I asked Mr. Englund where he would like to see Evergrey go in the future and he said that he has "an unbroken habit of never deciding this but rather just go with what is closest to my heart at the time." This, he says "makes it unplanned and spontaneous which in itself creates a vibe that is impossible to get when something is planned."
He emphasizes that oftentimes, the process of determining future musical direction is very much a corporate and communal one: "I sometimes sit down with the members and sort of discuss the feeling we´re having at the time... I'd like to compose musically challenging songs that makes the listener experience a sensation when listening. I once said that I´d like to write music that creates a vision for the inner eye so to speak... I think that still stands today."
Among power metal and progressive metal bands, Evergrey stands out as particularly pensive and melancholy in its lyrics, vocal delivery and overall tone. When I asked Mr. Englund if he was influenced in any respect from the doom metal scene, he denied that this was the case on a "conscious level", but affirmed that he is "friends with Leif Edling of Candlemass" and that he "listened to them massively during my upbringing so you might [have] got it right."
Concerning his most important metal influence, he affirms that the most important band is "Most definitely Iron Maiden. By itself and on its own. They are like an entity to me. The exact same way I feel for Pink Floyd. These bands I feel like I have listened to equally and it´s impossible to count those hours." In addition to these, he lists Yngwie Malmsteen, Europpe, Morbid Angel, Pantera and Death. In addition to these metal bands, it was the non-metal band Dire Straits, he says, that inspired him to begin playing guitar.
What the author has always found particularly intriguing is the repeated use of religious themes and imagery in the lyrics. When asked about it, Mr. Englund responded "I guess the mysticism and the unknown is what really drew me to this in the first place. I mean then of course we have The Inner Circle which is an album that opposes the Catholic church and priests so that has its natural ways and explanations." The emphasis here seems to be on opposition to the abuse scandals common in the Roman Catholic Church.
The author asked him about the current metal situation in Gothenburg, Sweden, though Mr. Englund said that he "would be the worst person to ask [about] this" and that he had "no idea at all." "I am not in the scene per se other than being a musician but that the scene is healthy can easily be assessed looking at all the shows and also the festivals happening in Gothenburg."
Nonetheless, he affirms that "all the great bands coming from here are...a strange occurrence." What is it that makes the Gothenburg metal scene so great? Mr. Englund wondered aloud whether or not there might be "something in the water or the beer. This has yet to be answered."
Finally, concerning the departure of Jonas Ekdahl, Henrik Danhage and Jari Kainulainen from the band within the last few years, the author inquired into what effect, if any, their departure and replacement has had on Evergrey's sound. Mr. Englund was careful to preface his answer by emphasizing "I do not think of them as replacements." Entering the band shortly before the recording and release of their most recent album, "The Glorious Collision(2011)", "these guys came in doing a new album primarily. So they brought, just by their presence, new influences, vibes and attitudes which in itself created new oxygen. It felt like a fresh breath of air that´s for sure. We got positivism and joy into the system and this made us move forward again. So the decision me, Rikard, Henrik and Jonas took at the time was the best ever and without it the band would have been dead."