Hello Tim! How are you doing? As sequel to our first interview with the band, we like to have an update of things now that ‘Citadel’ is about to be released. I think you can be happy about the response at ‘Portal Of I’ and ‘Citadel’, isn’t it?
Yes absolutely! We’ve really been blown away by the response to ‘Citadel’. We were definitely very confident this was the best album we could do at this stage in our careers, but you never really know what people will think until they start listening to it and so it’s been amazing to hear such overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans and press all across the world. It definitely makes us excited for the future of this band.
It has been a rollercoaster of challenges and new adventures since then, so let us all spit them out. First of all: making a praised record is one thing, but getting on tour while located in Australia is something else. Yet we see some live experiences with Enslaved, Devin Townsend, Cradle Of Filth etc. Can you tell something more about the live experiences that followed after the release of ‘Portal Of I’?
After ‘Portal Of I’ came out things really started to happen for us in Australia and the crowds on our headline shows were the biggest we had experienced at that time. Then slowly the promoters bringing out the big internationals started to take notice and so in 2013 we ended up getting local and/tour supports with amazing bands such as BTBAM, Devin Townsend, Enslaved, Cradle Of Filth & more. Performing alongside such great professional acts helped to expose us to a lot of new people here in Australia and also helped us push ourselves to continue getting better at our live show with every show on every tour to try and match the level of the great bands we were playing alongside.
What about being the inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s ‘Game Of Thrones’?
Haha… well the term Ne Obliviscaris in historical terms is the motto for the Campbell Clan from Scotland which is referenced in Game Of Thrones, but I think that’s as close a connection as we can claim to that.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music added a song of yours to their teaching curriculum. Can you give us some more details and what it means to you?
It’s incredible. Personally, I studied at a classical conservatorium here in Australia and the thought that students similar to myself would be studying one of our songs in their composition class really blows my mind. It’s definitely a very humbling honour and not something we ever expected.
A first headline tour brought you to Asia… other cultures… other continent… please go a bit deeper into that experience by telling you us about crowds, cultures, countries and so on… if you have time a brief tour report would be appreciated…
Any band’s first international tour is always going to be an eye opening experience and that was definitely the case for us. I think it really showed us how special what we had with this band was, to be able to travel to a country you’ve never been to before and have people waiting for your autograph, singing along to your lyrics and enjoying your music. To have that instant connection with people you have never met before is really quite special. We toured through Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan & Thailand and all the shows were amazing. Our show in Tokyo sold out and was definitely one of the best shows we have played, the fans there really blew us away.
We should also mention the crowd-funding initiative for more touring. How did you get that idea, how did you arrange it strictly and what was the result?
We first came up with the idea in late 2013 shortly before recording ‘Citadel’ but it took about nine months of planning before it was ready to be launched. We did a lot of study and research to make sure our plan would be successful and thankfully everything worked out even better than we could have ever hoped. We reached our initial target of $40,000AUD in only thirty-eight hours, and went on to raise over $86,000AUD breaking the Australian record for music related crowd funding by more than $25,000. We feel very lucky to have such amazing fans that have shown us such great support!
One of the actions you did was changing from the well-respected Aural Music (code666) to larger label Season of Mist. What about the label hopping and the expectations?
I think that the main thing any band wants is to simply get their music out there to be heard and so we saw this as an opportunity to ensure our new album was heard by as many new people as possible and so far so good! It’s been great working with Season of Mist and the new album has been going really well so far.
After the worldwide praised ‘Portal Of I’ the next challenge happened to be writing new material. When did you focus on this and can you tell a bit more about this new writing process?
We got back to writing pretty quickly in early 2013 and essentially focused on writing in between any tours throughout the course of that year. Sometimes people would bring in ideas, other times we would jam things out and improvise at rehearsal to come up with new ideas. We work in a very collaborative fashion and thankfully ‘Citadel’ came out really easily in the end. It was a ton of hard work, but we were really confident with the material and so it’s been exciting to see so many people enjoying it upon its release.
Did you face any extra pressure? Were there some purposes or directions you decided before writing anything?
We definitely felt a bit of extra pressure before we started writing, but we didn’t really talk about it much beyond wanting to make sure that outside concerns had no impact on the music we were writing. Once the writing process began everything really just fell into place and a lot of that pressure just disappeared as we loved the new music we were writing and to us that was all that mattered. We had full confidence that if we loved the record, other people would as well and thankfully that’s been the case.
What can we see as sources of inspiration for the lyrics this time? Is there a concept or red thread (since some songs are divided in parts)?
Our vocalist Xenoyr does all the lyrics for our songs and this time around the music was flowing so well that I spoke with him about trying to create a theme for the lyrics as well and he came up with the idea of the Citadel. All the songs are loosely based around that theme with each track looking at different aspects of the human condition.
How would you compare the new album musically with its illustrious predecessor in the eyes of the makers?
I think we just took everything to a new level in all directions. It seems more extreme, but it’s also more melodic and progressive. It’s more technical, but also has lots of quiet moments. It has some new sounds, and some sounds that people will recognise as what they know of Ne Obliviscaris already. In the end we didn’t think too much about it at all, we just tried to create the best album we could and this is how it came out and we couldn’t be prouder of the end result.
You live in Melbourne, yet Australia has a huge amount of mighty nature areas. Are any of them a source of inspiration as artist? Can you tell a bit more about growing up there and how you got involved into making music?
Australia is definitely a beautiful country, but in a different way to others as much of it is desert or bushland outside of the major cities. Personally I moved around a bit between different cities in Australia and even spent a few years in San Francisco, USA in the early nineties. In some ways these places haven’t been a big source of inspiration specifically, but in a more general sense I firmly believe that everything that has made me the person I am today influences the way I write music and so in a way it all has had an impact. For me, I started playing violin when I was six years old and have been playing ever since. About seventeen I decided I wanted to tour the world as a famous classical violinist and then went to University to study classical violin and composition. Somewhere along the way though I ended up getting a bit distracted and here I am touring the world in a metal band instead, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Are there plans to make a video clip for one of the new songs (or excerpts)?
We actually just filmed a video for ‘Curator’, one of the movements from ‘Painters Of The Tempest Part 2’ at our recent Melbourne show and that will hopefully be ready for release sometime in early 2015. That was the biggest headline show we have ever done to date so we’re excited to have been able to capture it on film.
What can we see as highlights in the history of Ne Obliviscaris until now?
Our new album debuted at #42 in the pop charts which really blew us away as bands like us never ever chart. Breaking the Australian crowd funding record was incredible; having a song in the curriculum at the Sydney Conservatorium, supporting some of my favourite bands such as Devin Townsend, Enslaved, BTBAM & more; our headline tour of Asia… all these things have been amazing. But I think as great as all these things have been, the exciting thing for us is that everything that lies ahead of us is bigger and better than ever. We just played our biggest ever headline tour here in Australia, and are doing a huge world tour playing some of the biggest festivals in the world alongside some of the biggest metal bands in the world, so for me it seems like 2015 is going to blow everything we’ve ever done away by a long margin which is pretty exciting.
Can you tell a bit more about the artwork for ‘Citadel’?
The artwork for ‘Citadel’ was designed by our vocalist Xenoyr who in general does all our artwork. We feel very lucky to have someone in the band that can so accurately depict what the music in each album is about with his design.
As omnivorous music lovers I guess you are always eager to listen to new things. What were the records that struck or impressed you recently, the one that you like to listen to nowadays while still discovering new things at every spin?
I’ve really been loving the new albums from Fallujah, Beyond Creation, The Contortionist this year. All great bands on the rise!
And what would you see as your all time favourites, records from the past you still cherish?
A few albums I absolutely adore include Opeth – ‘Blackwater Park’, Strapping Young Lad - ‘City’, Sigur Ros - ( ), John Coltrane – ‘A Love Supreme’, Devin Townsend – ‘Ocean Machine’, Between The Buried & Me - ‘Colors’, Dream Theater - ‘Scenes From A Memory’, Isis - ‘Panopticon’, Radiohead – ‘OK Computer’, Immortal – ‘Sons Of Northern Darkness’.
Did any line-up changes occurred since the beginning, since the debut album and how did it influence you? We mainly think of the switch of drummers…
We had a lot of line-up changes in our early years, but things have been pretty stable for a while now. We changed lead guitarists from Corey King to Benjamin Baret (who moved from France to join the band in 2008) about half way through writing ‘Portal Of I’ and so having Benji involved from the beginning definitely has had an impact on ‘Citadel’ as his contribution to the new record was immense. Our drummer Dan actually left the band shortly after we recorded ‘Portal Of I’, but he rejoined again last year and so the line-up when we recorded both albums was the same.
What are the plans for the near future, concerning touring and any other new challenges?
At present we’ve just finished our Australian tour which was a great success, and then we’re currently booking in as many shows around the world as possible for 2015! We have already announced performances at Hellfest and Metaldays in Europe with many more in the works, so we are very excited to be finally coming to play for people in many countries we haven’t been to before.