Interview with Effloresce

Effloresce is relatively new name on prog metal scene. After 2009′s debut EP “Shades of Fate” and very good appearance on last year’s Generation Prog festival, this Nuremberg based quintet led by vocalist Nicki Weber has issued “Coma Ghosts”, an album that already picked up many great ratings among the progressive related media, but most importantly, among the fans of this genre. For this interview, I had a chance to speak with Dave, Tim and Tobi. Read on!

Photo: Tobias Stich

Nick: Hello there Dave! Glad to have you man answering some questions for Prog Sphere. How are you all doing?

Dave: Hey Nick! Thanks for this opportunity. I also brought my bandmates Tobi (drums) and Tim (guitars) with me to help me out with that interview a bit! We’re all fine, still a bit shaken by the massive experience called “CD Release Show” which has been amazing for us, but yeah, here we are now: happy, healthy and ready for future endeavors!

Nick: Effloresce has been around for some time now, would you mind telling us something about the band’s origin and history? Have you guys played in any other bands prior forming Effloresce?

Dave: Yeah, sure. Effloresce is pretty much the logical continuation of a band called “Falling Nature”, in which Tobi and played together years ago. That band split up, but both of us liked each other and shared a “vision” of a band if you want to put it that way. So we stayed together and checked out what we could do. We looked for musicians and tried some potential candidates (including the – also female – vocalist who was also singing in Falling Nature by the way) but the band first gained strength and shape once Nicki joined us in May 2008 I guess. From that point on we worked on a couple of tunes, completed the line-up and finally recorded the 2009 “Shades of Fate”-EP.

Besides that every member in Effloresce played in one or more bands before,  only our new bassist Sebastian is a freshman.

Nick: It seems like your main interest is exploring the wide range of progressive (metal) music. And the best alibi for this are two releases you put out so far. Tell us something about the EP release named “Shades of Fate”. It was released in 2009, how much are you satisfied with it from this time distance?

Tobi: It’s still something we are really proud of. We had a slightly different line-up back then, which means we had a different rhythm guitarist, and our previous bassist joined just a few weeks before we hit the studio. But the whole recording process went very smooth, so the time in the studio was almost like a holiday for us. Musically speaking, it’s hard to say if we have developed a lot, since we did not consciously change our songwriting approach for the album. The production of the album is of course much more professional sounding, but the songs were created with the same ingredients, you know? Maybe we just stirred them a bit longer. There are even some parts on the album which one could see as “leftovers“ from the EP-sessions, so I would say that the time between the two records was a fluent passage rather than a hard cut.

Nick: The debut album called “Coma Ghosts” was just released few weeks ago and so far it received pretty good ratings, no? If there are breakthrough albums, “Coma Ghosts” could certainly take this label. How long have you been working on this record before entering the studio and recording it?

Tobi: Yeah, the reviews have been pretty good so far. Let’s see if that will continue, haha! Well, after the EP was recorded, we started writing new stuff, which was finalized in early 2011 or something. However, speaking of the “leftovers“ it’s actually hard to name a figure, because for example the verse-riff for the opener “Crib“ was created in the very early days of the band. So we also had some help from our dusty shelf with old ideas.

Photo: Ralph Jeske

Nick: Mixing and mastering was done by legendary Dan Swanö. Doubtless, he left a big impact on the album’s final shape, but I am wondering – how was it working with him? Is he a listener or advisor when it comes to this part of a process?

Dave: Dan was very professional, very precise in his demands and a really really nice and friendly guy! He is more of a listener and in fact tries to completely fade out the musical aspect of the stuff he is working on. He is totally committed to the technical side of a production and tries to make everything sound the way the customer, that’s us in this case, wants it to sound! And damn he succeeded with that on Coma Ghosts! It sounds exactly like we wanted it to, only better! There were some sections where we had no 100% clear idea of how to make them sound and we just let him do what he thought fitted best, and his experience and instincts did not disappoint us! Plus we must have been a pain in his ass regarding the vocals. They did not sound too good on our EP unfortunately and we really wanted Nicki to shine on this album, so we put a lot of attention to that particular aspect of our music and I think it pays off now! Dan was very constructive and patient all the time, so it’s been very comfortable working with him.

Nick: What is your guideline in creating a song? Is the concept of making an entity (in this case an album) different from making a song?

Dave: Hmmm, difficult question. Actually the only guideline we have is: We have to like the song in the end. And we work on it as long as it takes to achieve that. But before we start working on a new song and throw riffs and melodies in the big pot, we try to agree upon a certain song-structure. I guess that is what sets us apart from many bands: We do not start with a riff and create a song around that, we have a certain big picture in mind, a vague pencil sketch if you want, and we try to put the colors in afterwards and generally decorate that “concept”. So yeah, our guidelines are a bit abstract.

And, to answer the second part of your question: so far we haven’t been writing “entities”, only song by song until now. So I can’t really tell a difference between writing a song and writing a whole album, because we simply did not try that yet.

Photo: T. Stich

Nick: “Shades of Fate” was made under the big influence of Opeth, but with “Coma Ghosts” you managed to expand your influential field. Which bands/musicians have influenced your work with Effloresce?

Tobi: I would love to know that as well, haha! Sometimes we write a part which we really like, only to scrap it a day later because it sounds too much like something which already exists. It affects us unconsciously, and without a doubt we wouldn’t sound the way we do if it wasn’t for the likes of Opeth, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Metallica, old Prog stuff and so on. But we still try to come up with a sound of our own and to disguise the fact that we’re just copying everybody. Works pretty well until now.

Nick: It’s a tough task being authentic today especially in a genre such progressive metal, but your tunes carefully form an entity of hi-quality work. What’s your secret?

Tobi: Well, thanks for that! Good question, and I guess we don’t have the faintest idea, haha! I don’t know if we have something like a secret. I can only guess that it’s a mixture of a lot of detail work and a long ripening process which makes the songs sound the way they do. As weird as it might sound, but not being able to live off the music has its privileges. We do not have any financial pressure whatsoever, so we can take all the time we want to come up with new ideas, you know? And we don’t want to make music for the sake of just making an album, but to come up with something we are all satisfied with. So, being your biggest critic has a lot to do with it I guess. After a while you release an album, and suddenly you hear that people totally dig it. That’s of course very flattering, but at the same time we’re just a bunch of regular dudes making music together and not expecting anything. If we have a secret, it would be something like “just roll with it“.

Nick: You played Generation Prog festival last year. What are your memories from this event?

Tim: It was an absolute blast! In every sense, it had an air of a “debut” event for us. First of all, it was our first gig ever with our new man on the bass, Sebastian, and, to make matters even more interesting, his first gig. Ever. Then, it was going to be our biggest gig so far, playing together with so many great bands; it put a little pressure on all of us. We were all excited, and a little anxious, but it came off great, the audience received us very well and I believe we made a couple of new fans that night. The atmosphere was relaxed, everyone – musicians and fans alike – were in contact and just ready to enjoy two nights of good music. Our gig itself was – despite the usual minor technical difficulties and a couple of ‘jazzy’ moments, probably owed to the live factor – very good and we had lots of fun.

Nick: What is your opinion in general about contemporary music? Many people think that 80’s caused “serious injuries“ to progressive rock by introducing new wave, but what if we compare the 80’s with the first decade of the 21st century? Where do you think these two periods stay in terms of “destroying“ music’s legacy?

Tim: Well, you see, music like all forms of art is very hard to predict and very complex in its effects on the recipient. Yesterday’s avant-garde may become today’s mainstream, it’s the same in literature. Of course, the 70’s as the high time for Prog Rock are over once and for all. Even though I hear there’s still bands out there that can’t quite let go

The 70’s affect all of us, on so many levels, but so does every other decade that came after. The 80’s brought about some cool music, just think of Saga and that stuff. Then there were the cool hard rock bands of that age. Ok, maybe they don’t have anything to do with Prog, but they conveyed a certain lifestyle that the whole Rock N’ Roll business is still feeding on today. I’m thinking of Skid Row and the likes that – even if you couldn’t take their haircuts and their clothes seriously – were authentic in their music. And see, Progressive Rock has survived all these other styles, because it was never fixed to a formula, it kept its main traits, which I think are focus on musicianship and a little of that avant-garde thing. You mentioned new wave. Nobody today ever fucking talks about new wave.

As for the 21st century – it seems there’s been a little of an inflation of the use of the term ‘progressive’ in music. Every band that has a little odd time signatures and lengthy songs nowadays call themselves ‘progressive’. That way, it gets hard for the listener to still keep track of what’s worth listening to. Due to the internet, there are tremendous opportunities for young bands and there is so much talent out there. But the side-effect is that there’s more bullshit out there too to sift through before you find the good stuff. Coming back to your question, I don’t think any of the mentioned decades has “destroyed music’s legacy”. Music just evolves, and there are trends that come and go. Just look at that death-mall-math-grind-post-hard-whatever-core movement that is starting to get really ridiculous. It’s the same in Progressive Metal. There are dozens of bands, and I’m not saying that they’re bad, but some just aren’t really creative. Then there are really talented and immensely unique bands who really celebrate their own style, but without neglecting the musical heritage that Progressive Rock builds on. I’m thinking of Haken here, a band that has really shaped something uniquely their own, and they’re still extremely musical at that. I think that’s the combination that will prevail: creativity and uniqueness, but paired with musicality. And that doesn’t hold valid only for Progressive Rock.

Dave: Let me add that first of all I think the term “progressive” allows you to do and mix pretty much everything. That said, it’s actually exactly  what we do! Everyone has a unique taste of music and Effloresce-tunes are just the result of that.

My general opinion of contemporary music of any decade is: There are basically only two styles of music anyway: Good music and bad music! So despite any “genres” and decades I can name various artists from completely different directions which I love and which influenced me and thereby influence how our own music sounds in the end. No destruction or something there at all. Just different tastes of music I guess.

Nick: What are your future plans?

Dave: In the short-term we are going for some gig-opportunities, maybe even some festival-appearances. Beside that we are constantly promoting our new album Coma Ghosts, doing interviews like this one here, visit radio stations and stuff like that. It’s a lot of fun and pretty impressive that people seem to care who we are and what we do, where we come from and so on. Thanks for that people!

In the long run we plan to release another album one day of course and even started to write a new tune already. Once we have enough music we’ll see where, when, and how it happens.

Nick: Speaking of future, could you predict in which way the Effloresce music will develop?

Tobi: To be honest, we don’t even know what the next part of a song will sound like, let alone the next song or album. We will see. We don’t have a lot of new material yet, but we’re working on a new tune at the moment which sounds pretty trippy. Seems like it’ll be a pretty long one again, so that’s great. Furthermore, there is a reason why one song on the album has a “Part 1“ in the title…

Nick: I think I’m out of questions, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Dave: Thank you for your time and support so far, thanks to everyone who already bought our album, our EP and spread the word! It feels great and we hope that this is just the start of a long and exciting journey, so feel free to join us, people!

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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