Thrash Hits verdict:
A more-than-slightly mental project masterminded by Epica guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen playing crazy symphonic extremity and featuring many guests? Marvelous! Mark and guitarist Frank Schiphorst (also of Symmetry) kindly agreed to introduce us to their new project.
Describe your sound in 3 words.
Mark: Brutal, progressive and symphonic
How did you form MaYaN originally?
Mark: Jack [Driessen] (keyboards) and I met 2 years ago and we decided to make some music together, like in the good old days. We wrote the song ‘Resign to Surrender‘ together which ended up on the last Epica album. We decided to go on and form a new band. Sander Gommans (also ex After Forever) was involved as well but he couldn’t find the time which was needed to go on. Frank Schiphorst appeared to be the perfect substitute. With the three of us we wrote all of the songs and when they were finished we started looking for the guestsingers and the other guys to complete the band.
Watch the blooper reel from MaYaN:
What made you want to start a new project?
Mark: I was in need of a new challenge.
First of all I am very curious how it will be to be the singer of a band, so I won’t play guitar in MaYaN. Second, I wanted to create some heavier music which can’t be used for Epica. Third, after Design Your Universe I felt empy and without inspiration to start working on a new Epica album. IIt was very refreshing to work with new people and create different music. Now I feel new energy to work on the new Epica tracks again and that resulted in a lot of inspiration. So for the next Epica album there are 14 tracks written.
Is this an outlet for a style of music that you want to play but couldn’t do so with Epica?
Mark: Exactly, we have explored and reached the boundaries of heaviness within the Epica sound. Making an even heavier album would result in an album with less room for Simone’s vocals. I think that wouldn’t be a good idea. Simone is the frontsinger of Epica and that has to stay like that. She does a great job and I wouldn’t like to create less room for her vocals just because I want to make an heavier album.
Where does the name come from?
Frank: The wise and rich Mayan culture from which we can learn a lot to make this a better place, seen in which state this world is today.
Mark: The Mayans lived in much closer harmony with nature. Something we have forgotten along the way. But we need to find this balance again otherwise we are destroying our environment and therefor destroying ourselves.
How did you come upon your sound? Who would you say were your biggest influences for MaYaN?
Frank: As goes for the music; it’s all spontaneous in the first stages. The three of us get together and record what comes to mind, which then inspires for more… it’s a chemistry the three of us have and it feels real natural. We listen to a lot of styles of music, from the most extreme death metal to film music to whatever… just to good music.
Do you think Quarterpast will surprise people in how it sounds?
Frank: Yeah I think so… the first time you listen to it as a whole it can be quite an overwhelming experience, there’s some really brutal stuff going on, it has many layers, there are much atmospherical parts too, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in the instruments, it has thought-provoking lyrics from which can be learned some good lessons… it’s versatile music. All packed in well thought-out songstructures with some surprising hooks which will be very logical once you get it. It can be challenging. Production-wise there’s hard work done also, and Sascha Paeth did an amazing job to make it this raw yet deep and big-sounding without being tiring for your ears. Not the typical really compressed modern sound which make so many bands sound alike.
Yes it’ll surprise people for sure and there should be a lot to enjoy.
Do you plan to tour MaYaN?
Frank: Absolutely! In fact in two weeks our first May club tour starts in which we will be joined by Sons of Seasons, from the 13th of May until the 31st. There are already many fans from all over the world wanting us to come, for instance many people in South America want us, so we plan to tour there towards the ending of this year. We just want to play as much as possible and with that do our best to make everyone happy which makes us happy. For tourdates you can check out our soon-to-be-live website www.mayanofficial.com or our facebookpage at www.facebook.com/mayanband.
Watch the trailer for Quarterpast here:
Who do you think you would fit best with musically on a live bill?
Frank: I think bands like Symphony X, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Sons of Seasons of course. Bands with a lot up their sleeves.
Do you think Epica fans will get what you’re doing with MaYaN?
Mark: I hope so. It’s not our goal that all Epica fans will like MaYaN as well. For sure there will be Epica fans for whom MaYaN is not their cup of tea. On the other hand there will be people who think Epica is too soft but be able to appreciate MaYaN. I just want to add that this album needs several listening sessions to get into. I have heard that already from many journalists. So it’s an album for patient people who are looking for a challenge.
Fans of what kinds of music do you think will identify with your style?
Mark: It’s hard to say as we combine several metal styles in our MaYaN sound. But I think that fans of Opeth, Arch Enemy and Death can appreciate our music. Also people who like the heavier parts in Epica, After Forever, Symphony X and Kamelot will like it I guess.
What are your future plans for MaYaN? Do you think you’ll do more albums in the future?
Mark: We have singed for 4 albums with Nuclear Blast so I’m pretty sure that more albums will follow. We have written already 5 new tracks alreasy as well.
What does MaYaN mean for the future of Epica? Will this mean longer between albums and tours?
Mark: The future will tell but I am pretty sure that it won’t harm Epica. Right after the summer we’ll enter the studio with Epica to record the next studio album and there are many planns for tours as well. With MaYaN we’ll use the free time as good as we can. Because we want to play live in all parts of the world where people appreciate ur music.
Are there other projects you would like to work on?
Mark: No, this will be it. I’m working my ass off with two bands. I’m also partly managing the bands myself so I should not provide myself with even more work. But… in the future I would like to compose the score of a Hollywood movie.
MaYan’s release their debut album Quarterpast. on 20 May 2011.