Evergrey’s Tom Englund Talks ‘Hymns for the Broken’ Album, ‘King of Errors’ Video + More
Don't call it a comeback. They've been here for years. But there is no doubt that Evergrey are enjoying an uptick in their career thanks to their new 'Hymns for the Broken' album. The disc is set to drop in stores, bolstered by the recently released 'King of Errors' single. 'The Grand Collapse' will follow shortly. Loudwire had a chance to speak with Evergrey frontman Tom Englund about the early buzz on the new album, what it was like welcoming guitarist Henrik Danhage and drummer Jonas Ekdahl back into the band and what's on the horizon for the group. Check out the chat below.
First of all congrats on the early response to the new album 'Hymns for the Broken.' It's getting great word of mouth. Did you had a specific idea in mind of what you wanted for this album before entering the studio and how close did you come to that original vision?
I mean, we really never had a vision. This album had been finished since the end of May, I can’t believe it's not out yet. It feels like I have been listening to it every other day. It still feels extremely fresh, hungry and contemporary in a way. I’m damn proud on accomplishing on our ninth album.
It's not for us to say if it’s the best release we have ever done. Surely seems like it, if you look at the unanimous response that we have had all over the world. Doesn’t matter what country or what corner of the world you are in. It’s like mind blowing on how to handle it or tackle it. We are cautiously happy, super proud, super psyched for everyone to hear it like this next week. We have been waiting for this moment so long. For us and the guys, this has been a secret since October last year pretty much. It’s been almost a year now that we have been waiting for people to take part of us again, it’s a great feeling.
The new album featured the return of Henrik and Jonas to the lineup. They had both spent extensive time with the band prior. Can you talk about what their return meant to the band and what is the current camaraderie like with the guys coming back?
It meant everything of course. Two members in a band of five is 40 percent, so that is major. Then on top of that Jonas, primarily Jonas, missed making music for Evergrey when he was gone, so when he came back, Jonas had 27 songs entering this project again. That, of course, it made me feel like he really wanted to do this, which was a great start for us to start collaborating. Henrik also had songs.
The cool thing about all this was that we have never been enemies. We have always been very straight forward about the fact that we left each other in order to maintain our friendship, nothing else. With them being back now, we took serious consideration; it was like breaking up from a girlfriend, then going back with her again, when we already left all these emotions. You already shut the doors that you wanted to shut and now you have to cautiously open the doors again. So we had long meetings, out of respect for Evergrey. Also we felt we needed to respect the entity that it is. Now we feel great. The chemistry in the band is fantastic. Everybody has been involved 100 percent in doing this. We have not a single note that has not been through the filter between the five of us. We are pumped!!!
We recently had a chance to premiere the 'King of Errors' video here at Loudwire and once again Patric Ullaeus has done a wonderful job. Can you talk about your experience shooting the video and also why it was the natural choice to return to Patric after all the videos he's shot for you over the past decade?
That is why it's natural. We are friends. We have the same view on graphics, sort of same picturesque language if you will. We have been waiting eight years to do these shots on top of the crane. We never got a permit, but all of a sudden, Henrik and Jonas come back to the band, they switched owners of the crane and then we were allowed to be up there all of a sudden so Its like everything lined up in a perfect way.
I think what we wanted to display with the video is that we are on top of the world in a way, then the next set I am drowning in the river of doubt. I think that is like what we wanted to say and how we live our lives. We try to portray ourselves as kings on the Internet, Twitter, and the f---ing Instagram, or whatever it is. Nobody posts pictures about when they feel like s--t, or want to go hang themselves in the basement. This is also a big natural reality for a lot of people, I think it's something that we need to talk about. In order to make the younger ones f---ing stand, stand to live on natural terms because they are measuring each other on unnatural terms.
I saw on the Facebook page that you stated that the band just shot "the best music video in the world' with Patric Ullaeus. Can you give us an idea of what's coming next and does it tie in with what you did for 'King of Errors' or is it it's own separate video?
Yes, this is a conceptual story. It’s going to be more of the material you haven’t seen from the same sort of scenes in a way, but with the longer shots that we have done. We shot these clips and meant for them to be 40 seconds long and in a music video you rarely have that happen.
The next video will be for 'The Grand Collapse,' which is one of the most, progressive and dark songs, and most metal song on the album. It’s very rare you get to do something like that, then of course we mixed in new vocal clips and I haven’t seen anything of it yet. I felt like when we were filming this in the forest shooting it, doing it, it felt completely amazing. I have yet to be disappointed with Patric. I am really looking forward to Friday when it comes out.
'Hymns for the Broken' definitely creates certain imagery when you hear the title. Can you talk about the album title and what it means to you?
I think what I wanted to state. We make music for a certain percentage of the people of the world that are intrigued by the lyrics. We write about the humans struggling, so many of our fans that have gone through the same stuff we have, or are doing it right now. At the same time you can use these words, say the word “Broken” is like the outside world's word for us who are in this circle of trust. People can apply my words to their own lives. Whether they be in a war or in a divorce or whatever, I think the words are to bring encouragement, or divide burden into smaller pieces -- for people having the burden being easier to bear.
This album definitely rocks. So many great songs ('Wake a Change,' 'King of Errors,' 'A New Dawn' etc). But to narrow things down a little bit, is there a song that you feel particularly close to that you count it as one of your favorites from this disc and if so, could you talk about why that track stands out to you?
It’s so hard because I have so many songs that I would be proud to say my favorite song. The 'Aftermath' is one of the songs I feel is one of the greatest compositions I’ve been part of making/writing. It feels like we sort of accomplished something with that song at the end of the album that we have never been too close to before or even touched music wise. I think that Johan and Jonas recorded the song in one take. That was remarkable because it really grooves very much, but on the other hand we rehearse a lot. Not that it's difficult to play, but just to get into that groove and be able to maintain it throughout the seven minutes or so, it felt like we could be playing this ending part forever in a way. It felt tireless and that is how I feel about this song . That is how I feel about the song, it has that epicness, I have a hard time describing in words.
Which songs are you most interested in introducing into your sets and can you talk about how you feel the new material stacks up or fits in with your back catalog?
Well right now, we are so far deep into the promotion for this album. I think I am on my fifth week, traveled a lot, in a way, and I have a hard time even knowing where I am when I wake up in the morning with the promotion tours we have done for this record. We haven’t even started to choose or understand where we need to put this album in a live context yet. We have two songs from this album that we rehearsed; naturally will play 'The Grand Collapse' and 'King of Errors' since these are two songs from the album.
I mean, given the response the album has already, we will have the obligation to play a lot of songs from the new album. We will have a big f---ing problem since if we would select the songs from our past videos for a live set, we would have nine songs which would be about forty minutes and that is not including the new album videos. Yeah we will see where we will end up with this. It’s nice to have this problem.
Technically Henrik and Jonas haven't been gone that long and you did have some time to get back up to speed in the studio, but is there any sort of learning curve bringing the guys back into the live setting or does it feel like they never left?
It most definitely feels that they left. We always say this in every interview, among the hundreds that we have done now. If Henrik and Jonas didn’t leave, or we didn’t make them leave back in the day, Evergrey would not be here today. That is for sure. I think that was one of the most wise decisions out of the respect for Evergrey and respect for us as musicians/human beings. It was a choice I doubt we would have been able to make when we were 20 years old. We value the sort of history more than the future. We saw ourselves sort of go down the drain if we continued back then. Now it feels fantastic, definitely feels they are back. We had long talks and meetings about all of this. We have matured as human beings and musicians. It’s a pleasure to be together and be able to play together again. We missed each other.
How do you feel about the music scene at the moment as compared to how it was when you first started as a band? What's some of the biggest changes you've seen since you've started in how music has evolved and is presented to listeners?
Well the problem we had when we started like all bands was we needed to make our voices heard in the world. Today everybody knows who we are. Also the birth of internet gives you a chance to reach out immediately and also in a way to get the listeners you deserve if you work hard enough. The downside is of course that nobody buys the physical album anymore. I wouldn’t say no one because we have a lot of fans that do. Compared to back in the day, it was easier to sell albums, in that way was easier to get an advance from a record label, and that way made it easier to live off music as we have done for the longest of times. I am glad we are a band that is established today. As I truly appreciate the struggles and efforts being put into this by bands coming up today, or been doing this a long time. Comparing it as I stated is the best way I know.
At this stage in your career, this album feels like an uptick and that you're connecting with more audiences than ever. How do you see things playing out going forward? Do you think 'Hymns for the Broken' will be a jumping off point for the next album or do you typically start fresh with each new album?
We always start fresh. The cool thing about it, It seems like all of a sudden everyone all over the world understand us. Ah those Evergrey guys, pretty cool. We are like, 'What the f--- happened? What did we do differently this time?" We are super happy that the planets seemed to align our way and all of a sudden we are comprehendible to people. We haven’t even released this album yet, so let's please release this album first before we talk about the next one. There might not even be another one, so let’s enjoy this while it lasts.
Anything you want to add about what's coming up for Evergrey that we should be looking for?
First and foremost, we need to thank our fans. We really appreciate the fact that we have fans all over the world. We have not been as vocal on this before on how appreciative we are because we never really understood it. To have people that are such dedicated to us is mind boggling; to be able to be part of people’s lives is a gift. We thank you all and look forward to seeing you on tour. We will try to come everywhere and anywhere.