EPICA Battles The Titan - "We Loved The Challenge Doing Something Out Of Our Comfort Zone"
July 24, 2018, a month ago
“We loved the challenge doing something out of our comfort zone and we’re really happy with the end result.” So says the flame haired singer of Epica, Simone Simons, of the band’s new EP Epica vs. Attack On Titan (released July 20th via Nuclear Blast). Attack On Titan is only one of the most popular manga comics and anime television shows in the world, selling over 70 million copies worldwide.
The four songs that make-up the EP are featured on the television series and were composed by the Japanese band Linked Horizon. These tracks were influenced by Epica’s sound, so when the band was approached with the opportunity to cover the tracks, they were excited to do it.
“We didn’t know anything about it,” Simons explains, “they contacted our management and our management was like ‘look, this is a great opportunity, we should do this’ and we were excited from the start.
Epica then adapted the songs into their style and were able to rework the lyrics. “The original songs are in Japanese so when we were sent these songs; we felt like ‘oh no, we’re gonna have to sing and grunt in Japanese! I don’t think that’s going to sounds good or that I can do the pronunciations correctly and that I would butcher it’,” laughs the singer, “but then they said they would translate it for us in English and then we could rewrite the lyrics. We took bits of the translations, but the translations were direct and some didn’t make any sense; you just had to get the story of the song and kind of rewrite it completely. It went smooth and didn’t feel that different from a normal Epica song that we’ve written lyrics for.”
In order to obtain the feeling of the songs and the show, Simons said she watched a “few episodes on YouTube” to find the right headspace for how to sing and write.
The four tracks found within the EP are very adventurous, upbeat, and power metal sounding, except for the ballad “If Inside These Walls Was A House”, and the songs are at such a high tempo, the band actually slowed a few of them down. Simons laughs as she explains, “It’s faster than what we do and we actually had to slow down some of the songs. I had to sing the fastest I’ve ever had and had to plan my breathing carefully or else I would run out of breath!”
(Photo by: Tim Tronckoe)
The first song that attracted Simone was “If Inside These Walls Was A House”. I fell in love with the ballad from the beginning and actually felt really connected to it and the melodies really got to me,” offers Simons. “I liked all the songs and also the vocals for all the songs because I kind of display my complete vocal capacity and learned some new things and the producer was like ‘Can you do this again?’ ‘Yeah, why not?’ and he’s like ‘Well you know you’re belting really high’ and I’m like ‘Uh, well it doesn’t really feel strenuous to my voice’ and he’s like ‘That’s amazing’ and we had a really great time in the studio.”
With this crossover of doing songs from a popular entity, has there been any discussion about the band doing songs from other properties, like from a movie or video games? Simone would personally love to provide vocals for an epic film score, so like Epica for an epic movie.
(Photo by: Tim Tronckoe)
Simons loves movie and says, “I would really love to do vocals for a soundtrack for like an epic movie like Gladiator; if I could do something like that one day; that’s on my wish list. I’m a big movie fan, but I’m also a big soundtrack fan or score fan and I also think the both of them are the best combination. You have the visual and the audio and the both of them enhance each other. I love the therapeutic feeling music can have and the range of emotions they provide. It would be great to be a part of that one day.”
As for her favorite scores, the singer reveals, “I’m also a huge Tim Burton and Danny Elfman fan so of course the classic The Night Before Christmas, Corpse Bride. I love that a lot. Gladiator, Hannibal, Perfume – The Story Of A Murderer with the classical vocals.”
As for the final result of the EP, Simone is happy how it turned out and even happier the Attack On Titans fans like it and said that was “quite a relief.”
That’s not all that’s going on in the Epica world as the band is working on The Essence Of Epica, their autobiographical book celebrating 15 years of the band. That’s next on the checklist and then eventually some new music. Simone elaborates, “We have some festivals left, after that we’re starting The Essence Of Epica, our autobiographical book. I think Lacuna Coil has done a book or are finishing it, Opeth has done it and we’re gonna do it too. We’re gonna take some time off touring to do the book and take the time to start feeling inspired again and write some new songs, but there is not going to be a deadline or anything for a new album. We can’t say when it’ll be released; it’ll be released when it’s ready and we won’t put any pressure on ourselves.”
Simons and bandmate Mark Jansen were also recently a part of the huge Ayreon show, Arjen Lucassen’s project, at the Graspop Metal Meeting on June 22nd where 15,000 people saw them play. It was an amazing experience for Simons and one she wants to do more of.
(Photo by: Cristel Brouwer)
“I was so tired and nervous that I couldn’t enjoy it,” laments Simons. “After it was over I wanted to do it again! Mark and I also had a show the day before and we flew in really early that morning and the show was really late so we were just bone tired and it was difficult for me to enjoy it. When I saw footage after the fact, I was like ‘yeah, we did such a great job!’ It was so much fun and want to do it again. I’m definitely going to work more with Arjen in the future and he’s one of my favorite artists and he’s a great guy.”
Lucassen barely does any live shows so this was a special opportunity for Ayreon to hit the stage. “He has stage fright I think; he gets really nervous,” explains Simons, “but he did a great job. He’s a studio guy and loves the studio and it was getting out of his comfort zone being on stage, but it was a great time and he was giving everyone compliments so we all felt confident and appreciated. It was the biggest group I’ve ever worked with. Like 56 people between the crew and musicians; Epica has a big travel party and big crew, but that was next level.