This interview with frontman Tom S. Englund of Evergrey was done by Vincent Eldefors on September 25th, 2004, prior to their show at Skylten in Linköping, Sweden.

Evergrey is a band that no longer needs an introduction. After having released two albums through a small independent Swedish label in 1998 and 2000 they signed with the prog metal specialists InsideOut. While on tour in support of their latest and fifth studio album "The Inner Circle" the charismatic frontman Tom S. Englund offered us his view on various things.

It has now been six months since the release of "The Inner Circle", how have these months been compared to the six months after the other albums?
A lot to do. We did a tour before the release of the album and a US tour while it was being released. Afterwards we have done festivals and a lot of press and now we're here on a Swedish tour. But it's good.

What has this tour been like so far?
It has been really great. Lots of people and a nice atmosphere. Malmö was pretty bad, Stockholm was good, Helsingborg sold out, Landskrona was less good.

You brought Mercenary with you on the opening four dates, was it your choice?
Well, we know them from before. They had just released their album and had nothing to do so we offered them the dates.

What was it like touring in the US with Children Of Bodom and Iced Earth?
It was great. We did 26 sold-out gigs.

Did you discuss guitar techniques with Alexi?
Hehe, no, we mostly got drunk. Henke [Henrik Danhage] is a guitar freak and discussed some things with Alexi but I think it's fucking boring.

Three weeks ago you had the chance to play with Scorpions in Stockholm, what was that like?
It was cool to play with some of your childhood idols. There were not that many Evergrey fans there but it was nice.

How did you get the chance to play with them? Did Scorpions know you from before?
We have the same booking agency. I don't think they knew us from before, I don't even think they knew we were there. I mean, we were there to play for the audience, not for Scorpions.

Which have been the funniest shows you've done so far?
Wow..., we've done a lot of fun shows.... It was a difficult question. England we did a few weeks ago which was one of our best shows ever. Then we met Bodom again so it was a heavy Scandinavian drinking party. The Prog Power festival in the US last year where we headlined was also great. Even though it was in the US we had 1500 Evergrey fans in one place which was really nice.

Are festivals better than club gigs?
No, I don't think so. It's just a great chance to play in front of a lot of people like when we played at Graspop this summer. It's cool and a complete contrast to playing in a place like this one tonight which is also cool because everything feels more brutal.

You have played in both Europe and North America now, what are the biggest differences?
First of all it is much bigger in the USA. Everyone is so much more starstruck, they think it's a lot cooler with bands, you know. In Europe people are spoiled because there are so many bands touring. In the USA it is not at all like that when it comes to metal. I think they worship their idols more.

Do you have any plans to tour South America as well?
Yeah, we were actually going to play there in November but the shows were cancelled. Now we are played on Brazilian MTV also which is a good thing and we might go there later this year or early next year.

On the 9th of October you will record material for a live DVD, what will be on this except for the live show in Gothenburg?
Oh, a whole lot. Interviews with everyone in the band, extremely much backstage material. We have recorded almost everything we have done so far. All the old videos, rehearsals and the likes. It's a whole lot of work, going through 150 tapes.

You don't know when it will be released?
Early next year at least. If we're lucky the live album will be released first around Christmas and then we'll release the DVD.

Was it your idea or the label's?
No, nothing comes from the label. We handle everything ourselves.

What is going on with your studio Division One at the moment?
We are recording Jonas and Rikard's project called Death Destruction right now and then there is a pop project with me and Jonas. It's a little secret so far but we'll see what happens.

How did you get in touch with Kyle Stout and Arnold Lindberg to start the studio?
Arnold has been our sound technician since we began touring so he was already there. Kyle was an Evergrey fan who we met while recording "In Search Of Truth" when he visited us in the studio. He was going to open a studio in Florida but then we did this instead.

You are also involved with a project called Ex Cathedra, could you tell more about that?
Oh, yeah, that's what it's called... With DiGiorgio, Hoglan and Ralph [Santolla]. I haven't heard much so I can't say anything about it really. Ralph wants me to write music as well but I don't even know what he has in mind. It's cool guys to play with.

Despite these projects you will focus mainly on Evergrey?
Yes, definitely, no matter what happens Evergrey will have top priority. It's just that everything that we write can't be used on an Evergrey album. The extreme opposites we can not use the same way as a pure death metal band or a pure pop project.

Why did you become a musician from the beginning?
I won a single with Queen at Liseberg [amusement park in Gothenburg] once which was my first contact with a little harder rock. Then I listened to Dire Straits and started playing my brother's guitar. Then it went from there.

Did you play in any other bands before Evergrey?
Yeah, we had a death metal band actually who got a record deal with Black Mark but we split up before recording anything.

Today all the original members are gone except for you, are you still in touch with any of them?
No, a lot of what we had in common was the band. Today we all have hang out together on all levels when we are back home so to speak which we didn't with the other members. We had the music and when that was gone there wasn't much to say anymore.

Your newest member is drummer Jonas Ekdahl, has he played with any other bands before?
Not really, he's so fucking young. He had a band who were in the early stages which was like his first band. Evergrey was one of his favorite three bands.

Your former drummer, Patrick Carlsson, has he left music behind?
Yeah, he moved to Västervik [small town on the East coast of Sweden]. He still has the drums but doesn't play that much.

How important do you think the Internet is for a band at your stage?
It's important as a way to spread your news to a general public. I think it's very important, everything spreads so quickly. About downloading and all that, I don't really care that much.

Are you happy with your record company so far?
Yeah, this was our last album for them which means that we are in a negotiating position which feels nice.

Can you imagine signing with a major label?
Well, it depends on what they can do for us in the long run. If they invest ten millions then you have to make ten millions. When being signed to an independent label you don't have the same pressure on you to sell x number of albums. I have nothing against major labels, if they pay us more money than it's good.

If you could bring three things to a deserted island, what would they be?
Wow... My guitar, Playstation with Fifa 2004 and Henka can come too... and my daughter of course.

Which was the last album you bought?
Oh my god, it has been five years since I last bought an album. I don't remember what it was. I get a lot of albums but I listen to music that much. It is too much already with Evergrey 24 hours a day. I listen to the radio while driving.

Is it easier to write music if you don't listen to the kind of music you're playing?
A little of both I think. I still think you need some kind of influence from anything that gets you excited like 'this is cool'.

Which movie was the last one you saw?
I saw "Gothika" yesterday which was a good movie.

What does the nearest future look like for Evergrey?
It looks pretty calm actually. We have two weeks vaction after the DVD in January. I think we will do a short European headliner tour, maybe ten gigs, then. We are negotiating a bigger tour in the spring also.

It will be some time before the next album?
Yeah, now we have the live album first, then the DVD... I can imagine a new album in January 2006.

That was pretty much it, any final comments to the readers?
I don't know what the fuck to say, everything gets to cliché... I would like everyone to come down to Gothenburg for the DVD recording. It will be a big show with 19 songs, a choir, string quartet and fifteen cameras. And a party afterwards for everybody who wants to come.

Thanks a lot for the interview.
Thank you.

Links of interest:

Inside Out America
Inside Out Europe
Division One Entertainment