12 January 2011

(More than) 10 Questions with...Effloresce

I sometimes find musicians and bands in the weirdest ways.

Much like my finding Relocator via the Mike Portnoy forum, Effloresce came to my attention via band member Dave Mola’s user pic on that forum.  I recognised it as an album cover, thought it looked pretty cool, and filed the info away for future searching.  When I found out he was in the band, well…you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Dave quickly made sure to set me up with a copy of the band’s debut EP, which I reviewed here quite some time ago.  We also agreed that an interview with the band would be a very cool thing.  Unfortunately, some personal issues have delayed me in getting this interview up.  No longer, I say!  The band’s voices must be heard, and heard they shall be!

Curious what an audience thinks of a female vocalist who does extreme metal vocals?  Intrigued by a band that writes some serious and heavy progressive metal but whose members are the furthest thing from stodgy and stuck in the mud?  Well then, you came to the right place!  Sit down, read on, and pop in the EP that I just KNOW you bought right after reading my review…right?

1. Starting things off...when did you first discover how much music meant to you?

I think making music is something that can set you apart from the rest of your age group when you’re a young person. So the first reason to pick up a guitar and play was to do something different, starting from there, the main goal was to set oneself apart from the rest of the other young people my age who had also started to discover that music made them more interesting by trying to play better than the rest – and that without taking lessons, for my parents didn’t want to pay for yet another expensive hobby. From there, I realized that music was not just something for me to identify with but I started writing my own stuff, which opened up the dimension of musical self-expression for me. Still, there’s so much to discover and I think the point when I found out that MAKING music means anything to me has been only recently when I looked back on my ‘career’ and found that I could have quit, having made so many disappointing and disillusioning experiences in various bands but still kept going and finally, I’ve found a bunch of people who really seem to have the same musical and personal attitude.

Nicki: I was about seven or eight years old when my dad and I watched MTV every Saturday and I saw this guy with his funny moustache.  It was Freddie Mercury from Queen of course and I loved his voice right away. The music was cool also and I especially liked the video clip to "I Want to Break Free". That‘s why I started to sing with a hairbrush in my hand in front of a mirror and never wanted to do anything else henceforth.

Dave: Hmmm, I remember lying on my bed and listening to Hendrix for hours and hours as a teenager. I think that was the time when I realized that music is able to carry you through "difficult" times and to make you feel in certain ways. I think that opened my eyes, ears and heart.

Rene: When I was 6 years old I visited a music school, in which we could play around with every instrument and also played theatre. Since then music was always around in my life. But it wasn’t until 2002 when I found dedication and discipline for learning bass, chords, music theory and all that stuff.  I would say that was the start of a life long journey of a lot of self-teaching, drinking beer, discovering friendship and living  rock 'n' roll and thus creating something special out of it.

2. Who were your first influences as a musician?

Probably my two drum teachers. I had jazz guy teaching me, who looked like Gavin Harrison and showed me a lot of Steve Gadd stuff. After two years I got a long haired rock 'n roll dude as a teacher, who introduced me to Dream Theater and Portnoy. That's when the whole progressive thing started for me. That mixture of that jazz influence and prog drumming was always very interesting for me, although I don't listen to any jazz stuff at home.

Nicki: As mentioned Queen and especially Freddie Mercury were the very first influences I remember.

Dave: My dad got me into a lot of great music quite early. I remember listening to Pink Floyd, Queen, Dire Straits and Eric Clapton at the age of maybe six or seven. When I was ten, Metallica’s Black Album was released, which introduced me to the world of metal. Henceforward I wanted to learn to play guitar.

Tim: I would have to say John Petrucci is a major influence. His sound, his technique and his versatility are amazing. Plus, I think he’s probably a nice guy. Still, there are so many good musicians in all styles out there that it’s hard to name any. I admire blues musicians like Clapton or Jeff Healey, I admire classic rock guys like Rhoads and Van Halen, I dig guys like Loomis, Chris Broderick or Michael Romeo who have a more classical or neo-classical edge to them…I admire anyone who has the ability to sound unique and the versatility to adapt to different styles.

3. How did Effloresce first come together?

In late 2005 I joined a band called Falling Nature, in which Tobi was already playing drums for a while. After some shows in 2006 Falling Nature fell apart, but both of us wanted to continue making music together - that was the moment Effloresce actually was born. We started jammin’ with different people and writing some fragments that later even have been recorded for a (not so serious) all instrumental Online-Demo called "Chinese Demo: crazy!". This is how everything started. However, we really became a band when Nicki joined us in March 2008. We used, improved and messed around with some ideas that have already been floating around for a while, and started adding vocals to what slowly became “songs”. Still looking for musicians we kept on writing material throughout 2008 and the first months of 2009 before we finally met René and Tim, who joined us in summer/fall of 2009. By that time the EP was already recorded and eventually released on December 18th. That was a quick tour through Effloresce-History.

Tobi: Some guy from the States apparently got wind of that demo title and named an album after it, only that it’s written a bit differently. He didn’t buy our EP though.

4. Effloresce has been around for a very short time, yet has already released a 30-minute EP. How easy was it to come up with the songs you chose for the release?

The songs on the EP had already existed for a while; we just didn't have a proper opportunity to record them until we hit the studio in August 2009.  So, while the current line-up is not very old, the ideas for these songs date back to when the idea of Effloresce was born in late 2006. In fact, "Sear" is the first song we ever wrote when we started, which also was recorded for this instrumental demo Dave was talking about in the previous question.

And coming up with these songs wasn't easy for us at all, since none of us had ever actually written a song. It was a long process bringing these songs to life with trial & error being two perpetual band members. We're actually still in the learning process.

5. What is the band's creative process like?

That‘s not easy to answer, honestly. I think we‘re still searching for that "magic formula". Until now we start with a small idea like a riff or a chord progression and connect it with other small ideas that already float around or just cross our minds. And it builds from there and gets bigger and bigger until we‘re happy with it. A lot of trial and error and quite time-consuming, but it works.

Nicki: Once the basic structure of a song is somewhat fixed I start working on vocal melodies, growl-spots and finally the lyrics.

6. Are there any tracks on the release that you'd say were more difficult to bring to fruition than others?

Definitely "Birds of Prey". It consists of parts we wrote in the beginning of the band’s history; and it was dismantled, rearranged and puzzled back together so often that we lost count at some point. "Sear" was only challenging because it was our first song ever, while "Sunset..." went pretty smooth. But Birds was really like giving birth to an elephant.

Dave: Yeah, that was really a tough one. I remember that we dumped half finished versions of the song several times and started over again, but finally we're very very happy with the outcome and it was worth the trouble after all.

7. How would you say the general reaction to your debut EP has been?

There have been various reactions so far. The majority of reviewers are respectful, take their time and get a picture of what we sound like, what we are like. This usually results in positive reviews fortunately.  However, there have been strange reviews from people who apparently didn‘t even read our band info before writing confusing stuff about constantly repeating choruses, guys growling and stuff like that. Ridiculous sometimes... but the vast majority is very positive so far and motivates us to keep on walking the path that we‘re on already.

8. What would you say you bring to the band that differs from your band mates?

I’m the least skilled, so there you go.

Additionally, René and I are the only ones with short hair.

Dave: I probably can handle more vodka than my band mates, but we have to work that out once. Just to be sure.

Nicki: Most of the time I’m the one wearing the dresses.  And boobs.

Tobi: I’m the only one who plays drums in the band.

René: While learning an instrument you listen to many different styles and genres. You'll develop your own style and sound. Starting off as a metal fan I found my love for rock n roll in my first cover band, and I always try to look for new influences.  But in the end I would say I'm more the sub-bass pulse and try to give the guys the groove they can rely on. Some things just don’t necessarily stand out from the songs, but once you take it away the songs aren’t the same. Like the bass.

9. How do people react the first time Nicki unleashes her growl?

Haha, funny question. Yeah, those reactions are quite similar every time. Most people in the audience look around searching for the "cookie monster". As soon as they realize that it‘s me growling jaws hit the ground and eyes pop out here and there. Quite funny to watch, really.

10. If you had the opportunity to cover any song in the band, either for a release or in concert, what would you want to cover and why?

At our very first concert we actually did a live cover version of Porcupine Tree's "Blackest Eyes". The simple reason was that we only had four complete songs, which we thought might be not enough (although we almost filled three-quarters of an hour with that). We chose that song simply because it's a classic, it's fun to play and we all love Porcupine Tree. So I guess it was our tribute to them. But I doubt we will ever record a cover, it was just a less-than-ideal solution.

Dave: We also played Opeth’s “Windowpane” just for fun some time ago. That was basically our tune to check out potential co-musicians. Just to have something to play together, you know? Personally I’d love to do a Metal-version of some Camel songs once in the future. But dunno if that will ever happen. And I’d never say never concerning recording cover tunes, but our focus clearly lies on writing and recording our own material, that’s the priority.

11. How much opportunity does the band have to play out live?

Well, with the kind of music we make it‘s really difficult getting live-shows. Long complex songs with female vocals are too exotic and unpopular around here. But we already played some shows, and most of the people enjoyed our performance. So, we‘re optimistic for the future.

Dave: Yeah, plus: The Prog-scene here in Germany is really small. The local clubs book kiddie-punk-bands instead and don‘t really care for musicality. If you try to arrange a (prog-)concert yourself you have to deal with chaotic and counterproductive club-owners, small crowds, bands from afar (who at least want to be reimbursed for gas) and so on. Not easy...

12. How much would you say downloading has affected the band's sales?

I’m not into that torrent-stuff and downloading at all, but I’ve looked for some illegal Effloresce-Files and came up with nothing actually. So I think downloading isn’t much of a problem for us now. That may change of course when more people get into our music and realize how cool we are.

13. What's next for Effloresce?

Effloresce is currently writing stuff to gather enough material for a full-length album. We have already completed writing three more songs other than the ones on the SoF-EP and a fourth one is in the making. We don’t know when we’ll have the opportunity to enter a studio to record our complete material, but we’ll see. So if anyone knows a studio, contact us! :-)

14. Will there continue to be flute and mellotron on your future releases?

Definitely, yeah. There will be mellow parts with flute in some of our new songs, too. Actually I‘m writing melodies for one at the moment.

Dave: As for the mellotrons (and organs): We‘ll also keep those in our sound mixture, because I think they can really spice up some parts and add beautiful layers and atmosphere when used properly.

15. Reading the band's website, it seems humour is an important aspect of what the band is. Having said that, do you think the vuvuzela has any place in melodic death metal?

Definitely. After the World Cup this year we all know that this instrument is one of the most favoured around, and we hope that more bands will incorporate it into their sound. Especially Death- and Black Metal bands. We are actually thinking of releasing a special edition of the Shades of Fate EP, with a Vuvuzela drowning out all the other instruments for the entire 30 minutes. That would be quite an improvement to our current sound.

16. Are there any bands or performers you are currently enjoying listening to when you're relaxing?

Tarja Turunen‘s new album is my favorite at the moment. Both Blackfield records are classics of relaxing music as well.

Dave: I’ve been listening to Tommy Emmanuel and piano works by Frederic Chopin lately. Very nice music to chill to.

Rene: At the moment that's defenitively Alter Bridge, Slash, Grand Funk
Railroad, Tower of Power, a lot of John Mayer and everything that goes straight into your ear.

Tobi: I’m a huge Anathema fan. Additionally, stuff like Blackfield, Loreena McKennit or Karl Sanders’ solo project.

Tim: I personally prefer the Damnation record by Opeth or very old Pink Floyd (the Meddle album). Or an Australian band called Vanishing Point, because they have a very pleasing sound. Antimatter is another band that would probably rather get me depressed than relaxed, but whatever….

17. As we wrap things up, are there any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?

Yes. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t play with scissors. Don’t try this at home.

Keep on supporting Bill and his Prog BLOG, people! And don't forget to buy our CD! Thanks a lot for the interesting questions!

Find Out More at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they're a far cry from "Evanescence!"
I just have not been able to like any heavy metal band aside from perhaps Dream Theater or Rush!
Nor can I ever like Johnny Cash!
Good 'innerview' though!