The tour diaries of Essence

Essence has just returned from a touring crusade with Vader and Krisiun- two very well respected bands with a legacy that can be difficult to live up to. But, this newly formed band apparently fares just as well with their furious thrash inspired music alongside death metal legions. Aside from promoting their debut album, they really enjoyed travelling the globe and getting their music out to fans while hanging out with some of metal’s biggest names. Hailing from Denmark, Essence has come very far from being a small cover band to an original, inspiring juggernaut of music. This is a back-story regarding their adventures of this tour... amongst other things.

Hello there. Who do I get the pleasure of having this interview with to represent Essence?
You’re talking with singer and guitarist Lasse Skov and the pleasure is on my side.

First off, congratulations on your debut album! It sounds like a great thrash piece that stands above the usual generic comparisons.
Thank you very much! I’m very glad that you think so because that means our overall goal with the album has been a success. We wanted to make a record that did not contain the exact same song 10 times.... Way too many musicians do that these days, whether it’s pop, rock or metal.

So how did Essence finally come together, originally?
We started as an Immortal/Metallica/Slayer/Iron Maiden/Death cover band back in January 2006 at our home town in the north of Denmark. A very quiet small town so there was a need to beef up the volume. Guitarist Mark Drastrup and I met in an electronic store where he worked. We both just recently started playing guitar and after a couple of jamming sessions we formed the band. We soon asked present drummer Martin Haumann to join the band and with him our former bass player came along. We had to replace him with present bass player Atlas in April 2011 due to the usual personal issues and so on. A good choice though for our personal getting a long in the band and that’s what really matters.

You cite that your work is in the vein of thrash bands like Slayer, Kreator, and Exodus, but right from the start there is a lot more to the sound that makes your music more in depth- such as the eastern influences on the opening track. What are some of your other influences that help round out your music… perhaps a bit of Melechesh, eh?
Since we started playing music and hearing those bands it was somewhat the only way to go. There has never been any other way than thrash metal. Today we don’t get inspired by bands and songs anymore, but instead by minds. The minds of those people who think and act great, such as Mille Petrozza, James Hetfield, Abbath, Peter Tägtgren and others. On our first album, Lost in Violence, we were more ‘young’ than today and we did not stand as much on our own legs, as we do today. We were new to everything - playing in a band, writing songs, recording, the music business and so on. We had a lot to learn and with this learning came experience. We’re doing our own thing today entirely and not getting inspired by bands but ways of thinking. A healthy and necessary progression of any young musician, I think. Melechesh has actually never been an inspiration to us, but they are a very great and important band. We’re both on Massive Music so maybe we’ll be touring sometime and get to know them – it would be great to do so.

Now that you have a label behind your back to distribute the album, do you think it has been easier to reach out to fans and listeners to give them the full experience of Essence as opposed to using social networking sites like YouTube which sometimes can be a lot cheaper, but misdirecting?
Yes, it has been a lot easier because of the promotion and the opportunity for fans to get our music easier than before. We really felt a breakthrough in February after the album and our music video came out. Things have been moving at a good speed for us and they hopefully will keep doing so. The social media has its own strengths and weaknesses. We tend to use them to communicate easily and as personally as possible with the people out there, who wish to talk to us. These followers are some of the most important to us and we always appreciate speaking with them, via social media like Facebook and YouTube. It helps establishing a connection between us and them and that’s really important. We strive to be the people’s band and not a band for critics or a trusted few. Essence is for anyone who wants to listen to music and have a good time while doing so.

Have the reviews been positive so far or is there some resistance to accepting your brand of thrash metal?
The reviews have been incredible. We never expected the album to get this kind of attention from the fans, critics and colleges. We have not encountered any resistance. Of course some people prefer other kinds of music, but it’s not something to blame them for. If someone does not like our music then peace be with him or her. We make music for our own sake and because it’s the only thing we really know how to do. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re only in it for the hell of it and that will never change. We love what we’re doing and we wish to be the best to do it. Having a smile on your lip and being open minded helps a lot to the not getting resistance thing. If you believe in yourself then you don’t need to be the tough kind in the school yard - we’re all equal and we’re nothing more than any of our colleges or fans. I would treat Kerry King with the same respect as I would any of the people at our shows – no difference.

Compared to your previous EP, how did you want to expand upon your sound for the debut album to make it the monster that it came out to be?
The EP was good for its purpose but there was a big room for improvement, both on the quality of the song writing, the production and our playing. That’s what we realised and that’s what we wished to do different on Lost in Violence. Now looking back at our way from the EP to our debut album, we feel the exact same thing happening towards the next album. I think that it’s the constant will and drive to be better at what we do that keeps us evolving as a band. Also, we wanted the debut album to be natural and ‘real’. We recorded it the four of us together live at the same time and we did not use all the computer stuff you can, like Elastic Audio, Beat Detective, Sound Replacer, Re-amping and so on, to make it sound as ridicules as everything else. We did things our own way and we’re happy that we did so. If the album flopped then so be it, because we knew what we were doing at the time. It came from integrity and passion for music. Lost in Violence is just four young guys hammering it out as they do when they rehearse. I guess that’s what many people like about the record. It’s not trying to be something it’s not, you know.

You recently went on tour with Vader and Krisiun- two very well known death metal bands. Did the death metal crowd out there find your music appealing as Essence has a much more melodic style than either of those two bands?
They did, actually. Even though we’re not nearly as brutal as Krisiun and Vader, it seemed like that the crowds enjoyed themselves every night. We did what we were supposed to do and we delivered shows that made people have a good time. I think that genres don’t matter to many metal lovers. What really means something is the way the band delivers their music and how they play it. Besides, we’re probably all Iron Maiden and Metallica fans, or started hearing metal because of these two bands, so though Essence have a more soft melodic style than Vader and Krisiun, people can still relate to our music. It was a great success for us end and we learned a lot from it.

Where did the tour entail around Europe… any particular places you were really excited to go to?
The tour was in France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and other places. We really just wanted to get out on the road to get more experience and growth as musicians and as a band. Germany was in particular a great place for us as they really seem to like what we’re doing. We played at Vagos Open Air in Portugal in August and that was the show of a lifetime together with Roskilde Festival in June. Portugal is an Essence country and we really love being there. We’ll get back there asap.

How did you enjoy the tour yourself? You’re obviously no stranger to tours as performing alongside groups like Raunchy and Mnemic, but this was something a little different as Vader and Krisiun are a bit of new blood to get along with.
We enjoyed it more than anything in the world. Vader and Krisiun are amazing people! Krisiun is the most inspiring people we have ever dealt with. The band consists of three Brazilian guys - the Kolesne brothers Alex, Moyses and Max. They are touring the world endlessly and I have never ever in my entire life seen integrity and respect in the way the posses it. We all learned a lot from them and spending time with them, not to forget Vader and the incredible Kurwa Crew, was not work; it was vacation - that’s really what it was: a fantastic road trip in a big bus with the coolest people in the world, playing music every night and having a good time. It was so refreshingly exciting living life in an extreme way.

Is there anything specific that Essence likes to do during shows to really get the fans riled up or get new listeners engaged with the music as opposed to just going on stage, performing, and then leaving for the next act?
Yes, there is. We smile on stage. Not in the typical American way but in a genuine and respectful way. We enjoy ourselves so much on stage and getting that connection with the audience is what makes the difference. When we’re up on the stage performing it is just a pure good time and relaxing. We’re not trying to sell anything - we’re just doing what we like to do. Luckily we’re blessed to be able to actually do this and we feel very privileged about it. We always give each other a high five and a knuckles right before show time, to really get in the zone as a unity and not four guys playing separately. This also means a lot to us - the bound between us in the band and the people we work with.

Craziest night of the tour… on or offstage?
Off stage for sure! I won’t get into details because of professional respect, but let’s just say that on the first day of the tour we were two support bands and in the early morning hours of the second day we were one - Essence. Terrible and scary stuff! But all part of the hard life which the road brings. It is of the utter most importance that you show the other bands of the tour the respect they deserve, because you’re living together in a night liner and you can’t just close the door and be private. It was a crazy night - a really crazy night.

So what is next on the agenda for Essence now that you’ve just returned? Is a break in order or has new inspiration struck for future albums?
Yes, we’re recording a pre-production of the first half of our next album right now. I’m writing this in the studio listening to lead guitars being shredded. We had a pretty good spring and summer touring Denmark on MTV’s The New Era tour, playing with In Flames, touring Europe on Summer Campaign 2011 with Vader and Krisiun, recording a music video, releasing our first album, playing Roskilde Festival, playing Vagos Open Air, getting 4Sound as our main sponsor, getting a deal with 3rd Tsunami Agency, Massive Music and A LOT of other stuff. From March to now we’ve played for more than 13000 people at shows alone, not including radio, TV and videos on social sites.

We won’t be doing a lot more than writing and working on the next record until this year ends. Only a few support jobs but we have turned down all tours, festivals and most shows so far. We simply have not got the time to do it, because we enter the studio on February 13th in 2012. The next album will be produced by Peter Tägtgren at Abyss Studio in Sweden, which we are really really excited about. We think that Peter is the best at what he’s doing and combined with our idea of how our record should sound, I’m sure we will work wonders. Peter Tägtgren is a brilliant mind and I’m convinced that Essence and he will make the perfect team! No breaks or rest for the lazy - we rest and relax when we’re doing what we do best.

That’s about all I have for now; thanks again for all your time and BRUTALISM looks forward to hearing your next thrashing effort!
Thank you so much for taking your time out to ask to our work. We appreciate it and look forward to present our next album to BRUTALISM! :)