INTERVIEWS

Matt Klavins, NE OBLIVISCARIS – “We try to give 100% in everything we do”

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Written by Jadranka Balaš

Extreme progressive metal is a label that many bands proudly boast these days, but how many of them have a violin as one of the leading instruments in their music? Five guys from Australia under the name of Ne Obliviscaris have succeeded in fitting this classical instrument into a music genre where it does not belong, and in such a way that once you hear them you will never be able to forget them, as their name suggests.

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Let‘s start with the band’s name. Ne Obliviscaris is Latin for “forget not”. So what exactly is unforgettable about NeO? What do you want fans to remember about you?
Matt:
We try to give 100% in everything we do. We want new and old fans to leave our shows with a positive experience and hopefully an unforgettable one.

How would you describe your sound to someone that hasn’t heard it yet? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Matt: 
Extreme progressive metal is how I would describe our music. We don’t just rely on the metal genre to make our music extreme. We use the combination of multiple genres to boost and soften the tone of the songs and we experiment with many different styles. Nothing is really taboo.

There’s a lot going on in your music, lots of influences involved, it is full of complexity and layers, of contrasts and opposites, even song titles are complex and hard to remember sometimes, I have to confess. Did you ever come to thinking to simplify it a bit? How does band manage to work and grow in such a complex environment?
Matt: 
Of course but the way we use our music doesn’t really let us get away with making short songs. I am all for writing a shorter type of song however with what we do, it always feels rushed or that there are more avenues to explore. We aim to always produce the best possible music we can at that point in time, with the resources we have available.

Violin is an atypical instrument in metal. It must’ve been very challenging to compose metal songs that include this instrument. Can you describe us your writing process?
Matt: 
I guess Tim approaches his violin like another lead guitar in the band. When we first started, it was used more like the generic type of symphonic string sections you hear in a lot of metal. But over time he began looking towards guitarists like John Petrucci and Jeff Loomis for inspiration.

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You crossed a long road from formation to first demo and latest album. How much NeO sound has changed and developed over the years?
Matt: 
It is different but I think there is something that has always been there from the start. It’s just that we have been able to refine our sound as we went along to what we have today.

“Portal Of I” had an amazing response and it seems “Citadel” put you right on spot. Did writing for new album put a lot of pressure on you? Expectations for it are huge.
Matt:
There is always pressure, however, I personally felt like “Citadel” was more pressure than “Urn” simply because I felt “Citadel” was very different to “Portal of I” and wasn’t sure how fans would feel about it. Turns out they loved it and gave us the confidence to back ourselves with everything we do.

“Urn” came out couple days ago. Did you do anything different this time?
Matt:
We wrote a lot of it while we were on the road and I think we all felt it was a great way to write and be extremely productive so I think we are slowly going to begin working on album 4 in the coming weeks.

In July you started auditioning for the new bassist, did you find one yet?
Matt:
We have the amazing Martino Garittoni joining us on tour in North America. We picked him out of nearly 200 applicants and he has been nailing the songs in rehearsal. So, he is playing with us for now on a trial basis and we will make a decision about it once we get further into the writing process.

Crowdfunding campaigns seem to be a sad reality in the usic business these days. How that makes you feel as an artist and as a person? Patreon campaign that you guys launched has been revolutionary, can you tell us more about it?
Matt:
It’s not sad. It’s just how it is now. There is no point in complaining about the old way no longer working. Move on and embrace how the music industry and music consumption is changing.

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Our Patreon members are the reason the album is out so soon and why we were able to do a lot of our tours in 2016/17. Without them, it just would not have been possible for us to do. With the support of our Ne Obluminati members, we are working together to do more and give them unique experiences that they don’t get with other bands. We had about 25 members sing our new song “Libera”. We flew our Grand Masters to Audio Hammer studios in Florida to sit in on mixing for “Urn” and they also received demos and rehearsals of some of the new songs and how they progressed from nearly a year ago. We also have heaps of other things like tutorials, live streams of rehearsals, shows and Q+As etc but there is too much to talk about. If you are interested you can check it out at www.patreon.com/neobliviscaris.

It is hard to be extreme metal band nowadays.What is it that pushing you forward to continue to create music?
Matt:
It’s not something that I think about like that. I have been performing since I was a kid and the live show is why I keep doing it. We write new albums so we don’t have to play the same thing night after night.

There are a lot of bands and young talented musicians coming from Australia, especially in progressive genre. Do you have your favourite?
Matt:
Some of my favourite Aussie bands and artists are Caligula’s Horse and Plini. Some other fantastic Aussie bands are Hybrid Nightmares, Orpheus Omega, Belakor, Circles and I Built The Sky.

Something else unbelievably great happend to Ne Obliviscaris. Your music become a part of Sydney Conservatorium of Music curriculum. It’s not a common thing for metal musicians, you must be very proud?!
Matt:
This is something that I am really proud of. I was absolutely blown away when we were asked if it could be use as a part of the curriculum. I still hold this as one of NeO’s greatest honours as a band.

Touring circle for NeO in past couple of years seems never-ending, how do you prepare for live shows, do you have any rituals? What do you think makes an ideal live show?
Matt:
Know what you are doing. The songs need to be second nature. Muscle memory needs to be locked in in order to perform at a high standard. I think this is the key to our live show. Over the years we found we rehearse less as a band and more individually. As long as everyone is keeping up the practice we don’t have any issues. Generally I will play the entire set everyday for a month before the tour starts to make sure that I am fresh with the songs and that my endurance holds out because I find that occasionally even the set order changes the difficulty if we are playing a difficult song right off the bat or something like that.

And you are about to announce new tour supporting new album.. Can we hope to see you in our country in future?
Matt:
Yes. We love playing new and old places and always try to bring our show to as many people as possible when we hit the road! Hope to see you soon.

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