With a string of North American, and Eurpean dates behind them, and an upcoming Australian tour things are looking positive for the Ne Obliviscaris camp.
They have also set up a Patreon campaign to help with touring costs and to keep their extensive touring schedule on track.
Together with a new revenue stream and these headline tours, Ne Obliviscaris is ready to record the new album early next year.
NeO are a band truly unlike any other in the international metal scene right now, whom NoCleanSinging.com described as "One of the absolute best live performances I've seen in living memory".
Their Citadel world tour in 2015/16 has seen the band perform to tens of thousands of people across the globe in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, North America and Europe, including at many of the world's biggest festivals.
Opening the tour on all Australian dates will be Melbourne's Jack The Stripper, bringing their fierce and innovative brand of chaotic hardcore and ferocious on-stage prowess along with them.
We talked to frontman and violinist Tim Charles about how it has all been going.
Marc Stapelberg: You have had a headline tour in the states, supported Cradle of Filth and travelled across Europe. You also have an upcoming Australian tour. How has it all been going?
Tim Charles: Fantastic. We have had an insanely busy year. We started off with six weeks through North America with Cradle of Filth and then went back for a North American Headline tour which was a huge success. It was much bigger than we thought it was going to be which was exciting. At the moment we are four and half weeks through a seven week tour through Europe which has festivals like Euroblast in Germany, we have a couple of weeks headlining through the UK and Scandinavia, and we are in the middle of a month long run touring with Enslaved with their 25th Anniversary European tour which has been really exciting to be playing with such a great band and getting the opportunity to once again play to so many people in so many places all across Europe and all across the world in general.
MS: What has been your favourite gig so far?
TC: There have been lots of good ones, but definitely one of my favourites was Helsinki in Finland. That was the biggest headline show of the couple week headline tour. That was one of those places from the very first time we went there to play Tuska festival last year we already seemed to have so many fan. Europe is a bit funny like that, where some places we went for the very first time and not many people knew who we were and other places we were already doing very well. We had a great show in Romania the other day where we seemed to have developed a really strong fan base and it is always so much fun to go places like that. We really have a good time everywhere in general.
MS: The pic you posted for the Copenhagen gig looked like a pretty small venue?
TC: Copenhagen was a pretty small venue. I think it was about 200 capacity but the vibe was really cool there and everyone was super excited for the show and we had a very good time.
MS: Where are you getting positioned in the lineup at festivals these days?
TC: Most of the time we are about half way up which is great because we are getting to play by the time everyone has turned up and often we are just a couple of bands before a lot of headliners. For example in the UK in the first week of November we are playing Damnation Festival and on our stage we are playing third last and the headlining bands on our stage are Enslaved and the headliners on the other stage are Abbath and Cult of Luna, so it is really cool to be playing with such fantastic bands. And getting a chance to play to our fans and getting a chance to play to all their fans so we can expose our music to new people.
MS: After Soundwave you got hit up by some pretty big festivals. Was it a shock to play such large crowds so quickly?
TC: We really started off with the biggest ones when we first went to Europe. We had the pleasure of doing Soundwave festival once Citadel came out and that was really the first time we played a bunch of festival shows that size and I guess that was good preparation to get across to Europe. But then like mid 2015 we went across and did a couple of Summer Festival tours and we had the pleasure of playing Graspop which had Kiss headlining and there was like a bizzilion people. And we were also playing Hellfest in France and Graspop and Hellfest were probably number 2 and 3 for the size of metal festivals. It was amazing. For me the more people there are the less nervous I get because the energy in the room is so enormous. There were more than 5000 people in the tent watching us at Graspop and from the first moment there was a great vibe in the room and as soon as you kick into a song you kind of go into autopilot and perform the show just like any other but at the same time you can be maybe even more over the top than you normally usually would be on a small stage. We were definitely very fortunate to get the opportunity on our first trip to Europe to get to play so many big festivals because it is not an easy thing to get on those things. I guess we definitely feel fortunate that a lot of festivals gave us a chance so we could show people what we could do. Thankfully everything has been going really well.
ALBUMS, SALES FIGURES, NEW MATERIAL
MS: How has all this touring translated into sales figures?
TC: I don't have all the exact figures about, country specific sale for everything. Probably the biggest thing we noticed when we did the summer festival tours when we came back three months later there was a noticeably bigger response for those shows. It was really clear. We played in Belgium, about an hour away from where Graspop was held and there were quite a few people there who had seen us at Graspop and the same with the other festivals. When we played Tuska in Finland and then we played Helsinki there was a lot of people who came back to us because they had seen us at Tuska. That's why we are touring so much - to give people an opportunity to spread the word and then come and see us again and also longer sets. On the Cradle Tour we were doing about half an hour but we are doing about hour every night on the Enslaved tour and then of course the headline shows where we get to play even longer than that.
MS: I believe you are creating demos on tour. How do you manage that?
TC: I've just got a 15 inch macbook pro which is running with a standard mbox with protools. So really it is very compact. I have my macbook with me anyway on tours because that's how I run the business of the band while I'm on the road. So I've got that and the rest is actually just sitting on a small shelf at the foot of my bunk. We just bring it out when we can so we can make sure we can keep making some progress. One of the things we really wanted to do was have a new song ready to debut on our upcoming Australian tour. So that's one of the things we have been working on. We've got several songs in the works but there is one in particular that we have just been trying to finish up with little bits and pieces so that it is all ready to make its debut for our Australian tour next month.
MS: Will you be heading into studio at some stage?
TC: Essentially the Australian tour is the last thing we have planned for six months. We don't have any touring til May 2017 where we have a headline show in Israel and we booked to play a show in Norway and things like that. But essentially we have set aside the first three or four months of next year to finish writing and to record the new record.
MS: The special release EP's Sarabande to Nihil (2015), Hiraeth (2015) had a heavier sound than Citadel which had a more progressive vibe to it. Is the new album tending towards Portal of I or a Citadel sound?
TC: I guess it is pushing the envelope again in the same way that Citadel did. What we kind of felt with Citadel was that it was a more progressive and more melodic album but at the same time it felt a bit more intense and more extreme at times than Portal of I - like we pushed it in both directions. There are definitely different sound on there once again. And there is also stuff that is related. In the same way that Citadel is related to Portal of I but different but the new album will be related to Citadel but have some different things in there. I'm not sure if we are capable of writing a Citadel part 2 or a Portal of I part 2. It is not really the way we work. We are always trying to challenge ourselves to do new things so how it comes out is how it comes out. Most of the time we write the rhythm guitars first. One of the new songs we are working on is based on a solo violin solo part that I had written. There are other times where we might have a rhythm on the drums that we want to develop something around. There is definitely a few different ways we do things. Sometimes we will just jam or improvise when we are together in a room. But probably the most common thing is someone comes in with a guitar riff and then we build from there. We wait for something that then inspires a song and once we have that we kind of try to keep building on it and go from there until we have a finished product that we are happy with.
PATREON AND THE DIFFICULTIES IN TOURING
MS: Will there be limited edition stuff for you Patreon members?
TC: We have talked to our record label about doing different limited edition things for example a new limited edition vinyl of the new record only available to our Patreon members and also looking at doing some pre-sale package options, merchandise options with the new album. Just to try and give them some different stuff that other people can't get as a thank you for their amazing support that they have been giving us for months and months with the membership campaign we are running.
MS: With the Patreon drive most of the money seems to be going into living expenses, but on another branch are you getting any support on an industry level?
TC: The idea behind the Patreon was to create a new revenue stream to make up for the money bands have lost in the decline in album sales essentially. The way I kind of looked at it was you have a pie that gets split up for bands to make money out of and a big piece of that just disappeared for bands and nothing replaced it. And so bands still get paid to play shows and sometimes not very much and sometimes we get paid quite well - it depends if it is a headline tour or a support tour or stuff like that. We still sell merchandise at shows and we still try make money in the traditional avenues but the big thing is we don't really make much money out of album sales. It costs us x amount of money to create an album but the money we get back from royalties doesn't go far. We get paid by our record label but to be honest the money we got back from our record label has just covered what it cost us to make Citadel in the first place. We haven't really been able to use any of that money to contribute to the band except for paying ourselves back for all the money we spent creating the album. The Patreon allows us to have a new revenue stream that can be directly contributed to us where we get 95% of the money and it has enabled us to take this band from something where we have never been paid ever in 12 years to now we all get a part time wage every month - which we get paid out of the Patreon and that enables us to do this touring. It is not possible for us to keep full time day jobs at home because we keep getting fired because of the amount of touring that we do and so we kind of ended up in that position where we could scale back the touring we do which means our fans don't get to see us anywhere as much, and that would enable us to keep day jobs which is what most Australian bands do. Instead we turned to our fan base and said that we wanted to do this as much as possible and if it was what they would like to see then this is a way to do it. If you support us we will make sure that we don't just put that money into our pockets. We put it to good use and invest it into touring and making sure that we are coming to play for you as much as possible.
MS: So I guess, what's the difference between a band like Parkway Drive and yourselves when it comes to making an income and make tours worthwhile?
TC: The thing with Parkway Drive now is that they are pulling a 1000 people plus as a headline act almost everywhere in the world. Everywhere we go everyone knows who Parkway Drive is. We are not a hardcore band but we are touring as part of a completely different scene. There is really a tipping point for international touring bands and a big middle area where you don't make any money but you have opportunities. What we found was that we were getting offered international tours but we weren't getting offered enough money for them to be financially viable to keep doing them time after time after time. So what happens with a lot of bands is they do a really big tour with a lot of opportunity for a lot exposure but not financially viable. And then they blow a lot of money 20, 30, 50 grand even and then they have to save up all their money and then they have to try to do it again. And what they are hoping is they are going to hit that tipping point. On our last tour we did two North American headline tours and we did a support tour with Cradle of Filth and we came back as a headliner just four months later. Now for us we got paid two to three times the amount per show on the headline tour in comparison to opening for Cradle of Filth. And what that meant is that over the course of a month long tour the difference in revenue just from the performance fees was at least $20,000 difference. And the reality is it is not just being a headline act somewhere, you kind of need to be a headline act everywhere. When we do an Australian tour we make a profit and we then invest that money into touring overseas. One of the really exciting things about our North American tour was because we got a pay rise essentially because the first one had gone well and as a consequence we all got paid pretty close to a full time wage. The problem is it was only enough for the month when we went away and then you come home and you are not getting paid anymore. For us to be a fully functional viable long term business we need to get to the stage that when we tour all of the major markets we are breaking into, we are making a profit so that we are not losing the profit from one tour to another. But that is a really, really difficult thing to do. A lot of bands never get there or some bands give up on certain markets.
Friday, November 25: 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, November 26: Fowler's Live, Adelaide
Wednesday, November 30: The Basement, Canberra
Thursday, December 1: Manning Bar, Sydney
Friday, December 2: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday, December 3: The Brightside, Brisbane
Sunday, December 4: Capitol, Perth
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