"A huge, anthemic sound that on the surface often seems light and reflective but with a simmering dark undercurrent" is how I described Evolution Creation Ex Nihilio, the debut album from the enigmatic Enochian Theory which has juts been released. Three months since I fist heard it my opinion of this band just keeps getting better and better and so it seemed like the ideal time to pose a few questions to frontman Ben Harris-Hayes.
SoT: Hi Ben and welcome to Sea of Tranquillity....can you provide our readers with an introduction to Enochian Theory ?
Ben: Greetings Dean and the readers of Sea Of Tranquillity. First of all, thank you for the excellent review and for this chance to talk to you.
ENOCHIAN THEORY is simply 3 people creating a musical vision that represents themselves and the lives they lead in this modern age.
We started the project at the tail end of 2005 and have committed 3 recordings to tape, but only released two of them through our own record label as our first demo was purely for getting some shows around the UK and as such is deleted.
We set up our own record label and PR company to represent the interests of the band, so we're a totally self funded project and we do everything ourselves pretty much...it's a quality control thing more than anything as we feel that having someone else do certain things for us would not be as effective as us doing it ourselves.
SoT: What sparked an interest in music for you...and which bands /artists did you grow up listening to ?
Ben: Personally, I think my earliest recollection of music is hearing Prince and Tina Turner in my parents home when I was much younger and I was always fascinated by hitting things, rhythm was everything to me for some odd reason.
I started playing drums properly when I was about 8...had a few lessons to get the basics and then just continued by reading from books and listening to bands I liked to learn drum beats and techniques.
I guess I'm a rhythm fiend in some aspects and that shows in the new record...entering specific mathematics into the music arena always makes for interesting music I feel...
It's what we like to hear...it's not tech for the hell of it, it's what we like to write and push ourselves to play...to get better, to progress.
I'm sure Shaun and Sam would offer a different tale of what bands they grew up listening to because there's a few years difference in age, but I personally wore out two tape copies of Graceland by Paul Simon in the space of a year when I was younger, It's an immense record and one I still love today.
I think you can hear some of our main influences in our music and we like to let people make up their own minds...but we listen everything from the most technical jazz wankery through to 3 chord sludge hell to brutal grind to pop music and the weird music you hear in the back of your head when you go to sleep each night...
SoT: I had to look up the term "Enochian" for a definition and discovered various references from Anton LaVey to Tool and Terry Pratchett ...can you give the background to the name of the band.
Ben: The background to the bands name is something that remains in the band.
It is something that would take a lot of explaining...as it works on multiple levels.
In summation, It sums up LIFE for the 3 of us really...it's a reflection of the lives we lead.
The actual meaning of Enochia and Enochian are open to interpretation...exactly like the band name...We know what it means to us and that is all that counts.
SoT: After a long period you've finally got the album released..is it the realisation of a long time ambition ?
Ben: In a way yes, but also no.
I say this because, yes, we were dying to write new music for over 2 years but things never happened for various reasons, so after streamlining to more creative 3 piece then writing and recording the new record in 6 months is why I'd also say no.
The ambition to get it done was there for a long time, but the actual creative burst for this new record was relatively short compared to the 2 years is took to evolve from our 1st demo to our 1st proper E.P when we were a 4 piece, but that was for many reasons...so it's hard to compare in ways.
We're really pleased the new record is finally done and we're very happy with the press feedback for what amounts to be an odd and rather schizophrenic musical outburst!
I guess there are more 'crazies' out there like us than I first thought...
SoT: We gave it a very positive review here on SoT...how has the reaction been from elsewhere and have you pleased with the way the press campaign has developed so far ?
Ben: It's been rather overwhelming and surprising really...especially seeing that something we've done, that was born from a period of time when we were all pretty much a mess, has been received so well.
Classic Rock gave a glowing report and are doing a feature in their Prog Special issue, Terrorizer gave us 8/10 and there's been so much more excellent press right across Europe.
When we actually sit down and think what we've achieved through all our own efforts, it's quite overwhelming sometimes...but also I feel can afford ourselves a little smile because we've worked pretty damn hard to achieve this all and it's good to have some excellent feedback from people all over this little ball of existence we call Earth.
If people want to read the reviews we've had thus far, they most welcome visit our forum on the website where we've got everything nice and neatly stored.
SoT: How did David Castillo come to be involved and how did you enjoy the experience of working with him ?
Ben: We basically threatened David that we'd eat his liver with a nice chianti if he didn't help us...haha
We simply contacted him after reading about his work with some of the bigger bands he's worked with and his excellent mixing skills really brought our record to life.
David is a very skilled person and he gave our new record an identity and retained that 'organic' feel that we feel is paramount to our sound.
We recorded the album themselves at 3 different studios with some friends here in the UK with some friends and then sent the sessions to David to mix and master at his new studio in Sweden.
Believe me when I say there was a HELL of a lot of conversation during the mixing process!
For our next record we'd like to actually work with David in just one studio, but budget will dictate that and we've already proven we can get a great sounding record for a fraction of the price that the bigger bands pay.
SoT: How important was it to work with an outside producer so you had an input from someone other than the three of you ?
Ben: A good question and one that is very important.
The band knew we could get a good recording done but the mixing process has always been a little more tricky for us, so getting someone more experienced to do the mix and master under the guidance of the band was paramount.
As I said before, David knows exactly what he is doing and it's proof of his ability because he's worked with so many great bands and I'm sure will continue to do so in the future.
Just having that outsider 'ear for music' was a telling difference.
We're aware the recording itself could have been better, but we did what we could with what we had and that is that...
'Evolution...' has got it's own identity and is quite frankly a hell of record for us.
SoT: In its present form the band has reduced to a three piece...are you comfortable with this set-up or are you considering expanding for live work ?
Ben: Let's just say we tried an extra person and it went horribly wrong...so for now, we're good as a 3 piece. We get on just fine and we all bounce ideas off one another.
I've toyed with the idea of getting someone else in, but I'm too much of a...how do I put this...'a hard person to work with'? Yes, that might the best way to sum it up.
I hope that will change for the next record when we've got more time to write as a band.
I felt so under pressure writing all the music for this new record that I almost went a little more mad than I already am, I had a lot of crap going on outside the music that it was affecting my music, my friendships and more...but once I held that final completed disc in my hand...I knew we'd done well and that all the sleepless nights were worth it.
SoT: Not having seen you live as yet how does the Lost Orchestra make its presence felt at gigs ?
Ben: Our 'friends' in the Lost Orchestra appear in our live show through the form of audio waves in a DAW, as sadly it is difficult to have something appear that doesn't actually exist...
Maybe one day we can have a full orchestra play with us for a giggle, but we're not that pompous...and we don't have that kind of budget to waste on such nonsense...yet!
SoT: The Enochian Theory set-up seems to be very close-knit and self sufficient with each of you handling the different aspects of the band and its promotion..is this how you envisage continuing or would you be open to signing to a major label if the right opportunity came along ?
Ben: We're doing quite well on our own and have been slowly progressing further and further, learning day to day...and that is very important to us.
Stagnation is a word that literally fills me with dread...but we counter that with a simple word that smashes stagnation into the ground...PROGRESSION.
To progress each day, improving and bettering yourself is something we try to achieve.
As for the business aspect, It seems that the main things that a bigger record label can do is give us more extensive PR and funding for marketing...we're doing it a different way with very little budget and keeping costs right down...yet, we're doing just fine.
We simply don't have thousands of pounds to throw at this project, so we're doing what we can with what we have...and we're winning the battle so far.
As for working alongside another label...we're open to the idea as long as everything is mutually beneficial and no one is getting screwed over.
We almost started working with Century Media...but that fell through and that was when we knew that the bigger labels just like dicking the small guys about...so we knew then that we needed to continue on our own path for now.
The future is another thing...
SoT: The album also boasts some striking and evocative cover art...the power station gives it a modern day Animals feel yet with a sinister undercurrent...tell us a little about this .
Ben: It's multiple questions with multiple meanings posed by multiple things on multiple levels. There is so much to it that it's impossible to explain and I wouldn't want to lay things on the plate for people...I think they are better than that and would prefer to work it out for themselves or rather, I'd prefer them to get something from it FOR themselves.
The artist who created the artwork is Robin Portnoff from Sweden and he worked IMMENSELY hard to give us this amazing artwork.
Sometimes I cannot believe that we met someone who shares out vision so well.
Robin is not only a talented person but also a true gentleman...and we hope this record does well so that people will explore more of his work.
SoT: Listening to the album as I prepare these questions some of the passages would work extremely well as a film score…is this an area that interests you if the right offer came along?
Ben: I studied Film Scores briefly at University and it's always something that has interested me personally...but mostly for fun.
We've toyed with the idea of writing music for a short film about some things that interest the band, but that would be further down the line...but yes, we'd definitely be interested in writing music for films...it's something else to add to your repertoire.
SoT: Where do you see the band five years from now ?
Ben: Realistically I think we'll continue to build our label and the band in the long term and promote the new record and tour in the short-term till it's time to write a new one.
I guess we all hope that things continue to get better for us, as they have been daily.
Maybe we get bigger and better tour slots, then see what happens...The future is an excellent thing I feel and I think our bands future is looking quite exciting...for us at least.
We're not stupid enough to think that our music will be a world smash, as it's not something that the average person would listen to, but there are people who want something a little different than the crap the mainstream throws at them daily.
SoT: And finally, was there anything else you wanted to add?
Ben: Just to say thank you for the interview and we hope your readers have the chance to check out the band...maybe they'll enjoy the new record.
SoT: I absolutely think that they will. But don't just take my word for it, head over to http://www.enochiantheory.co.uk/ and check out this unique band for yourselves.
(Click here to read our review of Evolution Creation Ex Nihilio)