Mark Jansen [Epica]

Many of you certainly know Mark Jansen from the dutch symphonic metal band Epica, of which he is the founder and lead guitarist/growl vocalist. Epica released in March the album Requiem for the Indifferent following a really intense tour. Mark also started a new band MaYaN in 2010 where he actually sings instead of playing the guitar. I asked a couple of questions to Mark!

You are touring really much this year, and this fall you will tour even in Canada and US, how do you keep it up with so few days of rest?
We are in the lucky position that we realised our dream, our hobby became our work. When you love your work there’s no problem to keep up as this work gives us energy. We travel around the world, meet many interesting people and play our music. After a long tour it’s always nice to return home but after a while at home it’s fantastic to be able to start a new tour again!
By the way when we are not on tour we don’t see each other that much.

About your new band MaYaN, do you have to put it on hold while touring with Epica?
MaYaN will use the gaps that Epica leaves open. It’s not ideal for MaYaN but since the start this was clear. Epica has the priority because we need to make a living from this band while MaYaN is a great opportunity to create some different kind of music without any pressure involved. With Epica for sure the pressure is much higher as many fans have high expectations. MaYaN is born for the experiment and fans don’t know upfront what to expect.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t take MaYaN serious, we do take it as serious as we do take Epica but the difference is that we have less time available for MaYaN.

How did it start, the idea of a new band? And how would you describe the sound of MaYaN?
The idea started when Jack Driessen (ex keyboard player of After Forever) and I sat together and we felt like making some music together again. In the beginning also Sander Gommans (also ex After Forever) was involved but he stepped back because of his burn out. Frank Schiphorst replaced him and the three of us wrote all songs. To make it sound different from Epica, Frank took care of most of the guitar parts and Jack of the keyboard parts. I wrote here and there some extra melodies and rhythms but my main task was to make songs out of their melodies and arrange the music.
The sound is hard to describe but I would say it’s a mix of death metal with progressive elements, Henning’s voice gives it a bit of a heavy metal 80’s touch.

Epica released in March the album Requiem for the indifferent, I felt a more aggressive, deep, melodic  sound, if I may describe it. What is for you that characterizes the album?
I agree and I think the album contains more progressive elements. I’ve heard from many fans it was an album that needed several spins before they truly started appreciating it. So we didn’t make it easy this time haha!

Which tracks are you more pleased and proud of? and why?
I love the track “Serenade of Self-Destruction” as it contains all elements that Epica stands for.

How do you menage to bring Epica’s orchestral greatness of your songs live?
The best is to have the whole orchestra and choir with us, something we did already two times in the past and we will do again for a DVD recording next year again. But as this is quite expensive and travel wise not so handy we have for normal show an alternative with some orchestral backing tracks.

What is the thought behind the new album image and who has designed it?
The design comes from “Stefan Heilemann” he designs our last three albums. We always give us all our lyrics and a little explanation behind the concept and he creates the images. I never ask what he means by every detail as I like to keep things open for own interpretation.
The title “Requiem for the Indifferent” deals about humanity, we have become a plague to our planet, plants and animals ourselves. If we don’t change our ways we are doomed to extinguish and we know it. Those we deny this are the indifferent who only think about the short-term and try to fill their pockets with cash. Money which is valueless in the end, because what’s left to buy when we have destroyed our planet?

/Viktoria Colonna

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