Bridge / Flesh
Interview by Progressive World
With 5 releases behind them, and a sixth, Flesh due out in mid-October (right on the heels of Bridge), Everon are scheduled to play at the 2002 edition of Progpower Europe. Formed in 1989, it's been nearly 10 years since their debut, Paradoxes, was released by the now defunct SI Music, and later by Japan's Zero Corporation (presently available through Mascot Records, the band's current label). What seems like a rarity in today's music world, Everon have had a fairly stable line up, and one constant has been vocalist Oliver Philipps.
Igor Italiani: Hi Oliver, I think we can begin with Bridge, the new Everon album. The cover art of the record is gorgeous but somewhat gloomy; so can you tell me where it leads this 'bridge' represented in the picture made by Greg Bridges (even if I know he is the one who should answer this question)?
Oliver Philipps: It doesn't lead somewhere, or the other way round, it could lead just anywhere. A 'bridge' is the connecting link between the two sides of the river. The side you're on is the one you know; the other side is completely unknown, but the only way of finding out what the other side holds in stock for you is leaving the known thing behind. In the same vein you can find plenty of different interpretations for what 'bridge' might stand for as a symbol, but they all have in common that you have to leave one side behind to get to the other. To me it seems to be a very powerful symbol, so it was fun playing around with it a bit.
II: The band has had some minor line-up changes in the last few years, can you recall them?
OP: Well, actually the band doesn't have any new members at all since the previous album, so there is not a lot to introduce. We changed our guitar player after the Venus album, so Ulli Hoever joined the band when Ralf Janssen left in '98. Apart from that, we used to have a live-keyboardist that recently left the band, so we are currently looking for a new one. But he never was a steady member of the band and only played with us on stage: on the albums I always do the keys myself, only on stage it turned out being way too much work for me to do vocals, keyboards and guitars, which is why we decided to bring in one more member after the recordings of the Fantasma album.
II: Talking about the music, I hear a slightly more symphonic approach compared to the atmospheric one of Venus or Fantasma. Do you agree with this assumption?
OP: Well, you may have a point there. As a matter of fact, the symphonic or orchestral elements got more with every new album. You actually find my first attempts on the title track of the Paradoxes album, and also in the opening song of Flood ["Under Skies..."]. But back then I neither had the necessary technical possibilities nor the required knowledge about how to do orchestral arrangements naturally. "Real Me" on the Venus album sounded way better already; on the Fantasma album it turned out quite okay already in songs such as "May You" or also "The Real Escape." I've done a lot of orchestrations during my past three years working as a producer for other artists. It is a thing I really like a lot, and I believe it fits our own music perfectly well, so it became a steady element in our songs over the recent years. The next album, Flesh, that will be released in October, has a lot more of that: on that one we also have a couple of guest musicians playing with the band, so we used real classical settings instead of samples or mixed both. Flesh is definitely the most orchestral album we've done so far.
II: Can you tell us something about "Puppet Show," which you already described as a "silly" instrumental? :-)
OP: I believe it is silly, because it contains everything we normally claim to dislike about progressive rock. It is an absolutely unsubstantial show-off piece of music, highly immature and completely unnecessary. :-) Nevertheless playing this one is great fun, so after all these years we finally had to accept the bitter truth, that at the end of the day we're just another progressive-rock band. :-) No, seriously, the song is very untypical for us in a way: we always used to have a reputation of being song-orientated and accessible not only to a specialized audience, and actually most of our following does not come from the progressive-rock scene, since people from this scene often consider us as being too "modern." We never wanted to be a "musician's band" like Dream Theater, etc...; nonetheless I am not ashamed of having a song like that on the album, actually I like this kind of music as well, but it is just one part of our work and not the general direction we want to take. It is an exceptional song for Everon, but it's fun playing it and we stand for it.
II: However is there some chance to hear a complete instrumental work by Everon... :-)
OP: You mean a complete album??? That is very, very, very unlikely to ever happen. I could imagine doing an instrumental album which is rather in the vein of contemporary classical music, based on piano and/or an orchestral setting. But that would not be released under the name Everon then. We are a rock band, and we play songs, that means they usually contain some singing as well, and I guess we'll keep it that way in the future. :-)
II: OK ... there is another album in the wings alongside Bridge, Flesh, and we already talked about it briefly. But now can you add some more info?
OP: Well, as I said, it is the more orchestral album of the two. Stylistically it very much sounds like Everon as well, but unlike Bridge it is not limited to the usual band line-up but features a couple of guests as well, so there are songs with a string-section or a female guest-vocalist. It is clearly more epic than Bridge, the average length of the pieces is a lot higher, the title track alone is of 15 minutes length already. It contains more "beautiful" moments, is less heavy and slightly more romantic in a way. However, it's hard to put music in words, so just check it out when it's released.
II: Oliver, you obviously recorded Bridge in your personal studio, Spacelab, which is used by other bands, too. What's the best advantage in having a professional and private studio like yours?
OP: In the first place it is not an advantage at all, but rather a pain in the arse. The problem when working in your own studio is that you naturally go badly overtime and spend twice as much time in there as you budget actually allows. Most people believe that having a studio of your own means you have as much time for your own recordings as you want without having to worry the budget and all that. The truth is that for Moschus [Christian Moos] (our drummer) and myself, Spacelab Studio is our day job and main source of income. So when doing an Everon production in there, the budget we get from the record company is the money we earn in that time. Running a professional studio like Spacelab generates huge cost we are faced with every month, and as a matter of fact, doing Everon production gets us in serious troubles on a regular basis, since we tend to not at all behave reasonably in terms of business when it comes to Everon. So whenever an Everon album is finished, we're one step away from bankruptcy. But even that is a thing you get used to over the years, so why bother. :-) Apart from that, naturally it is a great thing to be working in your own studio. You know the technical environment perfectly, and thus know exactly what to do to get the sound you want to have. You can work at any time of the day, or not work at all when you feel your creativity doesn't want to flow on a particular day. So for the creative process it makes life a lot easier, only financially it is rather a nightmare.
II: But I've read that you composed some tunes while in Denmark, to do a break from daily studio routine; and you also mentioned on your website that there are funny anecdotes to talk about...
OP: Indeed there are quite a few, but those I spare till the album is out. Like always I'll write a little story about the new album that will be put on the website. Frogs play a very important role in this story, but as I said, I'll save that for later...
II: Always considering the fact that you are part musician, part producer, is there a band that really captured your interest in the last few months?
OP: Plenty of actually, especially due to working as a producer I am always intent on checking out whatever there is new on the market. I try to not think too much in musical categories and genres, but rather have an open mind towards everything there is. Naturally my work as a producer also has an impact on what I do as a musician, since by working closely with all these artists from different genres, I get to know many different musical influences and also different ways of dealing with music. I benefit a lot from that, so I am very grateful for all the inspiration I got from other musicians over the past couple of years.
II: Returning solely to Everon ... I thought you would treat Bridge as a concept lyrics-wise, maybe balancing it with Flesh, but in the end I've seen you did not. So now, what kind of lyrics will go down in Flesh?
OP: I've never done concept stories so far. Personally I usually don't like concept albums very much, naturally with a few outstanding exceptions, such as The Lamb... or Operation: Mindcrime. In case I ever come across a lyrical concept that provides enough different aspects to be elaborated in album length, it might happen in the future, but I don't mind if it doesn't come to that. I think I have never been good at writing fictional stories, my style of writing is rather down-to-earth, and rather personal than fictional. When looking back on the previous 5 albums, to me the lyrics together with the music feel like kind of a diary of my own life, it's snapshots taken at different times of my life. That's not at all different with Flesh; it's been written at the same time as Bridge, so to me it feels like one album anyway, Flesh is just the missing half of the album you already know. Another reason why not doing concept albums is, that personally I believe our music covers quite a wide range of different styles, so these different kinds of music require different lyrics as well, different not only in topic but also in mood and atmosphere. I find it hard to imagine a lyrical concept that would still feel natural to me and go well with all the songs of the new albums. I think concept albums are a thing that should be done by fictional writers, so I should leave my hands off that I guess.
II: Talking about gigs, I've seen you are searching for an additional piano player, so you are determined to do a long tour to promote the new album?
OP: I don't think we will do a long tour, 3 of us are self-employed so it is almost impossible for us to go on tour for weeks or months in a row. We're rather planning to do it in different sets, like going to Italy for three gigs, then going to France for three gigs a few weeks later, and so on; that makes a lot more sense for us. We hopefully found a piano-player meanwhile, so we are currently starting to rehearse with one, that will make it hopefully. As soon as this is sorted out, we will start setting up dates.
II: Some nonsense now ... on your website there is a great description of how it should look (and sound) a stereo for a man and woman ... do you have some other parallel like this one to entertain us?
OP: Not today unfortunately. My girlfriend is around the whole day, so for today my official and politically correct point of view is that females are highly rational, sensible beings whose moves can easily be understood by everyone regardless of sex or origin. :-)
II: Well Oliver, I think it's enough. Considering that you are a man of few words (yep!), there is something else you would like to add?
OP: Not much left to say actually. I'd simply like to thank everyone who supported us in the past, we know we are not a really 'big' band selling millions of albums, but we have a loyal following for a decade already, and we're very proud and grateful for that. It's a good feeling to get some feedback for the music we're playing, and to get to know that it is of meaning for some people out there. This is what makes being a musician rewarding, and as long as that's the case we will carry on with it. Everon is not a commercial project for any of us, actually financially spoken it costs us a lot more as we get in return. But as long as the music gets somewhere and reaches people around the globe, it is all worth it. Not everything in life has to be rewarding financially, there are more important things in life actually; and at least for us, music is definitely one of them.
II: So hello for the moment, I really hope to catch your band out there as soon as possible...
OP: Hope so, too; keep your fingers crossed the new piano-player proves being the right guy, then it should happen in not too distant future that you can see us on stage again.
Interview by Igor Italiani