EXIVIOUS: Musical Open Mindedness

Exivious

Dutch fusion metal quartet, Exivious, return to the Generation Prog festival in Nuremberg on November 15th, after their previous performance on the festival’s first edition in September 2011. At that time, the band had only one album, self-titled Exivious released in 2009. Ever since then, the band joined Season of Mist and released their sophomore studio effort titled Liminal in November last year.

Next month, Exivious will reissue both albums via Blood Music, and they have scheduled quite a few performances by the end of the year, including above mentioned Generation Prog festival.

Prog Sphere talked with guitarist Tymon Kruidenier about this and many other things. Read on!

Blood Music will reissue both of your studio albums on October 28th. What do the packages include?

Blood Music is releasing both of our albums on vinyl. We remastered both albums to take full advantage of vinyl’s audio quality. Especially our debut sounds quite a lot better, with much clearer and transparent transients and more dynamic headroom. Both albums come in beautiful gatefold jackets.

What are the latest news from the Exivious camp? The band seems to be exclusively focused on touring in 2014.

To be honest, things have been much more quiet than we anticipated and were hoping for as far as touring is concerned. It’s been hard to find good support slots for strong tours. And due to circumstances, we’ve missed a couple of great opportunities. So for now it’s back to writing and recording. After the recordings of my new band Our Oceans that will start soon, we will get right back to writing a new Exivious album.

Exivious - LiminalAre you satisfied with the reception of your second album Liminal released last year, and how did the deal with Season of Mist work out to your satisfaction so far?

The reception has been awesome! You know, we’re one of those bands who really don’t cater to our listeners. We write music that we want to write, play and hear ourselves. So once we complete that process and finish something we are happy with, it’s all the more awesome if the outside world embraces it as well.

The deal with Season of Mist doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot for us, to be honest. It’s not their fault though, they are a great bunch of people who are great to work with. It just doesn’t seem they can do a whole lot for us at this point. But that’s the risk you take when signing to a label, we knew that before we signed.

Compared with your 2009 self-titled debut, Liminal is more layered and complex recording. How did the recording process go, and what changed in the creative process between these two releases?

We had a different approach for Liminal, production-wise. I wanted it to sound bigger, more layered and more dense, yet at the same time more honest and pure. So we adapted the recording process to suit these goals. The drums were recorded in a great studio with a great live room and great outboard gear. The other instruments were recorded at my home studio, which went through a big upgrade since the debut days.

The creative process was basically more mature and focused for Liminal. The debut material was a culmination of years of demoing and trying out different things to find our own sound. For Liminal we decided what we wanted to do and worked towards those goals in a very focused and direct way. And because we already found our identity and sound, we weren’t troubled with any of that this time around. That made for a very enjoyable and intuitive creative process.

Generation Prog 2014 poster

You will return to Nuremberg on November 15th, for your second-in-a-row performance at the Generation Prog festival. What will your setlist be like for this event?

Our current setlist, depending on the time we have of course, is: Entrust, Waves Of Thought, Deeply Woven, Triguna, Time And Its Changes, One’s Glow, Immanent, An Elusive Need. So it will probably be similar to that.

What are your memories from your first appearance at the Generation Prog festival three years ago?

A well organized little festival with a very intimate and comfortable vibe. Looking forward to playing there again!

Although Exivious was formed in 1997, it took you eight years to form a stable line-up that four years later released the excellent debut album. Michel Nienhuis and Robin Zielhorst are in the band since its transformation from one-man project to a full-time touring and recording act. Do you think there’s a secret behind forging such a strong artistic bond between you guys?

No secret, other than having very high standards and not wanting to settle for anyone who’s not a great addition for the band in every way. I’m referring to the complete package here; personality, musicianship, artistic goals, etc. It took me a while to find the current lineup, but eventually I got lucky!

Genre-tagging seems to be very limiting, both to musicians and listeners. Nevertheless, genres play a strong role in the way an artist is perceived. In Exivious’ case, the music skirts that tricky mid-ground between progressive rock/metal, experimental and technical. The progressive sensibilities are never in question, but has this grey-spectrum “technicality” Exivious operates within affected the way the band is perceived?

You know, it’s basically like you said, genre-tagging is very limiting and I often also don’t really see the point. We’ve talked about this quite a lot within the band and it seems none of us would really classify our music as ‘technical’ or ‘complex’. Not that it’s simple pop music, but what I mean is, the music was never written with technicality in mind. If I would throw some keywords out that defines our musical concept it would be something like: colorful and emotionally moving harmony, frantic and jumpy melodies, big contrasts, improvisation, metal/rock riffing techniques, jazz inspired chromaticism, etc. But technicality or complexity would definitely not be a part of it! Our music just ends up being somewhat complex, but it’s a side effect of our primal goals.

I wish everyone would just perceive it as music, because that’s all it is. Have an open mind and don’t put everything in little boxes. But I have to say that I noticed more and more people do approach music like this these days. So let’s hope this musical open-mindedness keeps evolving!

What’s with the Liminal Universe Shaper? Will you be using it for your next releases?

We’ll probably come up with a new concept regarding artwork and how our customers can interact with it. We’ll see!

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in terms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it?

Treasure the eccentricities in your playing and your approach to music. These little quirks are the seeds that eventually grow out into your own style. Nurture and embrace them instead of trying to sound like everyone else.

What do you hope lies in the future of Exivious?

I hope we’ll always be able to reinvent ourselves. To bring something fresh and new to the table.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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