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Henkrik Flyman (Evil Masquerade)

Interview with Henkrik Flyman from Evil Masquerade
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 09 November 2005, 7:56 PM

\[This interview is a kind contribution by: Marcin Ksiazek of Heavy Metal Pages, Poland]<br><br>Do you love melodic Metal but you are sick and tired of all those new mediocre bands that fail to deliver something fresh and exciting? If you are then you definitely need to check Evil Masquerade and their second album, Theatrical Madness. Some time ago I had a really nice chat with band's mastermind, Henrik Flyman.

Let’s start from the very beginning, Before Evil Masquerade you were playing in two bands called Moahni Moahna and Zool. Could you tell me a few words about each band and why did both disband eventually?

Moahni Moahna was my first professional band where I released my first albums. It was a good learning period both musically and to get to know the music industry. Of course we were very naive and didn’t make the best decisions but it was fun. I was sure, already before Moahni Moahna was founded, that this was what I wanted to do with my life. As time, different contracts and an endless line of musicians passed by - it became more and more clear that if I wanted to continue on a professional level I was in need of some serious changes around me to develop as an artist and to be liberated from earlier bad career moves. Therefore I formed the band ZooL together with the vocalist from Moahni Moahna. I have always been interested in experimenting with music and trying out new things. In MM we did very progressive music for several years so both Martin and I wanted to try the opposite for a change.

I wrote music based on the kind of Hard Rock we both grew up with. It was very influenced by Rainbow, DIO, Black Sabbath and those kinds of bands. I’m still very pleased with the one album we did, but once again there was trouble in the form of music biz criminals and unfocused band members. At this time I had left my native country, Sweden, and had moved to Denmark. I was fed up with people in general so I locked myself in my newly built studio and decided to write music only for my own ears and for the fun of composing. I did that for a year and recorded a whole lot of songs.

And how did the whole thing with Evil Masquerade start? When did you come up with the idea for the band, how different from your previous bands did you want it to be and finally how was the lineup completed?

As I came to know more and more people in Denmark and got a bit of distance between my past experiences, I decided to form a band despite my earlier determination not to. I picked out 11 songs that fit well together and simply played them for the guys I hoped would join the new band. Luckily enough they said yes right away and Evil Masquerade was a reality. What I wanted to be different with Evil Masquerade compared to my earlier bands wasn’t as much the music as it was a functioning organization and social competence.

I’m through working with people that don’t believe in their own talent more than letting the music become more than a hobby, and I won’t sign another bad contract. Being an artist is not like any other job and it doesn’t come with guarantees of a good or stable salary for the hours spent to make a band successful. It’s amazing how few people that are willing to do it for art’s sake are still being serious about it. But that’s the only angle of approach to make it. If you’re in it to make some extra bucks, you might as well quit right away. That’s just a bonus when it comes.

You released your debut album entitled Welcome To The Show in 2004. Tell me what the response and the sales were. Are you still satisfied with the album?

My criteria for satisfaction are that we couldn’t have done it better at the time with the recourses and limitations there and then. Judging out from that, I’m very satisfied with Welcome To The Show. If I had done it today, it would have probably turned out slightly different. But that’s just an unnecessary way of speculating since it’s already there. Furthermore I think it has its charm and it would be a shame to have it done differently. But if I didn’t think that I could improve myself on an upcoming album, I would probably lose the drive. It’s all about having the right attitude towards one’s accomplishments. Some people tend to be constantly disappointed with their works because they afterwards see what they could have done differently. I see it as learning by doing and embracing any new idea that can make the next album sound even better. The media response was overwhelmingly good with fantastic reviews from all around the world. The sales were also pretty good I think - having in mind we were a new band on an overcrowded market. And most important was that all the new fans we picked up along the way. Far more rewarding than any good review.

Your second album is called Theatrical Madness and I have to admit that it would be impossible to come up with a title that could suit the music better. There is something theatrical and something crazy about the album. Tell me, did you come up with the title during the songwriting process so it somehow affected the songs?

It was actually a friend of mine that came up with the idea. When I asked him what he thought would be a suitable album title for our second CD, he answered Theatrical Madness within a few seconds. I thought it was interesting that he came up with such an odd title so fast. Therefore I immediately went to the studio and next morning I had written the song Theatrical Madness. At that point I was sure it was the right title for the album. I don’t know how much it had an effect on the other songs. I just let the music come naturally and that usually results in a theatrical feel. I like to play around with the notes and the arrangements so that it doesn’t become too predictable.

I have to say that what I like the most about the album is the variety of the songs and the fact that there’s so much going on all the time. It’s like you do everything that you can to keep your music interesting and you’re 100% successful on that…

Thanks a lot. I assume it’s because I’m easily bored and can’t stand albums that are basically the same song on repeat. I think a lot about getting the right flow in an album so that I want to hear it from the start till the very end. This is a hard task since very few albums do that to me. And I don’t know how successful I am in doing it either, because when I’m done with a complete album production I don’t want to hear it for a long time. At this point I have probably heard the songs several thousands of times and I just want to move on with the next album to make something new and fresh.

I know that musicians are usually sick and tired of different comparisons but I just have to ask you this question… Every time I listen to the opening riff of Other Ways to Babylon only one name comes to my mind and that is Kamelot. I’m not saying that it sounds like this or that Kamelot song but there’s something about it that reminds me of Tom Youngblood’s guitar style. Tell me, do you know Kamelot? If you do, what do you think about them?

Our drummer Dennis likes Kamelot and introduced them to me about a year ago, so I have heard their music even though it’s pretty new to my ears. I still have none of their albums but from what I’ve heard I might very well pick up a couple of them. I know that Mats Olausson, who played with us on our first album, has been involved with them and that of course makes it even more interesting to check out. My original idea was to write a classic kind of Hard Rock song when I started working on Other Ways to Babylon, so I would guess that my source of inspiration is similar to the Kamelot guys. It would also be a perfect explanation to why I found their music interesting.

And how would you compare Theatrical Madness to Welcome To The Show? What are the biggest differences?

I would say that Theatrical Madness has a less neoclassic touch and is more progressive. I also think it’s more tailor made for the band since I knew everyone much better than on the first album. The production is heavier and more modern even though it still has its roots in the 80’s kind of Metal. It’s probably the natural progress for the band and the path that leads to album number three. And judging from the reactions of the fans, it was the right way to go.

I noticed that when it comes to lyrics you like to hide some things under the surface, so if you take a quick look at the lyrics you may think what the fuck are they singing about, some clowns and theatrical stuff? But most of the lyrics are strongly connected to the real world. Where did the basic idea for this style of lyrics come from?

Very observant of you. When I listen to music I usually do that as escapism from reality. I want to be able to give my thoughts a rest from anything that might trouble them. The best way for me to do that is to listen to some great music where I don’t get written on the forehead that there are problems in the world. But I don’t mind layered texts with reality connections hiding underneath the surface and that’s something I do a lot. I don’t know where I’ve gotten this idea, but I’m happy that you noticed. This means you are not the average kind of journalist that uses the same questions for every band, with just the names changed. People dedicated to their calling are always the ones that get the respect and credit in the endnotes.

Well, what can I say? I’m just trying to do my job the best I can. I have to say that I was really surprised when I looked at the titles and next to stuff like When Satan Calls or Demolition Army I saw Snow White. But from what I hear it has nothing to do with the sleeping princess, right?

Nope, it’s not that kind of a cute story. It’s based on a dream of someone I know. In the dream it’s midwinter and there’s ice and snow everywhere. A man is convicted for a crime he never understood he committed. He’s sentenced to death by getting dragged after horses, lying on his back nude, on the ice and snow. People are standing on both sides of him as the sentence is executed. They are shoveling snow upon him to have him all covered up. He has paid for his crime when he turns… Snow White.

And speaking of Snow White I have to say that I’m really impressed by the vocal performance on this one. At some point it’s hard to recognize Henrik… So, my question is: did he sing all vocals in this song?

He sings the first verse, which is repeated by him in the third verse. I sing the second verse, which is repeated by me in the third verse, simultaneously with Brockmann. All in true musical duet manner.

Witches Chant is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Tell me how did you come up with the idea for using some excerpts from this drama? Are you interested in literature?

Unfortunately I don’t read as much as I would like to because I’m usually too exhausted when I’m not working with the music. I often just fall asleep when I pick up a book. But when I read Macbeth and came to that specific part where the three witches are preparing the potion, I was sure right away that it had to be a part of our second release. At that point the album had gotten the name Theatrical Madness and I felt it wasn’t complete without this song. It was pretty easy to make the lyrics work since it’s brilliantly written and with a perfect flow. I’m sure good old William didn’t expect that he’d be participating on a Metal album some 400 years after finishing the play.

On your first album you had three guest keyboard players including Andre Andersen, Richard Andersson and Mats Olausson. On Theatrical Madness once again we get a chance to listen to Andre, Richard and also Mikkael Jensen who as far as I know is now a fulltime member of Evil Masquerade. Tell me where did the idea for these guest keyboard players come from and are you going to continue this on your future albums now that you have a full time keyboardist?

We chose to invite special guest players on those two albums because we didn’t have a permanent member at the time. You’re absolutely correct that Mikkael was thought to be a permanent member of the band, but soon after I got these questions from you he announced his resignation due to hard pressure and personal problems. So now we’re back to being the 4-piece we always were. And somehow I have become happy for the variation and the fresh breeze a couple of special guests can add to an album. To be totally honest, I’m not 100% sure how we will do on the next album. If a really good and stable guy applies to be our permanent keyboard player then we will most certainly consider it. Otherwise we’ll probably just continue to invite some great players as guests. Come back in a month and I have the answer for you.

How did the promotion of Theatrical Madness look like? Did you go on tour?

No tour. But that has been out of my hands since we’re in the middle of lineup changes and that has caused a bit of disturbance in the gig plans. But as soon as everything is settled we will take an even stronger masquerade on stage. We’re all very eager to come out and play live so I’m not worried about that at all.

Your debut album was released in 2004, second one in 2005 and as far as I know you are already working on the third one. Is it your aim to keep the one album per year tempo for as long as possible?

It’s the plan as long as a new album exceeds its forerunner. Our own satisfaction is the only deadline. If everything goes as it usually does, the third album will come around the same time next year. But I won’t promise anything. Cause once again… it has to be better than the album before.

What can you tell me about the new material?

It’s the same style but even more effective and more Metal. I try to push the limit all the time and that makes it harder to reach the goal - but at the same time more satisfying when done. I want the songs to be around also in 20 years from now and that’s not the easiest thing in the world to fulfill. If we can succeed in getting some of Evil Masquerade’s songs to be remembered many years from now, I would see that as we accomplished something to be proud of. Anyone can make an album that’s soon forgotten.

And now for something different… You’ve been working on the last two Wuthering Heights albums. What’s your status in that band? Are you a fulltime member?

To be frank, I’m not really sure what my status in Wuthering Heights is or was. Erik Ravn is a good friend of mine and when he asked me to play leads on To Travel For Ever More I said yes, because I like what he does. When he asked me to play on Far From the Madding Crowd, a year later, I did that as well. So I guess it’s been pretty much on an album-to-album basis. But I have enjoyed everything about it. Erik is very talented and I respect his work. He also has a great taste in whiskey.

What albums have you been listening to lately?

Frequent spinners are the Blackmore’s Night albums and varied Jethro Tull CDs. I’ve also been listening to quite a bit of Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. Hmmm… what more? Some concerts by Henry Purcell and Mozart. The Diamonds and Rust album with Joan Baez, the musicals Chess and Les Miserables, Mago de Oz’s La Leyenda De La Mancha and Gaia. That’s what I can think of right now.

And that would be all this time. Is there anything you would like to add?

First of all I would like to thank everyone that has been supporting Evil Masquerade. I promise that you won’t get disappointed from our next album. And please drop by our website, it’s: Stay metal!!!


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