Breaking Bands Festival in its second year and sold out once again had a chat earlier in the year with Henrik Flyman, guitarist and founder member of Evil Masquerade from Denmark as the band embark on their first ever UK performance at the festival:
Do you have an all time favourite EM track?
Right now most of my favorite tracks are on the upcoming 7th album. But I dig the old stuff as well. With a gun to my head I would probably say ‘Black Ravens Cry’. The primarily reason being that I like the song, but also because it has made a lot of people find the band.
What albums or bands have had the greatest impact on you?
From the top of my head. All the bands Ronnie Dio was in, Iron Maiden when Martin Birch was producing, Deep Purple until Ritchie left, 80’s Malmsteen, Metallica until the black album, ACDC, ABBA, Chess, Les Misérables, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Electric Light Orchestra, Jethro Tull, The Beatles, JS Bach, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Edvard Grieg’s ‘Peer Gynt’, This Lizzy and Blackmore’s Night. I think I’ll stop here or this will become a boring interview.
You formed Moahni Moahna in the early 1990’s when the internet would not have been a consideration for the bands promo. Do you feel the rising popularity of the internet has helped or hindered bands starting out?
I love the internet and wouldn’t want to live without it. In the beginning I think it was a problem for some artists. It definitely gave the record companies a hard time. And it absolutely killed the record stores. A lot of people were blinded by the “free” music and many spent all days downloading as much as humanly possible. They ended up with more music in their libraries than they had time to listen to and it started losing its value. Anyone with half a brain and a solid music interest of course took another approach and embraced the internet as a great place to check out new bands to invest in. There’s no secret that these were complicated times. The broad masses were still stuck in old ways of thinking and it wasn’t an easy system to change over night. I guess we probably started Evil Masquerade at the worst possible time in modern music history, but since we are still here 10 years later and about to release our 7th album I guess we are doing something right. Not many bands that started when we did are still around and active. We have our fans and supporters to thank for that. It seems like we have a common understanding that the mainstream way isn’t the only one.
Your whole discography is available on YouTube. Do you worry that people will rip the music and have no reason to buy your albums?
No, not at all. Most people that discover Evil Masquerade seem to want to support us. Our fans have carried us since the very beginning.
You’ve had a few line up changes, particularly 3 different vocalist in the band. What have been the biggest challenges to overcome with these changes?
I always wanted stability, but occasionally that’s not possible because of reasons you can’t control. When we’ve been faced with a lineup modification I always saw it as a possibility to improve and add to our sound. Musically it hasn’t been a major thing since the music and melodies still come from the same source.
Tell us how Tobias Jansson came to be the 3rd EM vocalist. Did you know him beforehand?
I saw him at a small club in Copenhagen several years before he sang on ‘The Digital Crucifix’. He did a good job even though the room was almost empty. We kept in touch after that, so when we needed to replace Apollo it felt like a good time to try him out.
What inspired you to introduce a violin for your previous album, “The Digital Crucifix”?
‘Like Voodoo’ and ‘Buying Salvation’ were originally written with a solo violin in the arrangement. It was never a conscious decision, it just happened. We could of course have played the violin on the keyboard, but I prefer the real deal in the studio. And since we were now bringing additional musicians to the studio, I thought it would be cool to pimp the song ‘Anywhere the Wind Blows’ with violin and cello as well. Those arrangements were written the night before the recording and the sheet music was still warm when they arrived to the studio. It turned out really good I think.
Can we expect more violin on your next album?
Right now I could go both ways. The current arrangements work great without violins, but I know myself good enough that anything can happen along the way when I start dissecting the arrangements to see what can be improved.
Is it true you have used the same guitar for the recording of all EM albums, since 2003?
Yes. In fact, I have used the same Aria PE-1500 on my complete discography. So that would be since 1992.
You have all songs written and recorded for your seventh studio album. Is their a planned release date you are aiming for?
We aim to have it out before we do our first gig 2016.
Do you have any hints about the theme of your next album? Or title?
It’s going to be powerful, dark and heavy sounding. Lots of energy. Lyrically it reflects the world and ourselves in situations quite far from sunshine. The title is intended as a tribute to people who are brave enough to choose the road less traveled.
Typically, how many songs do you write to get an albums worth?
It differs, but for most releases it’s been about twice the amount of what we ended up using. If we should also count incomplete songs, then it’s a whole lot more. But the upcoming album has been different. It was very easy to come up with the good stuff compared to before. I have no idea why. Several songs hit the bull’s-eye on first try.
How do you decide which tracks make it onto an album?
It’s a bit hard to explain without coming off as complete hippie. I collect all potential songs for a new album at one place and come back to check them out every now and then. All songs go through this maturing process phase to make sure that they will stand the merciless test of time. The winners then need to be combined into a great playlist that is both varied and dynamic throughout the whole album. Sometimes a cool tune doesn’t qualify because it didn’t fit the other songs.
Have you always composed the music you have recorded?
More or less yes. The exceptions would be Wuthering Heights and Lacrimosa.
Do you find it difficult to get the media to review your work? Is that important to you?
I never found it hard to get reviews. But I have started question the importance of it. I find it kind of confusing to know which publication and reviewer to trust because of unspoken genre- and label loyalties. The best thing is when people check out the music with their own ears. If they like it, they will tell a friend. Our fans and supporters are the best promotion we will ever get.
I’ve heard that you compare crowd-funding album projects to begging. Do you think it reflects badly on artists who decide to take this route?
Yes I see it as begging. But I have nothing against people doing it. People are begging for money all over the city. Homeless people, down the subway, outside the stores, street musicians and now also recording artists. These are rough times for sure. But I wouldn’t wander into that bush if I was at the end of the road. I would accept obscurity and continue composing behind closed doors just for my own satisfaction.
You’re coming to the UK for Breaking Bands festival in May 2016. How long are you planning on staying? Is there any chance of other UK shows whilst you’re here?
We will be going there exclusively for the Breaking Bands Festival. If we could get a few additional shows after the festival we would definitely be open for it.
Is there any reason you haven’t yet played the UK?
No one has asked us and we have had plenty of other stuff to focus on. It feels good that it is finally happening. It’s not one minute too early.
Have you ever visited the UK even if not performing? If not, is there anything in particular about visiting the Country that you are looking forward to?
I’ve been there once before, but that was a long time ago. Somewhere around 1991-92 I think. I really dig the English pubs. And especially those without a TV. I remember having my first pint of proper Guinness when I was there. I was living in Sweden back then and in those days you could only get it on cans and bottles. Quite pale alternatives to a Guinness from the tap. I remember angels singing when I was first introduced to the real deal.
Are there any songs you don’t perform live? Are there any covers you might be playing?
We have never decided not to play certain songs. It’s all about putting together a setlist with a good flow. Variation is a keyword both live and on the albums. We haven’t discussed whether we should include any cover songs or not. But if we do, it will most likely be something we haven’t played before.
What’s the heavy metal music scene like in Scandinavia today?
It varies between the countries. Denmark is quite dead to be honest. The fans are there, but not many bookers with a pair of balls. Sweden is better, as always when it comes to music. I guess there’s a good reason to why so many cool bands are Swedish. I don’t know much about the Norwegian scene. I assume there is one, but I have never played there. A little bit strange actually.
Thank you very much for taking time out to chat with us at TBFM. We’re all really excited to meet you and see you perform in the UK in May.
I feel the same way and really look forward to meet you all.
Evil Masquerade’s new album ‘The Outcast Hall Of Fame‘ is due out 19th May 2016 and available now to pre-order. TBFM had an early copy of the album and a review can be found in the June issue of the TBFM Magazine at the festival.
To order the album CLICK HERE