Interview by Jason Guest
Epica must take up a lot of your time with writing, recording and touring. How did you find time to put together another band?
Mark: There's no time but I strongly felt the urge of doing something new besides Epica, a new challenge. Epica remains priority but we'll try to make as much touring as possible with MaYaN as well.
Musically, the album draws on a lot of different genres – death metal, black metal, symphonic rock, opera – and is heavier than Epica. Are you trying to reach a new audience?
Jack: Yes I definitely think we do. Right from the start whe knew that we would be writing songs which are different (and heavier) in style than Epica. Frank, Mark and I just started to compose together and maybe it draws on a lot of different genres because the three of us all have a different style of composing. It's hard to explain but in a certain way we constantly inspire each other with our own style. Mark with melodies and structures, Frank with his awesome trash & chaos riffs (that's the way I like to call it haha), and I always try to add a touch of symphony to it, but only where it really is beneficial to the end result. When Frank has an idea, Mark suddenly gets another idea, which makes me think of again another idea. Most times, the only question is who's first with ideas haha.
What do you think Epica fans will think of it?
Jack: I think they'll like it! First, Simone sings on our album, they will immediately recognize her voice. Second, our songs still contain many symphonic elements. Furthermore, you can still hear Mark his composing style in our songs. Because of that, there are parts in our songs which will remind fans of Epica's music. Of course some fans will think we're too heavy for their taste, but there will also be fans who always wanted Epica to sound heavier, who will be more pleased with our music.
What are the main themes on the album? And is there a concept that links the songs?
Mark: The songs are dealing about corruption, abuse of power, lies and deceit in all layers of society. In order to make the next step in our development we need to get rid of this disease which is called corruption.
You write a lot for Epica. When it came to writing for Mayan, how did you decide what songs to use rather than for Epica?
Mark: Like Jack states, we wrote a lot of music with the three of us which made it sound way different than the typical Epica music. In some cases nevertheless there's some overlap and if a riff reminds me of Epica I'll use it for Epica. It also works the other way, when I feel that a riff fitts better to MaYaN I use it for mt new band.
Did your approach to writing have to change for Mayan?
Mark: Yes completely, since many years I'm used to compose all by myself, all alone during the night. I've learned that this way of working has many advantages, I can do what I want and experiment without discussions. However there are also some disadvantages, discussions about music don't need to be always negative. Especially when you work with people who are as open minded as you are yourself. In the past with After Forever none of us were so open minded, we were young and sometimes our ego's were just in the way to defend our own ideas. Some rehearsals we wrote nothing new as we were only argueing haha. We wrote great music on albums as Prison of Desire and Decipher but there were also many frustrations. In MaYaN we just focus on the positive aspects of working together as a team on songs. We got older and more wise I guess haha.
How do you face the challenge of creating and maintaining two very different band identities as a writer for both? Does it stretch you writing for two bands?
Mark: I have learned a lot again from writing with Frank and Jack, you never stop learning new things and develop yourself. Most new Epica tracks have been written already (the old way) so I'm sure they'll sound familiar to the Epica fans
Did your guitar technique change for this band?
Mark: The level of guitarplaying in MaYaN is quite high. It's more technical compared to Epica. In MaYan I won't sing and play live, only sing. So I didn't have to think about how to play it live and could write all kinds of difficult stuff and leave it up to Frank and Isaac to play it live. By the way Frank wrote about 70% of the guitarriffs and I 30%.
You have a number of guest singers on the album. How did you choose them? Did you already have them in mind before writing?
Jack: Before Mark, Frank and I started writing we didn't know all the details but we did know that we wanted a versatile group of clean vocalists, both male and female. Mark knew Henning already from Sons of Seasons, because they have toured together with Epica in the past. Henning can sing just about everything from sensitive to harsh (and then still not sound like he's just doing grunts/screams). Floor and Simone both have a very unique voice. Floor has a more raw and powerful singing style, while Simone has a more smooth voice. We knew that their voices would both fit very well in our songs. And Laura was the perfect choice for our opera parts, she's an upcoming talent in Italy and she was really enthousiastic about singing opera for us.
Are we gonna see a video for Mayan? Do you have a song in mind for it?
Jack: We will produce a video of one of the songs on "Quarterpast"! We have checked already which songs are most suitable and which style we would like to use. Last week, Rob and Mark discussed our ideas with a videoclip producer. To be continued!
How did you choose the band name Mayan?
Jack: We organized a competition a few months ago to let fans think of a bandname, because we hadn't got a name then which we really liked. In the meantime, we kept thinking and ended up with MaYaN. We chose MaYaN because of our interest in mayan culture and because it’s a short, catchy name. We've received very strong names from many people, but we liked the name "MaYaN" so much that we decided to keep it. By the way, we spell MaYaN with the capitals because it matches nicely with our band logo.
And the album title?
Jack: As I told you, we've received great names during the bandname competition. There was one name which catched our attention most: “Quarterpast”. We realized that at that moment, we already loved the bandname "MaYaN" but we didn't have a title for our debut album. We thought the name "Quarterpast" symbolized our opinion that humankind has screwed up the world too much to save it, and that's how it has become the album title.
The album cover has a lot of symbolism and will give listeners a lot to think about in relation to the music. Is that what you wanted when deciding on designs for the artwork?
Mark: Yes, there needs to be a message in the albumcover. As we want to make people think I can't say too much as we wish everybody to create its own image of the cover and interpret it the way they see it. But some things are very clear I guess
Will you be bringing Mayan to the UK to support the album?
Jack: That would be very cool! Let's see what time brings us, of course it would be great to have gigs in the UK :) Mark: I'd love it too, with Epica we did a great tour in the UK recently and I hope to be back asap.
What’s the future for the band? Is Mayan a permanent band? Are there any plans for another album?
Jack: In the beginning, we just thought we would have a music project aside from our daytime jobs. It just worked out so well with Frank and Mark that we very quickly agreed that we should form a live band and go for it. We will remain a permanent band. Regarding another album, actually we're already writing new songs right now, which is also going really well. We signed a contract with Nuclear Blast for 4 albums so we'll have enough opportunities to bring new brutal stuff to you!
How will you fit it in to your already busy schedule?
Mark: The future will tell. I don't think too much about it as it will unfold itself. The intentions is to do some touring and if people like the album we'll be able to do so.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Mark: Quarterpast is an album which needs many spins before it reveals all its layers, I hope that you guys will enjoy this album, we made it with passion and love.
READ THE REVIEW OF DEBUT ALBUM