In 2014 Swedish prog metal heads Evergrey released Hymns For The Broken and now two years later their tenth studio album called The Storm Within will be released on 9 September. Evergrey is celebrating their 20 th anniversary with the strongest album of their career as The Storm Within is probably their most progressive record so far. Before the album is actually “in the street” I had a chance to talk to Tom and Jonas and to listen to their new album.
So, 20 years of Evergrey, what would you consider to be the highlights of these two decades?
Tom: “Oh God, I was afraid that you were going ask questions like that, ha ha…Well, I think we had a great career so far, we made 10 albums and that is already a great achievement… so, yeah, I do not know, actually. We have been visiting a lot of places, we have seen lots of countries, like Africa, Japan, you know , so that was really great.”
Jonas: “We have been to Latin-America, which was really quite amazing. For me, personally, it was great to become a member of Evergrey as I was a fan of the band when I was 19 years old. I was always listening to Evergrey and I always followed the band and when I actually became a member of my “dream band” it was awesome. Tom and I have known each other now for more than 16 years and we still get along, so…. Ha ha…”
Of course, there also must have been setbacks, disappointments in those 20 years?
Tom: “Lots of, ha ha…Of course the “break up” of Evergrey a couple of years ago was really tough, but in hindsight that had to happen. It was the best decision I have ever made, that is also the reason why we are still here now, that is the reason why Evergrey still exists. Other disappointments of course are cancelled gigs, managers that ripped you off, but we actually got rid of all those idiots and the contract we have now supports us, we are in a good position right now. It took a rather long time to be able to do what we wanted to do, but we finally got there.”
Jonas: “I actually do not want to think about low points, but there is one thing I still remember as if it was yesterday and that was the gig with Ozzy. Ten years ago we were offered to play an entire tour with Ozzy Osbourne and we were so excited. We thought, this is it and we called the newspapers and we even had an interview about the tour with a well-known rock magazine but 24 hours later it was all over. Ozzy had hurt his back and the entire tour was cancelled; man that was hard!!”
The Storm Within is your tenth album, what do you consider to be the best Evergrey album ever?
Tom: “Another very difficult question….The best album, well I cannot name one actually, I would put the new album in the top 3, maybe in the top 2 as The Storm Within is a more complicated album, it has more depth and I think that Hymns For The Broken is also one of our best albums. In fact, if we had not made Hymns then this new album would not have been made either, so there you go.”
Jonas: “We follow our hearts and I think that The Storm Within is a very strong album and it is definitely 100% Evergrey!”
Your most embarrassing moment in those 20 years?
Tom: “Oh, man, here we go, how long do you have, ha ha, nice questions so far by the way! We had so many but maybe the most horrible one was in Greece when Michael, who has a fear for microphones, had to say something to the audience. He was in total panic and he said, no never, I cannot say something to that crowd, but he really HAD to and he was supposed to say: “You kick ass, Greece”, but instead of that he said: “You KISS ass, Greece, and that was really embarrassing!!”
Jonas: “My most embarrassing moment was when I opened for Evergrey and we sang Swedish midsummer songs, dressed up really weird and the fact that this was broadcast live on the radio; that was really weird, was it not Tom?”
Tom: “Do not get me started!
What is the best thing about being a musician?
Tom: “ It still is a privilege to travel around the world and make music and play music and that people actually listen to our music and they also like it; that is the greatest reward of being a musician. And that we earn money with making music.”
And the worst thing about being a musician?
Tom: “The same, ha ha, people judging our music, touring, which can be a drag sometimes, producers, you know the drill, mate!”
The new album is called The Storm Within, could you tell something about the title?
Tom:”The title is actually taken from the last song of the album where you can hear me sing: “…the storm within… It symbolizes the fact that we do not know shit about each other; there are things on the outside, but also things on the inside and we try to explore that. I had a vision about an album with a love story theme, a sort of concept album that took place in space. The Storm Within is about a search for identity, trying to make yourself full when you feel half empty and I placed the story in an interstellar world. That makes it rather lonely and obviously also symbolic. It is a really progressive album and the playing was really tough, very technical, but you will not hear that. We changed keys within a song a lot and we really liked that. We are really proud of The Storm Within, but I am not very objective about that, but, I feel that Evergrey is still a very fresh band, we are still on fire and our music is still progressing.”
Jason: “The new album is more colder and the production is actually quite heavier than on Hymns For The Broken, maybe you could say that The Storm Within is a kind of lonely album…”
You picked the opening song Distance as the first single of the album, why that particular song?
Tom: “We all decided that it would be the best single of the album, we were in the car in Belgium and we were brainstorming about the album, titles of songs and what would become the first single and then we decided together that Distance would be a great lead single, so there you go.”
On the song In Orbit we can hear “our” Floor Jansen, how did you get into contact with her?
“Floor is a personal friend and also a super Evergrey fan, so my wife (Carina) said why don’t you ask Floor to do a song with you on the new album, so we asked her and she immediately said yes to the proposal. Floor can of course also be seen in the video of the song In Orbit.”
So, is In Orbit a duet between you and Floor?
Tom: “You have not heard the song yet?”
No, I still have not heard the album……
Tom: “O, that makes it more interesting, ha ha….. It is a very dynamic duet indeed. So, we had a new woman in Evergrey and that was really weird, ha ha, it felt like I was cheating on my wife, you know…” But, I had a goal with Evergrey, I wanted to make 10 albums and that would fulfill my life plan. It is quite an amazing thing to be in a band for 20 years and I can say that we never released an album that we did not feel was the best we could do at that time and that goes for everything Evergrey ever did, that is why we do not do anything half-assed, my friend!!”
Interview by: Martien Koolen