Interviewed By: George Archibald
Photos By: Andrew Bastion
Australian progressive metal outfit, Ne Obliviscaris just released Urn, a 6 song masterpiece on October 27th. To promote the album, the band released two singles and a music video, before embarking on a tour of the United States with Allegaeon. I was fortunate enough to get to talk with drummer Dan Presland, to learn more about the album, and how the band creates its signature style of music.
GA: How about we start off with you telling me a little about the band, describe to me in your own words what is the sound of the band?
DP: We basically call it progressive metal. I guess if you want to go the whole subgenre thing I would call it extreme progressive metal. It’s an odd sound, there are a lot of dynamics; ups and downs, fast and slow, and all that sort of stuff. We really dig creating soundscapes, it’s something we strive to do.
GA: Ne Obliviscaris released Urn, on October 27th. I am a huge fan of this album as it has expanded on what the band has done in the past immensely. How has been the crowd’s reaction been to see the songs live?
DP: It has been really cool. We played a lot of shows off our last album Citadel. If you’ve played something two hundred something times, it can start to become a little autopilot; so it has been refreshing to play new material. The fans seem excited about this new album. The band knows we have another long two years of touring ahead of us, so playing these songs is exciting. It is great to see how much positive feedback we have been receiving.
GA: Can you tell me about the writing, and recording process of this album?
DP: The band writes in a few different ways. We do the whole organic thing in the jam room, where it could be an improvised idea that may escalate into a section, or whole song. We also write on Guitarpro as well, and send that around to each other. Someone may just record a riff and send that. We all add our input and then get together, to make it a song. We try to keep the process as organic as possible. I really enjoy jamming live, I think we do our best music that way. On the other hand, it is an efficient way to write doing it online, it saves everyone from traveling to one location. So, we try to balance the other methods out.
GA: The band got to work with former Cynic bassist Robin Zielhorst, how was it working with him?
DP: He is real, real sick. He is an amazing bass player, he fit the record beautifully. His style was on our wavelength, which is why we went with him. We are all very happy with the result.
GA: Two of my favorite tracks on the album are Urn, pts 1 &2. They are so complex but also musically beautiful. When the band is writing these songs, can you walk me a little more through the process?
DP: Well to get a little more in detail on the writing for the record. The band wrote a track called Eyrie, when we were in Dublin. The whole working title when we were working on it was called Dublin Prog. We had two days off in Ireland, and I think it was mostly Tim (Charles) and Matt (Klavins) who put a majority of that song together. Everyone was sort of floating around, and coming in saying that sounds cool, or can we try this or this.
GA: You can almost hear a bit of a folk in the music on this track.
DP: For sure. Eyrie is one of the more progressive sounding songs on the record in my opinion. The band was pretty excited during the writing of that song. We weren’t sure how it was going to pan out, but it has become one of the more popular tracks on the album.
GA: To support this album Ne Obliviscaris filmed a video for Intra Venus. Another band I am a fan of is Caligula’s Horse in which Adrian Goleby helped in filming and editing the video. Can you tell me how the process was with working with him, and doing the video?
DP: Adrian was super nice, and he is really good at what he does. He was easy to work with, and a great dude. They’re new record is really good too. I hope those guys do really well, they are all cool people.
GA: The metal scene from Australia is so unique, from bands like Ne Obliviscaris, to Thy Art is Murder, Aversions Crown, and the former The Boy Will Drown to name a few. What makes this area so special for technical metal in your opinion? It seems the writing styles bring a form of complexity that is a staple for that region.
DP: The only thing I can think of is, the whole isolated area. Australia is so far away from Europe and United States where typically heavy music is so much bigger. It is a much denser population. I’m not sure what it really is, that is the only thing I can think of. There are a lot of dedicated guys in Australia, that put a lot of what they do into their music. I guess that shows with the new bands that are starting to make some waves in the scene. There are some sick bands coming out of Australia right now.
GA: What got you into this kind of music, and how did you start off in music? Was it formal lessons or were you self-taught?
DP: I took up drums because my friends were into music; playing guitar and whatnot, and no one we knew played drums. I sort of just took it up, and after about a year or so of playing, the band was looking for a new drummer. I was good friends with their former bass player, we went to high school together, he told me to try out. I showed up, and started playing, and everyone was having a lot of fun, then I was asked to join. I joined the band very inexperienced and raw. So, I practiced very hard to try and catch up with the other members of the band, because they were far ahead of me with in terms of how advanced they were with their instruments. A few of the guys have studied music, and I come from more of the self-taught side of things. I am self-taught, Matt (Klavins) is mostly self-taught, and all the other guys have a form of educated learning. I enjoy the whole self-taught process, because the learning never ends. It excites me to find new things, and I enjoy doing it that way.
GA: One thing I thought was interesting when researching the band; I want to say the Australian National Orchestra, they adopted one of your songs as learning material?
DP: I think what you are talking about is the Sydney Conservatorium. One of the professors there, took one of our songs to his class to dissect with his students, which is pretty cool, and such a great honor.
GA: What is next for the band after this tour?
DP: After this tour we will be home early to middle of December, then we get a good six weeks off I think. Then we will pick it back up again going through Australia, and New Zealand, around early February. After that tour, we hope to hit Europe and Asia, and to come back to the United States.
GA: What gear is the band using currently on tour?
DP: I play for Pearl, Zildjian, Vic Firth and Remo. I have a Pearl Reference kit on this tour, which is way sick. It is one of the highest end of Pearl Kits. I am stoked to play that every night. I have all Zildjian cymbals, and Vic Firth sticks, and Remo skins. Matt uses PRS guitars. Benji (Benjamin Baret) is an ESP Guitars endorsee. Martino (Garattoni) I am not sure, he is using some Italian custom bass. It looks awesome, and sounds amazing. Also, the guys play for Fractal Ax FX as well.
GA: Anything else you would like to add, or throw out there?
DP: For starters thank you for doing this, and coming out. Anyone who is listening to the new record thank you, I hope you are enjoying it.
You can check Ne Obliviscaris’s newest release Urn out now, at your local music stores, and streaming online. For more updates on the band please check their Facebook page, and other social media sites. I want to thank Dan again for speaking with me, it was a pleasure, and an honor. I wish you all well on tour and a safe journey.