INTERVIEW: Benjamin Baret – Ne Obliviscaris

Beyond their genre-bending and unique take on extreme metal, Australia’s NE OBLIVISCARIS are a unique band. Exploring a whole new take on extreme music and crowd-funding through their Patreon Scheme,  NE OBLIVISCARIS are attempting to shake the metal world to its core. On their first ever headline tour of the UK and before a show in Manchester (read our review here) we caught up with lead guitarist Benjamin Baret to talk about the band’s first headline tour of the UK, and the pressure that brings, alongside talking about the Patreon Scheme, responding to the critics and looking ahead to NE OBLIVISCARIS‘ next record!

So NE OBLIVISCARIS are well underway of this headline run of the UK. How is the tour going so far?

Benjamin: Yeah it’s been really good! The reception has been really good in just about every city and even in the couple of places where we didn’t have too many people but the crowd has always been really good!

This is the first headline run in the UK, have you experienced the benefits of having a longer time on stage?

Benjamin: Oh definitely! Having sixty minutes minimum on a headline run is much better of course and we can really express what the band is about and we can cover the whole spectrum in 80 minutes or so.

And with it being a headline run, has there been any challenges in terms of being the main band?

Benjamin: Oh, yeah! The classic one is that you have to drive around a lot and then wait around as you are the last band and when you finally hit the stage you’re supposed to be fresh and that can be quite hard. And then you have to pack up, sleep a few hours, and go again the next day. But the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives!

With your latest album Citadel, it has now been two years since it has been out, have you been happy with the reception?

Benjamin: Yeah, of course, I think it’s done well for us. First of all it was released on Season of Mist which is a much bigger label than the one we were on before, those guys have the contacts and they put us on good tours. I couldn’t be happier and now are in the process of writing the follow up to Citadel. As soon as we’ve done this tour and the Australian one, we are going to lock ourselves up and get it done so we can come back with more songs!

I really feel that Citadel was a major step up for NE OBLIVISCARIS, in terms of the doors that opened. With the upcoming album that you are starting to write, are you looking to other markets to reach other than say Europe and the US?

Benjamin: Yeah, well in terms of money, let’s be honest, the US has always been the biggest market and people go to shows with money to spend and it is just how it works. Being based in Australia, I don’t know if you know, but we’ve toured India, China and a lot of Asian places, places that you’d think we’d tour last after breaking the Euro market and the American market. But, it is our backyard and it is cheaper to go out to India for one week than to come here. So I guess we started there and we definitely felt that people are hungry for that and people are so grateful when you go there, even thought it doesn’t make much sense financially, it is definitely something that all bands should be looking into because they are so keen, I can’t wait to go back!

India especially, they don’t seem to have a deeply-rooted metal community but it seems to have exploded in the last couple of years. Do you see it becoming a major player?

Benjamin: Oh absolutely! We’ve played with Indian bands and we’ve had to judge a metal competition and there is just so much talent. Those guys just make it work, they have their own influences and their own history and you look to the Indian prog metal bands that will have all the classic Indian influences, we already met a couple, and it’s just crazy! There is a band called PINEAPPLE EXPRESS from India and it is just the craziest prog music I’ve heard!

The Patreon campaign that you guys launched, it has been revolutionary…

Benjamin: Yeah, we are trying and trying. Back to the doors that have opened, without those people and without that money we would have come but it would cost us a lot more! We are all in our 30s, we can’t just leave the wives and kids at home saying “see ya, I’m having this money to have fun with the guys.” It’s not the case, we can’t not have an income, not when you have two mortgages, kids and stuff like that. We are not quite at the level where we can make the money just on the ticket prices, the promoters are excellent and they can make those numbers, so yeah it is really helping. The music business, especially the metal community, you can count on your hands the amount of bands who actually make a living out of it and on one hand you can count how many are happy! Revolutionary? I don’t know but we want to open doors and try new stuff.

For the most part, the Patreon scheme has been met with praise, but there has been some criticism, how do you respond to that?

Benjamin: Oh I understand, first of all everyone is entitled to their opinion, you can be the dumbest nazi and I don’t care, that’s your problem! You can hate what I do, you can love what I do, it’s all in your head. You can not like it, I can understand, but I don’t really get the full hatred because we are not bending anybody’s arm if you know what I am saying? Nobody is being forced to pay anything and at the end of the day that’s it, if you don’t like it you don’t have to pay, we’re not forcing anyone. And the people who have subscribed are happy and so far, so good! I understand why people don’t like it, people who have done it the harder way and it works for them and they think that we’ve not eaten enough shit, but I guess we just don’t want to.

And with the reward schemes and the way the Patreon scheme works, how do you see the scheme evolve in the next couple of years?

Benjamin: How cool would that be? I can’t wait to see other bands doing it, another thing, being from Australia before we came out here we had already spent more than any band in the country. It’s a lot of money and people seem to forget that, there’s not that many Australian bands who tour here who are that big, even though Australia is a rich country, it’s just crazy.

Prior to NE OBLIVISCARIS starting the Patreon scheme, there was the big story of CJ from THY ART IS MUDER stepping down due to financial reasons, do you believe that Australian bands immediately face a disadvantage for building a fanbase purely because of geographical reasons?

Benjamin: Oh definitely. That is why we didn’t do any serious tours with the first album, we did get serious offers but it made no sense. So that’s why we started this, to be different, and to get out there.

And really my final question for you, is that this UK run is finalising with an appearance at this year’s Damnation Festival. How do you feel about being on the same bill with the likes of ELECTRIC WIZARD, ABBATH and so forth? It is quite a varied bill!

Benjamin: I’ve actually never been to that festival, it is a one day festival so I guess they pack as many bands as they can in one day and it makes sense! We’re looking forward to it!

Well thank you, and best of luck for tonight and the rest of the tour.

Benjamin: Thank you!

NE OBLIVISCARIS perform at this year’s Damnation Festival on November 5th. Tickets are available here.

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