Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Trine at Dark Minstrel Music for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Dark Minstrel Music for the promo pictures of the band.
Promo pictures taken by: Thomas Trane
Last year, the Danish/Swedish heavy metal act Evil Masquerade celebrated 10 years as a band. As a part of the celebration, the band released a compilation album called 10 YEARS IN THE DARK where fans chose the songs. In order to make the interview a little but different, myself and Henrik Flyman, spoke a bit about the ten years that has passed, past members, and all the keyboard players that’s been featured on the albums through the years. If you want to read more about Evil Masquerade check out the Metal-Rules archives.
Hello once again Henrik. Are you ready for another round of questions from me and metal-rules.com? 🙂
First of all, congratulations on 10 years with Evil Masquerade. How does it feel to celebrate a decade? When you first started out the band, did you ever think that you’d still be active a decade later?
Thanks. Yes, I was actually pretty sure that we would still be around a decade later. I brought with me some useful luggage from earlier bands that I decided to put to good use in Evil Masquerade. We have managed to avoid several of the classic problems because of this. It’s a great feeling to still be around and see how the music continue to spread. We definitely have some of the most loyal supporters in the world.
At the end of last year, the compilation album 10 YEARS IN THE DARK celebrated the years you and EM have together. When was the idea born to make a compilation disc?
We wanted to really put a spotlight on the anniversary. Of course we had already released ‘The Digital Crucifix’ the same year, but it felt like we could do more and that’s when we came up with the ’10 Years in the Dark’ idea. It felt like the proper time to put out our first compilation album.
It’s correct. All tracks are chosen by the fans. I mean, who better to judge which tracks to include? The only thing we did was to make sure that the different eras of the band were featured fairly equal out from the requests. The album contains both music and photos from the period 2004 – 2014.
Who own the legal rights to the older songs?
The songs are not put in order according to each release year. What was the thought behind the order of the songs?
It was all about the album flow. This is something I treasure dearly on all our albums. I think the flow is as important as the tracks themselves. I am still very positively surprised how well this worked out. To my ears it sounds almost as if these songs were written to belong together. Which is of course not the case at all. I guess we were lucky.
Why was only two songs chosen from your latest album THE DIGITAL CRUCIFIX?
The album should reflect the first decade. It would be wrong to put extra emphasis on the latest album just because it was recently released.
I asked him once again because he did such a great job with ‘The Digital Crucifix’. People really seem to dig the new one as well so I couldn’t be happier.
Besides the studio pictures in the booklet (taken by Thomas Trane) you have also featured a bunch of private pics of the members throughout the years. Was it fun to go through all these pictures again? Was it hard to choose which pic to put into the booklet?
It was highly entertaining to enter the time-machine. We are in the fortunate situation to have tons of photos in the archives, so it was definitely quite the challenge to narrow it down. The goal was to present the first decade of the band as authentic as possible.
How did you come to name the album 10 YEARS IN THE DARK?
10 years explains itself. The other part of the title has kind of a double meaning. The music we play often has dark undertones or dealing with the darker sides of things. Also, it’s no secret that we have never been a mainstream metal band. We have always been the underdog fighting from the underground. Therefore it has often felt like we’re doing our thing in the dark. But don’t get me wrong. We really enjoy the dark. It’s better being unique in the shadows than predictable in the spotlight.
What did fans and the media think of the trailer music video the band made made for the album?
I have no idea. The few I have heard from seemed to dig it. But most importantly, it made people want to check out the album. And that was basically the whole purpose with it.
10 Years in the Dark ★ [trailer]
You re-mastered the songs to the compilation, have done any changes in the songs?
No changes. The whole thing just got remastered to make the material belong better together sonically on the same album. Since the songs span over 10 years this was of course crucial to make it really good.
A Silhouette Video
It was pretty obvious that the bands biggest hits “Black Ravens Cry” and “A Silhouette” was going to be on the album. What songs were the most popular amongst the fans that voted?
I can’t really remember. Of course the ones you mentioned. And then maybe ‘Bozo the Clown’. But there were also several others that were much asked for.
Black Ravens Cry Video
The fans were also asked if they wanted the lyrics to the songs to be featured, or if they wanted to have more pics on the band. What did they think?
I think the result speaks for itself. Photos, photos, photos. The lyrics are already available in the individual album booklets.
Are you happy with the outcome of the compilation? Are you happy with the songs that are featured or were there any songs you lack?
I took the decision very early on that the fans should decide. Therefore I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Personally I could see most of our songs on the compilation album, but my opinion isn’t important in this case.
What did media and critics think about the compilation, do you care what they think of your work?
As far as I know, the album was never sent out to critics. Our focus has been on the radio. Judging from the playlists we receive from shows around the world on a weekly basis they definitely seem to enjoy it. Of course I care what people think. And I’m really grateful for the appreciation.
10 Years in the Dark (presented by Bozo)
Are there any plans on release this on vinyl?
Not that I know about. I wouldn’t do it as an ego-trip thing because it’s not important to me. But if the fans start asking for it, we will do it for sure.
Were there any plans on recording a brand new song and put it on the compilation as a bonus?
Not on this album. It serves it purpose just fine as it is.
Do you have any other plans, besides the release of the compilation, to celebrate 10 years with the band?
We did lots of celebrations last year and topped it off with the release of ’10 Years in the Dark’ on December the 10th. Now I have my focus set on making our second decade an interesting one.
When you first started the band, the media labeled your music as theatrical metal. What do you think of that label? Why did they label your music that?
Probably because of the diversity of the material and our odd presentation. I remember I was very pleased when they needed to invent a new genre to be able to label us. That’s a good sign.
With the album FADE TO BLACK I think your music turned into being more heavy metal, do you agree? What made you lean more into the heavy metal genre?
It was never a deliberate plan. But I guess you are right. Even though I don’t see it as a huge change from ‘Third Act’, it probably came a bit closer to traditional heavy metal. The music also became a bit darker than before. At this point in time my personal and artistic life was challenged by all sorts of difficulties. It was a time of sickness and death in the family. I was completely broke and sometimes worked in temperatures below zero because I couldn’t afford to heat the studio. Late one night I was violently attacked in the city by a couple of psychos – and on top of it all, in the middle of the production, I even became homeless. I guess all this put together led to a turn towards the darker side. It faded to black.
The music was refined on PENTAGRAM and on THE DIGITAL CRUCIFIX.
I think that the band now is more into a darker form of heavy metal that really suits the band. Has the musical change of direction been a natural development for the band?
Label and management
You run the label Dark Minstrel music that releases your albums, how come you wanted to form your own label? Is it hard to run a label today?
It was the only sane way to continue. I needed a company that took the music seriously and saw the survival of the artist as vital. It’s anything but easy but we’re hanging in there thanks to all the cool people that do their best to support us.
How many copies sold THE DIGITAL CRUCIFIX? Are you happy with that number?
It’s our best selling album together with ‘Pentagram’. But we still need to sell a lot more to break-even since 2004. The good thing is that Dark Minstrel Music made the future look much brighter.
The compilation is also released by Dark Minstrel Music and can be purchased from the bands website, are there many people that visits the website and purchase things?
The Evil Masquerade website is heavily trafficked and the shop is going really good as well. Products are often sold-out.
Who distributes the album? I’ve looked for the album in two of the biggest internet stores in Sweden but haven’t found the album.
We decided to make a test and only make it available throughout giants such as Amazon, CD Universe and of course our webshop. So far it seems to work even better than expected. We might widen the outlets later on. Not sure. Occasionally we are also contacted by independent distributors and they are of course always more than welcome to place an order.
It’s not possible to listen to the album via Spotify either, why?
Sometimes we just want to be different because we can.
Is it possible to download the album legally anywhere?
Go to any legal download shop and we are most likely there. iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Google Play and probably 100 more. We’re extremely easy to find.
You have been in the music industry for a long time many artist say that this industry is dead with illegal download and that people do not buy cd’s any more what is you opinion on that?
Times are different, but that’s not a bad thing. Historically the music industry always mutated into something unexpected. It still does. These times are perfect for Evil Masquerade. It’s great times to be different. I can’t answer for other bands. Our supporters buy albums and downloads.
What should I do if I physically want to buy the album?
There are plenty of options. I would of course recommend the shop on our webpage where you can find all albums, merchandise and collector’s items under one roof. It couldn’t be easier and it’s no middle man. But then of course you have Amazon for example, or CD Universe. Both are very well-known stores. Even places like Best-Buy have our albums.
Is the band currently working with any booking agency?
Not really. There are a few that have helped out occasionally, but we could definitely use something more stable.
Past and present members in the band
When the band first started out, the line up consisted of you, Henrik Brockmann, Kasper Gram,
and Dennis Buhl. Why didn’t that line-up last?
Different priorities I would say.
Do you have any contact with Brockmann or Gram today?
I’m still good friends with Kasper.
I’m really happy that we did them because no one else would have. Both albums are marvelously ignorant towards everything. Entertaining stuff.
Kasper was torn between bands so we brought in Thor as his stand-in already before our second album ‘Theatrical Madness’ was released. Kasper recorded the album but Thor played it live. I contacted Apollo when it became clear that it was impossible to continue with the singer.
With Papathanasio in the band you there were two Swedes. He is a very popular and wanted singer. How did you manage to recruit him, were you two old friends?
We have a mutual friend in Richard Andersson who had just replaced him with Göran Edman in Time Requiem. The timing was perfect so I just asked him. We had already met a few times at gigs and we got along fine so it was an easy decision.
Another two Swedes had joined forces with the band when it was time to record the next album. John Niemann and Daniel Flores had joined the family, why did the former bass player and drummer leave the line-up?
Thor and Dennis were occupied by personal stuff and other priorities. I needed to move on so it was time to look for more motivated musicians.
How was it to work with your old friend Flores and Niemann? What are their strengths as musicians?
It was great of course. Their strengths? They are Swedes. Jokes aside. Besides being a couple of really nice dudes, they are both very talented and professional.
Why did Flores and Niemann leave the band? Were those two only session players?
The plan was to continue with them, but then suddenly Dennis and Thor decided to wake up and it felt strange not to invite them back for the ‘Pentagram’ album. That being said, I really enjoyed the short time we had with Daniel and Johan. I hope to do something with them again in one form or another.
On album four, former drummer Buhl, an bass player Jeppesen, returned to the band. The newest member on that album was keyboard player Artur Meinild why did you take on a new member to band?
Almost correct. It was the fifth album. Truth is that we always wanted a permanent keyboard player. We just couldn’t find the right guy until Artur came around.
I think we are stronger now than ever before. I don’t think the lineup changes have effected the songwriting a whole lot. The biggest change probably happened between the second and the third album back in 2005. Then something happened again 2012 but that had nothing to do with the lineup, it was just a natural progression.
Papathansio then left the band, was his departure expected? What did the rest of the members think of his departure? Are you and Papathanasio friends today?
It was very expected since I suggested it. We had a talk and agreed it was probably for the best because he had too much going on in his private life. We are still good friends and keep in touch.
Do you know what he’s up to today?
He’s enjoying life and working on a solo album.
Is there any possibility that Papathanasio can rejoin the band in the future?
If the timing is right and we need a singer, who knows.
How did Tobias Jansson end up in Evil Masquerade?
I asked him when we needed someone to replace Apollo.
What have the fans had to say about him as the new singer?
He was embraced with open arms. But I must admit that I had expected more of a reaction, good or bad, since he came to replace a more well-known name. I guess people just trust us to have a really good singer, and when we do everyone’s happy.
What would you say if any of the former members wished to come back to the band?
That’s always great. But fortunately we already have all members.
The band has had some well known keyboard players that made guest appearances on the album like André Andersen (Royal Hunt), Richard Andersson (Majestic, Time Requiem) and Mats Olausson. How did these guys end up on albums with Evil Masquerade?
Richard was the live keyboardist in my first band Moahni Moahna already since the debut album 1994. We played together in the mid-90’s for about 3 years, so his participation came rather naturally. I got to know André through our first singer who was in Royal Hunt in the early days of the band. The other players I just asked because I really like their style. Fortunately all of them said yes.
Olausson was found dead in Thailand in February this year. What did you think when you heard the news of his passing?
It felt unreal and very sad. He was the sweetest guy.
On the album THIRD ACT is David Rosenthal (Rainbow, Steve Vai) appearing. Are you friends with him?
I have only been in touch with David in connection to the ‘Third Act’ recordings. But he is a nice guy and it was great to have him aboard.
And the well known Tony Carey (Rainbow) is playing on the album FADE TO BLACK. How was it to work with him?
It was a great honor that he wanted to do it since I’m a huge fan of his since Rainbow ‘Rising’ was released in the 70’s. The intro on the album was his idea.
Yes. We have always had keyboards on the albums and live on stage. We just couldn’t find a permanent player.
If you look back on all the albums, many of the worlds most known and respected keyboard players have been playing with the band. How does that feel?
I don’t think so much about that. They were primarily invited because they are very good at what they do. But of course it’s nice to see parts of the Evil Masquerade family on albums I grew up with.
Past present and future
Since the birth of the band you have released six albums until today. Are you happy with that, or do you think the band ought to have managed releasing more albums?
I only want to release albums when I think they are really good. We have done that. Maybe we could have released twice as many, but not with the same quality. What would the point be in that? I think 6 albums and 1 compilation in 10 years are plenty.
Which one of the Evil Masquerade albums is your favorite one?
‘Pentagram’ or ‘The Digital Crucifix’.
It was a lot of fun. I haven’t played in Timrå since the mid-90’s when we opened for Deep Purple with my previous band Moahni Moahna. It was a great gig and it was really nice to see so many familiar faces after all these years. It was hopefully not the last time.
Would you have liked to do more live shows with the band than you have done so far?
Sure, keep ’em coming.
You also changed the layout on the website, when did you do that?
Not that long ago. We have lots of visitors and we want to stay fresh and up-to-date.
The video to “Like Voodoo” was removed from YouTube but was put back again. What happened?
A bit hard to tell. First it was something about that it was inappropriate and then it was something about fake views. None of this made any sense. I think the long story short was that they made a mistake and didn’t want to admit it. But as you said, it’s back up again and without any problems.
Find it here:
The band is really active on Facebook who runs the page?
I do when I have the time, together with Dark Minstrel Music.
On your Facebook site it can be read that the band has about 20 different fan pages/groups how does that feel? The band sure has got a serious fanbase in every different parts of the world.
They are a small tip of a much bigger iceberg of supporters. They are the number one reason to why we are doing this. Their support has carried us since day one.
Where in the world does the band got its biggest fanbase do you think?
It changes all the time. Right now maybe in the US.
Is the band co-operating with any of the different fan sites in any way?
They are 100% independent. We have nothing do to with how they are run. If they contact me, I try my best to be available.
What’s the most common question the band gets from fans?
When are you coming to our country?
What’s the status for traditional heavy metal music in Denmark today?
I would say it’s more or less stone-dead.
Denmark’s metal scene consists, for most part, of extreme metal acts and not so much straight up heavy metal bands, why is it so do you think?
True. But I wouldn’t call them extreme. Around here it’s very mainstream what they do. It’s no mystery why a band such as Evil Masquerade play most of our gigs in other countries. Many touring bands also tend to skip Denmark on their way to Sweden. I think it probably comes down to the lack of metal promoters. The fans are definitely here, but they can’t attend shows that aren’t happening.
Do you think that the climate for metal have improved during the 10 years Evil Masquerade has been around?
I think the global metal scene has always been pretty good, with a small exception for the 90’s grunge- and Seattle confusion. I’m not sure whether it has improved or not since we started. But I think it’s safe to say that there are lots of people out there that really dig hard rock and heavy metal.
Is it hard to get big and achieve success in Denmark when it comes to harder music?
It depends on what you mean with “harder music” and “success”. I’d say that a band such as Volbeat has done a really good job and is now heard by millions. The best way to achieve success in Denmark is to achieve it somewhere else first. Then you get Denmark thrown in for free.
Has the band gained more success in the rest of Scandinavia with the release of the compilation album?
To early to tell. I have no idea. Hopefully.
You and Jansson are Swedish, while the rest of the band comes from Denmark, is the band Swedish or Danish?
I don’t know. Maybe Scandinavian?
Are you happy with what the band has achieved so far through the years?
Absolutely. We have built a solid foundation and people seem to trust us to deliver the goods. I think we have proved with 6 albums that we are here to stay.
If you compare Evil Masquerade with Moahni Moahna, Zool and Wuthering Heights which you also have been a part of, which of the bands are you most satisfied and happy with being a part of?
Evil Masquerade. But I’m definitely still proud for what the other bands achieved back in the days. Those bands have been important for how Evil Masquerade turned out. I try my best to avoid making the same mistakes too many times.
It’s said on the Dark Minstrel Music’s website that 2015 is going to be an interesting year. What does the label have in store? Any plans that you could tell us about?
That has to wait just a little longer. But certain is that 2015 will turn out to be an important year.
According to your facebook you’re currently in the process of writing material to a new album. What can you tell us about that? In which direction is the material going in?
It’s too early to tell. At the moment we’re in a highly creative phase and anything is possible.
How far have you come with work on the material?
Quite far. But I don’t know if I completely change my mind tomorrow. If so, not very far at all.
Is the next album going to continue down the same musical road as THE DIGITAL CRUCIFIX?
Let’s see. Maybe. Maybe not.
Do you have any idea on when the next album is going to be finished and released?
When it’s really good.
What are the plans for Evil Masquerade for 2015 and what are the personal plans for Henrik Flyman?
Evil Masquerade will continue working on the seventh studio album and hopefully play a few shows. Henrik Flyman will be very busy with that and most likely also composing for a few other projects as well. I also have a good feeling that I will be doing a bunch of other shows as well.
Are you going to continue touring with Lacrimosa this year?
Nothing is announced yet.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Don’t stare directly into the sun.
Well, that was all for this time. Thanks again for taking the time for the interview. And as always, I really hope to see Evil Masquerade on a stage near me really soon. I wish you and the band all the best in the future.
My pleasure Anders. Looking forward to say cheers someday soon.