musician and why we must keep open minds to make our very best. It’s a nice challenge.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Evil Masquerade plays today?
It’s some kind of metal, isn’t it?
Tommy Hansen have once again mixed/mastered the album, why have you worked with him again and what makes so special that you chosed to work with his a second time?
He’s a nice, relaxed and experienced old man with a good feeling for the kind of music we play. I like him a lot and I’m sure we’ll be working together again some day. Guys like Tommy don’t grow on trees.
In true Evil Masquerade spirit have the keyboardist Richard Andersson guested on the album, a new face is David Rosenthal also on keyboards, did you knew him from before and how did he end up on THIRD ACT?
I didn’t know him prior to THIRD ACT. I had written this Rainbow inspired tune called Far Away and thought about who the best guy would be for doing the keyboards, and it struck me right away that Dave would be the man since few know Rainbow better than him of obvious reasons. I contacted him and he liked the music so he wanted to do it even though he was very busy at the time. It was a true honor to have done the keyboard/guitar solo duel with him. It turned out great.
Why have you only used keyboards on 2 of the songs this time?
We have used keyboards on all songs. But they are more discrete on the new album than they were in the past. This was good to get a heavier feel to the whole album and it felt more natural since we never had a permanent keyboard player in the band.
Are you good friend with Richard Andersson (Majestic, Time Requiem)? Is it true that it was he that he suggested Apollo to be the new lead singer in Evil Masquerade?
I have known Richard for about 12 years. When it was a fact that we had no vocalist and Richard told me that Time Requiem had changed from Apollo to Göran, I asked him what he thought of the idea to ask Apollo. He believed it would be a good choice and I contacted Apollo to hear if he was up for it. Now we have done THIRD ACT together and have become good friends, so it turned out to be a very good decision indeed. By the way, remember to check out Richard’s Time Requiem because they have a brand new album out called Optical Illusion.
Does the statement ..”With Third Act we get to see Evil Masquerade flourish and join the elite of melodic/Progressive bands..” reflect the album do you think?
What a nice compliment. I hope so, because we absolutely do our very best and certainly mean every note that is sung and played.
Is there anything you’d like to change or feel you should have done in a different way now that you look back on the album?
Do you have any favorite track(s) on the album? if so which one(s) and why?
It depends on the day and the mood. Tonight it could be “Far Away”, “I’ll Make You Burn”, “Under the Surface of Water”, “The Dark Minstrel Plays”, “Descended From the Grave” or “Bring On the World”. Why…? They sound good to my ears.
You have included one totally instrumental song called “Orchestration For More Than One Horn”, what’s the thought with that song?
To set the mood at that particular place on the album and to lead way into “Bring On the World”.
The album closes with the ballad “The Final Goodbye”, why end the album with a ballad?
Because I felt it was the right thing to do and because we have never done that before. It really ends the album.
You have gone through a few line-up changes, why did bass player Kasper Gram and lead singer Henrik Brockmann leave the band?
Our former vocalist left early last year to do a solo career. Kasper was torn between bands and we needed to move on.
Are you still good friends with the guys, do you know what they are up to now, do they still play music?
I haven’t heard a word from our old singer since he left. I could only assume he’s busy with the solo stuff. I’ve offered to do my best in promoting what he’s up to, but so far it’s been very quiet. Dennis and I saw Kasper last weekend at a gig with his current band. He played as great as he always has done and it was nice seeing him again.
What can you tell us about the new bassplayer Thor Jeppesen and the new Swedish/Greek lead singer Apollo Papathanasio?
Thor started out as a stand-in for Kasper when he was unavailable at a gig. When we came to the conclusion that we needed to move on, he was the obvious one to ask since he already knew several songs - plus that he’s an old friend with Dennis from their former band. I knew Apollo briefly from his time with Richard in Majestic and Time Requiem. I’ve always liked his voice and was certain that we would be able to pull off some cool stuff together. And now when I know him a whole lot better I can also add that he’s one of the nicest down-to-earth guys I know.
What do you think are the main differences between Apollo and Henrik?
Apollo has a wider range, more powerful voice and short black hair.
Personally I think that Apollo have managed to give the songs more life compared to Henrik, what do you think of that?
I fully agree.
Is this current line-up a steady line-up and are all 3 now steady members in Evil Masquerade?
Yes. I have always aimed for steady members. Sometimes change is necessary to avoid stagnation - but I certainly hope we can keep this line up intact for many years to come. It’s for sure the strongest cast I’ve been a part of, so I couldn’t be more pleased.
What’s it like to have a fellow Swede in the band?
It’s nice to speak Swedish again.
You have only done 2 shows in Denmark so far, why haven’t you done more shows? Are there any plans on doing shows now that the album is out?
We would like to do more shows and also outside of Denmark. When we get some decent offers from clubs and venues we will certainly be there and deliver some kick ass metal. But in the end it’s up to others. Ask for us and we will come! Certain is that we will at least do more than we have in the past. We have started rehearsing and can feel that we really want to do more gigs because it’s so goddamn fun.
Do you see any conflict in Apollo’s appearance and membership in Firewind?
No, not at all. He’s a great vocalist and need to keep busy to feed his family. It’s all about good planning. From what I’ve heard, I think he did a really cool album with Firewind. You should check it out for yourselves. I was also involved in more than one band in the early days of Evil Masquerade and had no problem with that at the time. Now I have Evil Masquerade as my only band since I do most of the work around here and that’s pretty time consuming.
When can we expect the next album with Evil Masquerade out in the stores?
[laughter] Impatient, are we? Let’s see if anyone wants THIRD ACT to begin with. If so, there might be another one coming in the usual Evil Masquerade pace. But sometimes I wonder if we put out our albums too fast because some people doesn’t seem to understand that this is actually our 3rd release. If this were the case, it would be a waste of good music and energy. But let’s see how it goes. If people buy it – there will be more of what the doctor ordered.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans and the readers of metal-rules.com?
I would really appreciate if you help us spread the word about Evil Masquerade so that we get to play live somewhere close to where you live. And to all our long-time supporters I can only say: -Thank you so much! We truly appreciate it and promise to do our very best also in the future to come.
Thanks a lot for answering my questions Henrik.
It’s my pleasure, as always.
Read the cd reviews of the band here
More info about the band