Interview with Isaac from EPICA
First of all, the same old boring question everyone always asks: what does the album title mean?
I: Requiem for the Indifferent basically means this: nowadays the world changes really fast, there’s political stuff going on like people grabbing all the power; you also have religious differences between people; there are natural disasters which devastate countries. Seems like a lot of stuff is going on these days, people who have power just keep on wanting more and more: if you have something, you only want more. But we also have reactions to this, like people in Africa kept down by other countries: Africa seems to be gaining power again, people are revolting now. What we wanted to say with the album title is that if you really want something, just basically take it! Don’t let other people ruin your life, or take control over it. It can be as simple as a relationship between two people, in which none of the two has to make all the decisions, but it can also be a whole nation in which one dictator decides what all the others have to be, have to think or do. So that’s all the album is about: if you think “Okay, I don’t care because it’s not close to my home, so it doesn’t matter”, then you’re indifferent and that’s totally negative because it could happen very close to you also. And if don’t act now, you probably might regret it later.
What does the title has to do with the cover art?
It’s also about what I just said: stop being indifferent, but also try to find a new balance in life, or in the world. We don’t really want to say the world should be perfect, with peace, love, happiness and all the other fluffy pink stuff. There will always be differences, maybe conflicts also, but there should be a balance. If you look at the cover, you have one side which is a mechanical cold world, and in the other side you have nature, which is warmer and it’s where you come from. Then there’s this person, stuck in the mechanical world but reaching out for nature, finding the key for real life. It could be quite abstract also: if you look at it, you have the white part and the black part, like yin and yang. You need black and white, you need good and bad, you need these two parts to connect each other.
Many people ask why such an unusual style for an EPICA cover art… what do you think about that?
Well, the funny thing is that the art has been made by the same artist who made The Classical Conspiracy and Design your Universe… maybe it’s a little bit different from what we’ve done before, I think it evolved along with the music: it’s still EPICA but it’s different from the past, same goes for the album covers. Stephan Heilemann first read all the lyrics, than talked with Simone and Mark about what they really meant with the lyrics, what was the concept behind them. He made some sketches, and this is the one that grabbed all the attention.
Have you ever written any lyrics for EPICA? Why?
No; I don’t actually know why, maybe I should! It’s something I’ve done in the past for other bands, but not for EPICA yet, because there are other people who already do that in the band and the also sing; I think it makes a little more sense to sing what you write and what you mean. I could write something, but then who sings should give a meaning to that. I write the music and lyrics are written by Simone and Mark by now. But maybe in the future, who knows.
Well that actually was the next question… “Do you plan to do that in the future”?
Well when I write music I also come up with the vocal line, and sometimes they change it because they have different lyrics or whatever, but maybe in the future I can write some lyrics without them being changed!
How much do you take part of the music writing process?
For this album I wrote two whole songs, Monopoly on Truth and Deter the Tyrant, and then I basically wrote together with Mark; Mark wrote like nine songs, and I wrote together with him all the guitars. So there are three people who wrote music for this album: Mark, me and Coen. Coen wrote his songs on his own, and then they were finished, nothing had to be changed.
About the song titles: how do you and the others choose them, and would you change something?
Let’s say that if you write a song, then you can say a little more about it than the others. If I wrote a song and Mark wanted to change it in a way I don’t like, then I’d be like “No way”! So, the one who’s writing the song is also the one with more right to say something about it. It’s the same with the lyrics; there were a couple of songs where we had different titles, and we just said “These are the options, which one do you like”? But then again, if we don’t have majority – cause we’re six people, sometimes we have three against three – then it’s the one who wrote the lyrics who can have the final decision.
Does the last album have a common line with the previous ones, especially Design your Universe?
The meaning of Design your Universe is design your own world, it’s like if you want something, go for it, take it. If you dream about something it’s good, but if you really work your ass off to achieve it, if you really mean it in a good way then you will achieve it. Basically Requiem for the Indifferent is quite the same: if you’re not happy about how it goes today, like people taking all the power, then do something about it. So lyrically they’re on the same line, but different topics; musically, I would say it’s also a little more balanced in a way that the extreme side is more extreme and the melodical, mellow side is even more intimate and introverted. You get a very huge dynamic range in the same album. EPICA is writing albums, not songs, you have to listen from the beginning to the end of an album to understand its deeper meaning. That’s not different of course from the past, but we tried to clean a bit more every single song: if you have some really heavy guitar riff, and then you put over it trumpets, Simone singing and a huge piano part, the “brutal side” would become mellow again, and that’s what happen in Design your Universe: so much going on, so many little details. It was very bombastic but also very sweet in its own way. This time we really meant that if you have a heavy part, make it really heavy, don’t let these many little melodies on top of it. It’s not that we didn’t do that at all, we just made it more balanced. As an artist, you always think you’ve made a better album than the previous one, and that’s what I feel when thinking about Requiem for the Indifferent! That’s what we did, and even with new elements in our music and lyric-wise, we still don’t write about honey and the bees, we’re always ourselves.
How many new songs are you going to play live, and why did you choose those ones in particular?
Well we’ll start with try-outs during the release party playing all the album and give to people every new songs in order to see how they react. The show Is gonna start with the intro and the first track and some new songs like “Storm” or “Sorrow”.