EPICA Guitarist: There Aren't Many Bands That Are Female-Fronted And Heavy Like We Are

Shannon Joy of the LA Music Blog recently conducted an interview with guitarist Isaac Delahaye of Dutch female-fronted symphonic metallers EPICA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

LA Music Blog: You joined the band during the songwriting process for "Design Your Universe", which seems like an intimidating time to come in. Do you feel that you were able to contribute as much as you wanted to or was there a sense of restriction from being "the new guy?"

Isaac: Not really restricted, but when I came in, the song structures were already written so I didn't participate in the actual songwriting. But as far as guitar and guitar parts go, I really had the opportunity to kind of make them my own. Basically, the basic guitar structures were already written. It took me like three months to go through all of the guitar parts and to actually rearrange them. In the end, it was intimidating for sure because you never really know if they're going to like it. But then there's also a reason that they asked me to join the band, and that's because they already thought I would be good enough. So in the end, it worked out fine. I just sent my first file to the band and they were all happy, and we just went on with all the rest!

LA Music Blog: "Design Your Universe" is somewhat of a departure from the band's more recent work, in terms of its overall heaviness. As far as your involvement during the songwriting process, would you say that there was a conscious effort to move the sound in a new direction, or was it more so a natural progression within the band?

Isaac: Well, it was natural in a way. Both me and Ariën [van Weesenbeek, drums] came from GOD DETHRONED, so we were more heavier influences. In that way, it's kind of natural, but I think it was also the thing that the band wanted, or Mark [Jansen, guitar] wanted, as the band leader, for our sound. You have all these bands like EVANESCENCE, NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION, LACUNA COIL — those are all female-fronted, symphonic bands. They're all kind of more commercial than the things we are doing, so we wanted to go in the other direction, more heavy. And it worked in the end, I think we grabbed that spot that was open. There are not many bands that are female-fronted and heavy like EPICA is.

LA Music Blog: At this point, you've had the chance to play the material all over the world. How are the fans reacting to the new songs, or I guess, the new sound?

Isaac: Well, we play more new songs now, so it's obvious that they have to react. (Laughs) From what I've heard, most people really like the direction we went. They also like the guitar solos; that was something that never really happened before. And yeah, I think overall, if you have the set list like it is nowadays, it's very varied. We have "Tides Of Time", which is a ballad, and we can play "Kingdom Of Heaven", and there's lots of stuff going on, not only in one song, but also in the whole set list. There's everything. There are ballads and really heavy stuff that we play. It's cool. It's really challenging.

LA Music Blog: And I know that you've already begun working on "Design"'s follow-up. Do you think your contributions will be greater this time around?

Isaac: Yes, probably. Right now, everyone is kind of writing on their own, individually. We have another tour coming up early next year, and probably, after that, we're going to start doing the pre-production with the whole band. But I'm just writing some licks and songs here and there, and everyone is doing that, so we'll see how it works out in the end.

LA Music Blog: Well I know you touched on this before, but being in a female-fronted band undoubtedly brings irrelevant comparisons from the press and uninformed fans alike. Do you feel that the attention to Simone [Simons, vocals] has helped or hurt the band at all?

Isaac: It helps, it helps.

LA Music Blog: Do you think it attracts an audience that's more so focusing on that, as opposed to the music?

Isaac: Not being an original member and knowing the band for years, I had also checked the other bands that are out there. And for me personally, not because I'm in the band now, but EPICA was always the band that was not the same as all the rest. Maybe also because of the grunts and that stuff. But it's difficult to answer, especially if you're in the band. Yves, our bass player, once said that if Simone would've been an ugly troll then maybe we wouldn't have been so successful, so I guess maybe he's right. (Laughs)

Read the entire interview from LA Music Blog.

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