Guru's Interviews

Ne Obliviscaris. The hottest thing to come out of Australia recently.... is, oh right, that would be Michelle Jenneke. Ahem, the hottest METALLIC thing to come out of Australia recently is this band, Ne Obliviscaris (or NeO, for short). Master composers (just listen to the album, man!--2012's "Portal Of I"), social media hounds (they answer almost every comment on their Facebook page personally!), and scene leaders in every single way (clean singer Tim Charles organizes two of the top Australian festivals: Sonic Forge and ProgFest), Ne Obliviscaris are a freaking gift to metal maniacs and progheads worldwide.

Ne Obliviscaris, translated from the Australian Latin, means Forget Not.

Forget Not.... That fits with this Australian powerhouse, right? No, I am Not again referring to fleet-footed, bouncy hurdler Michelle Jenneke, I am again referring to fleet-fretted, time-signature hurdlers, Ne Obliviscaris! Did we *forget* already?? (Focus everyone, dammit!) 

A heavy, gorgeous, and simply astonishing prog metal album that is deeply black metal-inspired, MetalGuru rated Portal Of I a Classic [10 out of 10]. Warning: It is complex even to the most highly-trained ear. Give it an hour or more to sink in. As the words "Ne Obliviscaris" cognitively move from "strange letters?" to "the name of one of my favorite bands", you will see why so many of the metal press corps have stated that this violin & blastbeat-riddled opus is one of the very finest works of 2012.

We have heard of people becoming addicted and listening to this album a ton. If you have it, click over to our NeO Poll:
To tell the world How Many Times YOU Have Listened to Portal of I! It is certainly an unusually alluring album....

It does not take a spectacled offspring of Nostradamus to see that in 2014 Ne Obliviscaris will be YouTube sensations themselves. Though heaps of fans have encouraged a video set to one of Portal Of I's sonic movements, the gentlemen have begun to confide that they are now most likely to simply forge ahead with their new material for the second album (to be recorded later this year and released next year), and probably promulgate a video as part of that turn of events. 

After all, having recently signed to France's superb Season Of Mist label, this band's efforts will have some well-deserved additional backing going forward. HOPEFULLY that means good things for fans across North America and Europe -- who until now have been seriously pondering giving up beer and meat in order to eventually save up $2,000 US / 1500 Euro for a trip to catch one of these gigs that we all have been reading about. (That's 1475 Euro for Quantas Airlines, and 25 Euro for NeO!)

Well OK, you've got the album to listen to! (Aural Webstore, Welkin (for AUS/NZ)Bandcamp)

And you've got an interview with NeO guitarist Matt Klavins to read: 

METALGURU: Thank you for doing the interview.

MATT KLAVINS of NE OBLIVISCARIS: No worries, we are always more than happy to.

1. I understand that Ne Obliviscaris originally formed in 2003. Congratulations are in order! How will you celebrate your 10th anniversary as a band? (Or have you already?)

Matt: I guess it is nearly that long! We haven’t really thought about it. My 10 year anniversary won’t be until 2014 but it will be 10 years for Tim and Xen. NeO is a completely different band from that time though. When I look back it feels great to be able to see how far we have all come from those early years. Now that you’ve brought it up we will have to look at doing something to celebrate. Maybe an OZ tour so we can catch up with all of the bands that we love to play with on our treks. We’re really looking forward to testing some of our new material on the road.

2. Regarding your new material (planned for a 2014 release from what I understand), you know (1000x over by now!) that many all over the world anxiously await it.... You're not going to go all Disillusion on us and follow up the opus (in their case it was the gorgeous, and NeO-esque, Back To Times Of Splendor from 2004) with an electronica album, or something like that?

Matt: No electronica from us. The new material is coming along very well. It’s a little different to the portal of I stuff but so it should be because we don’t want to keep releasing the same stuff over and over again. We want to keep exploring our instruments and let the music take us on different journeys. This is the same vision we had as when we were writing music for portal of I. We didn’t really want to settle for what was stock standard, we had to push ourselves to the next level which is what we are hoping to do again.

There is almost another album of songs that we didn’t pick for portal of I because in the end they didn’t meet our standards. I love all of these songs but I think we all feel that it was the right choice to leave them out. Maybe we can release them as bonus songs or something one day.

3. The Aussie metal/prog scene appears to be more active than most national metal scenes are right now, and more burgeoning than ever. Why is that?

Having organized and headlined the Sonic Forge festival this past Spring, you must have a pretty good finger on the pulse.

Matt: The Aussie metal/prog scene is great! There are so many fantastic bands out there now and I think that audiences are actively looking for new and exciting music to listen to instead of being bludgeoned with the same recycled crap. All the bands work really hard to support each other which could have something to do with it. It’s not just every band for themselves, it’s a little community.

All of the credit for the Sonic Forge festival goes to our violinist/clean vocalist Tim Charles! It is the best local metal festival going around and it shows every year. All the bands love to play it and we have so much fun hanging out together. It showcases heaps of the top and upcoming bands in the metal scene from all sub genres. Some awesome bands from last year were Be’lakor, Whoretopsy, AMDBL, The Schoenberg Automaton and Alarum.

4. How have the more prog-rock oriented bands and fans (such as at Sonic Forge) received your more metallic, challenging material? Must be some of the most crushing stuff many of them have ever heard.

Matt: They seem to receive it surprisingly well. We first felt this at the Progfest shows we did the first year it went ahead. We knew a lot of the Melbourne based bands anyway and I think that a lot of people in Melbourne had heard of us too. It wasn’t until we played the Sydney show that it really showed. It was our second time in Sydney and the first time we went there wasn’t very good. (We played first at the Blue Moon festival and played 2 songs to about 10 people at midday). 

We were headlining Progfest and pretty much all of the other bands were prog-rock, sleepmakeswaves were the only band that we knew. We started playing, opening with Forget Not… and no one in the audience moved, they were quiet during the softer sections and were just staring during the whole song. When we finished, it was one of the best feelings I have had on stage. They loved it. We managed to get prog-rock fans to enjoy black metal \m/. Everyone that came up and spoke to us after the shows were saying that they were surprised that they enjoyed it so much and… who are we again? How do you say it?

Tim runs Progfest as well now! This is another one of those must-see local festivals if you enjoy high quality and varied styles of music. We have been honoured to be a part of Progfest on several different occasions and headlined the national tour last year with bands like Chaos Divine, Glass Empire and Tangled Thoughts of Leaving.

5. What sports are you guys into? Gotta have more than one outlet to blow off steam, right? Are any of you guys windsurfers or kiteboarders? There are a bunch of wind riders around Melbourne, at spots such as Sandringham Beach and St. Kilda Harbour.

Matt: None of us are windsurfers or kiteboarders although I have always wanted to try kiteboarding. I love extreme sports but I don’t get to do them very often. I also like to go body boarding, fishing/spear fishing, and until very recently I was doing karate. I think I will return to it, but I became too busy with work and band commitments late last year.

I have only started to watch AFL football again in the last few years because I started to play supercoach. I barrack for Collingwood but there is no loyalty when you play supercoach.
6. Six of the ten hottest days in Australian recorded history occurred during the first ten days of January 2013 --according to the BBC reports, etc. What was that heatwave like to get through in Melbourne?

Matt: I was in a caravan at the beach for that period! It was cooler than Melbourne but still stifling hot by the evening and the cool change would never come through till the early morning. I have AC at my house so my family and I managed the heatwave fairly well once we returned home. I also have an inflatable pool in the backyard that my daughter and I would swim in a few times a day just to cool down.

7. Any (classic or recent) books by Aussie authors that you'd particularly recommend?

Matt: My daughter is 18 months old so all I’ve read lately are kid’s books. I can recommend, although not Australian authors, ‘Wake up Elmo’ and ‘Green eggs and ham’.
8. I understand that two or three of the band members have kids. If yours are anything like mine (a 15-month old dude), they’re trouble but cuter than stink! Can you perceive whether, in their small way, they have helped inspire even more creativity in your music?

Matt: Yep, Tim and myself both have daughters a few months apart. My girl’s name is Emma and she is the best thing in my life. She puts a smile on my face everyday and is learning things at such a fast pace, but I bet all parents say that. I guess they have inspired more creativity even if it is only small. Tim actually sent through an idea that he had come up with whilst playing piano for his daughter and I have also come up with a couple of acoustic ideas doing the same.

[My daughter] loves music and musical instruments. Her favourite band is probably Dethklok because whenever she is in a bad mood we just play the deththeme on repeat and everything is ok again. We have been bouncing around to Necrophagist and the Contortionist recently though.  

9. Sort of a multi-part question, or a“building question” if you will:

In MetalGuru’s Top 5 Albums of 2012 list, we had both Ne Obliviscaris and De Profundis in the Top 5. What’s with all the Latin?
(Hey, I remember learning Latin as a school boy myself. I said I remember *learning* Latin, mind you, not that I remember much Latin!)

Matt: I don’t know! It’s cool I guess lol. Ne Obliviscaris was named before I had joined the band by Xenyor who founded the band.

There is a slight challenge to the fans in giving the band a long name in Latin, it seems. An additional initial obscurity, perhaps…. Until a person truly hears & identifies with the music, and then the name actually clicks and becomes a non-issue?

Matt: It’s a bit of a mouthful, but I agree that it seems to be a non-issue once the listener identifies with the music. When we started I was a bit unsure of the name because so many people had trouble saying or remembering it. Now it seems like everyone has the hang of it though and I guess it kind of sets bands aside from names using everyday words. If you can remember a band name like this it isn’t as easy to forget…not?

Leads me to your unusually thoughtful lyrics: Not only is NeO unafraid to challenge the audience musically, you are also unafraid to do so lyrically/conceptually. Is this fair to say?

Matt: NeO is about pushing our individual boundaries as a whole. Xenyor writes all of the lyrics for all of our songs. Tim will usually come up with the vocal pattern of his parts with syllables but Xenyor puts the words in his mouth. This question is pretty hard for me to answer. It’s more of a Xenyor question. 

10. Your music has truly captivated listeners (for good reason!). I’ve heard of NeO fans having listened to the Portal Of I album unusually large numbers of times over this past year. Up to hundreds of times….to the exclusion of almost any other music for long periods of time. What do you say to that?

Matt: I have to say thank you to all of the people that took the time to listen to the album! It has been such a long journey that at times we felt was never going to come to fruition. But constant perseverance, and the support that our fans have given us from the very start, helped us believe that we had something special to give to the world. There were a few times when we considered throwing in the towel but when we would come to talk about it, couldn’t actually bring ourselves to do it. You guys stood behind us the whole way and we all thank you for this!

Thank you for your time, and good luck with the new ditties...we all look forward to hearing the follow-up to Portal Of I!
Geo / MetalGuru

Matt: Thanks mate!