Jonas Ekdahl speaks about Evergrey’s Hymns for the Broken

 

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Drummer Jonas Ekdahl discusses how Evergrey re-grouped and  made their latest recording Hymns For The Broken

 

 

Terry Wickham: What was the experience like to come together as Evergrey again?

Jonas Ekdahl: At first it was kind of scary. I took everything real slow, because I was afraid that we would end up where we left off. We had a bunch of meetings, almost like therapy sessions, where we cleared the air, so that we could start off fresh again. After that it felt very humble as well as exciting.

TW:  What did you do during the time you were away from Evergrey?

JE: Musically – I put my focus on the other band me and Henrik are playing in – called ‘DeathDestruction’. We toured and released two albums during that time. I also wrote a lot of music for myself.

 

Evergrey is left to right: Henrik Danhage (Guitars), Rikard Zander (Keyboard), Tom S. Englund (Vocals), Jonas Ekdahl (Drums) and Johan Niemann (Bass)
Evergrey is left to right: Henrik Danhage (Guitars), Rikard Zander (Keyboard), Tom S. Englund (Vocals), Jonas Ekdahl (Drums) and Johan Niemann (Bass)

 

TW:  While you were out of the band, did you ever miss being part of Evergrey?  Is it true absence makes the heart grow fonder?

JE: Eventually, yes. I started to write music that was in the Evergrey-vein, but I didn’t reflect at it the time. That came later on, when we would actually start writing the ‘Hymns for the broken’ album, and I showed up with 20 song ideas.

But the first time I felt that I missed Evergrey was when we had a bachelor party for our old bass player – Michael Håkansson. We surprised him and threw him in the rehearsal room and jammed for two hours straight and drank beer and whiskey. He hadn’t touched a bass for like, seven years or so. It was very nostalgic and only good vibes.

TW:  I absolutely loved Glorious Collision album, but there is something about the collective whole of a band.  Look, as good as Dream Theater is with drummer Mike Mangini, it’s not the same as when Mike Portnoy was in the band.  There’s a spark missing.  In filmmaking, Director John Carpenter  could never match the movies he made with cinematographer Dean Cundey (Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China).  How do you feel about that in terms of Evergrey?

JE: I know what you mean. It’s a tough question, since Evergrey has had more member changes than a football team.  But I don’t think it’s up to me to answer that, feels more like a fan-based question. All I can say is that I’m really enjoying playing in Evergrey again. More than ever, to be honest. 

TW:  When you guys decided to re-group, was there an impetus in terms of the music or was it just strictly on social, business level?

JE: The intentions were just to make- and play music together again, and have fun. That’s it. It has nothing to do with business at all. And I think that shows pretty clear too.

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TW:  To be honest with you, the lyrics on the album are really timely on a global level, as there are many of us struggling to get by on a daily basis.  I think it makes the album even more relevant than just your band reassembling.  Was that something you were aware of when writing the songs? 

JE: On some songs Tom wrote the lyrics at the same time as we wrote the music and other lyrics were written after the music was done. And it’s very timely, yes, since the album is dealing with the matter of exhaustion depression. Somehow people seem to be embarrassed discussing this, but I think it’s very relevant and very important to talk about it in the open because it’s getting more and more common that people suffer from things like way too much stress and exhaustion to depression and anxiety. I’ve experienced this too. To reveal yourself as depressed or anxious shouldn’t make you feel ashamed or guilty towards other people. But I know it does, considering how people try to make themselves look in the social medias for example.

TW:  Speaking of songwriting, did the band do it anything differently than you had in the past, in terms of how and who wrote the songs?

JE: No not really. The only difference was that we sent files to each other sometimes, which we never did before. It made things more flexible and available I guess.

TW:  What’s your favorite song on the album and why?

JE: I really like ‘Black Undertow’. The song really changes mood throughout the song, I like that contrast. And the chorus is really big and has a great hook.

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TW:  As a drummer, was there something you wanted to accomplishment on this album musically or was it just about the songs?

JE: It’s always about the songs. And I try to play as musical as possible, all the time. If there’s not room for fancy fills and stuff – save them for later. They will have a bigger impact than playing on ten all the time. The only thing I had in mind was to always have a groove, no matter if I played double bass or just a simple back beat.

I recorded a lot of songs together with Johan, which was very cool. I think it gave everything a more lively kind of vibe. He’s an amazing bass player.

TW:  The music video for “King of Errors” is pretty amazing piece of filmmaking.  How did you find the filmmaker who did it and talk about the shooting of the video.

JE: This idea has been around for ten years, but we didn’t get a permission to get up on that crane until now. We got together with director Patric Ullaeus, who is a great friend that has done every Evergrey video since ‘A touch of blessing‘ in 2004. He recorded our DVD as well. So we go way back. He always gets what we want to do and deliver our visions on video. And he somehow makes us look good on camera. He’s just amazing to work with!

TW:  Where was the music video shot?  Was it close by where you guys live?

JE: We shot the video in Gothenburg, where we live. The crane is kind of a landmark of the city. The nature shots were done outside Gothenburg, on the country side.

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TW:  Looking back on the catalog of your Evergrey albums, what would you say about each one that comes to mind now? 

The Inner Circle

JE: The first album I ever recorded. We basically lived in the studio for 8 months- writing and recording that album.  A lot of fun and a lot of hard work and late hours. But that goes for all of these albums.

A Night to Remember (DVD/CD)

JE: One of the proudest moments of my life. 10 years after it’s release and it still looks and sounds great. The bonus material is awesome as well. The DVD reached #1 on the Swedish DVD chart, and it also got a Swedish Grammy nominee. We lost against ABBA…

Monday Morning Apocalypse

JE: The first time I got to work with a producer. A new, different and a great experience. I recorded the drums in 2 1/2 days. An underrated album in my opinion.

Torn

JE: A dark album in many ways. The darkest of all Evergrey albums. The band was kind of…torn, I guess. There was a lot of frustrating and stressful stuff going on while writing and recording this album. Looking back at it, I’m actually impressed that we managed to make the album as great as it is.

Hymns for the Broken

JE: So much positive energy and good vibes. A lot of fun, and a lot of playing. Being back together again we discovered that we all had matured since ‘Torn’, and we have another respect for each other now, musically.

TW:  Obviously you are aware that I choose Hymns for the Broken as one of the Best Albums of 2014.  How has the response been for it been and the band’s reaction to what people are saying?

JE: Yes, thank you very much for that!

The response has been totally overwhelming. The reviews has been better that we ever could expect. Album of the month in so many magazines and webzines, and now ‘Hymn.’ starts to get these ‘Album of the year’ announcements… Unbelievable!

And the reactions from our fans have been insane! People love the album, and me and Henrik has got so much love and compliments for being back it’s almost hard to realize that people care so much for Evergrey, and that we actually matter to people. It makes me so humble, I can’t express that enough.

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TW:  What is Evergrey planning for 2015 and when can we expect to see Evergrey tour the United States?

JE: We’re doing the shows we feel like doing. We’re not gonna do 200 shows for the sake of it, we rather just do the right shows for us. We have a couple of summer festivals lined up, we some touring plans as well, but nothing I can confirm right now.

TW:  Jonas – thank you for getting back together in Evergrey.  You are one of my Top-3 Favorite bands and the latest album is another stellar release in the band’s ever-growing list of superior work.

Thank you, that means a lot!  Cheers, and thank you for reading
/J