This May, Australian fans of Progressive metal are set to be treated to an insane lineup including local heavyweights Ne Obliviscaris and Caligula’s Horse, and USA visitors Rivers of Nihil, Allegaeon, and Beyond Creation. Jordan from Music Injection sat down with Tim Charles, vocalist and violin shredder for Ne Obliviscaris, to discuss the Painted Progression tour, the Australian prog scene, and general prog life.
Jordan: I’m guessing you’re pretty excited about the upcoming tour?
Tim: Oh absolutely! Touring with a bunch of friends, and some of our favourite bands, and to do it here in our home country, it’ll be our biggest ever Australian tour! Plus the ticket sales have been pretty huge so far, so we can’t wait for it to come around!
Jordan: Considering how big this tour will be for you, is this a good chance to build on your stage elements?
Tim: Any time you’re able to headline a 1000-cap room, like the Triffid (Brisbane), Manning Bar (Sydney) or 170 Russell (Melbourne), it just means we can really up the ante on what we want to do! We can bring in extra lighting gear for instance, and other things, because we do have that great setup and space, so the capabilities are better.
Jordan: Has how you’ve approached your live shows changed since the release of Urn?
Tim: Yes and no. We’ve got a little bit better at our instruments, and at performance, and a bit tighter as a band, all that sort of stuff that we get with experience. The other thing that has changed more and more, and especially with the addition of Martino on bass, is that I feel like we have more and more fun on stage now than what we used to. We get the chance to not be serious all the time, although we are a serious band, but performing in a live setting is a pretty joyous occasion, it makes me happy, and we are definitely more comfortable in our own skin, and relaxing into it having more fun on stage.
Jordan: You’ll get to share the stage with a real smorgasbord of bands this time around, for instance Caligula’s Horse are always a blast; could you tell us about how this lineup came to be?
Tim: It’s a funny one. We came up with a shortlist of bands we would like to tour with in Australia when we started planning this. We made a dream list and tried to see who we could bring around with us, and we’d been discussing touring with Caligula’s Horse for years. We love those guys! Finally, it looked like it’d work out. Then, we’d been talking with Rivers Of Nihil about it, and they were really interested too. We then looked at a few different options, like one or two international supports. We didn’t want to have to choose between though. We then ran into one of the dudes from Allegaeon, and a bit later on Beyond Creation ran into us at a show, and they all wanted to come out to Australia. That night in Montreal, I was talking to the guys about it, and was wondering who to choose, but we decided to see how much we’d have to charge to make it work out with Caligula’s Horse, Beyond Creation, Allegaeon and Rivers Of Nihil, and as it turned out, the tickets could still be reasonably priced! So we said screw it, and decided to take all the bands out that we were trying to choose between!
Jordan: It’s so cool to see what Ne Obliviscaris has been doing for the Australian prog scene, like this
Tim: Thanks! It’s always great to tour with another awesome Australian band like Caligula’s Horse, and hopefully we can expose the international bands to some new fans that haven’t been here.
Jordan: Urn has a really cool production feel to it, which comes across as a bit more deliberate. Is this hard to translate live?
Tim: Yes. Citadel for instance, was a great album with great production, but we felt it sounded too clean compared to the live show. We work around that now by trying to produce with more of a live feel in the studio. Live, we aim to be quite extreme and intense, and we felt on Urn that working with Mark Lewis, allowed us to produce a different feel to Citadel that more closely matched the live feel. Everyone used to come up to us and say they were surprised at how heavy we sounded live, and they loved it, so we tried to take this across to the album, to connect the two experiences this time around. It was important to us to capture the energy and the enjoyment that our live shows bring about.
Jordan: Ne Obliviscaris have been around a while, and have changed and developed, but how have you seen the Prog scene’s development while this has happened?
Tim: there’s been enormous change in the Australian prog scene in the last decade or so, and I’ve been really privileged to be a part of that. It’s been a privilege to run and promote Progfest since 2005, and that’s something that really felt helpful to expose and promote the great local bands in the scene. A lot of great bands have come up headlining Progfest, like 12 Foot Ninja, Sleepmakeswaves, Caligula’s Horse to name a few, and have then gone on to be headliners in their own right around the world. When I was first getting started back in the day, both in Ne Obliviscaris and as a promoter, through my company Welkin Entertainment, it still seemed that Australian bands weren’t on the level of international bands. So, a lot of work went into showing off these bands, showing that we could match the world class bands across the world. I feel like now, in 2019, there’s a lot more recognition for Australian bands. We’re finding more and more that it isn’t just Ne Obliviscaris, Karnivool, and Sleepmakeswaves but also the likes of Voyager, Plini, all these different bands of different subgenres, are doing so well. And especially when you consider that we’re a small country of 25 million people.
Jordan: Welkin has been such a huge part of the prog scene in this country, could you tell us a bit about your journey with it?
Tim: It’s been wonderful! It’s funny though, I joined Ne Obliviscaris in 2006, and started playing live in 2007, around when I formed Welkin Entertainment, but people would recognise me as Tim Charles from Welkin Entertainment, and as a booker and a promoter, and now I don’t get to do that, other than Progfest. A lot of people now on the other hand, don’t know at all about my promoter work, but it’s been great to try and give other bands that opportunity.
Jordan: So what comes next for Ne Obliviscaris?
Tim: We have the Australian tour in May, then we’ll tour in June overseas, focussing on European and UK festivals like Download UK, Fortarock in the Netherlands, and then we’ll turn our attention to a new album in the second half of the year! Since our Asian tour, that’s been on the back of our minds, and we’d love to one-up ourselves on album #4!