Everygrey Is Nevergrey: Optimism With Mr. Englund

Originally written by Sasha Horn

Tom S. Englund emailed me about three months ago, out of the blue. Could this be a belated rockstar-hate-mail response to a couple of jabs I took in my review of Evergrey‘s last offering? No. Nothing of the sort. Tom is just a nice, down-to-earth dude that obviously takes well to criticism, and was hoping that I could find the time to sit down for a chat. So I agreed. He swiftly turned down my request that he pay my plane fare to and from Gothenburg and put me up for a few days (never happened, I’m just trying to be funny). So we took it to the web, where we spent three months weaving in and out of responsibilities to put the pieces together. He had his hands full as he was about to set sail on a touring stint that would breathe new life into a broken battleship. And I…. well, I just worked these questions in during coffee breaks with the new album. Needless to say, he had the more decorated entrance into 2011.

When all was said and done, we bit off and chewed on a hefty amount of information, but I wanted to delete none in hopes that this weighty Q&A could sew you inside the fabric of the new Evergrey album, Glorious Collision, and some of the events that led up to it. As roads often do, they fork. So we took some turns. We hope you enjoy.

MR: Tom, I’d like to start by saying ‘Thank You’ for letting MetalReview get inside of your mind a bit. There’s much ground to cover, with Evergrey being three-fifths a new machine and the band itself in its fifteenth year of existence. Whether or not the most recent drama of the band-member swap-out was at high-tension or low, the bottom line here is that the band is still alive and kicking. But before I even touch the Evergrey of days passed, present, or future, there’s something that I’ve been wondering about ever since I took Torn on in a review a couple of years ago… that voice. When did you start using it as a weapon and how exactly did you hone in on your skills? It’s one of the more soulful experiences in Metal….

TE: Thanks for the interest! As for the voice, I really don’t know man. It’s one of those things where you either got it or you don’t. For me, I was left in a situation where the singer, who sang on our only demo, left the band three weeks or so prior to the recording of our debut album. We were first of all stunned that someone would take such a decision as this was our way to stardom, or at least that’s what we thought. Anyways, we sat down, quite stressed as you can imagine and really didn’t see a solution, whatsoever, until the bass-player at the time, Daniel Nojd, uttered “Maybe you should sing? You make all the vocal-melodies anyway, so why not try it out?” I thought and felt he was out of his mind as this NEVER ever even occurred to me being a possibility, but after a few days contemplating, that was pretty much the only way out that we had.

So I started vocal-training with my then girlfriend who pushed me to limits I never encountered before. When the day came to enter the studio I was worried, I mean really worried. I sang line after line, almost fainting after each phrase and it didn’t get better along the way. So all in all what you hear on that album is really the first lines of vocals I ever sang professionally, and of course it could have been so much better, but at the same time it added some kind of eager nerve to the whole performance which I doubt would have been there had I been a well-developed singer. So with time, of course, and thankfully, I got better at it, and by the time of the second album I even felt I had my own vibe, and that has sort of just continued up until today where I still present myself as a guitar player and then remembering “And, oh yeah, Im a singer as well.”

MR: Funny how you have to remind yourself that you’re a singer in addition to being a guitarist. I actually have it on the flipside over here…. without downplaying your stringed skills, I often forget that you have the nimble fingers. I always think, “Tom, you know, the singer for that band Evergrey“. Your story of being left with no other option in the vocal department other than yourself reminds me of another noteworthy turn of evens: Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, who actually sat behind the kit until he was summoned forth to take on vocal duties. There’s not many other instances that I can think of where I’m glad that a band got left high and dry and had to fend for themselves. And what makes your particular story all the better is that you actually had to learn how to not pass out when singing, while playing your guitar. And even then having to up your skill level in that entire realm… It blows my mind. Let this be a lesson to those with their sights set to skyward: Get romantically involved with someone who has just as many stars in their eyes as you. I’m referring of course to your better half at the time. That was a noble deed.

You spoke of “stardom”… Do you feel in your heart of hearts that Evergrey has indeed achieved the dream that the younger Tom would be proud of?

TE: Of course not! When I was a kid, the only thing I saw was to play in front of huge audiences at grand arenas, even though we have done that too, in support shows and at festivals, it has not been our very own audience. I also imagined lines of beautiful women just waiting to have three minutes with any of us. On top of that I also saw millions and millions of dollars flowing my way and what I would do with it, what houses to buy, cars and vacations. You know, all that everyone dreams of.

But, that being said, I would also have to say that even though my grand dreams might have been diminished by the truth and reality, I am still extremely proud of what we did accomplish, proud of the fact that I did still manage to accomplish the biggest part of those childhood dreams which is to live a life of music and I have done so for the last eight years. I am also extremely thankful for all that I have seen, all the different countries, cultures, and of course all the fantastic people that come to our shows and that share their dreams with us. Their dreams could be just to see us live one time. Things like that are utterly hard to grasp. That is really what makes it worth it still today. And to make a few things more clear: Dreams change as do you. And today the dreams and visions still remain as does the hunger which I think is necessary to make albums that you yourself feel are the best you can produce.

You also grow as people both in age and mind, and that too provokes your brain to think differently and change your standpoints regarding where you want to go and what you want to do. To be frank, it’s quite nice too, otherwise I would have killed myself for not accomplishing what I set out to do and selling all the millions of albums I had hoped for. Today I am just happy to be able to live off of recording and producing albums.

MR: But what about the girl, man? The muse of your younger years?!?! Well…. Strike that one from the record. Some things are best left pure and untouched, held close to the heart. Kinda like those dreams that we have, that never really die out as much as take on a new shape. Without injecting myself too much into this interview, I too have taken myself to that other place where you have to come to terms with the reality that more times than not, the music that we make very rarely get us the yacht overflowing with scantily clad women and endless bottles of bub. And with that unblanketing of a deeper place, I have to ask what it must feel like to go through those kinds of ‘dream transitions’ with a solid core of musicians for such a long time, and then with the situation that you’re in presently, have to almost place that dream into the hands of new family… that’s a weird, sometimes unsettling move to make. Granted, I’m sure that the brand new three have a history with you, and you wouldn’t have trusted Evergrey in other hands, but can you let us into a bit of the drama that unfolded? I honestly have no idea what went down… I myself am curious about your train of thought from first realization that things just weren’t going to work anymore, up until that deep sigh in knowing that everything was going to work out after all. If anyone has read my review of your last offering, they’ll know that I have much love for it. Which is why it’s a bit surprising to me that there was a fallout after such an amazing album…

TE:
Well it´s basically just the things that we have discussed here that led up to the changes.

However terrifying the thoughts of it felt to deal with the first couple of days, they soon changed into something bigger and better. That is often the case with ‘collisions’, that´s why the title [Glorious Collision] is as it is… We go through life and end up colliding with different things, feelings and humans all along. That is what makes you evolve, what makes you curious and what makes you strive for something new or bigger and better. That is life, basically, and the collisions many times initially blind you because you are afraid of the change, the thing that will shake your world and ultimately change it into something new, something you are unfamiliar with. I would say that ninety percent of the time the first frightening collisions turn into something great, better, or even glorious.

What went down in Evergrey didn’t happen overnight, it grew during more than a year. At last it came to a point where we didn’t enjoy each others company anymore. It was strained, demanding, and forced hanging together. Quite the opposite of what it was when we started out. But, and I feel I have to point this out, we never started to fight over bullshit, we never said a hard word to each other, and we never left one another in anger nor hate or anything negative even close to that. That is why we decided to end our professional collaboration, because we valued our personal friendship more. It is as easy as that, and the drama never went there. So we still see each other, obviously and naturally not as often, but still do. The new band is made of people that do enjoy playing in Evergrey and that was of course the main important thing, aside from being able to play of course. We are a new band and are growing as that right now, and we evolve and get better every day and for every show. You know, it´s not like it was with the old guys where we had an extremely solid foundation on which we based ALL of our expressions, whether it was composition or the decision on videos or album covers. All of it was made in a common trust that could never be questioned of someone from the outside. All of our decisions were our decisions, and that trust and “knowhow” is only accomplished through years of time spent together. So this is something we are building again now which is quite interesting, because it was something that I of course have been taking for granted during the last ten years. It´s exciting times, to say the least, but I look forward to every second of it.

MR: You mention words like ‘trust’ and ‘solid foundation’ when referring to the previous line-up. That sounds like ‘family’ to me. And you mentioned that you took alot of that for granted… in what ways specifically?

TE: I mean, what is ‘family’?

Basically the people you spend most of your time with, and with that comes all of the things that does so in “normal” lives as well.  I just mean things like being shitty and not giving people props for great work or effort, showing appreciation of small things that takes one second to say, but maybe stays with the receiving person a lifetime… but also shit like NOT saying what´s bugging you, things that start as nothing, but after years grew into something larger that all of a sudden means something.

MR: I think that you must have what you’d consider to be the strongest, most unbreakable relationship that you’ve ever had in your entire life suffer a few blows before you can have what is actually the strongest, most truly unbreakable one. Sometimes we get to keep what we have and build it back up as a result. Other times we replace it and then know what to do and what not to do. It sounds like the latter might be the case here…

TE: Yeah, exactly. As I said before, we evolve and so does everything around you. We did, but not necessarily in different directions, merely travelled on different levels of the same path and had differing views on what was important, significant, and/or valuable. I am just so damn appreciative of the fact that I took the step to do something about it, before it was changing ten years of friendship into something none of us would have known or wanted.

MR: Since we’re laying hard into the subject of ‘family’, we’ve hit quite a bit on yours that writes together, tours together… How stable is Mr. Englund’s life outside the realm of studios and venues? I’m always curious about the people behind the people. In other words, is Evergrey the means to pay the rent / mortgage / bills? And is there a family behind the family… a Mrs. Englund, a little Tom Jr. running around in training, being groomed to take the throne? Who exactly are you when not the voice strapped to the guitar? When you’re not writing or practicing? When you’re completely out of an Evergrey state of mind? Or are you ever really completely removed from an Evergrey state of mind…

TE: Yeah, luckily enough my family life is stable, secure, and is what keeps me sane in this fucking bullshit business. It used to be your record company that ripped you off and now it’s your so called “fans”… but let´s not dwell in that. It is what it is and every artist today just hopes that people show up for the shows so that we can afford to keep creating. I have been lucky enough to have a life of Evergrey for the last eight years, which when I think of it, is something I am extremely grateful for. I mean, I am sure I have not earned more money than a person working nine to five… considering the time put into this, probably even way less… but on the other hand I’ve earned so much in other fields than money. You know… meeting new people, visiting different cultures, and getting a real appreciation for your work is what makes me grow. Even if I would die tomorrow I would still feel I have accomplished enough on this earth to keep my soul happy for a good while.

My family keeps me sane, reminds me that I am really nothing special at all, that they like music of course helps. It makes it easier for them to understand me when I enter the process of creativity which is a place of solitude and deep contemplation, at least for me… and I never remove myself, even for half a day, from the thoughts I have of improving Evergrey, writing better songs etc… never….

MR: I hear what you’re saying, and I agree 100% that true wealth in the music biz these days, for most of us, is the real, organic gratification of just being surrounded by your fans. I think in Metal especially, there’s something special in the relationship that is created between artist and fan that is like none other. Which is why I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t try to pull even more out of you regarding the ‘fandom’ side of things, even when you’ve made it quite clear that you’d rather not go there. So excuse my boundary-crossing when I ask you to expand on why it’s some of these ‘fans’ that are the thieves these days as opposed to the record companies… That’s a heartbreaking thing; that the true, pure payoff can sometimes be a deceiver.

TE: Well let me start by saying that I am very glad that I am in this genre of music, where we do have the greatest and the most dedicated fans. At the same time, as opposed to…. lets just say ten years back, people took the time to go to record stores, to stand there and really take time to digest and contemplate if that album would be the one to spend money on. Today people dismiss an album within thirty seconds listening to a mp3 of 128 kpbs, which is insane. Then people also complain about the sound quality, when they are in fact listening to something that is ten times less in quality than what it’s supposed to be. We spend from 50,000 Euros and up on every single production we make, and then someone will judge a leaked version that might just even be an unmastered version. It´s not fair. It´s not something any artist accepts, even though ninety percent don´t speak out since they are afraid that the fans will turn on them for wanting to get payed for maybe two years of work, that means 14-18 hour days and getting payed less than a 9-5 job for more than double the work. We need not become millionaires, but we would like to be able to live off of the work we put in, like everyone else. But with that being said I also need to say that it is what it is, and I think everyone sees that artists charge more for merch and concert tickets than they would really have to, but something has to pay.

Us and artists, record stores (the ones that are left), record labels, journalists and fans are all involved in the music business, because we love music and we all would like all of us to be able to continue enjoying it, right?

MR: Yes, I would very much like to continue flying the flag for what little purity is left in this musical machine. And these sorts of answers always summon up a fierce desire within me to compare and contrast the days of now to the days of then. Which is why you’ll have to excuse me for talking ourselves in circles, but to back up and delve into your youth a bit again… Before the lights, the action… The 50,000 Euro production bills, the illusions of grandeur and then the slap from reality… Where did it all begin? Were you mesmerized by the possibility of stardom as a child? I’m just trying to get to the root of your musical upbringing. We touched on the subject of how you came to be the vocalist during the very early stages of the band, but I really want to get to the source of the passion here… I can’t imagine that you were always listening and training in order to achieve ultimate Metaldom. I’m willing to bet that there’s some influences from way back that the world would be surprised to hear about… And it’s these sorts of things that I want here and now. Be it a vivid childhood memory, or even a faint one that we can bring to light.

TE: Well aside from watching Def Leppard and feeling the desire to be in their shoes, where I could pick and chose women left and right, I remember my dad playing a Dire Straits live album called Alchemy Live, which I believe was recorded in Canada somewhere. The joy and musicianship struck me immediately as amazing. There was something in it that back then I could not grasp or comprehend, but it was something that I really enjoyed. Today I know it´s called ‘groove’. To watch them play with that joy and dynamics and still not watch each other or even their hands was fantastic to me. It pulled me in, made me mesmerized. I watched that VHS tape until it one day broke. Then I had to wish for the double album, and for my birthday I got it on vinyl. I played that too intensely until it had scratches all along the album that I learned, so when I heard the songs elsewhere and my scratches were not in the songs, I was surprised each and every time.

I mean I have never been a guy that practiced, I have always been more interested in the actual melody and or song. It´s my last couple of years I have understood that I have some talent. It is now that I really actually stop and understand that I do have my own signature-models of guitars and it’s now that I watch kids on YouTube playing stuff and solos that I wrote and played. I am amazed every time, and extremely flattered that there is one single person out there that would even take the time to try to reproduce the notes I busted my balls to get right.  My father’s words kept ringing in my ears throughout the years, because when he got me listening to Pink Floyd and especially David Gilmour, he always kept saying: “Not everyone can be a Gilmour or a Knopfler, you do understand that right?”  But I didn’t understand; I didn’t want to understand, and today Im fucking glad I didn’t, because even though I do not compare myself in anyway with any of the Gods mentioned above, I am still something and someone that left some mark in the history of music.

MR: It’s a good thing, man… that you didn’t listen to your father. Or maybe what I actually mean to say is that it is good that you listened to him. Perhaps he said that to push you to your limits?

TE: Yeah, maybe you´re right…. I mean, I never thought of any of it in that way, but now that we’re dissecting everything, maybe that´s true.

MR: And if there’s one group within my lifetime so far that I’ve heard people reference time and time again when talking about incredible bands, it’s Dire Straits. To this day, I still don’t get it. Whenever that name comes up, I can only think of “Money For Nothing,” and honestly that song has always bored me….

TE: Well, it´s very easy for me to say that the reason for you thinking of that song, is because you have not listened enough to the other stuff. I would say that particular song is probably the one I think of the least.

MR: Guilty as charged. But what I do love is the simplicity in that riff that opens it up. It’s so opposite of what, I’m assuming, many people reading this are used to, in the way that they think about music and composition, but at the same time it’s such a key thing to understand the basis for what eventually morphed into ‘speed-picking’ or ‘sweeps’.

TE: Talking about that riff… that saying less is more, is more suiting than ever. If you would take another riff, but from a more familiar genre, I would mention “Walk” of Pantera. Talk about keeping shit down to a minimum and instead concentrating on the groove of it. Same thinking, different haircut.

MR: Ha! True. And I’m not saying that Knopfler is single-handedly responsible for metal guitar as we know it, but I believe that songs like that, players like that, laid the sonic groundwork for the future. I guess I should widen my horizons and just dig on in, but you’ve worn out every available format, so I can’t very well ask you to lend me anything!

TE: Hehehe… nah, I don’t even have it on my iPhone / iPod, so now I will immediately buy it!

MR: I see it as the simplest thing of just trading a bit of proficiency for a bit of passion. If there’s one trait that I’ve found dominant in the later Evergrey releases, it’s ‘groove’. So whether you realize it or not, Knopfler could very well have had a lasting effect on you. And as you’ve been talking about practicing more as of lately, I have to ask the inevitable question… in what direction does the forthcoming Glorious Collision step? And with your newfound practice regimen, do you find that the technical side to your playing is being brought to the forefront with ‘groove’ taking a backseat?

TE: It’s very hard for me to pinpoint and sort out what music is for others and most definitely what it is for me, especially judging music on a new album; it’s impossible. The ONLY thing I can say for sure is that it holds a lot of music within the thirteen songs we offer. I could also say that there is a hell of a lot of soloing and acoustic guitars, but then again something that you personally will love, judging on your Torn review, there are very many keyboards… , hahahahaha!  Maybe not in the expected way with huge string sections even though those are there too, but a lot of time is spent on the keys, as much as on every other instrument I would say, whereas the last two albums have been more time spent on guitars, solely. See, I told you it would not make any sense whatsoever.

MR: So, less focus on the guitars, more focus on the keys (uh oh!),  but you’ve actually been hitting the strings more in your spare time. Lay out your practice routine… I mean, have you leaned hard on yourself and gotten militant as far as a certain amount of hours per day of a particular running of certain scales, etc.? Or do you still kick back and play along to the vinyl and VHS of your youth, the ones that survived the abuse.

TE: Honestly, I never practiced at all. I just played whatever I felt was necessary for the song, and in some cases that would have me sitting and playing the riff over and over again, and if that is called practicing, sure then I did it a lot. BUT I never sat and played scales and different techniques of sweep-picking or alternate picking routines, and I know that I could have been a really good player if I would have done that, but for me the song has always been the main focus. Henrik always used to be pissed at me for not giving myself the chance to become great. I just felt I did that in a different field. Not saying that I am great at that either….

MR: Oh, the humility! But really I don’t see how anybody could go skyward any other way. And since you mentioned Henrik, your former guitarist, and his support in favor of you globally dominating through guitar, it makes me wonder how the camaraderie is amongst the new soldiers these days…

I know that you’ve been writing this while out on tour and I would think that by now you’d have a pretty good idea of how the new machine works behind the scenes; attitudes, etiquette, etc. This is probably a taboo area of our conversation, and I wouldn’t blame you for declining to answer, but is there a genuine feeling of brotherhood within Evergrey at the moment? Is there anything that you miss as of right now, about the way that the old crew felt as far as a ‘closeness’ is concerned? And I don’t even mean in terms of a ‘musical connection’…. Strictly in the day-to-day; the personal relationships.

TE: I don’t feel uncomfortable to answer this question at all. I mean it would have been totally different if we were twenty years old. But now we all are older and also quite intelligent people. The new guys are not here to prove their position and their worth, they are handpicked by me and Rikard cause they are awesome musicians, but first and foremost they are not here to become Henrik, Jonas and Jari, especially not on a personal level. Henrik and Jonas are two of my closest friends and I guess the same goes for Rikard. We have been through everything and anything you can imagine together. As I said before, the decision to break up the band was to maintain a friendship of more and greater importance than any band in the world. So, of course if the new guys would go into this situation with the intention of becoming something they have no immediate chance of being, that would sort of make the whole thing awkward. But they are not here to try to do that. They are here as professionals first and the other things as friendships go, which we are working on and it is coming very easy. I am sure that we all will look back on your question in a few years and feel that we have come a long way since then. We do enjoy each others company very much and our learning to know each other grows and deepens every day, and it’s exciting to watch it unfold and develop day by day. We also do not live close to one another. It’s a five hour distance, so we do not get the chance to hang as much as we would like to, but I am guessing this year’s touring will change that.

MR: Well, to update our readers, since the last time we’ve typed to each other, you’ve been so kind as to grant me exclusive access to the new album. The first thing that I’ve noticed is that, much like Torn, the accessibility factor is very much intact; the hooks, the emotional depth, the hills and valleys. The line-up changes that we’ve spoken a bit about (and who’s names we’ve kept in a dim light) sees you and long time keyboardist, Rikard Zander, now joined at the hip with a young unknown, Hannes Van Dahl, behind the drumkit, Marcus Jidell, guitarist for Royal Hunt as well as an ex-touring member of Pain, and Johan Niemann, bassist for (the almighty) Demonoid, as well as a touring member of Tiamat, and who at one time was a member of Therion. Whew…. I’m out of breath. These are heavy hitters, man. How did this newest collection of songs hold tight onto your trademarked sound? Granted, these are professionals who understand what it means to join into an established band, but how did Evergrey keep it’s game-face on when in the midst of all this outside talent?

TE: I mean first we just decided to try to write songs, me and Rikard alone. This was even before letting any one of the new guys in. When we felt we really had what it takes to write songs again, then and only then did we decide to keep Evergrey alive and start looking for new guys. What I find truly fantastic, which I guess also is your real question, is how the guys adapted so fast to not only the sound and playing of Evergrey, but also Marcus being able to write in a way that will be understood and accepted, full-heartedly, by any and all Evergrey fans. The transformation that was demanded is remarkable and goes for all of the guys, since it’s all about understanding and having respect for what it is they are stepping into, and they certainly have managed that with grace.

MR: So, in other words, you and Rikard actually tested yourselves to see if you still had it, the songwriting prowess. You make it sound as if you would have put Evergrey to bed, forever, if the test had actually failed…

TE: Yeah, of course. What sense would it have made to continue something that was not fun, that lost two friends and that on top would not hold music of any quality. Nah, man, then it would certainly have been buried for good. Evergrey has always been about quality thinking, for each and every album and no one could ever come up to me and say that there has not always been quality, on every record. You would not have to love it, but if you would compare it to most albums that get released 20,000 times a year and consider what kind of budget we have had compared to the BIG bands, then I am damn proud to have been involved in creating a brand of quality and I would not ruin it, my reputation and the last 15 years, to make 20,000 dollars… And if I would in the future, call me and tell me off, scream that I made a promise and that I just broke it : ). But I am so happy to have proved to myself, first and foremost, that we could do this with the people leaving and then also without even a label or the budget when we started writing. And now, the reviews are utterly pouring in and all of them are fantastic. I am not just saying that… check our Facebook and our website and you will see that its actually true and a major relief.

MR:
“Major relief…” Hmmm…..

What was running through your head when you were upon the dawn of the press sinking their foul teeth into Glorious Collision? This isn’t your average “crowning achievement of the band” type of high-altitude, masturbatory, self-prescribed forecast that you just gave. Not only are you staying grounded about Glorious (as well you should I guess, in the wake of a major overhaul), but you’re taking it one further and actually exhaling a huge text-styled sigh of relief….

TE:
Honestly?

We were just very happy to have delivered an album that we knew was as honest and true to ourselves as ever possible. Even if ALL would have hated it, we would have been happy to leave the official music business with this album.  Because make no mistake, we do understand how frustrating it must be for fans having band members leave ALL of the time… It must suck, but NOT more than for us. However our and MY primary goal has always been to keep the music the most important thing there is. Not friendship within the band or anything like that. That is why we are where we are, and I think and feel that all choices have been the right ones considering the albums we have released.

MR: And what of these record label snafus? Wasn’t Torn released on SPV / Steamhammer as well as your forthcoming? You mentioned having to overcome the obstacles of missing band members, nixed budgets, and being without a label…. What exactly happened that Evergrey was out there for a period of time with no home?

TE: Well SPV went into bankruptcy or insolvency, so that of course made a few negative things happen… but lets look forward and really hope that they will take responsibility from now on, and so far it certainly looks like it….

MR: As time goes by and I incessantly pry away at the politics and relationships surrounding the new album, believe it or not it has actually been in a constant rotation over here. And I’ve managed to rack up a few favorites. One thing is obvious, though…. Glorious Collision keeps a steady pace, a walking pace, throughout the majority of these eleven songs.

Now I know that there can sometimes be a negative stigma attached to the term ‘walking pace’ in the metal arena, but I mean it only in the best way possible. I don’t think that Evergrey was ever set on breaking speed barriers or breaking necks. I mean it more so as a flow overall; a feeling of familiarity throughout the duration of these sixty minutes. It has a sort of calming effect in the way that there’s a relationship between each track. Songs like “Frozen” and “It Comes From Within” sound the sirens for the aggressive side of Evergrey, and honestly are two of my absolute faves here and possibly within the entire discography, but once again you’ve managed to capture fragile moments as well… Namely, a song called “Free”, the most subdued composition here.

TE: Yeah, as you point out we are not about speed or intentionally being the best at a heavy pace or blackness. We are what we are and have always just done what we’ve felt.

When we started singing with “normal” vocals, it raised more than one eyebrow. Remember we do come from Gothenburg, capital of melodic death-metal, but then again we also do so much more, at the same time keeping a certain “album-feel” which I think is what makes an album. We are never hindered from creating songs with crushing parts like the blast-beats in “Frozen”, or the speed-picking in “It Comes From Within”…. which reminds me of something in-between Pantera‘s Cowboys From Hell album and Rising Force with Yngwie Malmsteen. Hell! There it is, there you have the two main ingredients in the soup of Evergrey, and if you add some Iron Maiden, some Metallica, I guess some Dream Theater, and of course some darkness from lets say Morbid Angel, and mix that with a BIG part of our own creativity and know how, that is Evergrey. And it’s different today than it was ten years ago, but also different from the Torn album which is two years old. It is what it is and so much more complicated. “Free”, for instance, was based on that first keyboard chord progression Rik wrote. I asked him for a sad key-part and he wrote it. Later that night I composed the rest, and I chose to say ‘compose’, because it is quite an orchestration, however subtle. It is also a great example of how diverse we are and how big and diverse the album is. I find it to be great, and I am getting more and more confident in saying so since I have the proof everyday that others feel the same. It is scary how unanimous the praise of the choirs are this time. Now it feels like we’ve converted the ones that swore not to be lured in, ever.

MR: Those ingredients for an Evergrey soup sound spot-on. And yet you’ve managed to make the meal taste all your own (as the conversion of the non-believers attests to), with the aforementioned secret herbs and spices really only apparent once you yourself have unveiled them. Not an easy dish to pull off….

TE: Well for me it’s like riding the bicycle. I don´t think rocket-science is that hard when you know how to do it either. But I will never take anything away from the fact that I do enjoy how to still be surprised by the mysteries of music. It is truly amazing how it can still surprise you, and by ‘it’ I mean music itself. When composing, I can feel joy bigger than I felt when opening presents at Christmas when I was a kid. I can feel frustration bigger than not being able to pay your bills when it comes to not finding the right sound or chord in a song, because it all really means that much to me. That´s why I literally want to kill idiots that say I didn’t put my all into this, that I wrote something half-assed or half-hearted. Fuck you, man! You might be able to serve burgers or even write an uninspired interview if that´s what you have for a job, but I doubt that you would be offered jobs for a very long time. Just as I would not be able to write and constantly be offered new contracts or deals if I wrote something that was bad. I have to believe that since we are not Metallica and therefore not selling 200,000,000 albums, I guess the genuine interest for my music has to serve as proof that it is actually worth something, at least for enough people to keep giving us the opportunity. I don’t know why the hell I ended up here now, and why I guess I am pissed at some idiot somewhere that took me for a fool today.

It’s not you, so don’t worry. 🙂

MR: Whew..…I would like to think that I have absolutely no history of burger-flipping journalism.  Thanks for not singling me out!

Back to the recipe….  This ‘darkness’ additive that you speak of. This smidge or so of Morbid Angel….  These kinds of elements, black sheep elements, have got me wondering how you’ve managed to avoid one poignant characteristic of being from the Gothenburg scene: You are not in ten bands. Have you not felt the urge to build massive on these other ‘feelings’? Just for the record, and you’ve heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen…. I am making myself and my drums available for an Englund-fronted Floridian DM side project.

TE: Yeah, man. I am all for the projects… I had one offered to me once from Ralph Santolla that would be me, him, Steve DiGeorgio, and Gene Hoglan.. hmmm I wonder what happened with that… So give me a serious honest suggestion and I would surely consider it, for real… It’s just as the song “Frozen” on Glorious Collision… I wanted to write something that had blast-beats, but with a bit of finesse. Call it girlie, but for me that is the exact thing that makes us who we are.

MR: And I say ditch Hoglan. I’m where it’s at.

Okay. well, before Gene hunts me down and places a sweaty, size 16 combat boot firmly on my neck, let’s take a closer look at what we’ve covered in even the nearest of moments: Christmas presents, fast food, dud journalist idiots that you want to kill, and the feminine side to Evergrey. All in all I’d say that we feel a bit closer, related even, to Tom Englund. So my job here is done.

Tom, thank you so much for your time and for your willingness to let me get a closer look at the man and the machine. I can honestly say that the experience of listening to any Evergrey has been brought a little closer to home over the course of the last few months. Priceless.

TE: Well I´d just like to say that I never thought I would last through this experiment of 1,000 questions : )

But it started by me inviting Sasha into this idea. I lured him in and I did it all based on his ability to write in intriguing and enticing ways. I hope he makes you feel the same reading when he is writing about Evergrey and me. For daily interaction, and I do mean daily with videoblogs, polls and lots of shit going on all the time, visit www.facebook.com/evergrey

MR: Over and out.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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