Ne Obliviscaris interview

Ne Obliviscaris‘ third full-length experimentation, ‘Urn,’ was recently crowned as our best album of 2017, a title truly deserved for this ever-progressing progressive metal act from Australia. Before the album was launched back in October, we confirmed an interview with the band through their PR agent, and due to their busy schedule the interview has recently been completed by vocalist, artist and composer Xen.

He tells us what it took to create ‘Urn,’ the symbolism behind the album art, the band’s relationship with fans, and more.

First of all congratulations on an awesome new record. Describe the vision propelling Urn.

Thank you very much, it means a great deal. We don’t set out to really write in a particular way, but our vision is as always, to create something that represents each member, and us as a collective… Urn was just that.

What made this the right time to pursue that vision?

Urn was created at the time that felt right for us, we’d toured the world enough on Citadel, and during soundcheck on a lot of the shows we would be going through new ideas so everyone was enthusiastic about getting a new album started. I guess Urn was fuelled by the need to create, and we’d decided that when we got back from tour and after everyone had regained their senses and stability, we’d focus and get the third album done. We didn’t want to be waiting until 2018 to release something.

Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover.

It depicts Mother Earth pouring the sun onto herself, an end to all life. I wanted something symbolic that shows the process in everything becoming ashes; what an urn contains… our memories both good and bad, our loved ones, our history and eventually ourselves. Death is something that we all go through regardless of race, sex, sexuality, social status, species; it’s something that unites us ultimately.

Ne Obliviscaris - Urn

What was the creative chemistry for Urn like?

It’s was great, a lot quicker than in the past; we were focused and more efficient than with previous recordings… we’d lost a bassist and this actually brought us closer together, and I think that unity really shows on this album.

Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it. Did your approach change comparing with 2014’s Citadel?

Portal of I was created over many years, Citadel was created in less than a year, and with this album most of it was written in a few months. How we wrote it didn’t change per se, just our efficiency and vision was a lot more in sync. We’d recorded most of it as how we did in the past, however the bass was recorded by Robin Zeilhorst in Europe and Tim recorded his vocals during the mixing process in the US, with Mark Lewis. Another thing I will mention because some people have questioned it, is the snare sound… it’s a real snare, people(!), they’ve been conditioned to a modern sample sound. Regarding the mixing and mastering process, that was something we changed as we wanted a fuller, heavier sound. A lot of people on tour have commented that our live sound was far heavier than recorded, we agreed and so we wanted to kind of replicate that vibe in some way. We chose Mark because he’d worked with bands like Cannibal Corpse and Black Dahlia Murder, and so we thought he was the man to give us that sound we needed… and he did just that.

Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?

Absolutely, I think as mentioned earlier, we worked more efficiently as a collective. Losing a bassist created a dark cloud around everything and it was either fall on our faces or breathe in and soldier on. Despite Urn being quite varied in feel it still has quite a dark undertone, perhaps some of the darkest moments of all our albums. The album is retrospective in feel as well as liberating I think; we deal with our past to move forward, however we will never forget our scars… At least that’s how it speaks to me.

You’ve toured with many great bands in the past. Are there any bands that you would love to share a bill with? Personally, I think that it would be great seeing you guys on the same bill with Opeth, or Emperor (although they only regroup for summer festivals).

Absolutely, the one band we’d all agree on and would love to tour with is Emperor (and likely Behemoth), and watching them every night, I would not object to. Aside from them, as a personal preference: Satyricon, Borknagar, Arcturus, Anaal Nathrakh, Igorrr, however not sure on the suitability for all of them though… And the list of black metal bands I’d love to play alongside, my band may object though, ha.

Tell me about the gear you used for creating Urn. How did you achieve all these tones?

In terms of specific tones, I’m probably not the best person to ask, I’m useless when it comes to gear/equipment details. If I recorded the album we’d be looking at entirely different beast, and it’d probably sound early ’90s Black Metal-like rusty chainsaw guitars. Urn was primarily recorded at Pony Studios in Melbourne, Australia by Troy McCosker (we also utilised his home studio), the clean vocals and all mixing/mastering however was done with Mark Lewis at Audiohammer Studio, FL, USA. Mark Lewis is more of a guitar guru, he had all sorts of tricks to get incredible tones that ultimately were what we were after.

Ne Obliviscaris is one of the bands that have a perfect relationship with fans, what resulted in a few very successful crowdfunding campaigns and what’s also shown through your Patreon page. Would you say that technology in that aspect enabled NeO to be where you are presently?

From day one we’ve had the mindset of being involved with fans. After all, these are the people we’re playing to and who’re buying our music. It’s a respect thing mainly though, treating others how we’d like to be treated. Absolutely, technology has enabled us to get where we are, as without social media and that constant interaction with fans, no one would know who we are, therefore no crowdfunding would be substantial and we’d still be playing tiny pubs in our home town.

Xen (photo by Ekaterina Gorbacheva)

Xen (photo by Ekaterina Gorbacheva)

Beside an “innovative product,” what is it that young bands / artists should be focused on in order to be successful in their craft?

Practise as musicians both at home individually and as a band, promote always (if no one knows your name, no one cares), interact with fans (musicians deserve no more than fans), network and get advice from music peers, have a professional looking product from the start, and enjoy what you do because if there’s no passion in it, it comes across.

Next year marks the 15th anniversary of Ne Obliviscaris. Have you thought about doing something special?

2018 is indeed our 15th anniversary, so strange to think I’d started it that long ago. We actually started discussing this a couple of months ago, currently throwing ideas around so it’s quite possible we’ll do something, but nothing confirmed as yet.

With the new album out and touring, what else do you guys have in the pipeline?

I’d love to work on another video as I have many ideas, but as to whether that happens is another story… So for now, a lot of touring in 2018 and writing for the next album, we don’t want to leave it quite as long as this cycle or rush it so the sooner we start the better and more relaxed it will be. It’s going to be a very busy year.

Urn is available from Season of Mist here. Support Ne Obliviscaris by contributing through their Patreon page, follow them on Facebook for more news and tour dates.

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