Ne Obliviscaris are a band that are true road warriors, they are on the road constantly and have suffered for their art. They have lost money and jobs in the name of heavy metal. But that might soon change for the Australian six-piece thanks for Patreon which may finally grant them their dream of being a full-time band. I talked to clean vocalist and violinist Tim Charles about their recent tour with Cradle of Filth, their influences, Patreon and the future of the band.
Jack: How are you doing?
Tim Charles (Violin/Clean Vocals): Fantastic! It is definitely a very exciting time for Ne Obliviscaris at the moment.
Jack: You just finished a North American tour with Cradle of Filth and Butcher Babies, how did that tour go?
Tim: The tour was above all expectations really. This was our first ever North Americans tour and so to go there and get such overwhelmingly positive responses night after night really blew us away. It took us a lot longer than we wanted to get to North America but already we are looking for a way to get back as soon as possible.
Jack: Did any show stand out for you?
Tim: There were a lot of great shows but our headline shows in Philadelphia, Providence and Baltimore to start the tour really set things off in the most incredible way possible. The whole tour was on the verge of being cancelled the day before we left and when we hopped on the plane to America the first 4 shows with Cradle had just been cancelled and we were worried that we might land and find out we had to go home without even playing any shows if Cradle’s visa issues weren’t sorted out. Instead we managed to get together 3 last minute headline shows and had a huge number of fans turn out on as little as 24 hours notice. The vibe in the rooms were absolutely amazing and from the first night in Philadelphia we fell in love with the crowds in North America and it just continued on positively from there.
Jack: Cradle of Filth are seen as an influential band, have they influenced your music?
Tim: Well, our guitarist Matt would definitely list Cradle of Filth as an influence of his so maybe in some small way, though we are a very different type of band. Either way though, they are definitely a band we have a lot of respect for and we were truly grateful for the opportunity to tour with them.
Jack: What bands have been the most important in shaping Ne Obliviscaris?
Tim: I think every member would list a different set of acts that have influenced them, but I guess bands such as Emperor, Opeth, Satyricon, Enslaved, Dream Theater, Cynic & more have all had a big influence on multiple members in the band.
Jack: You’ve just made headlines from using Patreon. For those who don’t know can you tell us what Patreon is?
Tim: Patreon is a platform that helps provide fans with a new way to support creative artists through the notion of patronage. People pay per month or per thing released and get a variety of different benefits in return for their support. It’s mainly been used by YouTube bloggers and artists or by musicians to fund videos, but we decided to twist how it’s used and develop what is essentially a monthly fan club run through their platform as a way of encouraging people to get involved in our career and support us in a more direct fashion.
Jack: Why did you decide to use the service?
Tim: When I first came up with the idea for our membership system I had actually never heard of Patreon and was researching different subscription platforms online. It was actually a couple of NeO fans that suggested Patreon in a comment on our Facebook page and once I looked into them a bit more they seemed like the best fit to make our idea a reality.
Jack: How amazed are you by the support given by fans with this service?
Tim: We are constantly blown away by how amazing our fans are and this was definitely no different with our Patreon membership initiative. We really felt that if we gave our fans a good reason and method to get more involved in our career that they would jump at the chance and that definitely seems to be the case. We feel very fortunate to have a fanbase that we can work together with to build our career in ways unlike what bands have done in the past.
Jack: You’ve had some criticism for using the service including comments that you are being greedy and touring beyond your means. Do you think these comments are unfair?
Tim: I think these comments come from people who largely have no idea what they are talking about, to be honest. A lot of the negative comments I read included things that were factually incorrect, or were clouded by ignorance of how the music industry works. It is not greedy to want to get paid minimum wage for thousands of hours of work. We spent 6 months on the road last year, unable to earn any other money while we were away… we all got fired from our day jobs because we are away on tour too much and at 33 I had to move back in with my Dad because I had no money to pay rent and would have ended up homeless if I didn’t have the support of my family. We do this for the love of it, but everyone needs money for food and rent regardless of how you spend your life and we are no different. Every tour we are growing and every tour we are moving forward, but any band that has tried to “make it” knows there is a period when you are big enough to get great tour offers, but not big enough to get offers that pay well and you need to find a way to get past that if you’re going to ever become a headline act in the future. This was our way of involving our fans in our career and it’s already a huge success and its success over time will be all that matters.
Jack: Do you think crowd funding services like Patreon will be a regular staple in the future or do you think it will die out?
Tim: Mark my words, this is the next big thing in the music industry. This has created a completely new revenue stream for us (up to USD 90,000 annually now and growing) and there are already quite a few other bands talking to us about implementing their own membership systems in the vein of what we’re doing. This is something that could literally save the careers of many mid-tier bands across the world and we fully expect it to do that once more bands get their heads around our idea.
Jack: What’s your view on streaming like Spotify, which many fans consider to be a try-before-you-buy service?
Tim: Personally I never really liked Spotify because we’ve probably earned maybe $1 ever from Spotify seeing their deals with bands are so ridiculously terrible. Having said that, it is another good way to expose your music to more people in an easy fashion and when you combine elements such as streaming with proper financial support from fans via things like Patreon the combination may yet prove to be one that can work long-term for bands. It’s definitely an exciting time to be part of the music industry that’s for sure and I think finding the right balance between fans giving and taking from artists is what is needed moving forward to ensure the future of the bands they love.
Jack: What’s the status on any new music from the band?
Tim: We wrote a few parts of songs last year but haven’t done anything for a few months seeing we have been on the road so much. We have, however, just started writing in earnest now and are spending the next few months at home writing new material with hopes to have the album completed before the end of the year.
Jack: How will it be different to ‘Citadel’ ?
Tim: Honestly, I have no idea how it’s going to sound. We are always challenging ourselves to do new things though so I’m sure it will be something a little different. Part of the excitement of being in this band is not really knowing what we will do next even in amongst it all as a member of the band. I am really excited though by the ideas we have and can’t wait to get it done and out to the world.
Jack: Do you plan on coming back to the UK at all?
Tim: We are coming back in November to play Damnation Festival! And hopefully a few side shows as well yet to be announced.
Jack: You played at Bloodstock festival last year, how did it go?
Tim: It was fantastic. We got a great response from all the UK fans and definitely can’t wait to get back again soon.
Jack: Finally, is there a main goal set for 2016?
Tim: Write album three and with the help of our fans turn NeO into a viable full time career for each of us in the band!