US power-prog-melodic-death act Epicurean have had an excellent year so far, with a signing to Metal Blade, the release of their uplifting album “A Consequence of Design” and a slot supporting Iced Earth in front of some mammoth audiences. I caught up with them to find out a little more about their origins, inspirations and pledge to be a breakdown-free zone. For legal reasons I must deny trying to kill them with difficult questions! These are simply the things we want to know…
ES: Hail Epicurean; thank you for talking with us. How are you doing?
Epicurean: Doing really well, thank you! We’re just getting back home and back to work on some new music.
ES: For those readers who may not have encountered you before, could you sketch a history of the band so far?
Epicurean: Sure! We all pretty much came together in late 2003/early 2004. There was another Epicurean that our drummer was in, and when that disbanded another band was formed and we kept the name. Since then we’ve gone through a few members, but once we had the right line-up solidified we just started touring, passing out copies of our demo and so on. That’s pretty much it, we always spent a lot of time on the road, and then writing for this record.
ES: I recently reviewed the re-release of your second album, “A Consequence of Design”. Have you been pleased with the responses to the album?
Epicurean: Well, this is really the first (in case you’re referring to the album the original put out). But the response has been great! We’ve been overwhelmed by the response, it’s been really cool.
ES: It must be a little strange for you to go through the process of airing this album again, having already done so in 2006. Does it feel like a “new” album to you?
Epicurean: You know it really does feel new to us. We did put the album out already, but really it was just released ourselves, so it wasn’t in stores or anything like that. And then when we signed with Metal Blade, we had to pull it and not sell it anymore. So in reality it was really only out for about 7 months. So with that, being able to give it a proper release, with the new mix and new artwork, it does actually feel like a new record.
ES: Fans can now hear an extra two tracks which have been added to the album; were they new songs you created for the release or did you have them in reserve from when you were writing the first time around?
Epicurean: No, we had been working on them, but didn’t have anything finished, and then Metal Blade and us decided it would be good to add some new tracks to make a more well-rounded album, so we finished them up and went into the studio.
ES: How did your association with Metal Blade begin? Have you been happy with the label so far?
Epicurean: We ended up being picked up by a management company right after we put our version of the record out. He has asked what labels we really wanted when he began shopping the material to labels, and Metal Blade was at the top of the list. So he sent the material out to them, and they must have heard something they liked, and we began talking out a deal. So far, we have been really happy. Everyone there is really cool and down to earth; it’s been really great.
ES: Many commentators have picked out the strong European influences in your music; do you feel this is a fair assessment? How would you describe your sound, and what do makes you stand out?
Epicurean: I definitely think that’s fair, haha. Really for me, it’s hard to describe the music, mainly because we never set out to be anything specific. We actually tried to avoid being part of any specific sub-genre or scene. Usually when people ask I just say “Symphonic metal”. I think that the style we put into arrangement is what really sets us apart. We always took a more old-prog approach to the arrangements, and I think that’s where we differ from a lot of bands.
ES: Which acts have had the greatest influence on you? If you had to pick five albums you couldn’t possibly live without, what would they be?
Epicurean: Oh wow, there have been so many. You’re trying to kill me with this question, aren’t you? Haha. Well, my opinion changes all the time, so these aren’t necessarily my “ALL TIME” top 5, but these would all be way up there, in no particular order:
1. Symphony X “The Odyssey”
2. Kansas “Leftoverture”
3. Queen “A Night At The Opera”
4. Rush “Moving Pictures”
5. Elvis Costello “My Aim is True”
ES: The artwork on “A Consequence of Design” is very striking; how did it come about?
Epicurean: Thank you. The original artwork was a piece I had been working on for a while, and then this new artwork is a new take on that artwork. I wanted to keep it thematically close to the original, but make it a little more eye catching. The whole treatment of the record was designed to play into the concept of the music. So there is a decent amount of symbolism in the artwork.
ES: Your song titles and lyrics have a poetic impact; do you feel lyrical creativity is an important part of your music? Who is responsible for the lyrics, and where do they gather their inspiration?
Epicurean: Well thanks again! I write the lyrics, which all tie into a concept running through this album (and will continue for the next few records). It was always important to us to add a more poetic element to the music, I think a lot of bands either can’t or don’t take advantage of that in metal today. I would at least like to think I have something better to say then to simply scream “FUCK” as many times as I can, haha. As far as where they come from, I just draw inspiration from my life, and the way I feel about things that are going on with my life, and then just translate them into elements of this story.
ES: You’ve just played a number of US dates, including a festival with Iced Earth. How did the tour go? Is playing live an integral part of Epicurean?
Epicurean: The last couple of tours have gone really well, and we’re really happy to be out on the road playing these songs. And then hanging out with Iced Earth was a blast! They’re really cool guys, and it was an honour to play Matt Barlow’s first show back with the band, he was great!
ES: What is the best live experience you have had? And the worst?
Epicurean: I would have to say the Iced Earth show we just did was about as good as it’s gotten for us. The crowd was huge, and really responsive to what we were doing. I couldn’t even pinpoint a worst one. All I can think of is all the shows we would do in other cities when we first started out where 4 people would show up. But, there was a time we played in Texas for all these lame ‘scene’ kids who were yelling, “Where’s the breakdown?!?” I just remember being pissed the whole time we were on stage.
ES: I think ‘justifiable homicide’ becomes a possibility in such cases. Shame on you, scene kids!
ES: Seeing as you’ve been so busy touring, have you had time to be working on new material? In what direction do you see Epicurean heading next?
Epicurean: Not as much time as I would have liked, haha, but yes we have been working on some new stuff. We have a little time right now as well, so we’ve been hard at work on that new material. As far as direction, I think we’re going to approach this record the same way we did the last one: We’re just going in with no real set goal for what we want, and we’re just going to make whatever music comes out. I think this next record will be much more technical, which is an avenue we’ve wanted to explore, and there may be a bit more of a “power-metal” vibe but we’ll just see I guess!
ES: Thanks again for your time, and good luck for the future!
Epicurean: Thank you so much!!! And thanks for taking the time to do this with me, these questions were fun.
For more on the band check out www.epicureanmetal.com
Interviewed by Ellen Simpson