Interview with Isaac Delahaye [Epica]

Nico Davidson has a last minute interview with Epica lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Isaac Delahaye at Corporation, Sheffield. The two discuss the next Epica album, Requiem for the Indifferent and other things.

Nico: Hi Isaac, it’s an honour to meet you. How are ya doing?

Isaac: I’m doing great, thank you.

N: Good, good. How’s the tour gone so far then?

I: Well, it’s still starting. We went to Switerzland and then France, did a couple of shows there, so yesterday was really the first one in the UK.

N: Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, what are the main concepts surrounding the album?

I: You mean lyrically?

N: Yeah.

I: Well, basically, it’s not a concept album but the main topics are concerning like if you look around at what’s happening. It seems like the world is going down, it’s not going that well with the financial crisis, all the oil leaks and tsunamis, other natural disasters and all that kinda stuff, dictators and stuff and all that is very present lately. To us, it seems like the concept, the title; Requiem For The Indifferent and the people who are just like “ah, I don’t care what’s happening around me” and “it doesn’t make a difference if I do this” and that’s being indifferent, basically, so that’s a very big part of people who basically don’t care what’s happening around them and because of that, the people who have the power, which is a very small amount of people, they just get more and more power. Even if, say the financial bubble explodes, and if we wouldn’t care about anything, these same people will take power again and the whole thing will not change eventually. So basically, it’s sort of a wake-up call for people to actually do something about things, if they don’t agree on what’s actually then maybe it’s time to just do something about it. It’s basically the same theme as Design Your Universe [2009], like if you design your own universe you can’t really blame yourself for trying and if your motives are right then eventually you’re gonna live your dream or gonna get where you want to be, if you do it with the right attitude and the right goal.

N: How would you say Requiem For The Indifferent differs from the previous album, Design Your Universe?

I: Well, thing with Design Your Universe, it was seen, to many people, as a sort of masterpiece within the genre, so that obviously puts quite some pressure on our shoulders. Therefore, the first thing we agreed on was to not try do something similar, so it’s obviously still Epica and still has all the same elements, but we wanted to start really fresh and with new ideas and not really compare it to what we did in the past and I think one of the main differences was writing the album, incorporating the vocal lines really early in the whole process and I think eventually in the whole album, the whole music supports more and more of the vocal lines and therefore, they appear to be a little bit more catchy, I think and the overall atmosphere of the album is more dark than ever before. I think that’s also due to the lyrics because we wanted it to match. So yeah, it’s a little darker and there’s a little more grunts and more heavy parts, so the dynamics are a little wider. But apart from that, it’s still the standard Epica stuff – choirs, symphonic orchestras, grunts, normal vocals. So, it’s not that we’re a different band.

N: What would you say is your favourite track from Requiem For The Indifferent?

I: I think the opening track, after Monopoly On Truth, is really cool because it basically has what any opening track from any album has – For an Epica album, it contains all the elements right there, it’s aggressive, it’s pretty intimate sometimes, a lot of orchestration and choirs and a song like Deter The Tyrant is cool because it’s a little different from what Epica has done so far because there’s guitar melodies, which are still kinda new to Epica’s music, so there two are cool. I think it’s always hard to pick one because Epica makes albums, not songs. So, it’s like the whole album is seen as one thing.

N: Epica has had a really busy schedule this year touring Europe, the US, South America, Australia and now, obviously, the UK. So far, for you, what’s been the best show of the year?

I: It’s hard to say. The thing is if you do festivals, like in the summer, it’s good weather, you see your friends from other bands, other bands you’ve toured with in the past and it’s kind of a holidays feeling and you play for a shit load of people at once, so that’s cool but by the end of summer season, “oh, I’m looking forward to these club shows again” but at the end of a tour, it’s the other way round like now, with it being the end of the year, you’re like “yeah, it would be cool to play a big festival again”. So, it’s really hard to answer that question because it all has a certain atmosphere, good or bad. I think that basically, if you go to a show or if I go on a stage, people are enthusiastic, even if it’s ten people or ten thousand people, as cheesy as it sounds but I’m not picky when it comes to having a good time on stage and it’s not always perfect, but I learn to deal with it. Yeah, as long as the people are having a good time and are basically happy – Lately, most of the shows are like that, luckily, so I can’t complain. I’ve had a really good year touring. Apart from that, it’s also about the production. The UK, for instance, like this tour, we’re in a market where we still have to grow – It’s not our main market but we still try to bring as many things as we can like little details for the stage, the lights and we have our own light engineer and stuff. So we always try to do something special and I really like it when you can see it coming alive during the show and you hear afterwards from people who are like “I really liked the lights” or this or that element. So yeah, I can’t complain. I like playing more than being in a studio. They’re all cool in a certain way.

N: Even though Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, does Epica have any plans for new material?

I: We’ve almost wrote a whole new album ready. We have kind of a crazy schedule but still, like in the meantime, when we’re home, especially me and Mark [Rhythm guitarist]. We write a lot. We sit sit down and start writing more and more ideas, one after the other. For some reason, it matches really well when he composes starting from the orchestration while I compose starting from the guitars, so the match is really good. So far, we have something like ten songs but with really basic structures. I guess after this tour, we have some rest but then we start doing pre-production and then I think we’re gonna start recording somewhere late summer next year, for end of the year release, maybe or early 2014 or something like that if we survive, because you know, the whole world is gonna go down.

N: Like you’ve just stated, you’ve pretty much wrote an entire new album, is there any lyrical themes surrounding the new material at this point?

I: We don’t really have anything lyrically yet because that’s the next step. With the basic structures, we’re gonna start incorporating vocals and all that, so concerning lyrics, we don’t know yet. From what I hear now and from what we have now, it’s gonna be like what I said with Requiem For The Indifferent, a little dark, you know, it has some quite progressive elements. Sometimes, over-the-top elements but I think with the new album, from what I hear now, it will be a little less dark and more catchy and easier to grab. Requiem was an album that if you didn’t listen to it ten times, you didn’t get it. It’s not something you pick up right away, which is what we like but some people just listen once and they go “ah, it’s shit” and they just leave it for what it is. So I think the next album is gonna be a little more straight forward, so we’re probably going back to the beginning for next album. But there’s still so much pre-production to be done, so it’s hard to say. That’s how I see it right now. You know, you’re never gonna do the same album twice and it’s a good counter for what we did with Requiem.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

I: Well, I wish I would have made the one for Gladiator. But replace? I wouldn’t replace it, it’s brilliant. I don’t know, I guess if I don’t remember the music then it’s to be replaced. If I don’t like it then I don’t really notice the music.

N: Last question then. What song do you feel defines Epica as a whole?

I: I don’t know. I guess if you put all the opening tracks together, like I said, and the last tracks of every album then that would basically be every song that represent Epica, like all the elements and stuff.

N: Thanks for your time, Isaac and good luck with the show tonight.

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