Heart of Steel: Interviews

In Search of the Truth with Thomas Englund

Interviewed by EvilG

Tom S. Englund

I want to start with something simple and something that no doubt you've been asked before; and that is, where does the name Evergrey come from and what does it mean?

When we were at a point in our lives where we didn't have any jobs, and didn't have any money, and whatever, we had to do criminal things just to get by basically. We had a period in out lives like for 3 or 4 years that passed really quickly without affecting us at all so we caught in a "grey storm", so basically that's how we came up with the name.


It doesn't have any reflection upon your sound?

No, not other than the name might sound a bit depressing basically.



One thing I really like about the band is that you can't label the band and say 'This is prog metal'; this is 'power metal or thrash metal'...whatever. It has elements of many metal styles. I was wondering if this happened naturally when you write material or is it a result of your varied influences?

It happens very naturally. I mean, we don't sit down and think at all. We just do whatever comes to mind. What you hear is what you hear basically. We have no major big plans planned.


IN SEARCH OF TRUTH is the newest album that I believe, like everything else you've done, was produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy La Rocque. What is it like to work with this legendary guitarist?

(laughs) Well for us it's nothing special really. I mean, me and Andy are really good friends. He's been with us since day one, which is like six years ago now, so it's like being at home basically. He's getting a bit old and grumpy now...(laughs) but he's a great guy.



He contributed a little bit to the new album as well. Did you ask him to that or did it just kinda fall together in the studio?

Well basically it came together because I don't know how to play the slide guitar and he does (laughs)…so we were the only two there.



The concept of IN SEARCH OF TRUTH obviously, as anyone who has read the lyrics knows, revolves around aliens and alien abductions. You have written about aliens in past albums but have never made it a central concept for an album until now. I was wondering where do you get your inspiration to write about such things?

I read a book called COMMUNION by Whitley Strieber.

Yeah yeah I read that.

That book really affected me deeply and I think it's very sincere and honest book and no matter what you think about it serves as an introduction. This man believes he has been experiencing something in that way and that it's the most important thing that you got to think about. You know that he believes this all happened to him. So you gotta respect his ideas and cause for that. On this album I tend to reflect more on the personal level of him and try to reflect more on the emotional side of the character - his fears, sadness and all that.



What was the cause of the madness in the story line? Was it the aliens or was it the madness that led to the uncovering of the truth?

It was both actually. Mostly that nobody else believed him, not even his close family members and loved ones basically. When people close to you abandon you, you really don't have much left do you?



This whole alien conspiracy type of a story line has been very popular lately in pop culture. For example, things like the X-Files and stuff like that you've probably seen. I was wondering, what your opinion is on TV shows, movies, and pop culture things like that that are popular?

I was an X-Files fan a couple years ago. I think they have really lost track in the two later seasons we have seen in Sweden. I'm a big Sci-Fi fan but I don't watch Star Trek and stuff like that. I like any stuff that belongs to the unexplainable; the supernatural basically. Those are the subjects that really interest me.



This leads me to ask do you believe in this stuff or have you ever had a close encounter?

No I've never had a close encounter (with an alien anyway), not yet. But yeah, I think I believe. It's really hard to believe in something you've never experienced yourself. I have a major interest in finding out.



Being a concept album, would you say anything in your personal life had an affect on the lyrics or the writing?

Of course. Even though I'm basing the basic story on a book, all the feelings, fears, and ideas come from myself. I think that is what makes the story line really sincere because it's a truthful story basically. Of course I added some fiction to the story in order to make arrangements, etc..



On the track "Dark Waters" you use the Mercury Choir and they help make that song one of the better ones on the CD in my opinion. Can you tell us a bit about the choir and why they were chosen for that track?

Well they were chosen for that track because I thought they would fit there but I mean I had an idea all along. I had the harmony going from day one of writing and I had that choir part in my head. So we got the choir in like the last album and told them what to sing basically. I think it turned out really well.



Does that happen to be your favourite song on the album or do you have a favourite from the new album?

I think "Mark Of The Shining" is my favourite.



You also made some videos from the album; are these the first videos you made or were there ones made in the past?

We made one in the past.

What song was that for?

A song called "For Every Tear That Falls".

I haven't seen that one but I've seen your latest where it's downloadable off the web site.

The other video is downloadable as well!



Regarding line-ups, and there's been a few variations in your line-up. Leaving right now; yourself and Patrick as the only original members. Has this in any way hindered or are all changes necessary to the further development of the band?

It will have an effect on how the band develops and whatnot. The good thing about it is it really makes the band feel like we get a fresh start. Bringing some new blood into the band, it's always healthy in one way.



Your bass player Michael was also playing bass in Forsaken, but he has left to put all his time into Evergrey. I was wondering was this an ultimatum he was given for Evergrey doing so well or..?

No, not an outspoken one ultimatum anyway. He felt, of course, that there was no time for doing both and that's why he chose to leave.



The most recent change that I've read about is regarding your keyboardist Sven Karlsen. He has left to concentrate on Soilwork. I was wondering if you've decided a replacement already for him?

Absolutely. It was us deciding on whether he should leave so we already had a plan for another keyboard player before we told him. The new keyboard player is Chris Rehn.



It seems like most of the replacements are more about time constraints for some people. Or were some of them also character clashes or musical differences?

Yeah. The most important thing to remember is that everybody should put their soul into it. It's not fair if four guys put in 120% into it and another guy like Sven putting 50% into it. It's not a good balance basically.



On the newest album, how did each member of the band contribute to the writing process?

It's always that I have a basic song structure or harmony and then I bring the stuff to the other guys and we make an Evergrey song out of it. Everybody has a really big impact on the songs. It's really hard to point out who really did what.



How would you describe the evolution the band has had from your debut THE DARK DISCOVERY to your latest album?

The Dark Discovery album was made like eight months after we were formed and of course we wouldn't have found our way at that time. At the time we were still searching for what we wanted to do with Evergrey. It's a very raw, harsh and dark album and after the second album SOLITUDE, DOMINANCE, TRAGEDY we really found our way and what we really wanted to do. That album gave us quite a bit of success in Europe; so that was the album that really opened up the doors for us. If I was to describe the SOLITUDE… album I would say it's a total display of despair basically…a really sad album. And the new album is between hope and despair. You get the feeling of a bit of contrast.

So the next album will be happy?? :-)

Probably not no (laughs) never. That will never happen!



IN SEARCH OF TRUTH is your first album on Inside Out Music. It seems they've been doing a pretty good job of pushing the band. I've seen the ad in a number of magazines. Are you happy with the move to the new label?

Yeah, yeah. So far they're doing a really good job. We just gotta wait till the end of talks and we're doing as much as we can and we have a product that we're really proud of. Really the rest is up to them.



Evergrey are not quite as well known over here in North America even though people have been reading very good reviews coming out of Europe. I was wondering do you feel there is anything you need to do to win audiences over from this side of the world or is it just a matter of promotion to get your name out there?

I think it's a matter of promotion. We have a very steady underground base here in the USA actually and we have a lot of friends since we've been here three times. What we need to do is come here and play. That's the only thing that will open people's eyes basically.



When you played previously was that just a one off shows like this Prog Power festival?


Did you play at that last year?

We played the Prog Power but it was this year February.

And you're playing on the 10th of November right?

Yeah Saturday.



Who else have you toured with when you played your gigs in the US?

Ah….who the hell was it? Symphony X, Jag Panzer, Zero Hour, Pain of Salvation…we played with a lot of bands. The first time we were here in '99 playing the Power Mad. I can't ever remember who we played with then actually.



So have you been planning or preparing for a tour or another one off gig later this year or next year in North America?

Next year we're going on a European tour when we get home so we only have 4 days at home and then we're leaving again for Europe. It will have to be next year sometime.



After your US appearance as you mentioned you're going to be touring Europe and that is with Therion. How did you land this tour?

Basically because our manager's are friends.



What do you think of the combination or the cross over fans that there may be between the two bands?

I think it will be a really good bill basically. I think allot of their fans will really like us and vice versa.



The last tour I remember reading about you did in Europe was with Kamelot and Crimson Glory. And from what I read of some of the reviews it seems that Kamelot and Evergrey seemed to steal the show allot of the nights. Was that the case?

Yeah, it was like that every day actually. It's all good for us. It's not often that the first opening act gets the most attention!



Do you do much touring within your own country of Sweden?

It's starting to get there now. We actually got on the album charts in Sweden. So we're getting quite a few gigs now.



What city or town are you based out of in Sweden?


And what is your opinion on the scene there today?

It's a very healthy scene. We have allot of bands coming from Gothenburg that are absolute leaders of the style in Europe and we have HammerFall and The Haunted, Dark Tranquility, parts of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, parts of Witchery.



I was wondering has there been any plans for your next album already or do you only write when you are preparing an album?

Yeah we write all the time. Well, we mainly keep ideas in our head and then bring them out whenever it's time do an album.



A question I usually like to ask some of the guitar players I interview is If you would give me a run down on the types of gear you use; in terms of guitars, amps and any effects maybe.

We use Mesa Boogie Triaxis (http://www.mesaboogie.com/Product_Info/Rackmount-Preamps/TriAxis/triaxis.html) , TC electronic key(?) makers, Peavey 50x50 power amps (http://www.peavey.com/), and we just got our own signature models from Caparison Guitar makers in Japan (http://www.kyowashokai.co.jp/caparison.html). And that's it basically.



I guess you had a lot of input in the design of your signature models.

Absolutely. Totally our own thing. Our own wood and the Evergrey clan mark on the neck. We don't need another guitar now that we've done this.

That must have been cool to do

Yeah it was. If we don't ever get another guitar at least we accomplished this one.

I assume anyone can purchase this. They're not just made exclusively for the band are they?

Right at this time they are just made exclusively for the band. We'll see how the album works out in Japan and see how well it sells there. Then they will start manufacturing if all goes well.



Have you played live in Japan very much?


Any plans coming for that?

We are just releasing our new album on the 20th of November in Japan.



Ok, is there any other news about the band that you'd like people to know about?

I think we covered most of it actually. You've been very thorough.


Well that was all the questions I had anyway.

Right on man, thanks a lot!

Thanks to Ronnie for the transcription!!

Visit the official Evergrey website at: www.evergrey.net