After the break-up with their original singer, Eden’s Curse have kept working hard in order to deliver a new album that would be a stepping stone of sorts, proving that the international metal act had many more chapters to write. After trying their luck with singer Marco Sandron (Fairlyland) and releasing a single titled “Time to Breathe,” the band was once again stranded without a singer as well as a keyboard player, as Alessandro Del Vecchio left the band to pursue a career as a producer. Determined more than ever to move on, Eden’s Curse auditioned over 40 singers, before finding what they were looking for in a talented Serbian singer, Nikola Mijic (Alogia, Dreylands). With keyboard player Steve Williams (Power Quest, Dragonforce) completing the new line-up, Eden’s Curse set out to conquer new grounds with their fourth album, titled Symphony of Sin.
Read our review of Symphony of Sin here!
We spoke to Eden’s Curse bass player and founding member, Paul Logue, about the new line-up, Symphony of Sin, as well as about some current themes in the metal scene.
We do the talking through our music… We always knew that we would rise again, it just took a little bit of patience, but now I realize that is because we had to ensure that we had the right person on board.
Metal Blast: You’ve got a new record out via AFM, titled Symphony of Sin; the first full-length since 2011’s Trinity. The album is a turning point of sorts, as it features a new line-up, introducing Serbian singer Nikola Mijic and keyboardist Steve Williams of Power Quest and Dragonforce fame. How does this album compare to your previous releases, what new elements does it bring to your sound and how do you feel about it personally?
Paul Logue: The new elements obviously are going to come in the form of line-up changes. It’s the first Eden’s Curse record that does not feature the voice of Michael Eden, and that’s a big change for us. It was very important for us as a band when we decided to carry on that we maintain our identity and by always sticking to a kind of formula and a style of music we’ve become known for while adding the new guys and their identities. Nikola’s voice is definitely a different flavor, Steve’s a different type of keyboard player compared to the previous two guys. But if you listen to the record, and this is something we were very strict about, that when our fans play the record for the first time the minute they hear the first chord from Thorsten they have to know that it’s an Eden’s Curse record and instantly within the first couple of minutes you need to see this is Eden’s Curse. And when the voice comes on you know that it’s a different flavor in Eden’s Curse. And that’s the best way to describe it, in our perspective it’s an Eden’s Curse record.
With every record we have a slightly different approach to some of the songs, and I think that this time we’ve definitely worked very hard on the choruses and I think that the choruses are quite memorable in nearly all of the songs. I’ve heard people say that we’ve gone kind of AOR – we’ve not gone AOR the slightest, we’ve kept our identity but worked harder on making the chorus hooks better and more memorable and I think it’s definitely something we as a band are very pleased with. I know it sounds so cliché to say, but we honestly feel it’s the best record we’ve made and there’s a significant upgrade in the vocal department that allows us to do a lot more than we could do with Michael, and by the way that’s no dag at Michael because I loved his voice and it was a huge part of Eden’s Curse sound, but that door is closed now. We are the same that Iron Maiden was with DiAnno – they moved forward with Bruce Dickinson, and we are no different. We are looking forward to seeing where that takes us. We can do much more with Nikola because he’s much more versatile and, in my opinion, a far better singer. I’ve worked with both of them, and there’s no contest in that department. We feel we have a special record on our hands, we have 13 very strong songs we’re just delighted with.
MB: That’s great. What lyrical aspects does the album cover?
PL: It covers an awful lot of subjects. We write from the heart and we write from our viewpoint, our look at the world. It’s basically like a social commentary: there’s things going on in our day to day lives that inspire us. Also something we’ve read or watched on television, a good example being “Losing my faith,” which was written about the drug culture in Mexico: how the gangs in that setting basically run the town more so than the police or the government and how cheap the price of life is out there. We’ve gone through a lot of difficult times as a band, and we definitely cover that on the record as well in “Turn the Page;” We’ve turned the page while moving on to a new chapter in our life. “Unbreakable” is about the real brotherly bond that exists between myself, Thorsten and Pete while writing the record. We’ve told each other that we’ve got so much left to achieve as a band. Michael’s decided that he doesn’t want to be in the band anymore, but we don’t want to roll over and die, we take that spirit and that strength within us and we move forward, and that it’s going to take a lot to beat us down. As for the rest: “Symphony of Sin” is just a look at the culture of today, people wanting to be famous all of a sudden. I’m a parent, a young parent of a very young child and I sometimes wonder what kind of world I’ve brought my daughter into. At the time we were writing that song there were riots happening in London, people were coming home from work and seeing shops being looted, people stealing televisions. And instead of doing something about it they chose to join in, stealing televisions and DVD players, phones; and that just amazed me that people could do that, suddenly switch from being a good decent human to that. So the “Symphony of Sin” is the noise that today’s world makes. Obviously we wanted to try something with a natural orchestra and that’s how we chose “Symphony” to represent that noise and from there on belt the album and the song. So, that’s some of the subjects we deal with.
MB: You previously mentioned AOR; the sound on the album features a myriad of influences, most notably I’ve heard some pop-rock elements, for example something like Asia or Journey, but it also has a heavier edge, almost German Power Metal edge at some points. Was this a planned move or did it came out of your personal taste, the music you personally enjoy.
PL: Yeah, I think it’s the latter to be honest because if you go back to the first Eden’s Curse album and then listen to the second and the third all of those elements are present. Our influences as writers are diverse, some of our favorite bands are bands like Journey, but not so much Asia. I do like Asia very much but I think that comes from Steve’s keyboard playing, for I hear a lot of Geoff Downes in his playing. German bands like Pink Cream 69, The Scorpions, Edguy and Accept are massive influences on us as songwriters, but other bands are huge influences on our writing style as well; those are Dokken and Queensryche.
So these types of influences come out, we never try to force them, we never try to imitate them, it just comes naturally. I think one of the best examples of the type of the band that Eden’s Curse strives to be and another of our massive influences is Pretty Maids, because Pretty Maids can have very light AOR moments and then have some ball-crunching heavy metal. So that’s the kind of style I like. As Eden’s Curse we are very diverse and we don’t just do one style because we have so many different musical aspects and things that we want to express, and we can’t just do that through balls-out metal in my opinion. You want to be able to translate that into various different kinds of musical avenues and that’s exactly what we do.
MB: You mentioned Pretty Maids. I definitely noticed they are a huge influence. I personally loved their old albums, but the new ones are just amazing.
PL: The last two albums have been absolutely sensational, I would go as far to say it. I like Motherland but I think the one before it, Pandemonium, was an absolute masterpiece. That is a masterpiece of a record and they have some wonderful moments of light AOR and they’ve had them for years. And that tells me that if those guys can do it anyone can do it. And if I go back to the first Eden’s Curse record to a song called “Fly Away,” I remember that before I formed Eden’s Curse I was working on the song title for this actual song in an old band of mine, and my previous singer who shall remain nameless told me “Dude, you can’t put an AOR-like chorus with that heavy, heavy riff – it just won’t work!” And that was a standout song amongst a lot of the press on our debut album, so it told me there’s no formula for rating songs – if you hear it in your head and you’re passionate about an idea, why can’t you follow that. You don’t follow what everyone else is doing, be that little bit different. So if have that really heavy riff [mimics a guitar] “DUM-DU-DUM-DU-DUM” and then this big AOR-type chorus, people will remember that.
MB: Given that Eden’s Curse is an international band, how do you handle composing and rehearsing; do you rely upon the internet a lot, or do you get together and try out new ideas as often as you can?
PL: Well, in terms of composing, that’s definitely the internet. Times have changed, it’s not the 1980’s anymore. Budgets are not that big but still pretty good on labels like AFM, and we get great support from them but we want to make quality records with quality production, quality booklets, artwork, and these things cost money. All of the guys in Eden’s Curse are excellent engineers and every single one of us could record and produce an album with a band – we are that talented. That allows us to save a lot of money on studio time and invest it into hiring real top engineers like Dennis Ward or Thomas Ewerhard for the graphics. So we do rely on the internet when it comes to composing, because we all write ourselves. I would start a lot of ideas for the songs, and then maybe Thorsten would send me a song that has no lyrics on it and I begin recording some vocal ideas and that’s the way we do it – we write our own material and send it back and forth. And with this record we were much more adventurous: we wouldn’t just accept the first idea that was put down, and it shows how close and honest our relationship as writers is, because previously when we were working on our first two albums you want to be the guy who writes everything in the song. But now I know, for example, if I’m working on the chorus that I just give it to Pete Newdeck, our drummer, because he is such a talented songwriter. And he comes back and gives me the chorus for “Symphony of Sin,” he writes the chorus for “Evil and Divine,” “Unbreakable;” almost every chorus that you hear on the album was written by Pete. That’s such a great writing team that we have, where I come up with the music and the actual melodies and I send it to him and he gives it back – and that’s how we do it. If one of us three (and I mean us three, because Thorsten, myself and Pete really wrote this album) is not going “Yeeee” over every part of the song, we would be honest and say “I love the chorus, I love the riff but I just don’t like the middle section.” Then we would try another idea until we all were so behind it – and that shows again, as I mentioned, how strong our relationship as writers is.
For the live shows and the rehearsing it’s very simple. We’re very organized and I’ll take the Firefest, which we play in two weeks’ time, as an example: we packed our set list two or three months ago so we know exactly what we’re going to play. And because we all have a studio setup, we have the nexus of all the songs, meaning all of our parts basically, and that means we can rehearse them at home. So I have the entire set list for Firefest with no bass guitar on it. I plug my headphones into the computer and I plug my amp and my bass in and I rehearse at home. And then a week before Firefest we’ll meet in our rehearsal studio in England and rehearse three days before the show, so that’s how we do it. We have to be very organized, because of the logistics, and we don’t want to waste money on flying all over the world just to rehearse.
MB: That was actually one of my later questions: have you already rehearsed together. But since you already mentioned that you haven’t how do you expect the feeling would be, getting together with the two new guys?
PL: Well, yeah, these guys were picked not only because they are great performers, but we really got to know them. We did a lot of research on Nikola in terms of what he was like as a person. We watched a lot of things like Facebook and how he was in interviews. Same thing with Steve, I knew him for five or six years so he was a very close friend of mine at that point and I was a fan of Power Quest, so I knew what he could do as a musician. So I knew we were bringing in two quality people who are great performers live. I’ve seen lots of footage of Nikola, and there’s so much footage around because Alogia have been around for a long time. His other band Dreylands have done a lot of concerts so you can really see and hear what they are bringing onto the table. Having worked with them in Scotland on the video and the album recording we know that these guys are going to come in and be a great addition to the band. So we’ve had no fears whatsoever, and we’re actually all very excited to be getting together in a room because this is the first time that Nikola would perform some of the older songs, as well as Steve, but it’s also the first time all of us would have actually performed the new material, so we’re very excited.
MB: Out of all the people you’ve auditioned for the position of the new singer, how and why did you go for Nikola in the end? Were there any concerns regarding the distance between the band and Nikola?
PL: I think that the reason we went for him was that he was the best looking guy (laughs). No, he was just a nice guy. For us the voice was the easy part, because we’ve had as many as 44 singers auditioning and some really outstanding singers among them. His voice was different from a lot of them and it was one of the best, if not the best that we’ve auditioned. But he was the full package, he looked great, had such a lovely personality, and is a real nice, humble person to talk to and work with. We’ve gone through some difficult times with singers in the last two years that we didn’t want another asshole, we wanted somebody who could sing, looked great, who was a professional, had experience and was a nice guy and he ticks every single box. There were many singers who ticked a lot of those boxes, but not all of them. But that’s what we had to do, we had to take the time to make sure that we could find the best singer that we could, and not just the singing – it had to be everything. And as I’ve said, he really ticked every single box, so that was the main reason for going for him.
MB: What about recruiting Steve Williams, did you have any other candidates for this position?
PL: We didn’t even audition Steve, because he auditioned for Eden’s Curse after Ferdy Doernberg left after the second record. But he was number two to Alessandro Del Vecchio, and the only reason Alessandro beat him was because Alessandro is a professional vocal coach, so he has an amazing singing voice and we obviously have a lot of harmony vocals in our live setup. So that was the difference, Steve was a good singer but Alessandro was an amazing singer, and they were both great keyboard players. But Alessandro left, and he moved on to better times basically because he’s now the top production guy for Frontiers Records. He said “Guys, I have no time to dedicate to Eden’s Curse and you really deserve somebody who can give you the time that you need.” So that was a cool thing, we gave him a big hug and wished him success in his career and we have remained great friends to this day. And he actually recommended Steve for the job. It was so natural for us because, as I’ve said, he was a close friend of mine for five or six years. Our bands turned around the same circles, we had a lot of the same agents, and we played a lot of same shows. We’ve never played together as bands, but we came to see each other’s bands play. If Steve was in town he’d be on our guest list, if I was in town I’d go on their guest list, we drank beers and became great friends. With Power Quest splitting up it was such a natural thing for us to do. I approached him and he was very flattered, he was looking for something to do at the time. He said “I’m a huge fan of the band but let me hear the new demos for the album.” And once he’d heard them he said “Dude, this is just such a no-brainer, I really want to be involved in this.” So that was easy and he is also based in the UK which helped.
And the thing I haven’t answered regarding Nikola and the distance – we did the research on how far Serbia was and there’s a lot of cheap flights to the UK. The only thing is that we need a VISA for him, but we needed a VISA for Michael anyway, coming from America. And the distance from America is much greater and the cost is massively greater. So we are better off in all terms with Nik, and now that we know that Serbia is imminently coming to the EU we won’t need a VISA forever with him, so it was quite an easy decision for us.
MB: Are there any more definitive touring plans apart from the Firefest appearance?
PL: No, not yet, but we are in the process of talking to agents and festivals about some touring plans. We know for sure that we want to come to the United Kingdom, probably spring time, and we want to do a European tour with some live dates, maybe around summer or autumn – it really depends on how we can tie everyone’s schedules down. So nothing in the bag yet but obviously we wanted to wait until the record was out, we wanted to wait until the video was out because it lets us promote Eden’s Curse with an up-to-date press pack and say “here’s what the new Eden’s Curse sounds like; here’s what it looks like too.” And it also helps that we’re doing a show at Firefest, because there’s going to be footage out there. These discussions are just starting, but touring for next year is a top priority for the band – that’s our number one: we need to get out there and play to as many people as possible.
MB: Unlike the previous two releases where you’ve had singers like James LaBrie, Andi Deris or Pamela Moore, Symphony of Sin features no guest performers? Did you decide that you should give full spotlight to Nikola, or was it something spontaneous?
PL: It was bit of both. I remember Michael, while he was still in the band, saying that we should do the next record on our own. Because we have to pay for these guys, that’s a lot off the budget. The main reason for these people coming on board was that Michael could not sing backing vocals so we had to hire people to come and sing them. And we knew, as a band who could sing live, that we had the singers within the camp. Probably 90% of the vocals that you hear on the new record are performed by our drummer, Pete. He’s such a talented singer.
So we decided not to waste money on guests. I mean the guests were great, there was a lot of fun, it opened up a lot of different avenues and press, but really it was something that the record label pushed, mostly our US record label at the beginning. And it was great, it was a lot of fun – we got the chance to perform with some of our heroes and made some great friends like the guys in Dream Theater, which ultimately led to us playing with those guys. So, it was a deliberate decision and also there was no need for people to sing our backing vocals anymore.
MB: What do you think of the metal scene today? Any new bands that caught your attention?
PL: Yeah, there are bands that catch my attention all of the time. It might not be instant that I pack them up – it may take one or two records for me to hear about them. But I think that the metal scene is pretty healthy. I wish more people would come out and support up and coming, younger live bands.
Some of the bands that I’ve recently discovered, and I know that some of them have four or five records out but it just took a lot of time to get on my radar, but two of the best bands I’ve heard in the recent years would be DGM from Italy, they are a progressive band and I think they are amazing, Dream Theateresque band with huge melodies and an amazing singer Mark Basile. Also Pagan’s Mind from Norway are just phenomenal. I also really like a band from Sweden called Heat, I think they are even better now with a new singer Erik Grönwall. I think they are very good, and I really liked another Swedish band called Eclipse. I think that their last album Bleed and Scream was exceptional – one of the best records I’ve heard in a long time.
I think there’s a lot of great music out there. Because of me being a songwriter and someone who’s always producing albums it may take me a bit longer to find some of these albums than the regular people. But I think the scene’s healthy and metal is making quite a resurgence. You see metal T-shirts in shops and even popular shops, popular culture is starting to creep in. We see bands like Black Sabbath getting to number one, Avenged Sevenfold getting to number one in the UK album charts. Tides are turning slowly, so that’s got to be a positive thing.
MB: You spoke before about putting a lot of effort into the booklet design and the CD. What’s your opinion on digital music downloads (Spotify, Amazon, iTunes) steadily replacing the conventional, hard copy method of music distribution.
PL: Well, we’ve been hearing a lot about this for years, and last I’ve read the digital downloads made up for 30% of sales, and I’m not sure if that’s high or not. But it’s definitely a new form. I have to be honest: I’m old-school and I still buy CD’s, but it depends on your scenario of life. I buy albums but I do put them straight onto my iPod. When I walk to work or to the town, for a beer or whatever, I listen to majority of it on my iPod. I know myself and I don’t get the chance to play CD’s as regularly as I would like to, but I buy them, and I buy them because I like to look at the artwork, I like to read the credits and the lyrics but that’s just me personally. I can understand why there’s a huge support for the digital downloading. I’ve only recently seen Spotify. It’s a great concept, but as an artist who receives royalties for this it’s really nothing. We receive great royalties from CD’s, but on digital it’s just terrible. So, I don’t support it as an artist, but as a fan of music I can understand the support. But what can you do about it? If the world demands it that that’s what’s going to happen. There was a time we thought that vinyl would die out and tapes would take over, and then CD’s came on board. The music industry is constantly changing.
The one thing that I definitely have an issue with is obviously piracy and people uploading albums. I don’t get that – uploading albums so that people can steal them. You’re biting the hand that feeds you because eventually bands will have no budget. I mean, even in the short, 7-years’ time that Eden’s Curse has been active our budget has almost halved and it’s because downloads are taking more and more from the CD sales. And eventually the label will turn around and say “you have to make records for nothing.” And bands can’t make records for nothing, you know. Something has to drop – the quality of the artwork, and there might not be any artwork on an album. It might just be a name or the title. Or the production has to drop, guys like Dennis Ward who charge a lot or money are going to lose money and bands will lose quality engineers. It’s such a vicious cycle I just don’t understand get out of that. I think that the record labels and people who are a lot more intelligent than I am will be scratching their heads, wondering “how do we get out of this?”
MB: Do you have any final messages for your fans?
PL: A definite thank you for sticking by us. We are aware of a lot of negative opinions and writings on the internet about Eden’s Curse. Our fan base has the true fans of the band and reading it you realize that the hate only came from one direction, and I don’t mean the pop band [laughs]. We as a band were professional, courteous, dignified and we remained silent. We do the talking through our music. That’s why we exist – we are a rock band and we owe our fan base a huge “thank you” for sticking by us. We always knew that we would rise again, it just took a little bit of patience, but now I realize that is because we had to ensure that we had the right person on board. We made a false start with Marco [Sandron, Michael Eden’s first replacement], who was an amazing singer by the way, but he just wasn’t the right personality. And we found that in Nikola and believe that we have that in Steve, so the mood in Eden’s Curse went sky-high. We have a great album that we are very proud of, so we thank everyone who stuck by us, who are going to buy the record or have already bought it. Our aim is to get out and play in front of as many of you as possible, whether in Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and also Serbia. This is a new territory for us, and hopefully with Nikola on board we can come and play in Serbia too. So we thank everyone for sticking by us and supporting us.
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