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In 2001, Evergrey released their first album in the United States, the concept record, 'In Search Of Truth'. Finally, perhaps folks in this country will begin to take notice. With a unique blend of old school intelligent metal (Queensryche, Fates Warning) and more modern progressive and power metal influences, Evergrey deliver a well thought out and well executed product for the dark yet discerning twenty-first century metalhead. Produced by long-time King Diamond guitarist and Everygrey "sixth member" Andy LaRocque, Evergrey is definitely a band to watch in 2002 and beyond. The Metal Update sat down with guitarist / vocalist Tom S. Englund and bassist Michael Håkansson to learn more.

METAL UPDATE: Is Evergrey a metal band?

TOM ENGLUND: Yes, definitely. That's how we categorize ourselves. We just say that we are a dark, melodic metal band with some progressive overtones.

MU: Do you think Evergrey has more in common with Dream Theater or Blind Guardian?

TE: Probably Blind Gaurdian, if there is any comparison. But I wouldn't really like to compare us to anyone.

MU: You are in the U.S. to play the Prog Power festival in Atlanta. Which one are you - are you Prog or are you Power?

TE: Power, most definitely.

MU: You definitely have progressive passages, you can't deny that. And you are on InsideOut, a prog-leaning label. But you are really just more of a straight-up metal band, huh?

TE: Yep.

MU: Cool. You guys are from Sweden, right?

TE: Yep.

MU: Who are some of the bigger bands from Sweden right now?

TE: Almost all of them. (everybody laughs) Hammerfall, In Flames. . .

MU: Let's start with Hammerfall. What do you think of Hammerfall?

TE: Shitty guys. (laughs)

MICHAEL HAKANSSON: We're all friends, basically. We come from the same scene.

MU: Well how does what you do differ in your minds from what Hammerfall is doing?

TE: Hammerfall is basically a non-complicated kind of metal. It is a family type of metal. It suits everybody. It is pretty ordinary and mellow. Not too much contrast.

MU: How does In Flames differ from what you guys do?

TE: In Flames. They're different. They don't have the prog. They do have really groovey guitars, but they have a death metal vocalist, and that's something we don't have.

MU: Evergrey will always use clean vocals only, right?

TE: Yes.

MU: Who are your vocal influences?

TE: Probably people like David Coverdale and Tony Martin. I haven't been singing for that long. I started approximately a month and a half before the first album. I don't have a long-time background of singing.


MU: When did Evergrey form?

TE: 1995. We immediately - like two months after formed - we recorded our first demo.

MU: And that was you and your current drummer?

TE: Yep.

MU: And nobody else that is still in the band?

TE: Nope. Immediately we got our record deal. So, eight or nine months after the demo came out, we started recording our first album called 'The Dark Discovery'. We originally didn't know what we wanted to do. We just put down sounds and ideas. We hadn't really found our way yet.

MU: How does 'In Search Of Truth' sound different than your sound on 'The Dark Discovery'?

TE: The first album is very experimental. You can hear us trying out different ideas. Different elements.

MU: What does the name Evergrey mean?

TE: We adopted that name when we were in a state of our lives where we didn't have any work, we didn't have any money, we had to do fucking criminal things in order to get by, basically. So, like three or four years passed and nothing really happened. We were caught in a grey, space where nothing was ever black or white.

MU: So it's a fairly somber name, right?

TE: Oh yeah. Definitely. (laughs)

MU: Did you think it sounded like Fates Warning's album 'A Pleasant Shade of Grey'? Or did it remind you of Nevermore?

TE: We had never heard of Nevermore back in '95. Did they exist back then?

MU: I believe so. They started around then I think.

TE: 'Cause there was no Everclear or Evereve or whatever when we started. But now we have 2,000 other bands that sound like that.

MU: But the name has a certain somber, a certain darkness to it. Would you say that the same feel permeates throughout all three of the albums, as well?

TE: The darkenss, the sorrow, the atmospheric moods. That's what we are all about.

MU: That's the big difference between you and Hammerfall. They are happy, you are somber.

TE: Right. (laughs)

MU: What was your experience with music prior to Evergrey.

TE: Nothing really. We were in different bands playing death metal before. Death metal in a local band which never recorded an album. We got a record deal, but . . .

MU: Obviously a fundamental, core part of your sound is your voice. But you just started singing, right before recording the demo. How did it come together?

TE: We had a singer before - a friend of ours - who sang on a demo and ultimately left the band a month before the recording. He wasn't really a member of the band. He didn't seem like he wanted to record a whole album with a band he wasn't committed to. So the bass player told me to try singing. One day I did.

MU: You don't come from that Tate / Halford style, as you said, it is more of a Coverdale / Martin type of thing. What do you think of high-pitched singing.

TE: I don't enjoy it too much - to have a have a whole album going with the high "c" all of the time. It really annoys me, basically. Queensryche is really one of my favorite bands. But that differs a bit from some of that other stuff.

MU: Let's talk about Queensryche a second. Do you like what they are doing today?

TE: No.

MU: You say they are one of your favorite bands. Where did you think they went wrong?

TE: 'Empire.' Maybe after that. When they lost DeGarmo, basically.

MU: What about Dream Theater?

TE: They're great. I was a bit disappointed with their last album. Well, not their last album before that. 'Falling Into Infinity'. I didn't like that.

MU: Did you like 'Metropolis 2: Scenes From a Memory'?

TE: Yeah. That was an amazing album.

MU: Are Queensryche and Dream Theater important influences on Evergrey?

TE: Yeah, probably. When we started, Dream Theater was one of the reasons we did it. But we soon figured out that we weren't able to play as technical and as skilled as they were.

MU: How much does your new keyboard player bring to the table? I like what I hear on the album.


TE: He's also out of the band! (laughs) It was official a couple of days ago.

MH: When I first joined the band, which was right after the recording of 'Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy', we didn't have a keyboard player in Evergrey. I talked the guys into getting a keyboard player. It's better live, and it would be useful in the future and the for the writing process. So I brought the keyboard player over from my old band, Embraced. I moved to Gothenburg but he stayed where we were. That worked in the beginning but doesn't now.

MU: What went wrong? He got some truly interesting sounds out of the keyboard on 'In Search Of Truth'. I thought he had a signature style.

TE: Yeah we have got no problem with his musical skills, the major problem is that he lived like five hours away from us. And he is in two other bands as well, including Soilwork. We got pissed about it. 'Cause we learned that he was in Soilwork on a homepage and he never told us. It was really unfair. Four guys are working their asses off and giving 120%. One guy would do 30%.

MU: So you've got a new keyboard player for ProgPower?

TE: Yeah. We made it official a couple of days ago, but he left the band a month or two ago.

MU: Do you feel any connection to what people call The Gothenburg sound?

TE: No. Definitely not.

MU: What does the Gothenburg sound sound like?

TE: It's In Flames. And Dark Tranquility in some ways.

MU: So when you said before that you used to play death metal, is that the style of death metal that you were referring to?

TE: No. In Flames didn't exist at that times. They existed in another band, in another shape. A lot of people are playing together in different bands that were once together in another band. (laughs)

MU: What did you think of the fact that In Flames was going to open up the Slipknot tour in Europe?

TE: Awesome. Great for them. They have the same management as us so we knew of it for a while.

MU: How did In Flames get that gig?

TE: Slipknot are fans of In Flames, basically.

MU: Who is your dream artist for Evergrey to go out in support of. Picture a U.S. arena tour - who would you want to do it with?

TE: Whoever plays arenas, basically! (laughs) Queensryche. Iron Maiden.

MU: Do you guys ever work on trying to get that kind of exposure for this band?

TE: That's something our management and record label should be working on. We haven't got the time.

MU: Is this your first time in the U.S.?

TE: We played the prior ProgPower and Powermad shows.

MU: So how did those shows go?

TE: Fantastic.

MU: So do you expect that now that the record is out in the U.S., the shows will be even better?

TW: It is already. I know there is already a big difference. It really is cool that the album is now available here.

MU: What do you think of the whole ProgPower event?

TE: That is a fantastic thing to be able to do. We have known Glenn since the release of our first album. He's one of the guys that really started things for us here in the USA. He's doing his second show ever in his life as a promoter. And its a really professional thing he is doing as well. Its the second one in a year, he did the first one in February as well.

MU: What do you think of Symphony X?

TE: They are one of my favorites. I just had dinner with Russell yesterday.

MU: What do you think of some of the more "power metal" type European bands like Kamelot?

TE: Actually, we toured with Kamelot last year. They are good friends of ours.

MU: Do you feel closer in style to Symphony X or Kamelot?

TE and MH: (together) Symphony X.

MU: But when I asked you whether you felt closer in style to Dream Theater or Blind Guardian, you said Blind Guardian.

TE: Yeah but there is a major difference between Dream Theater and Symphony X. Dream Theater is much more complex music. If you compare them and Symphony X. Symphony X come from a classic writing background and Dream Theater does something totally different, I believe. I also said that I wouldn't want to compare us to Blind Guardian at all, so. . . (laughs)

MU: How did you hook up with Andy LaRocque?

TE: Actually, I worked in a music store where I sold guitars, and Andy worked there in between tours for a bit. That's where we met. And he had a small demo studio and we recorded our first demo there. And he got us our first contract.

MU: So he's done a lot.

TE: Oh yeah, he's like the sixth member of the band.

MU: What is he doing now?

TE: He's running a studio and working with King Diamond. Producing other albums, doing solos and shit.

MU: Who are Evergrey's musical peers?

TE: None, really. (laughs) We don't have any. We don't fit. We've been doing interviews for months now. None of the journalists can ever label us or put us in a category. And that is a great thing. We do our own thing. We have created our own thing.

MU: How much more popular are you guys in Europe than you are in the U.S.?

TE: (laughs) 2,000 times more popular! If we were to play a 100 seater here, we would play a 1200 seater there.

MU: All over Europe? What types of bands do you tour with when you are playing those places?

TE: Yeah. This time, Therion.

MU: You guys have a video for the album, right?

TE: Yes. Fans can see it at our website,

MU: What is the video like?

TE: It is a very, very dark video. The emotions are very dark. It is for the song, "The Masterplan".

MU: That's one of the more upbeat songs.

TE: Yeah.

MU: Why did you choose to go with that one?

TE: We thought it was a suitable song to make a video for, to create a vision of how we sound.

MU: Do you think the "The Masterplan" is a good representation of what the band Evergrey is all about, even though it is a bit more upbeat, more traditional power metal styled?

TE: Yeah, and it is most definitely the song with the catchiest chorus on the album as well.

MU: This album is a concept album, right?

TE: Yeah, absolutely.


MU: Tell us about the story.

TE: It's about a man in his mid-thirties who is at a point in his life where he's having a hard time concentrating on things. And he's been getting strangely scared doing simple things, like getting out of bed and meeting new people and seeing new faces. And then gets to the point where he realizes that he has to speak to someone about it. He tries to talk to his family and loved ones and no one will want to hear him out and what he has to say. So he goes to meet with his psychiatrist. He hears him out and decides that they should do a hypnotic regression session together so that he can wander back through his life and see if he can find the origins of these strange occurrences happening. So he goes back to when he was five years old, and he finds out he has been the victim of abduction episodes.

MU: So how does it end?

TE: It doesn't end.

MU: The last lines are about giving up hope, or why would you give up hope, something like that.

TE: Basically, it is not about little green men from Mars. We are not talking about UFO's crashing. I tend to equate more on the personal level of the character. His feelings and ideas is what this record is about. And the last line of the album, that's when his family betrays him and puts him in a mental hospital. That's where it ends.

MU: Does it matter whether the character in the story actually does get abducted, or just that he thinks he did?

TE: Well that's the thing. It's very easy to ridicule people who claim to have been abducted or something like that. But that's not the important thing. The important thing is that he believes that he has been abducted. To ridicule them about that is like laughing in the face of a rape victim.

MU: So do you feel sorry for these crazy hicks you read about in The National Enquirer who think aliens landed at their farm, as long as they really believe that it is true?

TE: There is also a lot of fucking bullshit going on - people who want to have attention - starting conventions just for the money. But then there are people that have real, serious problems. The album is based on a story from a book called Abducted. It is about the author's life when he got abducted. And he was a writer before. So I mean . . . well, he seems very sincere. He doubts himself. Of course. He doesn't want to believe these things happened to him. He got the best psychiatrist ever. The FBI lie detector test, CIA and Scotland. Everything points to the fact that at least he believes what he is saying.

MU: What is the difference between believing in alien beings? Is their a parallel?

TE: For fundamentalists. There are crazy people in every genre of philosophy of thinking. And some people are really searching for something. Such people have a really easy time adapting to anything. They could be Satantists, or alien abduction believers or Christians or whatever.

MU: Don't those religious kooks also really believe in their own minds in what they are saying? Should we ridicule them any more than we would a alien believer?

TE: I never pay attention to those religious crazy people.

MU: So what is going on in the lyrics of the first track, "The Masterplan"?

TE: It is right at the beginning of the story when he finds out that something is really going on, and he is starting to see different shadows in his bedroom, and starts to discover that something is really happening. He starts to explore this, and finds out that he is part of a conspiracy. That song kind of could almost explain the whole album.

MU: Well now that you are out in the U.S., hopefully the Evergrey audience will start to grow.

TE: We have fans from every genre of metal. I know that sounds like a cliche but it is true. We have a lot of black metal fans, death metal fans, power metal fans. So, I know that we can appeal to lots of people. There is something in there for everyone.


review of Evergrey 'In Search Of Truth'

"Rulers Of The Mind" from 'In Search Of Truth'

"The Masterplan" from 'In Search Of Truth'






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