Mark caught up with Ben Harris-Hayes from Enochian Theory and grilled him about everything ET. The band play London Shepherd's Bush Empire tonight, Monday 19th Novemmber as support to Gong...
For readers new to the band, can you please tell us the meaning of the bands name, Enochian Theory?
"Greetings, readers of MetalTalk. It's nice to be able to talk to you about our little band of miscreants and what we're up to at the moment.
"To us, the meaning of Enochian Theory is something that comes across on a few levels. First and foremost, it's a statement of survival and integrity.
"We've worked very hard to achieve what we have and sacrificed a lot to be able to do what we do...
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"Enochian is a language... sometimes referred to as 'The Language Of The Angels', a system of 'calls' that are used to converse (for want of a better term) with... perhaps... celestial beings?
"It was a system brought back to prominence by Elizabeth 1st's science/religion/general advisor, John Dee in the 1600s. It's one of many interesting topics we liked to read about when we first formed that band... the study of things that are not well known and are of particular interest to those who like... let's say... the more esoteric.
"The 'theory' aspect of the name is us saying all science and religion are best guesses... we know very little about the world and universe around us, despite our professed control over our domain.
"If you observe the acronym of the band name, which is E.T... as in extra terrestrial... it offers another idea if where we come from.
Religion? Science? Aliens?
"In summation... it's a band name that represents our curiosity as to our origins, where we are now and where we're going."
Your latest album 'Life... And All It Entails' has received some great reviews from all the top publications. How pleased are you with the album and is there anything you like to have changed at all?
"I hate to sound like I'm offering a cliché answer here, and one that EVERY band uses... but in this instance, it really is the truth... It truly is our best recording to date.
"We've only got two albums and an E.P thus far to compare to, but we've continually pushed forward in every aspect of the band with each release... and that is all we can ask for.
"This time around we knew we wanted it to be sonically superior to our previous recordings and thus spent a lot of time in finding the right place and person to work on this project, eventually going with engineer/tech guru, Rob Aubrey (Transatlantic, IQ, Spocks Beard etc...)
"We met Rob, when he was tour managing Spock's Beard and ourselves during our European tour in 2010. He's a great guy and really got the best from us... simply by being the most relaxed and professional person we've had the pleasure of working with to date.
"It was kinda of funny when I think about... it was the most UN-rock'n'roll recording session I've ever been involved in... but the results were exactly what we wanted. A big, clear sounding record... produced by ourselves.
"We'd not want to change anything on it, because we feel that a record should reflect where a band and its members are at that moment in their existence... and 'Life... And All It Entails' does that for us."
You just played three dates where you played the entirety of your two full length albums 'Evolution: Creatio Ex Nihilio and the latest 'Life.....And All It Entails' back to back.. How much of a challenge was that and where you pleased with the results?
"I think the main challenge was letting go of the worry of it all... we spent time practicing it and worrying about all the little details within the songs, worrying if we could do what people expected.
There are some quite technical sections in there that had to be worked on, post studio... and we perhaps let that get to us a bit mentally.
But come showtime at the first show in London... we were ready to rock and the pressure was off due to various reasons (i.e: attendance)... so, we just did our thing and I personally feel we played the best we've played in years.
"Playing for two hours is a long time, and something we'd not done before. We had to be on the ball for that duration, but we still enjoyed it, because I could look around me and see my band mates getting into it and when we were done, we all had stupid shit-eating grins on our faces!
"I think the show, a week after the London one, which was our first ever headline show in front of just under 200 people in Germany, was the moment where it really sunk in.
"We finally accepted that perhaps we're not so bad a band and that people do actually want to come see us perform what we've done, after they bought our records... and that is a really strange but uplifting feeling, I can assure you."
You've made an animated video for the song 'A Fire Around The Lotus' which has been two years in the making. When can fans expect see the finished video?
"Oh... believe me. It'll be ready when it's ready.
"The thing with this project is that 'Team Lotus' (the small team of CG experts we put together) made a video that would have cost close to £50,000, if done by a professional company.
"That was the cheapest quote we got from various 'professional' companies, when we first started exploring the options... and our team had more like £800 to work with...
"They've been fitting in what they can when they can, in between jobs and living... it's been a real pain, because we had a lot of things planned around it but alas, what can we do except continue to work around it and wait for it to be done.
"I can assure you that it will look amazing and very different to lot of animated 'films' when it's done.
"We're hoping for an early 2013 release... but I hate setting dates for things really and much prefer to say something less committed like 'It'll be done when it's done'..."
You've just announced that Enochian Theory are planning on recording a 3-4 track E.P and that you are raising funds for it through PledgeMusic.
"To be honest, it wasn't really an announcement... more of an idea that we wanted to run via the people that support us on our social media networks.
"We're very glad to have such great people supporting us.
"We wanted to know if anyone was interested in supporting us financially in recording an experimental E.P, in return for an exclusive collector's edition pressing, which would be literally between the band and the fans. Sort of a very personal thank you, for their invested support.
"But mainly, we felt that there wasn't anywhere near enough press and exposure done by various parties for the release of 'Life... And All It Entails'... which has in turn led us to become frustrated in many aspects of our business that we wanted to have concluded this year... so, we decided to toy with the idea that we'll be working on something new to help draw attention to the previous album, but primarily as a chance to experiment on something before we start work on our third album.
"We have some ideas and are possibly going to using this E.P to try and write a concept record, something we've not done before... but that may change!
"We're certainly going to see what we can do in regards to this recording... and we'll be addressing that in the coming weeks.
We have some ideas and a rough plan... and usually that's all we need to cracking."
The fans were also asked if they would want the E.P to be on the heavier or lighter side of prog. What's the feedback been so far?
"Again, it was something to get people involved and see what the feedback would be.
"Anyone who knows us will testify that we'll always do what we feel is best, because other wise it will be cheating the people that support us.
"We were toying with the idea of doing an acoustic-inspired E.P earlier this year, then it was some sort of electronica-based madness, before growing into a full on 'heaviest thing we've ever done!' idea... and now... well, we'll be working on something that we feel is right for us, without any set plan in mind.
"We'll get together in our practice space and see what comes out..."
You're playing the Shepherds Bush Empire on November 19th as support to prog pioneers Gong who are now in their fifth decade. Can you see yourselves doing for this for your entire adult life? Is this something you aspire to?
"An honest answer is... who knows?
"We'd like to think we'd be able to continue doing what we love, but Life has a strange way of throwing things at you that you didn't see coming.
"We've been going for eight years now and it's been a rollercoaster of personal and professional highs/lows.
"At the moment, we're moving in the right direction... with great things like starting to work alongside Northern Music Limited (who are the managerial company for bands like Opeth, Katatonia, Devin Townsend, Paradise Lost and many more) despite things that frustrate us, which we feel we should have secured by now... but hey, it's a continual battle and one we're relishing fighting at the moment.
It's good to have people in positions of power notice us and get involved in working on our projects.
"Personally, I've been playing music since I was 8 and played my first paid gig when I was 14... so, music has already been a long part of my life and it's the same for my band mates... it's in our blood, it's what we do."
What other artists would be a dream bill for you to appear with?
"Oooooo... these questions are always tricky, because we all like a lot of different forms of music.
"Personally, I'd love to put on/be part of a one day festival, which transcends space and time... akin to an 'All Tomorrow's Parties'-style curation, but only with the ability to raise the dead! Haha
"Off the top of my head... I'd have a billing (in now particular set order) of Aphex Twin, Soundgarden, Meshuggah, Efterklang, Pantera, Raiden, letlive, Eurhythmics, Devin Townsend, Slayer, Radiohead, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Nick Drake, Paul Simon, Ulver, Tool, Mindset, Septic Flesh, 16 Horsepower, Duke Ellington, Prince, Portishead and Queen... haha
"That would make me a very happy chappy!
"But in all seriousness, we'll play with anyone, anywhere... as long as we're getting fed!"
For rock fans new to progressive rock, what five classic prog albums from the 70s would you recommend?
"Haha, you're asking the wrong person, my friend! We don't really listen to prog music anywhere near as much as people may think, let alone anything that came from a specific era.
"I'd hazard that anyone who knows rock music will know bands like Pink Floyd and such already.
"I have a few King Crimson records in my collection too... but we very much take our cues from more modern bands."
Also what five modern day prog rock albums from the last decade would you recommend to listeners to check out?
"Ermmm... I'm sure there are better qualified people than I that could answer this better... but the few 'progressive' (as named by the press) albums I've come across that have stayed in my collection have been:
Porcupine Tree's 'Deadwing'
anything by Devin Townsend and Meshuggah.
"There are SO many more albums that I'd love to put down, but they aren't classed as 'prog'... but then again, I could be here all day talking albums that aren't rock-related."
You've toured Europe, where else would you love the band to tour next?
"We'll go anywhere that people want to see us... it really is that simple. We're slowly but surely building a fanbase in Europe and we're very thankful for that. Europe has been very welcoming to us Brits.
"Personally, I'd just like to visit places that, as a teenager, I'd never dreamed of visiting... places like Japan, Goa, North and South America.
"If we get to be able to do some gigs in these places, then I guess we'd be very happy!
"After talking to the chaps in TesseracT about their treks to India, it sounds like places that are not so 'western orientated' devour any rock/Metal bands that come to play there.
"I was told that it was a really good experience by those guys."
Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree has veered off and made many other projects. Is this something that would appeal to you or would you always like to see Enochian Theory always continue as one tight unit?
"Well... I tend to keep busy by doing different projects with other people, because I like a lot of different music... so, I indulge in whatever style of writing comes out at that time.
"I also feel that working with other people can only benefit you as a musician and a person... as you learn SO much more from how other people work and what they know.
"I'd love to work on my own solo record one day, but that's not really something I have time for at moment... and I write such varied material... who knows where I'd start!
"Shaun and Sam, I'm sure, will one day branch out too... but for now, we're all happy to keep working on Enochian Theory. It's our collective 'child'... and we're watching it grow in the right direction..."
Any message for your fans out there?
"I'd just like to say thank you to the website for giving us this chance to talk about the band and I hope that people who haven't heard us, take the time to check out our new video for 'Inversions', or check out the plethora of other material available online, via Spotify, Grooveshark, iTunes and all the many other ways of acquiring music."
"Give our latest record, 'Life... And All It Entails' a good listen... you may like it...
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