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Evergrey Interview

A Conversation With Vocalist Tom S. Englund




SPV Records
Updated September 27, 2008
For their latest CD Torn, Swedish dark melodic metallers Evergrey have made some changes. They have a new bass player, and also a new record label and management. I’ve interviewed frontman Tom S. Englund several times now, and he’s always has a lot to say. This time we spoke about the new album, all the changes, their upcoming tour plans, the early days of Swedish metal and many other things.

Chad Bowar: Since the last CD, you’ve had a couple different bass players. The latest is Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius). How did he come to join the band?
Tom S. Englund: We had an audition on our homepage where we said anyone who felt the urge to send in their materials and bio and playing samples. We had 400 applications. We tried out a few guys, then I got a call from a journalist friend of mine from Norway who said he knew a guy who could handle the bass. We told him to come down and try out like all the others had done. He did, and it took like five minutes for us to decide. He’s one of the best bass players I’ve heard ever. Add to that all his touring experience, and that made him invaluable.

Your latest CD Torn has a slightly different sound that Monday Morning Apocalypse.
Yes, but at the same time every album we have made so far has been different soundwise. I don’t know why, but when we write music it reflects back on the life we lived at the time we wrote it. When we wrote Monday Morning Apocalypse we had been touring a lot and playings songs a lot live. That affected our songwriting the most. For this album, I went through a lot of personal crap that I had to deal with, and that’s why the album sounds like it does.

Last album you brought in outside producers. This time you went back to producing yourselves. How come?
When we decided that for Monday Morning Apocalypse we had made four or five albums in a row in the same way, basically. We used the same studios and people. We needed to make a change on every level. That was certainly one part that we needed to change. Instead of just going in and recording another album, we felt like we needed somebody to come in and stir things around a little bit. And we were curious how outside people would look at Evergrey and what they would do with it.

It was a really cool experience, and Torn would never have sounded the way it does without the lessons we learned on that album. At the same time, we spent a lot of money on Monday Morning Apocalypse and felt that we could have better use for it on this album. Not that we weren’t satisfied with that album, but now we’ve done that, now we know what it’s brought us. We sold more than ever. But I produce albums in my free time as well, so it felt unnecessary to spend maybe $70,000 on a producer when I am a producer.

I understand you recently got rid of your studio that you had been using for many years.
Yes. In order to have as big a studio as we had, we need to spend way more time there than we do. It costs a lot of money every month for rent. Plus I get emails and calls all the time asking if I want to produce their album, and I say no all the time. That made me feel like a jerk, so we decided this would be for the best. But we have so many friends that have studios that are close by that it won’t be a problem.

What’s the response been so far to Torn?
It’s been out there a week, and the reviews have been fantastic, except for Sweden, which is really strange. And for the first time, we have encountered some people who don’t like it in Sweden. But it debuted at number four on the Swedish Billboard chart today, so we are very happy. It’s a personal record. We had a number one DVD, but as far as albums go, this is the best we’ve done. The reviews didn’t have any effect on the people buying it. I hope that it keeps going like that for the rest of the world as well.

You have a new record label, SPV. What was the deciding factor in signing with them?
We started negotiating with many different labels, both major labels and smaller ones about two years ago. The only thing we knew we didn’t want was to put ourselves in a situation where we wouldn’t be satisfied two years from now. Also we knew what we were worth. All the lessons we had learned with all the different contracts we have had in the past made us realize that if we’re going to sign another contract, it might be the last contract we sign. With three albums it’s going to take up at least five or six years of our lives. We negotiated with SPV for eight months back and forth. They were the only ones who stepped up to our demands, and we are really grateful. And that will also force them to work their asses off.

Did you also change some other things on the business side?
Everything. We changed everything from management to booking companies and endorsement deals. We needed to have a major change, and I’m just happy we succeeded in getting people interested in us and they were willing to make deals with us. Right now it looks good, but you can ask me in a year.

Part of SPV’s deal was getting rights to your back catalog. Does that mean we’ll be seeing reissues or remasters of your older albums?
I’ve said to the label that I don’t want to remix or remaster the albums. The albums sound the way they do for a reason. I don’t want to take away that spontaneous feel we got on the recording, and I don’t want to ruin the initial feel people have for the album when they bought it years ago. I would be furious if somebody changed my favorite albums and made them into something different.

If we are going to re-release anything just in order to get people to buy it, we need to add something that will work for the fans. We have so much video material lying around, so that could be one thing to add. We could add an hour of DVD material for each time period, some obscure acoustic concerts or radio takes or whatever. But it has to be worth it. It can’t be an extended booklet and one song. Then it’s just ripping people off, and we’re not into that.

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