The singer discusses the theme and recording with orchestra and choir that gives the album a bolder sound following their Quantum Enigma masterpiece. The new album was released on September 30 on Nuclear Blast.
NRR: When did the band start writing songs for the new album and did Mark and you or the group to write about the current the technology that is part of our lives?
Simons: The writing process took about a year and the recording process was about 5 months. But there are five guys in the band and they all have been writing songs and there were 27 songs to choose from and we worked all 27 with our producer Joost van den Broek. And we picked eighteen of those and recorded those and were a big amount of songs that we could choose from and we want the best for the fans, so we had intense writing sessions all over the world. Our producer Joost came to visit us on tour so we were writing the songs backstage after sound check or before sound check so yeah we were very productive
NRR: This album that Mark Jensen (guitars, grunts, screams) states on the web site is currently technology that puts you in a virtual reality world that is used more and more for commercial purposes. Yet doesnâ€™t take over reality as it is and using it as a tool?
Simons: Well The Holographic Principle, first off is like doing research on within physics that basically states we are living in a hologram and we Epica are inspired by the artificial intelligence and the virtual reality. The virtual reality glasses out there can simulate reality or realistically that you can you know even to start doubt that this is not real but looks real, what is you know? What is real, what you see now looking at my computer having a Skype conversation with you, who said that is not manipulated or created by a hologram version of another reality, so that is a little bit the red line going through the lyrics. What is real and movies such as The Matrix and Inception have been big sources of inspiration as well
NRR: Of the 28 songs the band has written and chose and had to narrow it down how many songs to put on the album. Did you have to flip a coin to decide which songs will be on the album and which ones wonâ€™t?
Simons: (Laughter) Yeah, almost. It was definitely a difficult process. We all had to write down our favorites, we all had to make a list and the songs that got the most points were the ones that would be on the record. Our producer was also involved because he was there from the beginning to the end and he also had the right to see which songs he liked. And we kind of had to start the puzzle of how dose it sound and the flow on the record and where do you put each song and should we put a different song to keep interesting for the fans. But yeah, we 18 songs recorded, 12 for the record and there is 6 left put to the side to be released at a later time
NRR: That is my next question. What do you plan to do with the other songs that are not on the album?
Simons: Yeah, they are not bonus tracks and are to be scattered over different versions of The Holographic Principle. They will be kept together and release at a later time
NRR: Was it considered to make a double album?
Simons: Yeah, whenever we told the fans we had so many songs, theyâ€™re like record a double album but I think that is too much information for the people and in and in way it is a little bit a shame because you released everything all at once and then itâ€™s out there it loses its specialness.
NRR: Or on a greatest hits album?
Simons: They will get the attention it deserves so of course our management has some ideas what to do with them. We trust him (Laughter)
NRR: The first song the band released, “Universal Death Squad” is about robots than can kill which are made by humans and take a life of their own?
Simons: Exactly, scary if you think of it we are the ones creating but in the end we are the ones biting ourselves in the ass by creating them. But they also take away the feeling of guilt when you donâ€™t have to the people yourselves in a war zone for example. But they take that away from you because it wasnâ€™t your decision and canâ€™t be blamed but itâ€™s a weird thought we can create what is not human and have free wheel and that is something that has always has defined us, our humanity that we have the free wheel and that we have a soul of course and that a robot will ever have a soul. But there little computer brains can decide for themselves. I find that scary, and donâ€™t want a vacuum cleaner robot in my house. I donâ€™t trust them (Laughter)
NRR: The other song on the album which is the slower song is â€œOnce Upon A Nightmareâ€
Simons: Yeah, it has the longest intro ever, but itâ€™s like a little movie score I guess. The music score is written by Coen Janssen (pronounce as Koon), our keyboarder and itâ€™s a definitely a epic piece and not your average ballad because it doesnâ€™t have a official chorus as Coen would describe it but a hook line but a melody that is carried from the beginning to the end and not officially used as a chorus. And I wrote the lyrics, because I am a big fan of fairy tales and always have been. But this fairy tale is more like a dark fairy tale, is why itâ€™s called â€œOnce Upon A Nightmareâ€ and not once upon a dream.
NRR: Itâ€™s a fairy tale based on a theme?
Simons: Itâ€™s based on a elder king so itâ€™s a very dark fairy tale with a dark ending. The idea came to me from my husband when I was writing lyrics; I asked him you know what can you give me some topics as well? What d you find interesting and he came up with this topic and it kind of grew on me and I always wanted to compute fairy tales. I also like the more educational and philosophical aspect of fairy tales. When I was in high school and I wanted to write an essay about fairy tales through the ages to compare them, analyze them and will defiantly hit the subject more once or twice in the future since I have a three year old son. And I already saw that Amy Lee from Evanescence has new project and recorded a CD called Dream To Much with children songs. I think that is pretty cool. We all become softies when we become parents (Laughter)
NRR: That is a good point that taking fairy tales from philosophy as we take fairy tales as entertainment basically
Simons: Yeah, but they basically have the components of everyday life with good and evil, you know. Mostly with happy ending but over version is always the case
NRR: Watching the documentaries on making this album the previous albums. Was it always to have a live choirs and orchestra for the recordings than through a synthesizer?
Simons: Thatâ€™s how we did it in the past and we wanted to ramp up our game a little bit since these songs do have a lot of orchestration in them, we had the money, the expertise and our produce Joost van den Broek, he is very experience working with the orchestra that is also working with click track and I think it made the album sound more organic. Itâ€™s a bigger project of course, more time consuming because you have to write the music on scores and you have to rehearse, and to record the instruments separately because if you were to record the orchestra together you couldnâ€™t edit it afterwards because the microphoneâ€™s pick up the other instruments. We are happy we did it like this especially with the song like you said, â€œOnce Upon A Nightmareâ€. The instruments really shine and making the album more alive anyway.
NRR: When the band gets together in the studio for the final recordings, mixing, mastering or play to together. Is the orchestra brought in or set aside on a different track when band is recording the songs?
Simons: Well, the orchestra basically comes in at the end and for this special edition we recorded some acoustic tracks and with the acoustic tracks we also asked the flute player, flutist and the violinist to come over to the studio to record more intimate melodies so itâ€™s not like we made just acoustic versions of the songs and just copied and pasted the orchestra and has some new lines played by the musicians as well. We definitely didnâ€™t choose the quick way.
NRR: For the album cover, you had an idea for what it should look like to match what the title is?
Simons: Yeah, we or how Mark explains what The Holographic Principle is about and the topic of the songs and he started brain storming with the color schemes to be more like purple, magenta, and like with the main CD we have a main color to start off with. And Coen and I were sitting on tour together brain storming, like what image do you have to think about the CD and the artwork? So we started making a mute board and the images we saw online and some photos. So Isaac Delahaye (guitar) started do some photo shop covers by himself and the ones we liked we sent to Stefan Heilemann to keep working on them
NRR: The cover says a lot
Simons: (Laughter) itâ€™s like a movie poster. You see the binary code, you see like um geometrical shapes, you see the leaves that they kind of represent the contrast of nature and all what we have that kind of we designed ourselves. You see the earth as flat and round at the same time because a lot of people argue that the earth is flat and optically itâ€™s a beautiful cover. And I really wanted to include the holographic colors and the triangles you see it reflect itâ€™s beautiful. And my stage clothes and my make up connect to the hologram and to the color spectrum within the hologram which is like a rainbow and I can go crazy with glitter (Laughter).
NRR: For the album cover, depending on the budget you can move it around to have different colors to the light like a 2D or 3D effects?
Simons: Yeah, we were looking at different options on how to print the CD to become more 3D.
NRR: For the US tour what is planned for example any special effects and could bring part of an orchestra and choir with the band?
Simons: Uh well, the orchestra and choir unfortunately will have to stay home and that we reserve for special shows but we are working with our live engineers to come up with some uniquely light shows. So um, yeah if you seeing the triangles in the new single and video for â€œ Edge Of The Bladeâ€. You can see those beautiful light pyramids and those are hopefully coming to the US. They are very pricey and will have to rent them because one of them is like 12,000 Euros (approx. $13, 400). They are prototypes and we can use them for video and photo shoots and also to bring them for the live show because they were made for The Holographic Principle basically but not literally. Itâ€™s a match made in heaven and will defiantly make our show so much more holographic I guess.
NRR: Approximately how many songs will be performed from the new album on the tour?
Simons: Were thinking about 6 to 7 songs from the new CD and mixed with all the other songs as well from all the other records. You know we canâ€™t leave out the classics. When you have a new CD and itâ€™s brand new you just canâ€™t play songs from that CD, itâ€™s not what the fans want and we try to keep everybody happy.
NRR: Were there consideration of having guest singers on the album?
Simons: Uh, no not really. We have the orchestra and the choir and on top of that we have the 5 year old daughter of the keyboarder who you hear on the introduction and for us that was enough. We didnâ€™t feel there was a need to have a guest vocalist on the CD. So we kind of left that option out.
NRR: Anything down the road from this album for a live album or DVD?
Simons: Oh defiantly, we have Retrospect for our 10 year anniversary and soon we will have our 15 year anniversary and can you imagine how fast time goes . So whenever we have this special occasion we will and probably work with orchestra again and like you said a live album. For now our management has many ideas and that will be probably one of them.
NRR: Simone, it was great talking with you
Simons: Like wise
NRR: This is a great album and the fans here are waiting to see you guys again
Simons: A couple more months and were there
NRR: Again, thanks for your time for talking about the album
Simons: You too, and have a great day and I will watch some Net Flix and pass out real soon (Laughter)
NRR: (Laughter) Bye