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Interview - Henrik Flyman (Evil Masquerade)

Interview with Henrik Flyman from Evil Masquerade
by YngwieViking at 13 June 2014, 7:19 PM

It is all about being relentless, the Danish EVIL MASQUERADE continue their quest to become the best of what they do, creating diverse melodic Heavy Metal as the European maneuvers dictated. With the release of “The Digital Crucifix”, YngwieViking talked to Henrik Flyman of the band regarding the new experience and beyond.

Hi Henrik , First warm congratulations and thanks for taking time to answer to my questions. How have you been?

I've been keeping pretty busy and could really need a few moments off. But then again, it's all because of the music and everything that is constantly going on, so I shouldn't complain too much. It's a great feeling.

I think that the new album by EVIL MASQUERADE “The Digital Crucifix” is one of the highlights of the early 2014, as a fan of your vision and Scandinavian Melodic Metal in general , It was a real blast and uplifting experience…What will be your words to describe it ?

Thank you for saying so. To me it's the natural progression of the first decade of the band. I think the new album is very Evil Masquerade sounding and very much to the bone of what we stand for.

Can you first tell us about you , your background as a musician…Your past time with MOHANI MOHANA/ZOOL, and your actual involvements ! I want to know everything…Go !

My complete musical background is a bit too long to dissect here. So let's stick to my discography which starts with Moahni Moahna back in 1992. We did a couple of albums, singles and videos. It was a fine learning period and something I'm still proud of. I know there are a few Evil Masquerade fans that have been following me since the early Moahni Moahna days. Apparently there's some kind of trademark sound present that has been interesting enough to make sense for some people to follow me even when the names of the bands have changed. Moving on to ZooL, which was a very short period with only one album. It was the natural continuation of Moahni Moahna and with the same singer. Sometime around here I left Sweden for Denmark and recorded a couple of albums with Wuthering Heights. These were the first albums I did as just a guitarist. Before this, I had also always composed the music I recorded. Simultaneously with Wuthering Heights I decided to start my own band again. It was the birth of Evil Masquerade and the year was 2003. We released our debut album shortly after. A lot has happened since - and today we have six albums under our belt. 2009 I also joined the German band Lacrimosa as live- and studio guitarist. Musically this was very different compared to where I came from. Throughout the years I have always tried my best to simultaneously occupy myself with more than one style of music since I find that good for creativity. I have had many great moments with Lacrimosa and I'm still playing with them - side by side with Evil Masquerade. So as you can see, I have no problem keeping busy. We celebrate 10 years as a band with Evil Masquerade this year – counting from the release of our debut album 2004. It has been a very interesting decade and I feel very confident that we will carry on for many years to come.

In my review for the superb & adventurous release titled “The Digital Crucifix”, I wrote that the album unleash some “first class Melodic Metal with theatrical and baroque intercourse,  a few psychedelic arrangements in the timeless tradition of RAINBOW and RISING FORCE …”What is your feelings about this quote ?

It's a very odd description that explains the new album pretty well. I have no objections to it.

I also state that beside the specific Neo-Classical sound, your influences are numerous, ranging from Power Metal to Vintage Hard Rock filled with hammond organ layers, under a strong creative ideas, pure and unaffected by the trends or the hype, just a romantic view of Swedish Metal with a 70’s tinted mind, with a broad style from, dramatic & Tragic moods/Groovy moments/Medieval flavors/Cryptic philosophical meaning with epic variations. Again, please what is your feelings about this analysis?

Again, it feels like the message is coming well across. It's always hard to objectively describe something you've created yourself. But hearing such agreeable analysis makes it easy just to nod in favor of what you just said.

I think that EVIL MASQUERADE’s new release is a giant step forward, epic, exultant and fascinating but also demanding for the listener, do you have a method to write those great pieces ?

Thank you. I think the secret is not to get lazy and keep striving to make it better. It is important to do your utter best. Always. That's the only way to avoid stagnation. Even if you decide to continue down the same road, it's important to travel in style. I have basically used the same method on all albums I have ever written. First, a bunch of songs are being written and recorded. Then, I randomly come back to the songs and listen to them as I continue working. After a while it becomes clear that some of them possesses a soul of their own. These are the songs I keep and continue to develop. It's a time consuming procedure, but it's a good way secure the results I'm looking for.

Do you think that the complexity of some song structures or the Progressive parts in your music can be a block for some listeners, do you keep this aspect in mind while composing, or did you just get the inspiration flows!

It's probably a block for some people. That's perfectly fine. It's not important for us to appeal to the main steam or narrow minded. Of course I don't want the music to scare people off because it's too complex. That would just be stupid. But at the same time I want it to be interesting and challenging for the more advanced listener. On the new album I think we are very close to have succeeded.

Can you introduce to us the new team? Tell us especially about your new Lead Singer the Amazing Tobias Jansson ?

Tobias might still be a bit unknown to the broader audience, but he's a fantastic singer. Very versatile and a good entertainer. We aren't an easy band to front as a vocalist. There are some demanding melodies at times and the shifting colors of the music doesn't make it easier. When we decided to move on with another vocalist he was my first and only choice. Fortunately he thought it was a good idea as well. And since he joined the band already a year ago, it doesn't really feel as he's the new guy any more. Tobias fits perfectly in Evil Masquerade.

I noticed that you still play the same old ARIA PRO II PE 1500 guitar, do you have a special relationship with this instrument ?

It's a fine instrument and I really like it. I have played the PE 1500 on all albums and live shows since the very beginning. It works great, so why change it? I would actually recommend more people to check it out. It's not a Les Paul copy even though it slightly reminds of one. I definitely prefer this one over a Les Paul. I like the shape of the body better, the location of the mike switch fits my playing style and the cutaway on the upper part of the body, where the neck is located, is way better than on a Les Paul. It's much easier to reach all notes on the Aria. These days they are also putting out some really cool and more affordable models than the PE-1500. If you are on a budget but still want a great instrument, I highly recommend you to check them out.

Where are you coming from, as far as guitar influences are concerned? Tell us about your training and your day by day practicing routine?

I'm influenced by good melodies and they can come from anywhere. I'm not that typical guitarist who subscribe to Guitar Player Magazine and buy videos with the latest tricks and licks. I could probably use it, but it's just not who I am. My practice routines are very poor. It usually only happens when I write something that I can't play. Then I get a bit stubborn and repeat it till I have figured it out. I've been telling myself for years that I should probably get a daily practicing routine, but I doubt I will come to that. Somehow it still seems to work and people like it. There are so many great guitarists out there with flawless techniques that can play things I will never be able to. But the ones that really impress me are those with a very characteristic style. I like it when you can tell who's playing. Just to mention a few would include guys like Angus Young, Ritchie Blackmore, Mark Knopfler, Tony Iommi, John Fogerty, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker,  Frank Zappa.

Which are the new guitarists that impressed you lately ?

Joe Bonamassa is the first name that comes to mind. Very emotional and great player.

You seems to take the meaning of the lyrics quite seriously , can you tell us more about the whole thematic concept behind “The Digital Crucifix” ?

About half the album is a light-hearted doomsday prophecy. It's about how we have lost ourselves in this ever ongoing tech-stuff-race. People seem to believe that purchasing the latest computer or phone or tablet finally will make their life easier to cope with. But what really happens is a down payment for more bills to come in order to stay 100 % up-to-date on all the cats and dogs on Facebook. The album is also about how we play god with mother nature because we think we have better solutions than 4,6 billion years of evolution. And then we eat the result. Simultaneously we can't understand why more and more people are diagnosed with cancer. Is this really rocket-science-difficult to connect? Another part of the album sings about the complexity of human nature, our needs, lusts and ignorance. These more serious themes are blended nicely with gasoline, rock'n'roll, hangovers and ice-cold gin.

As a band from Sweden relocated in Denmark , what do you think about the Scandinavian Metal scene ? Do you feel that your music reveal that specific Scandinanian feel ?

Denmark and Sweden are very different. It is of course impossible to discuss whole countries without making sweeping statements. There are always exceptions. But if I should generalize a conclusion from own experiences I must say that Sweden is still the much better place when it comes to music. Swedish musicians are generally more open-minded. In Denmark not so much. Same goes for the industry. There is also a much more professional attitude towards the craftsmanship amongst musicians and in Sweden. A few Danish exceptions would for example be Volbeat, Pretty Maids, Royal Hunt and another small handful. These bands, together with Evil Masquerade, are much more welcome in basically any other country. But at the same time, these are the bands that put Denmark on the map. Kind of funny, ain't it? The Scandinavian feel you refer to would have quite a bit to do with the bands I just mentioned, plus an even  larger group of bands from Sweden, Finland and Norway. I didn't move to Denmark as much for the music as for the beer.

Are there new undergrounds bands that we have to reckon with in the next years ? Maybe some new acts that you want to produce by Yourself ?

Not that I know of. It's a harsh reality for new bands. At least if you aim for more than just an expensive hobby on weekends when you're not attending your full-time job. I was fortunate to establish my name before everything collapsed. I'm an old-school kind of producer that prefers to be involved in the whole process from the first chords till the final mix. Evil Masquerade keeps me more than busy these days so it's not something I need to survive and I would also have difficulties finding the time. The last several years I have focused almost solely on producing Evil Masquerade - but who knows, if a cool band approaches me and we share similar ideas about how things should be done, I would be open for discussions.

Did you plan on touring in Europe to promote “The Digital Crucifix” ?

We will focus on a few festivals and a selection of shows. A longer tour will probably have to wait a little. Not because we don't want it. Just because it seems unlikely to happen under proper conditions. We strive to deliver quality, not compromises.

What do you think of the state of the market in 2014 ! What is your opinion concerning digital downloading legal and illegal ?

It's definitely moving towards the better. At least for Evil Masquerade it does. It has become very clear that our fans want to support what we are doing. I hear lots of bands complaining that they are not selling any records. This is not what we experience. Actually, I was just informed earlier today that the new album is already sold-out and that an express delivery is ordered from the record plant. Somehow it seems that Evil Masquerade's fans understands that it's important to support the music also economically. That tells me that our fans are more intelligent than other less fortunate band's fans. Evil Masquerade's fans know that we need their support to be able to put out more records. I guess we earned their trust by sticking to our believes through thick and thin. Now we have a good thing going.

We are celebrating the first decade of EVIL MASQUERADE…Tell us what we have to expect from your side in the future to come ?

You can expect us to continue making uncompromising music and keep developing what we started ten years ago.

What is the last CD you have bought ?

Dee Snider “Dee Does Broadway”. A really unexpected release and a very good one.

Please let us know your Underground Metal TOP 5 ?

I'm not sure what's underground or not. But a couple of albums I would recommend you to give a few spins are KRUX – II and the Dee Snider album I just mentioned.

Please let us know your All time TOP 10 ?

I have no toplists. But these are a few favorites from the top of my head. PAUL WILLIAMS – Bugsy Malone (soundtrack), ACDC – Back in Black, QUEEN – A Night at the Opera, BLACKMORE'S NIGHT – Ghost of a Rose, KISS – Kiss, IRON MAIDEN – Piece of Mind, DANNY ELFMAN – The Nightmare Before Christmas, BLACK SABBATH – Headless Cross, JETHRO TULL – Heavy Horses, DEEP PURPLE – Perfect Strangers, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – Marching Out, PAIN OF SALVATION – Road Salt (One), TOM JONES – Praise & Blame, CHESS (musical), Les Miserable (musical), ABBA – Waterloo, FRANK ZAPPA – Broadway the Hard Way, NAZARETH – Hair of the Dog. I could make this list much longer.

Henrik thanks for your time, I wish you the best of luck with the new album and on the musical path ahead. Anything else you want to share with the Metal-Temple’s readers out there ?

Thank you for supporting Evil Masquerade. While many bands are calling it a day we keep growing stronger. This is all because of you. Keep it up and the sky is the limit.


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Edited 05 June 2023

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