Ethernity is a Progressive Power Metal band from Belgium, founded in 2000 by brothers Julien Spreutels (keyboards – Epysode) and Nicolas Spreutels (drums).
The band played as an instrumental band, before recruiting Julie Colin (vocals) in 2005 and recorded their first demo All Over The Nations. At that point, the band found their actual sound and played in most renowned venues in Belgium, sharing the bill with acts like Tarja Turunen, Epica, Girlschool, Benedictum, Sons Of Seasons, Tarot, Europe, HammerFall, Edguy, GammaRay, Rage, VandenPlas, Evil Masquerade, Nightmare, Jorn, Rhapsody Of Fire, DGM, Masterplan, Freak Kitchen, Symphony X, and Evergrey.
In 2013, Ethernity started to work on their debut album, Obscure Illusions, which was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios) at Domination Studio in Italy. It received glorious reviews all over the world. Peter Funke catches up about the band's past, present, and future.
Hello, my name is Peter and I am from DPRP.net, the Dutch Progressive Rock Page. We appreciate taking your time for this interview. We are by now 20 years on the web and many of our readers have an affinity to the so-called classic progressive rock. How would you describe “progressive rock”?
Nicolas Spreutels: To me, music can be called progressive when it borrows influences from other music styles than its main register. For example, rock with jazzy or classical elements. Most of the time it's characterized with long songs with a lot of tempo changes and sometimes odd meters. At least, that's how I see it, I might be wrong! 🙂 In our case, it's more about tempo changes, playing with different ambiances, a bit of symphonic moments. All this, with the energy of metal music.
How did Ethernity find the musical style as it shows today?
Nicolas: From day one, it was clear that we wanted to play some melodic metal. We were highly influenced by the Scandinavian Power Metal Scene with bands like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica. As the years passed by, our creativity and technical level also evolved (as well as our tastes) and it came that we started to write more complex pieces of music. It was a natural process. Once you've achieved something, you're always looking for new challenges. We wanted to make songs which are more interesting to play but always easy to listen to and not fall into too crazy stuff.
Can you explain, what the backbone, the soul of Ethernity is?
Nicolas: I have to mention the fact that most of the band members are family related. Julien (keyboards) and I (drums) are brothers and François (bass) is our cousin. Julie (vocals) and I are married. Thomas (guitar) and I were at secondary school together and Greg (lead guitar) has been in the band for 8 years now. It's important to mention it to understand the way we work together. It's almost a family matter.
Can you tell our readers, what you describe as typical elements of an Ethernity song?
Nicolas: In most of our songs, it's safe to say: power, fineness, a bit of aggression, where melody plays the first role. Of course, they're all a bit different. We play very fast songs as well as ballads and long and progressive ones.
There are different ways of composing, writing lyrics and recording music. Can you describe, how your tracks come to life?
Nicolas: When it comes to songwriting, Julien, being the keyboard player, writes a big part of the music. We both take a lot of time to discuss together about the way we would like drive the band artistically and lyrically. There's a kind of symbiosis between us where we understand each other musically without saying a single word. When we have a nice concept about a song or a full album, then the music comes by itself. I also sometimes write a song or two.
The songs are then proposed during rehearsals where all the band members can put their personal touches into it by changing the structure, changing some riffs, etc.
For the lyrics, it's always easier for us to put a picture on a song first. Like a film poster if you like. Then we discuss it and a whole story concept comes out of it. We than explain this to our father (who is also a singer) who writes us nice lyrics based on our melodies and story. He's far better at this than we are! 🙂
Vocals are an instrument of course, but additionally they transport the lyrics. Or maybe the other way round. Fans and reviewers are often more looking after the fact, if the voice is “fitting”. How would you describe your position in this conflict?
Nicolas: Of course, you need to understand what you're singing otherwise it makes no sense. Julie is well involved in our song stories discussions. We took a lot of time — especially during the recording sessions — to get the right feeling for each word she was singing. This is subjective. If one is reading the lyrics, they are free to interpret them the way they wants. Maybe they do not get the same picture as the one we had in our minds when we wrote the song.
Now, it's hard to say if our vocals are transporting the lyrics or the other way around. Let's say that the lyrics come out of what the melodies inspired us and then we do our best to tell the story in a good way.
What would you answer to somebody stating your music is good, voice and singing is cool, but never read any lyrics?
Nicolas: This is all fine to me. Maybe reading the lyrics would just help him to understand the songs a bit better. Now, we have no important message to communicate. Our music is just there to entertain and procure emotions to people. It's all open to the imagination. I would just recommend to pay attention to the lyrics of the title track Obscure Illusions, where each singer has a role to play.
Tell us something about your most frustrating experience as a band.
Nicolas: Probably our worst live experience ever. A few years ago, a local open air festival wanted us to headline the event. We were kinda surprised but accepted anyway. We were really expecting something great according to how they sold us their thing. In the end, it came out that the stage was inside a truck! They were super late on the planning. Even though it was in May, it was freaking cold, and we got on stage around 2 AM in with winter jackets! Most of the audience had already gone, but we played our set anyway. It appeared that while we were playing, a random guy presented himself like the manager of the band and took our money. The inexperienced promoter believed him. So we went back home, disappointed but also eager to go. Like if it wasn't enough, we were stopped on the highway by a massive anti-drug police control where they were checking the content of all cars. Of course, we were fully loaded with our gear! Now we're laughing about it but that day, we were very angry.
Of course, our readers would like to know as well something about your most thrilling experience so far
Nicolas: When we played at the Power Prog Metal Fest 2011. We were on the bill with bands like Europe, Edguy, HammerFall, Gamma Ray, Rage, and many more. Next to the fact we were playing on a way bigger stage than usual with a larger audience, we had a great time hanging out with all the other artists backstage! One of our best memories, but there are many more!
Let's talk about your actual release, Obscure Illusions. Can you tell us something about your main intention, your main message you aim to transport with that album?
Nicolas: Even if it's not a concept album, there's a recurrent message all over the record and which is more detailed into the title track: “The way you live your life is the result of all the decisions you've taken. But, what would have happened if you had taken another path, but not always the good one?”
Can you describe your biggest progress referred to writing and recording when comparing to the recordings before?
Nicolas: This one is, without a doubt, our most mature record to date. We like the songs a lot compared to our previous releases. We tracked everything in our own studios. We really took our time to record all the tracks until we were completely satisfied with them. It's also the first time that we worked with a professional sound engineer for the mixing and mastering so this album is from another dimension compared to the other recordings we've done. Simone Mularoni at Domination Studios really raised the songs to another level!
Can you describe, what you personally like (or dislike) on Obscure Illusions?
Nicolas: The fact that it's our first real album and that we have 3 guest singers on the title track in the names of Tom E. Englund (Evergrey), Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Firewind, Darkology, Beyond Twilight) and Mark Basile (DGM). It's really something for us to have some our favorite singers singing one of our tunes!
Recording has the charm of the opportunity to do things again and again. And probably again. What are for you the most challenging aspects performing the new songs live on stage?
Nicolas: Sure, in a live situation, you only have one chance! When we record some songs, we rehearse them before, so we know upfront how to play them. The most challenging thing is that in studio you can record as many layers as you want. Then, you have to deal about reproducing this live or to try to get as close as possible as the album version. Of course, some tunes are more difficult to play than others. It's often related to the song's speed. There's a danger that in studio you have time to rest in between songs. On stage, you have to keep them rolling, which sometimes is exhausting.
Let`s have a look at the future. What are your plans for the next two or three years?
Nicolas: We'll do as many shows as possible to promote the album. We're already working from time to time on some new songs, so we'll record a second album as soon as we're ready! At this point, it's hard to say exactly when it will happen but it's the big picture right now.
Are you aiming a full professional career, meaning you can kick away your jobs and live only for and from your music?
Nicolas: That's a bit hard to answer. I guess every musician who is really putting a lot of his energy in what he does would dream about that. If you ask me if I would prefer to play my drums everyday with Ethernity and get enough money with it to get the same lifestyle as I do with my daily job now, then yes, of course. We all know it's not so easy to achieve something like this and especially with metal music. Anyway, I think it's a hard decision to take as it demands a lot of sacrifices and a complete change in the way you'll live your life. We'll see how this will turn out. Only time can tell!
Can you describe your way into music and finally to Ethernity?
Julien Spreutels: I started to play when we started the band. We learned to play together.
Nicolas: When I get my first drums at the age of 16, I immediately started to jam with Julien and François. That's how Ethernity was born. A few weeks later, we all entered a rock oriented music school from our area.
Julie Colin: I've started taking singing lessons at 14 years old. I met the Ethernity members in that school. That's how I joined the band.
François Spreutels: When I was 14, I founded Ethernity with my cousins. I started to play bass guitar at the same time. Our fathers were also playing in a band. With Nicolas, we always said that one day we would have a band too.
Thomas Henry: I started at the age of 6, classical music. I was a member of a band for 4 or 5 years, and there were only guitars! We were with about 130 guitars on stage. When I finished my 10 years of music, I met Nicolas during my studies. A few months later, I joined Ethernity.
Why are you playing the instrument you do?
Julien: When I was ten years old, my parents bought me a keyboard. Well actually it was more a toy than a keyboard. At this time, I was listening a lot to Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Nightwish. I wanted to play the same kind of music and I already had a keyboard so it was logical to me to start with this instrument.
Nicolas: As a kid, my father was always showing me some music video clips of bands he liked. Drummers always blew me away. To me, it was the most impressive thing ever. I used all my color pencils by hitting the chairs in the house. In the end, I got a real drum kit and the rest is history. 🙂
Julie: I've been singing since forever. As a child, it came naturally. It's the simplest way to me to express my feelings and send people a message. I started to take singing lessons and it has become a real passion.
François: In fact, the instrument has chosen me. I wanted to be a guitarist but when I took a bass in my hand, my heart told me “you are a bass player and you will make very nice sounds"! And nowadays, it's still true!
Thomas: In fact, when I was young, I was torn between saxophone, piano, and guitar. The first two were too expensive, and I also wanted to play rock music, with electric guitar. Well, okay, I started out with a classical guitar but, a quarter of a century later, I still have an electric guitar in my hands! 🙂
Who are your musical heroes and what is impressing you?
Julien: I started to play keyboard solos by listening to Stratovarius. This band was my favourite for many years, so it influenced me a lot during those years. My playing really changed when I heard Emanuelle Casali from DGM. To me, Emanuelle can do the same as Jens (Johansson). But he does it in a more modern way, and I really like it a lot! I also love Evergrey and Katatonia, both for their incredible abilities to create awesome ambiances that you'll never hear in other bands. They both have their own musical signature.
Nicolas: Jorg Michael was really the first drummer who inspired me to play like this. I was really into those power metal drummers with a fast, powerful and straight way of drumming. Mike Terrana really had a huge impact too. As the years passed, I started to dig into the world of drummers and also into more progressive music. Some I can mention are Peter Wildoer, Thomas Lang, and Mike Mangini. Those guys are really a daily source of inspiration. Very creative people! But there's so many good ones!
Julie: Tom Englund. To me, he's the kind of singer who can really express his feelings, in the studio as well as in a live situation. Russel Allen, for his charisma and his live performances. Floor Janssen, for her technique and her voice diversity. Lzzy Hale for her rage and rock 'n roll attitude.
François: My heroes are Roger Glover, John Lord, Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Michael Balzary, Geezer Gutler... And many others. They are awesome, they do amazing sounds and their music grooves so hard! I love them. and my girlfriend too!
Thomas: Paul Gilbert, because he was the first guitar player that gave me some good thrills with his Technical Difficulties. But if I have to make a small list, at the moment, I am listening to Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), John Petrucci, among others. And I also like to listen to Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, and some others from a time when I was not born yet.
What are you doing in civil life, what is your profession?
Julien: I studied computer graphics. Now I'm actually searching for a job.
Nicolas: I'm a web designer in marketing. Next to my job, I like to design artworks and I'm huge fan of TV series. Besides drums, I also play guitar and a bit of bass. I like to learn new things and spend a lot of my free time into recording software and my home studio.
Julie: I'm an animator in an organization for young and adult people. In my free time, I like to hang out with friends, reading, go to the cinema, tv series and taking care of my cat.
François: In civil life, I'm an illustrator and background artist for feature films in different animation studios in Belgium and France.
Thomas: I am an administrative. At 30, I started back some evening classes. Other than that, I love writing and reading, new technologies and my musical family. And, of course, my love... 😉
Again; thank you very much for your time and answering our questions.
Nicolas: Thanks a lot for you interest into Ethernity! Cheers!
In December 2016, Gregory Discenza left Ethernity because of his busy schedule. In January 2017, Francesco Mattei (formerly of Noveria) joined Ethernity on guitar to replace Gregory.
Early 2018, the band released their full-length album The Human Race Exctinction.
Later that same year, another line-up change, as Julie left the band for personal reasons. The pandemic happened, life continued, including some children being born, so the band has been on a pause. But the good news is that the band have been writing new material, and early 2023, the band started to audition for a new vocalist. We might expect some new Ethernity music this year!