Epica: Show Review and Interview With Guitarist Isaac Delahaye

Epica released their new album The Holographic Principle on September 30, 2016 on the label Nuclear Blast Records.  This 12 track album has had fantastic success on the charts around the world and the fans are loving the new music.  Shortly after the album release, Epica hit the road on tour to support the new release with a full North American tour.  I had a chance to sit down and talk with guitarist, Isaac Delahaye about the album, tour and what’s coming next as they passed through Seattle on their tour with support from The Agonist, Arkona and Fleshgod Apocalypse.

This was an amazing live show with 4 extremely talented bands.  Seattle received a full musical treat as each artist hit the stage to perform.  Epica was at the top of their game at the show and Simone Simons vocals mesmerized the audience.  Any chance you have to see any of these bands live, you need to take the opportunity to do so, they will not disappoint you at all!  Between their music, vocals and stage presence, each of these bands all delivered amazing performances.

 

So now, enjoy the conversation with Isaac Delahaye.  Show photos are at the end of the interview.

YesterdazeNews: Epica released “The Holographic Principle” on September 30th?  How’s the album doing for you guys?

Isaac Delahaye:  Actually, really good. We got a lot of…I mean, like we as a band, we’re already really excited about it because we really worked our asses off for it and we try to take it to the next step. And we were very pleased already. But it’s always like a big gamble, of course. You’re kinda releasing it upon the world. But eventually, you know, also the fans seem to really dig the new stuff. And I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but mostly, whenever I ask if they like it, they’re like, “Oh, it’s so good.”

Oh yes, I have.  I am a huge fan of symphonic metal.  So the response you’re getting, is it better than what you expected or kind of what you thought?

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like in the past, it was mostly like, you know, they would be like, “Oh, I like this album. Oh, the other one is good.” Or like more diversity, I would say, you know. And this time around, it’s like, “Oh, this new album, it’s like really spot on.” So it seems to be like different from other times where…and I kinda get it. Like, we really went way into detail much more than in the past and worked a lot more on like…we started with 27 songs and cut them down like eventually to only 12 on the album.  So we had a lot of inspiration, and a lot of work was put into rehearsals, pre-production, the actual studio. We only worked with real instruments this time around so no samples, which we used on previous albums from time to time. So I think, you know, the whole album is…yeah, I think we tend to go heavier with every album. That’s one thing. And apparently, people kinda dig that. And the other hand, the orchestra is getting real and that makes it very dynamic, organic, human in a way, you know. With samples, there’s really good samples these days but, you know, it’s still different. You can work on them all day long and they sound kinda like real, but if you do it, just with it, with the guy playing the violin, it’s the real thing right away so, yeah.

So for making the new album, what would say is your best part that you felt in the process this time?

Well, we’re five songwriters so all the guys, so everyone except for Simone is writing songs. And it’s always like everyone has a different approach, different backgrounds, different like favorite bands or inspiration or whatnot. So in the beginning, it’s kind of a big question like, you know, okay, you have this kind of…like our drummer, he’s obviously more focusing on drums and grooves. I’m a guitar player. I like trash, kind of, you know, modern trash riffing, all that stuff. So it’s kind of, you have to blend everything together. And that process starts during rehearsals.

We have like two ways of rehearsing. The first one, initially, is just with a three-piece band; bass, guitar, and drums. And we just sit down in the rehearsal room, go over all the ideas, and leave all the orchestration or the ideas we have with that, leave it away and just get the metal band, really, the core of the band, get that right. And actually, that…so the second part is then adding all the layers again, doing the pre-production and all that, and adding vocal lines.

But basically, for this album, from the moment we were like going into detail with just the three-piece, we already knew that it would be like including a lot of cool guitar riffs and grooves and all that. So it already started boiling the…like our happiness or whatever you wanna call it, started boiling there. You know, if the basic structure and the basic music is already like something you’re excited about, you can only add up more. And of course, you don’t want to overdo it.

Some bands just keep adding stuff. And of course, there’s a lot of stuff going on with the Epica album, but I think it’s all about the balance. If you have only riffing or only orchestral parts, it doesn’t make sense. So it’s all about finding that balance. So, yeah, it was a lot of excitement along the way. And I’m really happy, also, now with the shows. We’re in this tour for two weeks now and it’s really like the reaction from the crowds. That’s really cool so, good times.

Yeah, I wanted to ask how the tour is going because I know that you guys had 4 dates in a row just recently and we’re your fourth so…I mean, you’re getting a really good response from everyone so far.

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like I said before, it seems like everyone already heard the album, which is also different from other tours where they’re like, “Oh, they’re picking up the album the day itself or something,” or, “They just checked maybe the singles.” And also, seeing people singing along with whichever song from the new album we play, that’s really cool. And so far, the five has been really awesome. I mean, really nothing to complain about at this point. But we still have a couple of weeks to go so maybe…

Yeah, I’ve been out on bands first night of their tours and they’ve had people getting body parts broken and crazy fights at their shows. And I’ve asked them, what date of the tour are you on and they are like, this is the first night of the tour…. And the only response I can give them is… Oh, you’re gonna have a great tour then (laughter).

We’re doing all all right, you know (laughter).

Yeah, yeah. You haven’t got that yet. You’re okay then. So you guys are on tour in wrapping up your tour in the North America and then you go back to Europe and do some United Kingdom shows. Are you guys looking at festivals next year, like the European festivals?

Yeah, yeah. We’re planning because of the new album. We kinda saved up for the upcoming year. Like last summer, we didn’t play a lot of festivals but tried to push it to next year because this should be a really busy summer and all the offers are coming in. And we’re really focusing on that, like spread the word…

Yeah, we’re all waiting to hear, because I’ve got like Sweden Rock Festival, Sabaton Open Air and Wacken Open Air, and I’m like, “Oh, who’s gonna be on these festivals?” Because there’s a lot of really good new albums out and, you know, I’m kinda targeting where I can catch as many artists live as possible.

We played at Sweden Rock this year so totally…

Yeah, I was at Sweden Rock this year and it’s hard because they usually wait 3 years before having an artist back.  So it’s great to hear you are planning on festivals next summer.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, most of the festivals at least.

What’s the best part about working with the team that you guys are now, because you guys have been working together for quite some time? What’s the best part of your dynamic?

You know, like during the years, you get to know each other. You get to know each other’s strength or weaknesses or whatnot. And actually, you know, it’s a bit silly to say that it’s our job, for everyone, also the crew and all that. And we find it very important that we’re all on the same level and that we all look in the same direction. And that hasn’t always been the case, you know, with some crew members or even within the band. So there’s been some changes here and there, but that’s basically it. You know, we try to enjoy what we do because, hopefully, we have still a long road to go. And it has to be like pleasant for everyone. So that’s about it. You have to take care of each other and like leave each other alone whenever you think that’s the most appropriate thing to do. Because I’ve seen a lot of other bands like just…some guys just do whatever they want and it doesn’t last.

Yeah, everybody…it’s kind of…the band, it grows into a family. You need space to do your thing.

Yeah, exactly. So I guess it’s a bit the same as with the music. You need to balance, you know. And if you’re drunk all the time, it won’t last. But if you’re like not doing anything on tour or being alone or something, it doesn’t help either, so.

So that kinda leads to my next question is, when you guys aren’t touring and writing music together, do you guys have other interests or other side projects that you’re working on or…?

Oh, yeah. Everyone has his own like normal life, so to speak. Though, this is also a normal life. But like for instance, I’m building a house with my girlfriend and we’re finishing that up so I had a lot of work last year. So right after this tour, I’m gonna move there, and there’s still a lot of work waiting for me, obviously.

Did you save space in your place for a studio?

Of course, of course. Priority number one (laughter).  Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s all been taken care of.  And so other than that, I’m still working. I love to play like acoustic finger style guitar, like Tommy Emmanuel or Chet Atkins, stuff like that. And, you know, most guitar players would do like a metal solo album with a lot of shredding but, you know, I’m more looking into having a solo album with stuff like that, you know, finger-picking.

And then, for instance, Simone likes cooking. She likes photography, movies, hanging with the family, of course. Also, the keyboard player has two kids and a family so they have to be, you know, family guys. And Mark, he lives in Sicily. So that’s also a thing. We live in four different countries. So it’s not like in between tours, we get to hang with each other. So he likes cycling and mountains in Sicily and all that. And our drummer, he likes gaming, barbecuing, and having a beer and a good time.

Barbecuing is a big thing in Europe now. Every time I am in Sweden all of my friends are barbecuing.  One of the festivals always has Texas BBQ.  I’m like I left the states to come here and expected something different.

Exactly. It’s a small world, isn’t it?

It is very small. It is. So my last question for you, it’s for the fans and for other people that are making music. Do you have any advice for fans that are looking to maybe make music their career or people that are kind of on the other path? Any advice you would pass on to them?

Be honest to yourself and to whoever works with you. What I said before earlier, the question about like how you deal with each other and all that, it’s about being honest, you know. If there’s an issue, just talk about it. I mean, I’ve played in bands in the past where I thought, “Oh, maybe the bass player is actually a guitar player who’s not that good so he plays bass,” you know, stuff like that. And it’s always there in the back of your mind but you just don’t wanna offend anyone or something. But you would be surprised how being honest about…also your own playing, you know. If I would not been honest to myself, I would have never reached this level because you have to be like, “Okay, yeah, this is something I still need to work on.” And then you have to actually do it. And make sure of that and also, just go for it. But that’s like, it’s the same thing.

So, yeah, it doesn’t come just like that. So it’s a lot of work and energy that you have to put into it, and not everyone wants that and that’s all right, you know. Depending on what your goal is, but that’s one thing I always say, like just be honest to whatever you do. Basically, whenever you write something, even now, if I’m writing a new riff or something or a new song, sometimes, I just throw it in the garbage because it’s just not good enough. And that’s fair enough, you know. There’s a lot of…

Yeah, I mean. You don’t want to use anything if you don’t love it yourself.

Exactly. You know, but in the past, you would’ve been like, “Oh, let’s just see what we can do with it or maybe someone else has a good idea,” or whatnot. And maybe for some bands, that works. But I always find it better to like just let go of something if it doesn’t feel right. And, yeah, so be honest to yourself.

That’s great advice.

Yeah, and design your universe.

And treat it like a business.

Yes.

People are like, “What do you hear most from people?” and I tell them “Treat it like a business because it is a business, but enjoy yourself”.

Yeah, of course. Obviously, yeah.

That is all I have. And again, thank you for your time.

 

Photos from the Seattle show (For the full galleries visit our photo gallery)

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