Interview: Eden’s Curse on their legacy, new singer Nikola Mijic and recording a forty-six piece orchestra

Interview with Paul Logue | By Eric May

Eden’s Curse has had quite a legacy, first starting out as a small internet project; but slowly building into the mainstream powerhouse that they are today. Though they’ve had their share of problems, their new album Symphony Of Sin is definitely their best album yet. I talked with Paul about the legacy of the band, as well as their many trials and tribulations. We also discussed the inclusion of new singer Nikola Mijic and what it’s like to record with a forty-six piece orchestra, among several other intriguing topics.

Can you talk about how you went from an internet project back in 2006, all of the way to today’s act which has seen four studio albums and several world tours? That’s quite a leap.

The catalyst was really me writing with David Readman (Pink Cream 69) and being introduced to produer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69 / Unisonic) and being encouraged by those guys to get a band together as a vehicle for my songs. I had grown disillusioned with the music scene and players in Glasgow, where I had a band for 9 years, and decided to broaden my horizons as my eyes had been opened working with David in that it could be done digitally without any issues. I soon discovered singer Michael on a Musicians Message board. We talked, I sent him some song ideas and we hatched a plan to make an album. We needed a band first, so we put an Ad out for a guitarist, and amongst 50 some applications we found Thorsten Koehne. I then brought in Pete Newdeck on drums, who was a label mate of mine, and finally a contact of Thorsten’s recommended Ferdy Doernberg to join the band.

We recorded our debut album digitally and Dennis mixed it, and pretty soon inked a deal with AFM Records. The album was a complete success for us and we followed it up straight away with The Second Coming. We worked with Pamela Moore (Sister Mary from Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime album) and that gave us a lot of publicity with our single “Angels & Demons”.

A year later, thanks to the support of our US label we toured UK with Stratovarius and Firewind, and followed this up with appearances at Bloodstock Open Air, Hard Rock Hell and then another tour with Alestorm.
Our next album,
Trinity saw us collaborate with Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie on our single “No Holy Man” and that is our biggest song to date. James then personally invited us to open for Dream Theater at two shows in the UK later that year.

So, hard work, desire, good planning and not to mention great support from our labels have helped us get to where we are currently.

It seems that you’ve endured a couple of tough years before this album was complete with the new line-up. Can you talk a little bit about that? Did you fear that the band was going to break up?

Just after the Dream Theater shows our original vocalist Michael’s focus switched from the music to money, for whatever reason. He made an unreasonable financial demand on the band that we simply could not meet, and he wouldn’t back down and quit. We replaced him with Italian vocalist Marco Sandron, but parted company with him six months later. Marco is an amazing talent, but unfortunately wasn’t the right personality for us. We are a tight group with a strong personal bond and we need new band members to fit and integrate into that seamlessley. That did not happen. We tried to make it work and in the end we weren’t happy and neither was he, so we parted company. This was a tough decision and rather embaressing at the time, but it has now been proved to be the correct one. At the time we had to make a tough choice for the long term benefit of Eden’s Curse.

With a brand new lineup, Eden’s Curse sounds stronger than ever. How did you go about recruiting the fantastic pipes of Nikola Mijic and the nimble fingers of Steve Williams? What do you think that the inclusion of these two powerful entities does for the band?

When we parted company with Marco we decided to hold some public online auditions, similar to what Dragonforce did, and even though the quality received was very high indeed, we were looking for that certain “je ne sais quoi”. I was researching on the internet through various media streams and I happened to be browsing on the website of Lion Music, who have some killer bands. I came across Dreyelands and liked what I heard from their singer. I jumped to Facebook to see if he had a profile and what he was doing and low and behold he did. I reached out to Nikola and invited him to audition, which he did. He recorded three songs and we got to know him quite well and he really met all the requirements we looked for in a vocalist and a band member. Nikola is an extremely versatile vocalist who can sing pretty much anything. He is a great live performer and is also a professional sound engineer owning his own studio in Serbia recording bands there and also mixing live at concerts. He plays multiple instruments and is a really fantastic, easy going person.

Steve actually auditioned for the band when Ferdy Doernberg left after the second album, and was beaten by Alessandro and his magnificent voice. We have remained good friends since and it was a very natural decision to ask him to join as he is a great player, songwriter and person, and Power Quest had split and he was contemplating his next musical venture. He asked to hear the new demos and once he did, he jumped on board. When God made Steve Williams he threw away the mould. Talented, intelligent, thoughtful, witty, fun and one of life’s absolute Gentlemen… they don’t make them like him anymore!

Eden's Curse - Symphony Of Sin cover

One thing about this album that I’ve noticed in particular, is that it’s quite catchy. What do you think might have been the influence there, and what were you guys listening to around the time that this was made?

There wasn’t anything in particular we were listening to that inspired us, but we deliberately pushed ourselves and each other harder on the songs. Thorsten, myself and Pete, who were the core writing time, wouldn’t accept the first idea that came forward if any one of us thought that the idea could be bettered. We went back to the drawing board multiple times on each of these songs and it really shows, I believe. It also demonstrates how comfortable we are working with each other, because we would not let personal gain get in the way of “the song”. We would only say “done” when everyone was truly happy with every part, thus enabling us to write the best batch of songs that we could.

Tell me about the recording process for Symphony Of Sin. Where was it recorded and how long did it take? Were there any hang ups during the process?

We recorded Symphony Of Sin exactly like we have done every other Eden’s Curse record – we all record at our home studios except for the lead vocals, which were recorded at my studio in Scotland. All the files are then uploaded to Dennis and he mixes and masters. The whole record took about six months to complete. We started in January of this year and wrapped things up in July.

There weren’t any hang ups, other than Nikola’s Visa to come to the UK to record was rejected first time around, but we quickly resolved that and rescheduled a date.

Symphony Of Sin features a forty-six piece orchestra. Can you tell me a little bit about that? What is it like recording with a full orchestra?

We worked with a gentleman called Frank Van Essen from Holland who is a professional orchestral arranger and we researched several online digital services where you can send them your idea and they will record it with an orchestra. Frank has some really amazing samples of soundtracks like Iron Man or Harry Potter than summed up exactly what we were looking for. I actually composed the whole piece myself, as I play a limited amount of keyboard, but with the aid of an Orchestral Software plugin I was able to write string, percussion and woodwind parts etc. and took this to Frank. He was really excited by the piece and complimented me on the writing, which was amazing to hear as it was the first time I had done anything like this, and he then arranged it professionally and set about recording it. Hearing it back just blew my mind and it was and is exactly as how I imagined and heard it in my head. It was written specifically to open the album and more so a concert. Hearing it blasting out of a PA at Firefest whilst waiting in the wings was exciting!

There are several interesting lyrical topics on the album. Exactly who is being referenced on the track, “Evil and Divine?” You refer to her as the mother of angels. This piqued my curiosity a bit.

Our story is based upon the tale of The Watchers who were a group of two hundred rebellious angels who watched over the human race. They fell in love with the idea of becoming human and decided to leave heaven and come to earth to explore this fantasy. They founds partners with the humans and begun sharing knowledge that the human race was meant to discover over hundreds of years, like sorcery and mirrors, and this ultimately lead to trouble. The reference to “Mother Of Angels” is in reference to a female Angel in our particular story.

I’ve also noticed three songs that seem to tie right into each other. Right after “Unbreakable” there exists “Fallen From Grace”, “Losing My Faith” and “Rock Bottom.” It sounds like you’re feeling a bit disenfranchised with society and world issues.

There is no link between each song and the lyrics, to be honest.

“Fallen From Grace” talks about having it all in the palm of your hands and then losing it all because of foolish actions. Kind of “you reap what you sow”. It was inspired by the fall of one of my heroes, and if you look closely there is a clue within the lyrics, but I’ll leave it there.

“Losing My Faith” was written about the City of Juarez in Mexico – the city of the dead. Drug gangs control the streets and there are multiple murders every single day, yet no one says a thing. It’s questioning someone’s faith in such circumstances and is them asking God “Did you abandon me, what did you do to me?” I wrote this after watching a documentary about the gangs of Juarez. It struck me as to how cheap the price of life was viewed.

“Rock Bottom” is about relationships that go sour. It has several personal meanings to the writers and is most certainly something that everyone experiences in their life at some point.

“Sign Of The Cross” seems like it might be a religious themed track, in that when one sees suffering, “make the sign of the cross” which would refer to Christianity. Can you talk a bit about this one, and what do you believe personally?

It’s actually about a Papal Conclave, and in particular when Pope John Paul died. I wrote this song years ago, originally for David Readman’s (Pink Cream 69) solo album, and the guys kept asking me to include it on each album. I was inspired to write this at the time because my wife on holiday went to Rome and Pope John Paul died when she was out there and the conclave started. It was quite a historical time to be in Rome and experience it all. I am questioning the responsibility on the shoulders of the person who is successful from the conclave. I would rather keep my beliefs to myself.

Since you’ve had several tours around the world, what can you say are some of your best and worst moments on the stage, or on the road? What are some great things that you’ve seen, who have you had the pleasure of meeting while on tour?

The first tour we ever did with Stratovarius and Firewind was amazing, simply because of being able to play live with the band after two albums with each other, and meeting our fan base face-to-face was mind blowing. It was also a perfect bill for us. We had such a great time.

That tour gave us our worst experience at Jilly’s in Manchester, where the PA was absolutely on it’s knees and we arrived at the venue to be screamed at by some technician that we would have one microphone and no monitors and songs would have to be cut. We ended up doing three songs, but with big backing vocals, one microphone wasn’t gonna cut it, so it felt like not a true representation of what we do. The band was tight but Mike was beginning to blow his voice and we had one more show to do the next night, so three songs in we said good night, and told the crowd why. Honesty is always the best policy.

Our highest point was opening for Dream Theater in the UK. We played two shows with them and they really treated us great. Their crew and the whole band were so nice to us, and we did two great shows and got superb reactions from their audience.

Finally what does the band’s name, Eden’s Curse refer to?

The sin of man. If only she hadn’t taken a bite from that apple!!!

Thanks for such a great album and I hope it gets well received; it truly is one of the catchiest metal albums I’ve heard all year.

Thank you so much!

See also: Eden’s Curse 4.5 star album review for Symphony of Sin here.

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