Ne Oblivis­caris

They’ve had strong fi­nan­cial sup­port from their loyal fan­base, their mu­sic was in­cluded in a teach­ing cur­ricu­lum at the Syd­ney Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic, and now Aussies Ne Oblivis­caris are set to make big waves be­yond their na­tive land.

Prog - - Contents - Words: Rod Whit­field

Aussie prog met­allers dis­cuss new al­bum and crowd­fund­ing.

In their home­land, Aussie band Ne Oblivis­caris are a house­hold name. But in re­cent times they have been gain­ing at­ten­tion around the world, thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of their avant‑garde ap­proach to cre­at­ing heavy, pro­gres­sive mu­sic, an in­ex­haustible de­ter­mi­na­tion to find suc­cess, and the in­no­va­tive man­ner in which they fund their ac­tiv­i­ties.

For those unini­ti­ated, Ne Oblivis­caris’ mu­sic is ex­treme, melodic, epic and pro­gres­sive as hell – all at once. From Mel­bourne’s famed Cor­ner Ho­tel, the band’s two front­men Xenoyr (ex­treme vo­cals) and Tim Charles (clean vo­cals and vi­olin) de­scribe their sound to Prog for those un­fa­mil­iar.

“I think we cross a lot of boundaries in terms of in­flu­ences and things like that,” Xenoyr muses. “We have a very wide au­di­ence that lis­ten to our mu­sic. We have fans who love clas­si­cal mu­sic, be­cause the vi­o­lins are in­volved, and how we im­ple­ment that into the mu­sic; fans who love death metal; and ob­vi­ously prog. I think it’s be­cause we use a lot of vari­a­tion, and I think our fans over­all are very open‑minded.”

Charles takes it fur­ther, feel­ing that their highly pro­gres­sive sound and ap­proach are also prod­ucts of the very dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and at­ti­tudes that each mem­ber brings to the ta­ble. “We just be our­selves, and that’s a bit dif­fer­ent,” he says. “We’re very unique in­di­vid­u­als cre­at­ing mu­sic that we think is unique. It’s pas­sion­ate and in­tense.”

“All of us have ex­tremely di­verse in­flu­ences,” Xenoyr adds, “and I think that comes through in our mu­sic.”

The band re­ceived a stun­ning ac­co­lade in 2013 when their song And Plague Flow­ers

The Kalei­do­scope from de­but al­bum Por­tal

Of I was in­cluded in a teach­ing cur­ricu­lum at Syd­ney Con­ser­va­to­rium of Mu­sic, with the song be­ing an­a­lysed for its com­po­si­tion and mu­si­cian­ship. It was pre­sented to the com­po­si­tion stu­dents by Pro­fes­sor Matthew Hind­son, the Chair of Com­po­si­tion at the Con­ser­va­to­rium and a renowned clas­si­cal com­poser, as: ‘An ex­em­plar in struc­ture, mixing tim­bres, me­ters, modes, how to ap­proach vir­tu­os­ity, sound and noise, ex­tended per­for­mance and tech­niques.’

A greater com­pli­ment to a mu­si­cian can scarcely be imag­ined, and both Xenoyr and Charles are hon­oured by the dis­tinc­tion. “That was some­thing that just came out of the blue for us,” Charles re­calls. “We were up do­ing a show in Syd­ney, and one of the pro­fes­sors from the Con­ser­va­to­rium came to the show. We found out he was ac­tu­ally a big fan of the band, and he wanted to use And Plague Flow­ers The Kalei­do­scope as part of an as­sign­ment for his com­po­si­tion sub­ject at the Syd­ney Con, which meant so much to us.

“It was one of those things where we had our mu­sic es­sen­tially be­ing stud­ied and an­a­lysed in re­gards to the use of ar­range­ments and struc­ture and com­po­si­tional tech­niques, vo­cal ex­tended tech­niques and all this sort of stuff. It was just re­ally nice to have that val­i­da­tion from an in­sti­tu­tion like that.”

“We have fans who love clas­si­cal mu­sic, fans who love death metal, and ob­vi­ously prog.”

– Xenoyr

As in­ti­mated pre­vi­ously, the band have had quite a sto­ried jour­ney across the length and breadth of their al­most 15‑year his­tory. They have over­come se­vere sick­ness and in­jury within the band, a seem­ingly per­pet­ual re­volv­ing door of line‑up changes – they’re cur­rently look­ing for a new bass player – frus­trat­ing visa is­sues for their French gui­tarist Ben­jamin Baret (which held up the band’s progress for sev­eral years), and other dis­con­cert­ing per­sonal con­tro­ver­sies. With the im­mi­nent re­lease of their third full‑length al­bum Urn, Charles is con­fi­dent the band have left all of that hard­ship be­hind.

“We had the first nine years, which was end­less strug­gle for no re­ward, to cre­ate the first al­bum,” he laughs. “Then there’s from when Por­tal Of I came out in 2012, where things have ac­tu­ally gone re­ally well for us. Now here we are, five years later, about to re­lease our third record.”

“A lot of in­ter­na­tional peo­ple don’t re­alise, be­cause they only hear [sec­ond al­bum] Ci­tadel or what­ever, they think we’re only rel­a­tively new,” Xenoyr adds, “but we’ve been around for 14 years. We’ve had so many hic­cups along the way, we could have bro­ken up at any time.”

Ac­cord­ing to Xenoyr, a true crys­tallis­ing moment for the fu­ture of the band came when they de­cided to dip their col­lec­tive toe into the crowd­fund­ing pool in 2014 to test those wa­ters. When it was a huge suc­cess and showed them that their ex­ist­ing fans re­ally did care enough to put their money where their mouths were, they knew they had to con­tinue.

“I think that re­ally did put into per­spec­tive who and what our fans were,” he states con­fi­dently. “It showed us that the fans re­ally were be­hind us, and just how many loyal fans we had, and what that made it pos­si­ble for us to do. We write mu­sic for our­selves but we’re not nec­es­sar­ily wast­ing time in terms of tour­ing and get­ting ex­po­sure across the world. So it was re­ally en­cour­ag­ing.”

The suc­cess of that ini­tial crowd­fund­ing cam­paign also in­spired them to take that ap­proach to fund­ing their band to the next level. In early 2016 they an­nounced that they would be un­der­tak­ing a Pa­treon cam­paign, whereby the band’s fans would fund their ac­tiv­i­ties in a more on­go­ing fash­ion, in the form of a monthly sub­scrip­tion. In re­turn, sub­scribers re­ceive all man­ner of ex­clu­sive con­tent and ac­cess to the band and their mu­sic that non‑sub­scribers don’t get.

This an­nounce­ment caused its share of con­tro­versy and trolling of the band on­line, but, a year and a half down the track, it has proved to be a tremen­dous suc­cess.

Charles has some ad­vice for any other band con­sid­er­ing head­ing down this road. “I think the most im­por­tant thing about the newer ele­ments of the mu­sic industry is to un­der­stand how these dif­fer­ent ways of in­ter­act­ing with your fan­base work for dif­fer­ent bands at dif­fer­ent times in their ca­reer. So the thing Ne Oblivis­caris has is a strong his­tory of sup­port from our fans in a fi­nan­cial sense. and we were con­vinced it would work for us. But it’s not some­thing that would work for every band. So for some bands I would say it’s not for you, but a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign might be.”

Test­ing the wa­ters in this man­ner is the crux of it all. “For us, the suc­cess of that ini­tial crowd­fund­ing cam­paign, that be­ing an even greater suc­cess than we’d hoped for, meant we felt we had a track record of ask­ing our fans for help, and them com­ing for­ward and pitch­ing in and giv­ing back to us in re­turn for what we’ve done for them with mu­sic and shows and so on. We felt that track record meant we could move for­ward with the Pa­treon.

“It was a case of say­ing, ‘In­stead of go­ing back to the well and say­ing we need your help again, let’s start to de­velop an on­go­ing as­sisted re­la­tion­ship.’”

While the band are signed to the pres­ti­gious French la­bel Sea­son Of Mist, home to the likes of Cynic, Athe­ist, Sep­ticflesh and many more, they are es­sen­tially en­tirely self‑funded, and the Pa­treon cam­paign and their stead­fastly DIY aes­thetic helps them carry on mak­ing the mu­sic they want to make in the man­ner in which they want to make it. This can be clearly heard on new opus Urn.

“The new al­bum is just us be­ing our­selves again,” Charles says. “The first two al­bums were just us cre­at­ing the mu­sic that we want to cre­ate, ig­nor­ing what any­one on the out­side thinks. We were re­ally happy with the re­sponse to Por­tal Of I, and we thought it was the best record we could cre­ate at the time.

“Then when we did Ci­tadel, the most im­por­tant thing for us was to make sure that we loved it, and we were like, ‘If we love it, it’ll do fine.’ It was a bit dif­fer­ent, but we loved it, and it did even bet­ter. So with this new record it was just try­ing to main­tain that phi­los­o­phy, even though we’re a sig­nif­i­cantly big­ger band this time and there’s a lot more peo­ple on the out­side ask­ing what it’s go­ing to sound like. It was just a mat­ter of block­ing out the out­side world and writ­ing mu­sic for our­selves.”

“We’ve been around for 14 years. We’ve had so many hic­cups along the way, we could have bro­ken

up at any time.”

– Xenoyr

NE OBLIVIS­CARIS, L-R: BEN­JAMIN BARET, TIM CHARLES, DAN PRESLAND, XENOYR, MATT KLAVINS.

FA­MOUS FIVE: AL­READY BIG DOWN UN­DER, THE BAND ARE LOOK­ING TO BREAK OUT WORLD­WIDE.

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