Photo Credit: Tim Tronckoe

For a musician who needs a distraction free zone to concentrate on laying down the melody and riffs needed to make musical magic, there is little more annoying or infuriating than the constant buzz, beep and whirr of a mobile phone. Calls, alerts, and messages distract a musician from the task in hand but sometimes, just sometimes, those pings and rings can boot the door open for an opportunity and experience you will never forget.

Just as guitarist Isaac Delahaye of Dutch symphonic metal band Epica experienced. “It was funny as my manager gave me an urgent call,” reveals Delahaye with a wry smile. “I was in my home studio working on a new song and he kept calling me and eventually I answered and asked ‘What the fuck?’ all agitated.

“He told me to check my WhatsApp and there was details of three European shows. I just checked dates and overlooked the words ‘supporting Metallica’ and just said yeah that’s fine and then went back to work on my song, and it took a good five minutes for me to suddenly realise and go back to read it and sink in that it was Metallica.”

A hernia operation for Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody forced his band to pull out of a number of scheduled live appearances, including three supporting Metallica around Europe, which opened the door for Epica to step in.

“It was a very last minute thing, as Five Finger Death Punch had to drop out, but we got the call to do three European shows with them which was very cool. The guys all came to say hi to us and the whole crew and band were very welcoming. Having now played a couple of shows with them to those huge crowds it makes everything from now on easier,” he laughs heartily.

“No need to be nervous for a slot here at Download after that. But we know Download is one of the biggest festivals, so it’s a big deal to be here. Last time we played a smaller stage but moving up now so going in the right direction.”

Keeping the chat on Metallica, we throw a curveball question at the lead guitarist and ask him if Epica were to cover any Metallica song, which would it be and at the same time, which of their own tracks would they like the San Fran legends to put the Metallica spin on?

“Oh, that’s a hard question and something I’ve never thought about before,” he says. “I’d probably choose Master of Puppets as the song maybe we would cover, and for them I’d get them to cover Consign to Oblivion. It is a long song, but they could do a lot with it and maybe shorten it to two minutes and tell us this is the good parts and this is what we would do with it.”

The Epica axeman is enjoying the sun trap here behind the media tent at Download Festival, as he laughs the last time he was here it was chucking it down.

“My favourite thing about festivals is being able to see old friends,” he says. “You plan beforehand to maybe go and see a band, but then you find yourself in a conversation with someone backstage especially when the weather is like this, and it’s so many good vibes. To be going from dark evil club shows to an open air festival like this is always such a difference too.”

Epica are due to hit the Opus Stage in just a matter of hours, so we ask if there is any difference in the way they approach a festival set to a headline venue or arena show of their own?

“Some guy asked me online are you playing really hard songs? No, we are only playing ballads I told him,” he laughs out loud. “It was a weird question. We do what we do, but if a festival is really metal we go for harder songs. If it is more of a rock festival we can pick and choose songs, but we have a fixed frame and then change a couple of songs around that to be honest.”

What’s next in the near future for Epica after the highs of opening for Metallica, playing festivals and arena bangers all over Europe?

“Well in the next six months we have summer festivals for the next while scattered all over Europe,” he adds. “After that we are slowly starting to work on a new album. By the end of the year we will have writing sessions and record it next year.”

Interview by: Eric Mackinnon 

Tags : Epica
Eric Mackinnon
Long time journo who sold his soul to newspapers to fund his passion of following rock and metal bands around Europe. A regular gig-goer, tour-traveller and festival scribe who has broken stories of some of the biggest bands in the world and interviewed most. Even had a trifle with Slash once. Lover of bourbon, 80's rock and is a self-confessed tattoo addict.