Epica is without a doubt the kings (and queen) of the symphonic metal in today’s world and they have been proudly carrying the crown for more than a decade. They are huge throughout the world, and as Simone Simon puts it “can hardly walk on the street without someone jumping on” them. Heavy riffs, thick bass, full orchestra parts, choirs, brutal screams, up-tempo and yet emotional songs and a simply beautiful voice, the voice of an angel. Epica delivers the unexpected. You can never guess what will come in the next few seconds of the song.
Now given all the elements and complicated song, it is really, really hard to deliver a stellar performance live, however having seen Epica live multiple times, I can confidentially say that they nail it.
Epica was recently at Palladium in Worcester with supporting acts Flesh God Apocalypse, Arkana and The Agonist and, oh boy, was it a magnificent show. I caught up with Epica’s singer Simone before the show and we talked about a variety of things from music to fashion and cooking. You can find the interview below, however I would, first, like to tell you more about the show so you can live the amazing moments I have witnessed in person.
The show started with The Agonist hitting the stage. Agonist has always been a great band. They have recently released an album “Five,” combining certain pop elements with the aggressiveness of metal, intelligently creating a great contrast to make the heavy parts heavier and the emotional clean parts a lot more touching. The Agonist stayed on stage for 30 minutes, delivering their well-received classics such as “Thank You Pain” and “Panaphobia,” some songs from their insanely successful previous album “Eye of the Providence” and many from their latest release. Unfortunately for the remaining bands, Agonist was so brutal that the audience was already exhausted.
Following The Agonist, Arkana took over the stage. Coming all the way from Russia, they are pretty new to the metal scene in the U.S. However, they completely shocked the audience when they hit the stage with a bagpipe player! I have never heard them before this show, but I must say that their uniqueness, the intelligent use of bagpipe, and the pagan culture references make their music greatly enjoyable.
Shortly after Arkana left the stage, it was time for the fastest of the fast, heaviest of the heavy, the one and only Flesh God Apocalypse. Flesh God is a symphonic metal band with perfect knowledge of classical music and the theory of music. Offering some of the heaviest, unplayable riffs with their drums and guitars at 200bpm, and beautiful melodies with their piano, strings and simply amazing soprano. Flesh God Apocalypse is the great marriage of classical and metal music that we all have been yearning for. Putting an actual story on the stage with supporting costumes and stage décor, Flesh God brings you back to 16th century Italy, only adding some extra distortion and screams. And a little known fact is that their amazing drummer, who is one of the fastest out there is not actually a drummer. Francesco started as the guitar player of the band, however, not being able find a drummer that satisfies his expectations, he decided to pick up the kit himself and in only a few years became on of the best. Surprising right? He is a musical treasure that we should look after. Towards the end of the set, the members and crew of Epica jumped on to the stage spraying Flesh God with water while they kept playing their set.
And then there was light. It was time for the stars of the night to take their rightful place on the stage. There isn’t much to say. You have to be there to understand. Great lightshow, amazing music, a beautiful melody slipping through Simone’s gentle lips, mesmerizing the audience as if a spell was being cast. Epica played their best through their seven-album discography including multiple songs from their latest release “The Holographic Principle.” On the last song of their set, this time the members of Flesh God and The Agonist took the stage wearing towels and jogging outfits while brushing their teeth. Laughter raised through the venue and the members of a few of the greatest bands in the world closed the last show of their tour all together.
I am not sure if it will be ever possible to see these bands all together again but regardless, they are the bands to see. Great music, great show.
How was the tour? It is coming to an end.
Really good. We had, I don’t know, around 20 shows, together with Flesh God, Arkana, The Agonist. I had a minor cold but was unaffected so we were happy that we could do all the shows. I started to get the cold and we had bad luck in America and I was like ‘no no,’ this time we got to do it.
So what is next for you?
We are going to Europe. First we have Christmas. Back to family. We are excited for that as well. And after that we are going to Europe, we start in Germany I believe. Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium, France, England together with Powerwolf and Beyond Black.
So about the Epica Metal Fest…
We had two versions this year. We had the Dutch one and the Brazilian one. Both went really, really awesome. To have this, have your own festival, your name on a festival where you are pretty much involved, then we have of course partners and bookers otherwise it would be impossible for us to get everything aligned. But yeah it was awesome. Of course people were a little tense with the presentation, playing the new songs for the first time and then having fireworks and fire on stage would be a little bit crazy because you are focused on the lyrics and what to say where you try not to get your hair burned off. But we had blinking lights on stage to warn us and on the setlist we mark the songs that have fire so we know where is the safe spot.
Do you have any plans to extend this to other countries? Like Japan maybe?
We are going to Japan in April this year for the first time.
Like having the Epic Metal Fest there?
Oh Epic Metal Fest. We had it in Brazil, first international one and can be any where around the world. We would have to have the right business contacts. We were also thinking about Mexico at first but then we played a festival there earlier this summer and thought it would be too close so we will do something else in Mexico.
We will see I guess.
Honestly, I don’t know yet. We will first have to see the shows. We have a couple but don’t know how they will go.
I want to talk about this whole fashion and design side of your. How did you start?
Haha. She is involved as well (pointing to her web designer who was present in the room as well.) She is the one programming my blog haha. She is the bigger geek. I always need to ask her how. I am the one doing the photos coming up with the concept and stuff.
How did that interest start all together?
I was the girl who liked the lipstick more than shoes so…Make up always interested me. I love photography, I love cooking. I kind of document everything with my camera, all my hobbies and with Epica, I get to do crazy make up for the shows. At home my kitchen is a mess because I bake and cook all the time and I throw it online, along with some tour diaries here and there. Is it six or seven years old? I forgot to do the anniversary thing on the blog. But I am gonna do special Christmas giveaways to make it up for that, I was busy in September. I don’t know if you would be interested in lipsticks haha.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
To cook, it is a chicken dish. It is called devil’s meat. It is really spicy chicken sauté with fries and mushrooms
Going back to music, Is there anyone out there right now, that you would say it would be great to do some collaboration with? I know it is not Epica’s thing, but.
Just like anybody? I was always yelling Opeth, Rammstein or Muse but I don’t know. I recently did a collaboration where I sing vocal parts for several songs and it turned out pretty well and then there is another project where I recorded two songs for but I don’t know the details, when it is gonna be released but they are pretty awesome as well.
From the perspective of Epica, how would you compare touring in US to touring in Europe?
The fans or…? I think the American market is a little more difficult because there are so many bands already touring here and it is a big country as you say it United States. It is difficult to tour here. The standards of the venues are different from Europe. We either have really small venues or really big, not much in between. For many years we were playing smaller venues but we are slowly changing. Especially today, Worcester, and yesterday we played a small one. And tours are more challenging because they take up to a month and in Europe you can break it apart. And visas. Everybody in the band always hates getting visas because they treat you as a criminal. ‘What do you wanna do in US?’, I just wanna play couple of songs. But as soon as they know I am a musician… There is increase for popularity for Epica in US and in Europe we have countries where we are really good and countries here we are still working on getting more, uhm, bigger fan base. In US it is the same, you know, New York, bigger cities we draw more people. Often there are not a lot of people but sometimes they are the best gigs. Like, we had one show that almost got cancelled this tour because our promoter fucked up. He was high on drugs, he stole money so he was fired and people thought we were gonna cancel the show but we made it work. We got paid way less but we wanted to do the show and the fans were awesome. Good thing that we did this show otherwise we wouldn’t have the experience.
Going back to the recording stage of the latest album, what is your favorite memory?
Making smoothies in the kitchen. I went a little bit crazy when I went grocery shopping. You didn’t have a smoothie maker, a blender in the studio so I might as well get you one. So I was making smoothies. I also had a cold. I came back from China and Australia. I was like barking in the mic and they were like ‘can you please not cough in the mic’. Because they heard it really loud back there, sounded like someone was dying but we made it work. I started and the second day I was like I don’t think I can sing. They wanted to me to do the higher vocals and I was a little bit down like Joe Cocker. We took a break and then we finished. Because we were on kind of a strict schedule. We had to record a big amount of songs in a short time frame. But we had a great time working with our producer.
Thank you so much