Who is Simone Simons? Getting to know Epica's enigmatic frontwoman
She’s fronted Epica for 15 years, setting the symphonic scene alight with her powerful voice. But how has life in a band changed Simone Simons, and what is she really like offstage?
"People might think they know what it’s like and that my life is all very magical, but wait until the day when you’ve only had three hours’ sleep and you’re hanging around an airport for hours and hours… and then, of course, I always get pulled over to have my bags checked for explosives. It’s not so glamorous when you eat bad sushi and get food poisoning, either. The worst time was in Colombia – I was shitting and puking at the same time. I thought I was going to die! Ha ha ha!”
You probably think you know Simone Simons. Vocalist with Epica throughout the Dutch band’s 15-year story, she’s always appeared every inch the symphonic metal ‘princess’: vocally versatile and visually immaculate, it’s hard to imagine her losing her cool at the airport. But then, unless you read her Metal Test in Hammer #300, you may be unaware that she has a bone-dry sense of humour and is more than happy to share, for example, the horrifying details of a nasty bout of food poisoning. As she cheerfully admits, spending 15 years on the road with a bunch of hairy, sweaty men has had an undeniable impact.
“Well, when Epica is on the road I’m in a minority, of course. The guys shouldn’t have to change everything for me, so I have to think like a guy! We’ve toured a whole lot and that’s definitely taken a toll on me. But if I’m missing my family or I’m tired and cranky or there are no clean towels, yeah, being the only girl can be tough. But then you suddenly remember that you made a record and there are people in São Paolo listening to it. There are people with Epica tattoos. It’s a reality check; we’re very lucky.”
Born in Hoensbroek in the Netherlands in 1985, Simone loved singing from a very young age. As a teenager, she fantasised about joining a girl group, even to the extent of starting to write songs for what was, at that point, a somewhat optimistic endeavour. The decisive moment in Simone’s life came at school, when she auditioned for a part in the end-of-year musical. Plainly gifted at singing but, in her own words, “no good at acting”, she was beaten to the part by a girl with no singing ability but plenty of acting talent (“She went to theatre school,” Simone notes with a snort of derision). Fortunately, her vocal skills had not gone unnoticed.