Interview Tom Englund (Evergrey)

"Hymns for the broken is a super personal album"

(October 2014, text by Martien Koolen, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures from Evergrey)

Only a year ago the Swedish progressive metal band Evergrey was as good as dead due to the fact that singer and guitar player Tom Englund felt less and less inspired after their latest album Glorious Collision (2011, see review). Moreover, the band fell apart as Henrik Danhage (bass) and Jonas Ekdahl (drums) decided to leave Evergrey. However, Englund reorganized the band and Ekdahl and Danhage returned and together they recorded one of their best albums ever called Hymns For The Broken (see review). This was a perfect reason for Background Magazine to ask Tom Englund to what's it all about.

Well, you made a comeback with a superb new album. Did you expect to record a new album after Glorious Collision?
Tom Englund: “We got an opportunity to make a new album, but we were very close to quit, so in that sense it's quite remarkable that we're still around. I would say that the return of Jonas Ekdahl and Henrik Danhage saved the band. Jonas wrote 27 tracks,
Tom Englund
so I think we have enough material for another great album. There was no time to make a double album, so we saved the rest of the tracks for a follow-up to Hymns For The Broken.”

To what extent does the new album differ from the other albums by Evergrey?
“Eh... well, I don't think that much. It's still Evergrey as my voice makes it Evergrey, which is a very recognizable voice. However, it's a band album since everyone in the band has done their jobs; Jonas is responsible for 50 percent of the music and I wrote the lyrics.”

What are the lyrics about and how or where did you get the inspiration to write them?
“It has been a very exhausting and difficult period in my life since the release date of our previous album. I was wondering who I really was; what should I do with the rest of my life? It was really a tough time. So, therefore the new album is a super personal album...”

Is it too personal?
“That's for all the listeners to decide, but I don't feel the need to explain every single sentence. It's my story, it's my life, take it or leave it. I put my heart and soul in the lyrics in all candour. It's about me whether you like it or not.”

The lyrics are actually quite melancholic or even dark; are you a pessimist by nature?
“No, I'm definitely an optimist. There's always a new dawn and there is always a new tomorrow, but, yeah, shit happens man, all the time. It's not that important for me that all fans understand all my lyrics as long as they like the songs and they can relate to some of the stuff I wrote about. I get lots of e-mails from people about my songs, thanking me for a great track or great lyrics. They use my songs both for funerals and weddings. That's great, because our songs are apparently important to some people and I love that.”

So, are you still having fun in the music scene?
“We're having fun again! Yep, it's cool to be back, it looks like everything is new again and it feels good to be alive as Evergrey. We feel like we don't have to do anything; there's no pressure, we just do what we want to do, so we're happy. We try to express our passion for music and that is what Evergrey is about.”

Would you please tell us who 'the broken' are in the title of the new album?
“Of course; the word 'broken' refers to the band, to us, to all the struggles in life we have to face as we all have as human beings.”


King Of Errors has been released as a single, which is in my opinion no obvious choice as it is a rather long track.
“This is really funny, because all journalists we spoke to suggested to bring out another track as a single. However, we were sure that it had to be King Of Errors although it's eight minutes long. Well, fuck the boundaries! Remember Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen; that was our model. That was a long track as well, but it reached the number 1 position in all the charts everywhere. King Of Errors has a great chorus; it is catchy, but not cheesy, so I think it will do fine as a single.”

Isn't the ballad Missing You too sweet a song for Evergrey being a metal band?
“That depends. If you think that it's a love song, maybe, but it isn't my friend, since it is about missing oneself. This piano ballad is typical for us; we have been doing this kind of songs on all the previous albums so far. It adds to the diversity of the album and variety is important in music, so...”

Is Hymns For The Broken the best Evergrey album ever?
“Yeah! It sounds like a bloody cliché, but it's our best album so far, at least I really think so. I listen to the album a lot and I still hear things that amaze me, so, come out there, buy or die!”

Do you have any plans for the near future?
“We have not yet decided about touring plans as we first want to see how the album sells; the reviews have all been very good so far, so there's hope! We will definitely not be doing two-hundred shows or more a year; that was really too much!”

Maybe recording a new DVD?
“Yeah, but we need € 100,000 to make a DVD; the label won't pay that amount of money. Maybe we can try to realize it by crowd funding as we will have our twentieth anniversary next year, so that would be a good occasion for a DVD.”

Thanks for your time and good luck with the album and the tour.
“Thank you, my friend. It's always a pleasure talking to you.”

More info about Evergrey on the Internet:
       review album 'Glorious Collision'
       review album 'Hymns For The Broken'

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2014