There’s always that one band at the heavy metal show that has the buxom babe as their lead singer. But it would be a mistake to think—even for a second—that our latest Femme on Fire, Simone Simons, of the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica, is merely easy on the eyes. The red-haired babe talks to us about Epica’s sixth studio album The Quantum Enigma, becoming a mother and what it’s like to tour with a heavy metal band. Congrats on the new album The Quantum Enigma! It really brings your sound to a whole new level.

Simone Simons: Thank you, we’re really excited. It’s our sixth studio album and we’ve definitely done things differently this time around. We’re absolutely ecstatic with the end result and very happy to promote something that’s so wonderful. For me the biggest personal difference was that I was pregnant during the writing process. And then two months after I gave birth I went into the studio with my son. Recording an album throughout this life-changing period was quite the experience. It was very intense for me; it was with a different producer, in a different studio and with different surroundings and new people working with me. It was a nice change for us and we got the best results out of each individual of the band. Becoming a mother during the process was definitely a source of inspiration. For music, for singing, for lyrics…it’s one of the biggest achievements that a woman can have in her life! What was the major difference for you between creating this album and the others?

Simons: On this record you can hear our newest bass player; he has already been active in songwriting on the record, which is wonderful. That meant that all five men in the band wrote songs for this album! For this record we had stronger collaboration as a band than ever before. We all live fairly far apart from each other, so it’s hard for us to get together between tours. We’ve been writing records digitally with our own home studios, sending them via e-mail and then eventually meeting up in studio to work on what we’ve shared. For this record we got to meet up in the beginning stages of the writing process. Because I was pregnant and couldn’t travel, we had a lot of time to collaborate. The guys came to my house to work on the vocals, and then went to the Netherlands to record. The Quantum Enigma. What is that?

Simons: The title stands for an experiment of quantum physics in which they found out that whenever you observe particles they take a certain shape and then when you look away they completely change. So there’s a little bit of philosophical meaning behind it—you can never be too sure what reality is when you’re not watching. The thread that runs throughout all the lyrics is that we are searching for reality even though we’re drifting between reality and dreams. It’s very philosophical and very spiritual with a touch of science to it. Was there a specific track that you were really excited to play for fans?

Simons: For me the most personal song on the record was Canvas of Life, which is about the circle of life. It’s a very intimate and genuine ballad. So for the fans that have our records, they all say that this song gets to them. That’s the great thing about this—you write the songs from your heart and give a part of yourself to the fans and when they identify with that it is a big compliment for a musician. You guys seem to be on the road a lot. What’s the biggest difference for you in terms of audiences you play?

Simons: I would say that Americans are very respectful. They keep their distance, they know how to have a good time and are very positive-minded and friendly. What I do like as well is that in America everything is mixed. In our audience we see people from all different ethnicities. You’ll even see people that you think are totally into rap or country or whatever but they are in our audience going crazy with Epica! It’s super fun to see that it’s international and interracial. We value our fans so much, we love to get to know those who love our music and who support us. Is it tough to be a woman in heavy metal?

Simons: No, I must say that I don’t really experience that. There are many other female singers in this genre and we all tend to stick together. We all stand our ground amongst the guys and never feel discriminated or disrespected. I am sometimes one of the guys—I can burp as loud as them and have a good time. Of course I like my girly things and sometimes need a break, but they also sometimes need a break from me! We all really get along; it’s like having a family with 30 brothers. You mentioned “girl stuff”—you have a really great blog on the side as well. When did that start?

Simons: The blog is going to be four years old in December. I love makeup, cooking, fashion, photography and traveling…With Epica I also get to indulge these hobbies, they are a part of Epica. Fans asked me a lot about how I presented myself or what my travels were like so I decided to keep a diary in the form of a beauty blog. It’s fun and quite popular now actually! [laughs] I need to upload a new post soon; I’m running a bit behind. But my fans can’t blame me because of the little one and the work that comes with a new CD. It can be hectic at times. You were saying that having a child has brought something new to your music. Would you ever want to put out a solo album?

Simons: I love different styles of music besides metal. I have a jazz project on the side with my husband, but for now we’re just taking it easy as we are super busy with our own bands. My husband, who’s in Kamelot, also teaches and produces. So whenever we have free time we want to invest it in our jazz project. As for the solo record, it’s going to come one day, but my solo, or should I say duo, project right now is my son Vincent. When he is a little older and I have a little bit more free time I will start on my solo project, but it’s not something I want to put a timeframe on. I like to keep things open. Epica has the new album out; we’re going to tour with this record all over the world, so that is my top priority.