Epica’s Simone Simons: “No matter how bad life goes, music will pull you through”

Simone Simons of Epica
(Image credit: Nuclear Blast)

Simone Simons has been the singer with Dutch symphonic metallers Epica since she was 17. During that time, the band have released seven studio albums. Their upcoming eighth album, Eight, will be released in February 2021. 

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What’s the worst thing about being in a band?

“Missing my family and friends. The silver lining of our current situation is that I’m finally home for a longer time. Of course I have that itchy feeling about getting back onstage but it’s such a special time in my son’s life and he’s more aware of me being there as a mother; now I can catch up on what I’ve been missing.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“My aunt said, ‘You should wait until your voice has matured before you take singing lessons.’ I didn’t listen to her so the best advice was listening to my gut feeling that this was something I had to do. I got lessons and I got in touch with [Epica founder and guitarist] Mark Jansen, but if I’d waited like my aunt said, I think everything would’ve taken a different turn.”

When the first time you felt like a rock star?

“When I’m playing huge festivals with a big audience. I never see myself as a famous person but those are the moments where you’re like, ‘Shit, everybody’s looking at me’,and everything just hits you.”

What’s been your worst experience on drugs?

“I suffer from insomnia so sometimes I have to take sleeping pills. While recording this new album, I woke up in the night and took a pill. The next morning, I drove to the studio and parked the car, but the car rolled down the hill so I had to jump in and pull the handbrake. I can drive perfectly but the pill was still in my system so I wasn’t into my everyday automatic movements.”

Have you picked up any hobbies during lockdown?

“I started off with good intentions of finally learning to play the piano because our son’s learning and he’s surpassed me. Whenever I practise, he comes over like, ‘No, you’ve got to play it like this!’ He pushes me away from the piano and I don’t have a chance to practise. I have so many hobbies, like photography, and I also have a blog!”

When was the last time you cried?

“I’m not a crybaby but motherhood has made me into a wimp! If kids are hurt in movies or I see something on Instagram with a sick child, I get teary-eyed. During my wedding ceremony, I took half an hour to say my wedding vows instead of two minutes because I kept on crying. It was embarrassing!”

How are you handling teaching your son at home now?

“Lots of red wine! That’s probably the last time I cried because I was just so frustrated – everybody wasn’t dealing with the situation very well and the insecurity about what’s happening to our tours, how we’re going to make money and everything. Plus, our kid is suddenly at home so we were all on edge. It was difficult but I found out I could never become a teacher.”

What’s been your proudest moment with Epica so far?

“Anniversary shows and special shows when we have a new album out always have an extra spark for me. I quite enjoyed the shows I did when I was pregnant – there were basically seven bandmembers onstage and I was so proud. My lifelong dreams were to become a singer and a mother so those shows were like everything coming together.”

After 18 years together, what has Epica grown to mean to you?

“Epica has been my therapy over the last couple of years. Now listening to other Epica albums, I can feel why fans tell us our music has helped them. It’s really been Epica that’s kept me going and brought out my inner strength.”

What message would you like fans to take from your new album, Eight?

“Believe in yourself and no matter how bad life goes, music will always pull you through. For me, Eight is a record of what’s going on in our lives as a society and as individuals. I had quite a rough time leading up to the new record and I put that all in the music. I hope we can give this back to everybody, that they can also get through hardships in life.”