The Broken Heroes - Tom S. Englund speaks Out!!
Sweden's premier Progressive Metal band 'Evergrey' are no strangers to the world of delivering quality metal music. Making fine symphonic metal that captures the hearts of so many metal heads out there, and I for one love the bands music from day 1. The band have come along way since the debut album 'The Dark Discovery' back in 98, the band have been thought various label and line-up changes but now the band return with Henrik and Jonas rejoined and teamed up with Johan, Rikard, & Tom. The new album was ready to record and this new album 'Hymns for the Broken' is due to be released through AFM shortly. This new album is fantastic and captures some of their finest work to date. I spoke to Tom S Englund about the return of the classic line up and the new album. Here is what he had to say.
Well Tom it's a pleasure interviewing you again, it's been some time since we last did an interview. So I'd like to ask you what's you're favourite past albums you have done and why?
"Well it's speak to you again Jason, asking me about my favourite past album is like asking which child do you like. That is a tough question? I like them all! I do like the album 'Solitude ..Dominance .. Tragedy' and the reason I like that album is because we started to find our own sound and it was also the way we were going to sound from then on with the violins etc... and I think it suited the music and the bands name. (Ed: You listen to the 1st album and the later ones and you can see how much the band have progressed). Yeah I agree and when you make you're 1st album you are just so happy to get it out!! With the 2nd album you can be a little bit more choosey and make it a better album and better on you're instruments."
Moving on.. do you see any of the old band members and are you still friends?
"No I don't see any of them especially in the early days and I don't even run into them, but we are not enemies at all, we just live in different parts of the world now."
How times has the band visited the UK to play festivals? I know Bloodstock was one of them, was Progpower one too and Download?
"Yes we have played those festivals, and every time we play in the UK it is fucking awesome!! I have said we need a UK booking agent to book us over there, and play some decent shows."
So far in the band career, how many labels has the band been with?
"Well we started with GNW for the 1st 2 albums from Sweden, then we went to Inside Out from Germany for 4 albums, 2 albums with SPV and now AFM. We also have different labels for promoting us in different countries."
You have released so far 1 live DVD, do you think the timing is right to release yet another one after the release of the new album? Is this something you and the label have talked about?
"Well looking at the reception of the new album, especially the new song I would say there is a good possibility for us to record a new DVD. With Jonas & Henrik coming back into the band has given the band a higher profile, the fans have welcomed them back with open arms."
Talking of line up changes, what happened to Marcus and Hannes? Where they hired guys or were you going to use them for the new recording of the new album?
"Well we never thought we were going to write yet another 2 more albums and we tried to do the best with the album we were writing at that time. Hannes was offered a job playing drums for Sabaton, and I told him he should go for it. We also had some shows booked and we needed people to replace them, and Marcus also went away so it was natural for us to get Jonas and Henrik back in the band, and with luck they could do it. We then realized that we had so much fun playing together that we would work and write a new Evergrey album together. We also missed each other quiet a lot as musicians and friends. (Ed: When they 1st left the band did they leave on good or bad terms?) We left on good terms in order to prevent bad terms happening. We are best friends and we have been playing together for 10yrs or so and we had to make that break in order for us to remain friends and to be happy. I think it was the most mature thing we have done in order to save our friendship."
Did you ever think at any point 'fuck this I've had enough now?'
"Yes I did actually, I thought about it when Hanas would play with Sabaton, so it was Johan and Rikard and myself left and we thought time had ran it's course. I am happy now and we are in a happy place right now."
When it was time to look for a new label, who else did you approach besides AFM?
"It was AFM that came to us, we didn't need to do any demos anymore as we have 8 albums out. SPV thought they would get it again but we decided to go with AFM instead. They did everything that a record label could do for us, we have our demands and what we need in order to make a great album."
So how long is the deal with AFM Tom?
"It will be for 2 album with no options, that is it!"
Moving on... so why the title of the album 'Hymns for the Broken'? Did you have any other titles for this new album?
"Well I called the album the title because I always thought that Evergrey have always served their purpose creating some kind of feeling that we have been through too. At lot of people would look at us as the broken ones so it is not any more intelligent than that."
What about the artwork, who did that? Have you used him before?
"The artwork was very quickly designed and I have a friend who painted it very quickly and we wanted to have this old Russian style solider on the cover and we are not political at all. The label were however nervous about releasing the cover at 1st but now everything is going well. I really couldn't care less about that people think. I think the artwork was done in a week. We also did t shirts like that too."
How long did it take to record the album, I see you used my old friend Jacob Hansen (Ex Invocator) who has worked with the likes of Pretty Maids etc...
"Well to record the album it took about h4 months to record with other things going on. We produced it and Jacob mixed the album. It was recorded in 4 different studios , one was at my studio, the other was at Johan and Henrik studios, so we had been back and forth. (Ed: you had worked with Andy from King Diamond in the past, did you ever think of working with him again?) No not at all, there comes a time when you have to move on and Andy had moved to another city anyway and we are happy with what Andy did for us in the past."
Did you ever have anybody else in mind for the mixing process?
"No I didn't have anybody else in mind. I ran into Jacob and we sat down and talked and he said he would be honored to do the next album. That for me was a good start, so we went along with it and it turned out great! He is without doubt the best engineer I have worked with and he had a 200% vision that we had too, he was a fantastic help to us and made our music shine through."
So who in the band writes the songs? Is it you Tom or the whole band?
"Well I write the lyrics, but on the new album we have discussions back and forth but as seen as I sing them I need a phase and to have the melodies. Jonas is the one who tributed mostly to the foundation of the songs but we wrote all the songs together. This is the 1st time in Evergrey's history that this is a full on team effort. It was super easy to do and I think that it was easier to do that because everybody had left their ego's at home."
The new album also features bonus acoustic songs, please tell me about them and why acoustic versions of the songs?
"Well they were recorded live in the studio with me , Rikard and my wife and we played them live in the studio."
Tell me now about the new video, it was recorded in the docks on top of a crane , how scary was that for you to record the video up there?
"It was recorded in the harbor in Gothenburg which is our home town. It was something that we wanted to do since the 'Torn' album but we never got the permits to do it until now. Johan and Henrik quit the band and thing got lost a little bit . So we did not have a song that would fit from the Torn album to record on a crane. This time we got the permission to record the video up there and it blow us away when we got the all clear to record the video up there. It was scary been up there, it was like 90 meters up in the air and we had to take the lift with all our equipment and it was windy and hot up there. We had a guy up there with us to make sure we were safe in the recording of the video. There are some graphic in the video too which are also part of the 2nd video so it will be a concept video."
Are there any songs from the new album Tom that stand out for you and why?
"I don't have any songs from the new album that stand out for me, there all great tunes."
Where there any guest musicians on this new album ? If so who were they?
"No only my wife and my daughter, nobody else."
As a musician and singer, do you find it hard to do both at the same time or has it become natural now?
"It all comes natural to me now, what is hard to do is sing without my guitar and that is extremely hard for me and I can do it for a couple of songs but not a full album or tour. I broke my arm once with a argument with my management once and I had to do 4-5 gigs without my guitar and it was terrible."
So when do we expect to see the band touring this year?
"Well we are not rushing anything right now, we have to get the album released 1st. So far the single has been amazing and it is still getting positive feedback so we are not talking to booking agents at the moment until the sales start. So far pre-sales have been amazing!!"
Do you think you will ever play Bloodstock again? I mean you played the early ones right?
"Yeah we did, a long time ago and I would like to think they may ask us back again soon. We have standards now so it has to be right for both parties."
Well Tom thanx again for doing the interview. Always a pleasure speaking and meet you. Do you have anything tosay before we finish the interview?
"Yes, I hope our fans like the video, we have 2 more to come. Check out the album when it is released. Nice speaking to you again Jason. Take care."
Thanx to Mike Exley for setting up the interview. Cheers Tom.