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Evergrey – interview met Rikard Zander (keyboards)

Rikard Zander: “We always want to try to reinvent ourselves by doing something new. Of course it is going to be Evergrey still, but we always try to find new ways of approaching things and song writing and everything. We try to feel fresh all the time.

Het is en blijft een vreemde timing: net nu wij (en de band) alle aandacht geven aan het nieuwe Evergrey album ‘Theories Of Emptiness’, komt ook het nieuws naar buiten dat drummer Jonas Ekdahl de band verlaten heeft. Dat is iets wat eerst besproken moet worden aan het begin van ons gesprek met toetsenist Rikard Zander vooraleer we overgingen tot de orde van de dag met meer details over de nieuwe worp. Gelukkig wordt de soep alweer nooit zo heet gegeten als ze opgediend wordt en is de band goed voorbereid.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 10 juni 2024 

How are you doing?
I am fine thank you. I have been doing a few interviews this morning, so I haven’t done much more than that, but I am fine.

Yes, it is busy. In the middle of promoting the new album ‘Theories Of Emptiness’, suddenly the news was published that drummer Jonas Ekdahl is gone! How come?
Yes, these are busy times with promoting the new album and doing interviews and also we have to rehearse with a new drummer we have found, before we go out on tours and playing gigs in Summer.

Fortunately these gigs can go on with the new drummer then?
Yes, definitely. We will do the gigs with a new drummer, that is no problem. His name is Simen Sandnes. He is from Norway. I think he was in a band called Temic. I think he has done a lot of session work for other musicians, but I am not sure if he has been in more bands. I know his involvement in Temic, they are a progressive metal band from Norway on Season of Mist.

As I understand, Jonas will go on as producer for you and writing music?
Yes, exactly. He just doesn’t want to go on tours anymore, but he will still help the band in the studio and help writing songs and stuff like that. So he will still be kind of part of the band, just that he does not play the drums anymore.

That is a relief! In 2022 the previous album ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’ came out and then of course you toured for it, but when did you start focusing on this new album?
I think it was maybe like one year ago. We started to develop this project, making a new album, so we tried out different ideas that we had and started to create songs with all the ideas and then we recorded all the instruments. I think all to all maybe one year ago we started. So it has been kind of fast, but it was time to make an album.

I think usually it starts with Tom doing the writing, isn’t it?
Well, not really these days. All the members in the band write music and on this album Johan Niemann, our bass player, has done most of the musical ideas. On this album it more or less started with Johan showing us his ideas and then we kind of took it from there and then of course Tom writes the vocal lines and the lyrics, but we pretty much contributed all in the band with what we can. In the music writing it is usually everyone that contributes to the process.

Which song was surprising for you? I mean, maybe something different you did on keyboards or an arrangement or whatever?
(thinks) I don’t know. We usually make demo tapes before we do the real recordings, so we pretty much had the picture of the songs, what they are going to be, but the song ‘Our Way Through Silence’ was a song that I wrote. It is always nice when you come up with an idea and then hear the final result with all the vocals and everything. So maybe that song is a nice surprise to me.

The first song, ‘Falling From The Sun’ was promoted in a very good way with a flashing video clip. Can you tell a bit more about making this video clip?
We made it in Autumn in the forest in a very ‘middle of nowhere’ part in Sweden where you can do that, because you cannot do that in a city, because you need a lot of permits and stuff. We had a good contact with this fireworks company that kind of helped us arranging the video and also we worked with Patric Ullaeus. He is a video maker and he has done all of our videos since a very long time. It was fun to make it. The only thing that we didn’t like was that when we recorded the video, we could not see the fireworks, because they were behind us; but it was fun to see when the video was done. It was a nice experience.

(Photo Credit: Patric Ullaeus)

‘Falling From The Sun’ seems to be a sequel to ‘Ominous’ from the previous album. Can you explain that?
That was shot at the same time on the same location when we made a video for it. It felt very good to do a very late video from the previous album right after followed by a new one.

Now there is a second video, for ‘Say’. Also by Patric?
Yes. It was shot later.

Another song that struck me, was ‘We Are The North’. Does it symbolize the pride of Vikings?
(laughs) Haha that could be, I am not sure what the meaning of the lyrics are exactly, but it has a little bit Viking theme, that song. I think so too.

Are you still living in Gothenburg?
Yes. Most of us live in Gothenburg. Johan, our bass player, he lives in Stockholm. Tom lives a little bit outside town, maybe like 25 kilometres outside of Gothenburg, something like that.

What can you tell about ‘Cold Dreams’, the track with guest vocals from Jonas Renkse of Katatonia?
Tom met him on an Ayreon concert, because they were both involved in the Ayreon concept and Tom just asked Jonas if he was interested in singing on our new album, since we all like Katatonia very much. He said yes. That was a really nice collaboration. Nothing was really planned. It just happened coincidentally, because they were at the Ayreon show, but it became really good I think.

Indeed and even Tom’s daughter is singing in that song…
Yes that is right. Tom’s daughter is singing some backing vocals on that one as well. She is 22 or something and she has been singing on the albums before actually, when she was more like a kid.

So you keep working with Jonas for production of the albums. That is a relief.
Yes definitely. We haven’t planned any new albums at the moment, but I am pretty sure he will be involved in some way on the next album.

Are there still more videos in the pipeline?
Yes, actually one more video. It is going to be a little bit more low budget, but there is going to be one more single before the album is released I think.

For the artwork I see the name Mattias Norén. That is also someone who has been around for a while, isn’t it?
Yes, he was doing our artwork for ‘In Search Of Truth’ and ‘Recreation Day’. He has done a few covers for Evergrey, but it was a while ago. It is kind of fun to have him back again.

Did he stop making covers for a while?
Yes, I think so. I think he has been doing some stuff all the time, but I think he is focused on other stuff, but as I said, it is nice to work with him again. It is a little bit different from what we usually have, but it is nice to do something new as well.

Indeed, because isn’t it difficult to remain inventive after so many years?
Yes, it can be a little bit difficult and we always want to try to reinvent ourselves by doing something new. Of course it is going to be Evergrey still, but we always try to find new ways of approaching things and song writing and everything. We try to feel fresh all the time.

How do you feel about everything going digital?
Yes, I think it is very nice that vinyl is popular again. It is different from how it was in the seventies and eighties, but I think the fans like to have something real to look at when you listen to the music at home. It is something like a souvenir or anything. It is very nice. I like it.

What are the plans to go on the road?
We will start with a South American tour in June and then we have some Summer festivals. Then we do like a Scandinavian tour and then we will do a European tour in the Fall. I don’t know all the dates yet, but I am sure we will be going to Holland for a few dates as well and in Belgium too.