Interviewed by Adrian Hextall (Writer/Journalist/Contributor)
Following Everygrey’s ‘Glorious Collision’ album from 2011 it’s well known that Tom Englund felt less and less inspired to continue in music. With the original line-up breaking up in 2010 – which saw Henrik Danhage (guitars), Jonas Ekdahl (drums), and Jari Kainulainen (bass) leave on friendly terms fans were unsure how Tom would be able to continue and not surprisingly despite attempts to carry on it didn;t work. As such Englund had seriously considered throwing in the towel. Due entirely to forces beyond their control throwing the original members back together what was meant to be a temporary reunion has proven a little more long term.
Myglobalmind sat down with Tom to talk about time and circumstances and why the time is right once more for Evergrey.
MGM: It looks like it’s been quite a personal time for you over the last few years? What’s been going on in your life? Clearly a lot to bring you back to this point with the band again?
Yeah, it’s a vast and wide story. How much I tell you depends on how far I want to go, depends on how you ask the question. (At this point a coffee is delivered by the bar staff of the hotel we sit in. A smile is forthcoming as Tom confirms he is in need of the caffeine after a very early start to get to London). “This looks nice”.
MGM: Let’s talk about from 2010 onwards. You and the guys split up. You carry on, obviously, with other musicians in the band as well. But from reading behind the scenes as to what went on, with you and the guys, friendship won over the music? You obviously wanted to stay close, you wanted to remain good friends and that was one of the reasons you all split amicably. Then over these last few years then, you’ve seemingly struggled to maintain, not the core musicians, but at least something you can call the solid core of the band. Then you’re all back together again. It would be nice to understand how?
Thank you. I think I struggled to maintain the core identity of myself. That was the bottom line. But of course, when Hannes (former Everygrey drummer) had asked me if I thought that he should join Sabaton…… he’s 23 years old and I’ve been touring the world since I was 23 years old…..of course I had to say yes because I was feeling that we were on….. a declining stage, basically, where I wasn’t sure at all that I wanted to pursue that album cycle one more time.
MGM: Because it must be quite draining presumably? The album cycle of the writing, recording. Then of course you tour on the back of it, so you’re away for a long time as well.
Yeah, absolutely. But on the other hand, it’s no effort at all because it’s the life we choose and that’s what we are. But it’s like being miserable at any work. If you don’t feel like it, any fucking job is bullshit job. It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive and earning 12,000 pounds a month or 10 bucks, it doesn’t matter….
MGM: Yeah, by the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy the job…
It’s so insignificant – money is. But it came to the point where when Hannes asked me and I said, “Yes, of course you should do that,” and Marcus also was interested more in other things and so was I but we still had two shows that we needed to do because we had them booked. Hannes couldn’t do them if he was supposed to do Sabaton. So then I asked Jonas and Henrik, because I knew Marcus couldn’t do it either, if they could do it, maybe possibly. It never even entered my mind the possibility of anything continuing past that.
MGM: This was more a case of asking your friends that if they would help you out rather than a long term thing?
I have never had any, any, thoughts, not even after those shows, I didn’t entertain any thoughts of them hooking back with us. So they did these two shows, the album that they were working on and had recorded got postponed so timing worked for us. When we did those shows, what we did feel was the fun of it – we had fun – which was the thing that we were lacking back when we broke up. All of a sudden we had this working state where we functioned as individuals.
MGM: There’s a reason to get out of bed. There’s a reason to come to the office, as it were.
Yeah, I know you, and then Henrik’s playing with us again. We played for ten years. I know that if I look left now, he’s going to be there, and he was there. I turned and I knew how Jonas would look in his face when I mess up.. they have this look.[laughter].
MGM: At least It’s one you’re familiar with.
Yeah, exactly. And I didn’t get scared. Yeah, some familiarity. We’re getting older and we appreciate different things in life. You must know yourself–
MGM: Absolutely. I’m now 22 years into the career I’ve chosen and there are times when you wonder why you bother every day, but you find alternate ways to approach it, new horizons, new ventures. Yeah, you have to reignite yourself at times, don’t you?
And sometimes you even reinvent yourself – where we are right now. I felt totally lost and out of energy, out of will, out of motivation, and I didn’t even think that we had an album in us. I thought– when Hannes said it, then I was like, “Yeah, fuck it then. It’s had its course.” We have had a great time for 12, 13 years.
MGM: That is a good time for a band to have survived these days, isn’t it? You can look back on that 12, 13 years and think rightly, “I’m proud of that. It’s a lot longer than a lot of bands do.”
And no one can take that away from me. Even if I would die right now, I would be super happy with what I left the world with and what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. On the other hand, when you get that sparkle and that creative mind going again, it’s hard to stop. But I had to stop it back then. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I felt we– it was a worthy ending, but then, all of a sudden, AFM contacted us two weeks or a month before those two shows I told you about. So then I sort of agreed mutually to doing an album again. Of course, they offered the money and other things that we never actually needed or wanted.
MGM: And now you’re here. Has that writing process changed? From the point you got the call, you did the show, you realized it was fun again, a lot happened to the music scene as well. In terms of inspiration and what you wrote on the back of it this time did you identify different influences that you may not have heard previously?
Probably, but then very unconsciously. I’m a guy that listens to the shit I listened to throughout the years always. I’m not diving into new things. I discover maybe a new thing every year – nothing more.
MGM: Back in the old days then, when you were first starting out, what were your drivers as far as musical influence is concerned?
Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Europe top name a few.
MGM: One of the reasons I asked, coming through on some of the softer tracks on the new album, you’ve got a very Peter Gabriel-ish feel to your voice, like early Genesis almost.
I love Peter Gabriel, and there’s a song– what’s that album called? We listen to it a lot. It’s not the Sun album, is it? It’s called Red Rain….
MGM: Yeah,” So” has got ‘Red Rain’ on it. To be honest, I thought of ‘Red Rain’ at one point as well.
I love Peter Gabriel. I love a lot of British music, actually. Now when I think of it, it’s more British music than anything else.
MGM: It’s that storytelling element that the old British bands seem to do quite well, and certainly early Genesis as well where they– and the whole album, like a lot of your work as well, can tell a whole story.
Absolutely. I think– on this album we have all, for the first time when everybody’s here, contributed as a band to the album. We have all done an equal amount. Even though maybe one or two persons have written the foundation for the most, the songs are ours.
MGM: How easy was it to get into that style of writing? Because for you, previously, it was a little bit different?
Yeah. Maybe also, a lot because of my decision that I would sit in the backseat a lot for the creative process, and I understood that this might have– I might have been hindering as much as I had been producing before. So at least for this album, it’s been super creative. We have– I think we have 12 or 13 songs left over that are not as finished, of course, as the album is, but as close to being started to fiddle with and soon record.
MGM: Almost there for a follow up already? I’m sure a lot of fans will be pleased to hear that after such a long spell without music from you. In terms of the song structures and the lyrics, was it more a case of working together to build the songs out and the lyrical content yours? Or are all the lyrics shared as well?
The lyrics are shared to the point that I told them what I would write about and they had input on what they could contribute to that. I had– in Swedish, it’s called an exhaustion depression where you work yourself too hard. I had that on the release day of the ‘Glorious Collision’ album, that’s when I started.
MGM: That was back in 2011?
Possibly… I don’t know. Or ’10, I can’t remember. We had the release party and we sold all these albums yet we knew then nothing mattered at all. I just needed to get the fuck away from there. I didn’t want to have anything to do with anybody involved in this at all. That was the grand collapse, if you will, of the album.
MGM: I was going to ask, with the titles you’ve got rather than looking at the lyrics as well.. but purely from the titles alone, I kind of piece together what it felt like the in the past and the aftermath of everything that had happened. You’ve got The Grand Collapse. It seems like The Aftermath had everything that had gone wrong. And then looking at the past, Mistakes, Archaic Rage, The King of Errors almost – why did this all happen. And then the resolution where you’ve got Wake A Change, Missing You, bringing the guys back together – what were the barricades to stopping that happening. It seemed to flow. Is that the concept of the album that follows that period in life?
If I would make it very short without painting the whole picture – because I don’t want to do that – the King of Errors is about walking around in the world – I’m talking about me – portraying myself in this officially, that we are doing now. I’m trying to be as nice and cool and talkative as possible – I am such a person. But in the videos and the photos and everything, we try to look as cool as possible. I think that is a common approach to life for people – that we want to portray ourselves better than what we maybe feel inside when the door is closed–
MGM: You never want to show your fragile side?
And accompanied by this feeling of greatness that I have – that I experienced about myself – I am very proud of the things we have accomplished but I have also all the sense that I’ve tricked people into thinking something – that everybody’s great, that I am great musician, and whatnot. So there’s always this sense of doubt. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to bear. It’s…. It’s something that I think also resonates back to– like Archaic Rages, it’s a psychological term for feeling– you’re coded with different mood swings and I’ve always felt anger more than anything else.
MGM: And whatever you try and do, it’s still in there. It’s how you handle it and how you control it?
But never to the point where I would have hit or killed someone, but there’s still this anger there all the time. So all these songs are really psychological terms– diagnosis’s on myself throughout the transition that I’ve been going through for the last six years.
MGM: And having finally come out to the other side, the album cover itself suggests triumph over adversity. I saw a couple of comments to suggest it looked very much like a revolutionary painting. But also that revolutionary piece does suggest triumph and success, which I’m guessing is you’ve come out of it and that’s where you are now?
I can maybe see it……
MGM: Heading towards it?
Yeah, maybe I can start to see the light in the tunnel. I’m not there yet. The album cover, for me, is portraying – as I just explained – the inner revolution that’s going on inside of me, the inner dialogue, the constantly debating the insecurity and the security, and the good and the bad, and the feeling worthy and feeling unworthy, and feeling on top of the world and below it all.
MGM: So you haven’t necessarily won the war but you’re fighting the battle, as it were.
Yes, exactly. And that’s what I say, I think, in there. I’m also saying that. But I use the worn out analogy. We’ll come back in Spring and we’ll try again because…
MGM: That’s really insightful ..thanks for that. Now, one of the tracks on the album that I couldn’t fit into any of these thoughts around from what I’ve learned about you and how you might be sort of addressing everything was Black Undertow. I was really– I love this song. I have to say, it’s the one I keep going back to and listen to again and again. But I don’t quite see what it’s in relation to or how it fits. I wondered if you could expand?
Yeah. It feels like– what’s the song before that? It’s The Fire. The Fire is sort of in that area of the song – I can’t remember what order the songs are. Hold on, I’ll check. Sorry, do you them on there?
MGM: I do. There you go. So it’s ‘Barricades’.
Yeah, exactly… Barricades is about tearing down all these standards that I have built up in my head – the enormous expectations of me, and from myself as well. Barricades is the first battle, if you will, occurring inside my head. After that, I experienced freedom, but freedom feels like a black undertow because I’m afraid of what freedom feels like because I never felt it before. I hope that makes sense.
MGM: Yeah, it does indeed. As I say, it was just that element that I couldn’t quite see and grasp myself. Thank you very much. Now you’ve touched upon your other albums. You’ve covered off paranoia, and abduction, cults, religion. Is the darker material that you write about as a result of how you feel or how some of the things you’ve written about has also affected you as well?
Of course, both times. Like The Inner Circle album is something that provoked me to the point that I wanted to go to America and execute every Catholic priest there was because of their status, using people’s weaknesses and playing God with them in order to indulge themselves, basically. And that came out… this is so weird because that album came out and at the same time that that came out, they discovered a big – what do you call it – sect in Sweden. The day that that came out, they discovered this big ass sect in the middle parts of Sweden where several hundred peoples were involved, and kids, and they had murdered people, and all because of the religion’s effect on people, and priests taking advantage of people wanting to believe something.
You could probably say that for other people – like people living in Ukraine or in Israel or Palestine or whatever you want – they can use this current album to look at their own position, where they are and at the war they’re in, and hopefully….
MGM: Get inspiration from it?
Or help ease the burden somehow and understand that other people have it the same way but on different levels.
How do you intend to promote the album?
We’re doing 14 days of promotion. And you know, as you, everybody got their album yesterday, and then the schedule, it’s full. We have two days here and all people are judging the album at the moment just by the video as it is all they have seen or heard in advance.
MGM: I was going to say, what’s the reaction been to that? Because obviously that hit YouTube only a few days ago as well?
Insane. We didn’t expect– we knew it was a great song, but also the video is– have you seen it?
MGM: Yes. I got the link a couple days ago. It’s very epic in scale, definitely. It’s very, very impressive
I’m just happy to know the right people. Of course, the reception– also we presented the new members – the old members – in the first chorus and we saw the plans for the last year. The reception has been… we have seen.. YouTube can do the thumbs up or thumbs down. After three days, I think it was like 1400 thumbs up and 14 thumbs down. That’s 1%. So when you hit that, I guess, then you sort of strike something in people. Then I get my hopes up on everything.
MGM: I think you’re allowed to.
Now we’re doing all these interviews and everybody– not everybody is saying these words, but lots of people have said that this your best album and I’m cautious as I’m saying, “Thank you.”
MGM: It’s not just because there’s been a long break, I don’t think. The first time I heard you was The Inner Circle and I still have that on my iPod. I listen to it on a regular basis. But it has a collection of songs whereas this seems to flow….. smoothly – is the best word I can use. There is a smooth flow from start to finish on this one. Before you know it, you’ve hit the end of the album, and that’s really good. It’s not that you’ve drifted away, it’s just that you’re so focused, it just flows straight through. I can see why people are saying that.
We’ve heard the same thing. They’re like, “We sat and listened to it on the iPod and then all of a suddenly we just noticed that it had stopped right– because they listened to it while working – and then it was finished.” And then he was like, “We sat silent for a while and then he stood up and said, ‘You’ve got to hear this fucking album.'” I also had another friend doing an interview. He was here and he asked– In Search of Truth was his favourite album of all albums – of all time. He told me that this pushes that out.
MGM: That’s praise indeed. That’s very nice. Was the choice of song for the video yours? Was it the one that you wanted to put out first?
Unanimous band decision.
MGM: So with 14 days of promotion, you’ve got the videos and–
Time to go to the USA and thankfully this time we do everything in Atlanta because they have ProgPower USA in Atlanta. We have this release listening party there and all of the journalists come there so we get to do all the American press in Atlanta.
MGM: And that’ll be on the back of at least one show out there then?
We don’t play anything. We’re just doing promotion. It makes a good change to not be having to concentrate on that too.
MGM: You can actually enjoy the other bands on the festival for once.
Yes, and enjoy ourselves just listening to the album.
MGM: What about shows? Any intentions?
Of course, always. But the first intention we had was that we would never rush into anything for this album.
MGM: Comes back to the point about you saying about keeping it fun this time.
Yeah, and also we wanted to wait to see what the reactions were, because we don’t have a management. We don’t have a booking agency of choice. Now we can choose, if somebody wants us. But now we started talking to the people that we had been talking with, that had been showing interest. And now we say, “Okay, here are the reactions. Where can we be? Where would you put us?” So it’s a nice position to be in. This doesn’t mean everything for us anymore. We don’t have to do this to survive. It’s like– and I’m talking about their feeling of, “let’s do this otherwise we’ll die.” Now we’re relaxed and confident also, but cautiously obnoxious [laughter].
MGM: But essentially in a good place.
Very much so. Especially mental-wise. We feel– everybody feels– we know it’s going to be hectic but we are also extremely happy to have accomplished to record such an album.
MGM: Wonderful. Thank you. Tom, it’s been really insightful and good luck with the album and the future of the band.
Hymns for the Broken will be released By: AFM Records on September 30, 2014
Tom S. Englund – Vocals, Guitars
Henrik Danhage – Guitars
Johan Niemann – Bass
Rikard Zander – Keyboards
Jonas Ekdahl – Drums