Interview – Simone Simons Talks Life In Epica

Balance and composure, the key to life. A challenge within itself, throw in being in a band that travels the world, spends weeks away from home, and lives in tight quarters with little privacy. Such is the life of Rock-n-Roll, but with the sacrifice comes an experience far different than any other. The Netherland’s Epica can attest to the wild ride of being in a Metal band, living the script day in and day out.

Joining together 15 years ago, in recent times Epica has peaked international interest to high levels, dishing out three successful albums in a 5 year span – 2012’s Requiem for the Indifferent, 2014’s The Quantum Enigma, and 2016’s The Holographic Principle. Each of which broke US charts, Epica has remained a hot commodity in the worldwide Metal community as they return with their latest, The Solace System, along with a return to North American soil alongside Italy’s Lacuna Coil. A whirlwind you say? Take a closer look into the wild ride Epica has been on inside a new conversation with Lead Lady Simone Simons talking the work behind the music, life on the road, managing her health, and more. –  Last we spoke back in 2014, Epica had just released The Quantum Enigma, and since then you have toured consistently, released a The Holographic Principle in 2016, and most recently, the EP The Solace System. What has the past few years been like for Epica?

Simone Simons – Really busy (laughs). We are always writing, recording, or on tour. We are a very productive band. We get to see a lot of the world, I guess that is the dream of every musician! – Yes, the band has been quite busy. The Quantum Enigma really was a big leap forward for Epica. Also a grand accomplishment, last year’s The Holographic Principle was received very well. What was the creativity process like this go around?

Simone Simons – The same as The Quantum Enigma. Everyone wrote songs, we started working on them individually with our producer, depending on which band member wrote which song. When the songs were fully developed we made a selection of which ones we were going to record, it was 18 songs. Twelve made it on The Holographic Principle and the other 6 on the new EP. – Being a concept piece, both The Holographic Principle and The Solace System, where does the story go from here?

Simone Simons  – We always have recurring topics in our lyrics, there are some similarity with each record. Whatever inspires us during the writing process of the next record, I can’t tell right now. We will leave it up to fate! 

Nuclear Blast
Nuclear Blast – Excellent! You had done an extensive tour in 2016, including a run in North America. Now you are back with stateside a co-billed run with Lacuna Coil along with Insomnium and Elantris. How has the tour being going?

Simone Simons – The tour is awesome! We are having the best time. It is always great to tour with bands that you are also friends with, it makes being away from home a little bit easier. Everyone is having a good time! We recently had a barbeque on our day off, some of us got pretty drunk, some not, some ended up at a karaoke bar singing Spice Girl songs. We are all having a good time. – It sounds like it has been fun. We had spoke about how a touring schedule can be exhausting. You are also a mom, which is a challenging job within itself. At this point, how do you manage long spans away from home?

Simone Simons – Sometimes I manage really well and others I have bad days. Even for some of the band members who don’t have kids, it is also heavy as well. Imagine what it is like when you miss your child, it is not easy. 

Nuclear Blast – Understood. You had said you keep yourself in shape – you do not eat junk food, do not drink much, and do not smoke. One can imagine that helps as far as keeping healthy on the road.

Simone Simons – Yes, with the occassionally donut, I had one recently (laughs). I like donuts, but everything in moderation. I have to keep an eye on what my intake is – enough veggies and fruits, no meat. I don’t smoke, I drink very little alcohol, and I workout. I try and sleep a lot, I don’t go to many parties so I don’t have to yell. I have to maintain a strong fiscal to live this life. – Yes, and you have to keep your instrument, which is your voice, in shape. The band’s chemistry seems as strong as ever in recent years. Now celebrating 15 years together, do you still learn from each other and find the bonds of Epica growing?

Simone Simons – Yea, well, we are cooped up together for long spans of time and in a small space. You definitely learn to live with each other and give each other space. It doesn’t always have to be fun, social, and talking to each other. Some band members have stronger connections to others – some are friends, some are colleagues. We learn to live and respect each others space. In the end, that is how it all works. At the end of the tour everyone is looking forward to going home or just having their own bed. Even being 24 hours with people you love the most can become a little bit suffocating. 

Epica live at Webster Hall, NYC 12-2-17. Photo credit: Zenae Filmz. – There is no question that everyone needs personal space. That said, on the road, do you do any writing, or is it strictly reserved for after the tour?

Simone Simons – Some band members like to work a little on the computer. In the past, I had been writing lyrics on tour as well. Whenever you feel creativity or inspiration, you have to write it down. I have the voice recorder on my phone and computer to write lyrics. There are some notes that I have on my phone of a sentence or words that I thought were really beautiful. That is how I sometimes write on the road. – Interesting. Needless to say if you have a concept come into your head, you want to get it down on paper so you do not forget it.

Simone Simons – Yes, that is why the phones are so handy – you have a voice recorder, it is a lifesaver sometimes. When you listen to it again, you may think it is crap, and you throw it away. It is very handy to have something like that. – Absolutely. You had mentioned in the past that Epica has really been the only band you were ever involved in. As a very diverse vocalist, have you thought of exploring the possibility of a solo project? 

Simone Simons – Yea, I have had that idea for a while, but simply have no time. My time is consumed by Epica and besides that I am home with my family. It is hard to fit anything in between. I could be a workaholic and just work all the time, but I don’t want to do that, I have other priorities. When Epica, one day, does not tour that much, maybe there will be more time for me to do that. If the time is right it will happen. I don’t want to work with deadlines or give myself pressure, that is always counterproductive. 

Nuclear Blast – Right, no need to add to personal stress. It would be compelling to see what direction you would go in.

Simone Simons – I like so many different styles of music so I can’t tell right now. Maybe some Metal, some Classic, it would also be great to sing in a movie one day. That has been on my bucket list (laughs). – It certainly will be exciting to see and hear when the time is right. Speaking of time, do you still run your own blog as well?

Simone Simons – Yup! Whenever I have time, which is not so much (laughs). But I still do it. – Very cool. This current North American tour concludes in New York City on Friday, September 29th. You had mentioned behind the scenes things have gone very well. What about during the shows, how have fans reacted? 

Simone Simons – Really awesome! We did VIP meetings every show day with around 50 people. Everyone is positively surprised we came back to the US this quick. It is always nice to hear fans tell you, “I love your music so much” or “your music has helped me so much.” You forget that when you are in the touring routine. It is nice to talk to fans and hear what they to tell you about what the music means to them. It is very nice to hear and very motivating.   

Epica live at Webster Hall, NYC 12-2-17. Photo credit: Zenae Filmz. – That has to also help you when you are feeling tired or homesick. 

Simone Simons – Yea, or when you see happy faces in the audience, it is very nice to see. – Certainly, and everyone always talks about the fans’ emotions. Let’s turn the tables, what are your emotions while performing on stage?

Simone Simons – Mixed. It depends on a couple of factors. If the technical side is ok then I don’t have to focus on that and I can enjoy the show. For me it depends on the size of the stage, distance of the audience. If the stage is super high and the audience look like they are in a swimming pool, sometimes it is hard to connect with the people. If the venue is freezing cold, like in Los Angeles, I was trying to relax my jaw so I won’t bite my tongue because I was so cold. You cannot enjoy the show so much then. Perfect temperature and the audience not too far away for me is always the best. – Right, and cold temperatures are not very good for vocalists! You had mentioned you are in fact a fan of films and many Horror films. Has there been any new films you have seen within the Horror genre that you enjoyed?

Simone Simons – Yea, some of the guys and  I went to the cinema to see It, that was pretty awesome. I loved the movie Prometheus (2012) and I recently bought Alien: Covenant (2017). I like Science Fiction/Horror. I really like the new movie Inferno (2016) with Tom Hanks. As far as series, of course Bates Motel and Fargo

20th Century Fox
Warner Bros.

2017 Tour Dates:
Oct 17 Het Depot Leuven, Belgium
Oct 18 Muziekcentrum Trix Antwerpen, Belgium
Oct 20 Hedon Zwolle, Netherlands
Oct 21 Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands
Oct 22 Doornroosje Nijmegen, Netherlands
Nov 09 Klub Studio Cracow, Poland
Nov 10 Masters Of Rock Café Zlin, Czech Republic
Nov 12 Kesselhaus Berlin, Germany
Nov 13 Markthalle Hamburg (Altstadt), Germany
Nov 14 Essigfabrik Cologne, Germany
Nov 15 La BAM Metz, France
Nov 17 Stereolux Nantes, France
Nov 18 Krakatoa Mérignac, France
Nov 20 La Riviera Madrid, Spain
Nov 21 MEO Arena Lisbon, Portugal
Nov 22 Hard Club Porto, Portugal
Nov 24 Razzmatazz 1 Barcelona, Spain
Nov 25 Le Moulin Marseille, France
Nov 26 LE TRANSBORDEUR Villeurbanne, France
Nov 28 LKA Stuttgart, Germany
Nov 29 Backstage Munich, Germany
Dec 01 Estragon Bologna, Italy VIP
Dec 02 Z7 Konzertfabrik Pratteln, Switzerland
Dec 03 L’Aeronef Lille, France

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Purchase Epica albums:

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