25.5.2011

Esoteric interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


Praise and Argue

Interview: Kuronen

Those of you who have been with us from the beginning may remember the enthusiasm for Esoteric voiced in the very first issue of Qvadrivivm. “Find Esoteric. Kill yourself” was one of the lucid phrases in the interview initially motored by the greatness of The Pernicious Enigma and substantiated by an admiration for the fresh Metamorphogenesis.

It has been more than a decade since The Pernicious Enigma, an all-round classic of narcotics, hatred and misery, but Esoteric finally graced us with another double release, The Maniacal Vale. More refined and intricate, it is certainly an A-level studio experiment of psychedelic oppression. More interesting than talking about that album as such, however, is to hear what lessons Esoteric learnt from The Pernicious Enigma. Enter Greg Chandler, the humongous brute making humongous music in the post-steel storms of
Birmingham.

“I see that album as it is,” founding member
Chandler relates. “Everything we do as humans is flawed in some way.  Hindsight offers us the chance to evolve and progress with new achievements and creations, but for me personally, it is impossible to be completely satisfied with anything I do in any case.  It is only possible to try my best.  Each album we do is always a monument of the time in which it was written and recorded.  An expression of that time, bound by whatever constraints were upon us at the time. In some ways that album was extremely influential to the direction my life was to take back then.  Being so disillusioned with the work of the sound engineer on that album, I started training as a sound engineer myself so that I could work in studios and gain enough knowledge and experience to record our own albums. I spent a year in training during 1996/97 and have been working full-time in professional studios ever since. The songs and ideas are strong on that album, though the recording, production and mixing did not do much justice to the sounds we had created.  We knew what we wanted, but not how to capture it.  The engineer/producer didn’t understand or seem to care about the music and we were using a studio that wasn’t particularly well maintained or proud of the service it provided. Several problems with the mix automation (quite typical of soundtracks mixing consoles in my experience) and the limited number of audio tracks (24) and the shitty recording medium (ADAT’s) meant that we were really pushing the studio beyond its capabilities, despite the fact that it was a commercial studio that had actually recorded quite a few rock and metal albums over the years.  We weren’t really bitter about the experience; we just took it as a valuable lesson.  Back then, no one would really have had a good idea of how to approach our music in any case, but clearly we should have tried to find an engineer that at least had some interest in our music or some understanding of extreme metal at least. Our albums fail and succeed based on whether the music does what it is supposed to.  At least, that is how I see it. If the music is a good representation of what it is trying to express and is also evocative to our own senses and emotions, then it is doing what is intended.  If others like it then it is a bonus, but the cause is always our own inspiration. For me, that seems like the best way to make music unique and real. It is hard to listen to the album subjectively, because I know and hear in my mind how it could sound, yet the reality is far different.  Had we also had a better drummer for the album, the overall feel would have been a lot better. I can pick it apart until night becomes day, as with most things, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”

Another interesting point is to elicit a justification for a dubious fact proven by some comparative research: albeit not visible in the previous answer, Greg Chandler is one of those artists who like to copy some of their answers from one interview to another. A perilous enterprise, seeing as the questions which he offers precisely the same answer to differ quite a bit, and there is oftentimes a space of years between the answers. Explain!

“My life is extremely hectic, so I save time where I can,” reasons Greg. “And if I might disagree, often interview questions are the same or very similar. I would never answer a question seeking new information or a clever, original question with a “copied” answer. My views and answers are fairly consistent in any case.  I often remember what I have said.  I want to spend as much time as possible with the music when I have spare time.  Not thinking of new ways to answer generic questions if it is the case that my previous thoughts are still relevant. Esoteric is a band that puts a lot of time and energy into what we do. Most people without the same kind of lifestyle have no idea how much time it takes to maintain a good standard of musicianship, compose, rehearse, record and play music live, in addition to having to earn a living. Break down our music into its individual parts and you will get a clearer picture. That is where my heart is.”

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