– Hello Greg, thanks for taking your time. What are you currently up to?
Hi Sergio. Currently we are rehearsing to prepare for the gigs which will follow the album release.
– First of all, if someone has been under a rock since the mid 90’s, could you please make some history of the band?
Esoteric formed in July 1992. We recorded our first demo in summer 1993, and the first album followed in 1994. Further albums followed in 1997, 1999, 2004, 2008 and the new album will be released tomorrow in fact, on 11th November. Our style is quite experimental, dark, melancholic and chaotic, varying in mood and intensity.
– And why did you choose «Esoteric» for the name of the band? It looks quite powerful and straight-forward but seems to have certain meaning behind it.
We chose the name Esoteric purely because it has many meanings and all of which are relevent. It is something that is intended for and understood by the few, something that comes from within.
– You will soon release your new «Paragon of Dissonance»; what are your expectations? All your previous albums have got an overwhelming response, is this a bonus motivation for you?
We don’t tend to have too many expectations . The first hurdle when recording an album is to make a recording we can be mostly satisfied with ourselves. It’s always appreciated when we receive positive feedback and it is certainly a bonus, but I think that inspiration for writing music has to come from the self, to be in a certain frame of mind, or to be inspired to release something from the mind into musical form.
– I noticed you have added certain subtle new sounds in this new effort but; how could you describe «Paragon of Dissonance» in just a few words?
I would describe it as an album with quite diverse songs, a lot of variation in mood and atmospheres, ranging from tranquil to barbaric. It is very dark overall, but also melodic at times.
– I think proof of these new «elements» can be tune «Cipher», which has plenty melody and fragile less-distorted guitars. I would like you to tell us a bit about this track, as it seems to have a certain different approach.
Jim Nolan wrote Cipher, and it is one of the more upbeat songs on the album with some groove to it also. It has a disorientating start, where the time signature modulates frequently and the track changes feel throughout, from heavy to uplifting even and then back again until it finally descends into chaos.
– And due to this, how was the songwriting process this time around? Has the songwriting changed over the years?
I think there’s a clear and natural progression and evolution in the songwriting between each album. Songs are written in various ways, either the majority is written by one main songwriter and then other parts are added by other instruments, or sometimes we might all write parts for a song. Improvisations upon themes are one of the ways in which we write music, structuring from the ideas born from improvisation. Once the songs are initially written and demo’d we experiment and rehearse with them until the album recording, which then becomes the definitive version of the song that we will recreate live. Obviously with Jim being new to the band since the last album, his songwriting contribution added another element to the sound and songwriting and another unique style of guitar playing. I think it contrasts very well with mine and Gordon’s style of writing and playing.
– In your music we can always find influences from old Funeral Doom bands or certain psychedelic elements among others, this time I’d dare say even from Melodic Doom but, what are your main musical influences?
Well, when we started Esoteric, the term funeral doom didn’t exist. We liked the slower, heavier aspects of bands like Autopsy and early Paradise Lost, Cathedral and Winter, but we wanted to do something more reflective of us, something slower, heavier, darker and more psychedelic with chaotic atmospheres. We all listen to different music in the band. Personally I can listen to quite varied styles of music, from all kinds and types of metal to classical, dark ambient, industrial, progressive, post rock, electronic and so on. I like music of various emotions, but if I had to say, then I’d say that my passion is dark, sorrowful music as that is what I relate to and enjoy most when it suits my mood.
– You have always had a unique atmosphere in your sound; is this an important part of ESOTERIC?
Yes, and we go to great lengths and spend a lot of time sculpting, programming sounds and pedals and programming effects modulations and sounds that work to enhance the atmospheres within the music. For us, it gives the music an extra dimension and character and serves to work with the essence of the song, rather than distract from it.
– I think good balances are also a trademark of yours, for example being always «in the middle» (I mean with the most aggressive parts or the more melodic/slow parts, etc.) with your vocals, that are always really extreme and, as well, a trademark of the band. Is this balance something easy to achieve?
Well, as is the same with the guitars, it takes quite some time working on the sounds, programming the effects and modulations and trying to create unique sounds that also serve the music. Regarding the balance and delivery of the vocals, I just try to perform with passion and feeling and real emotion, putting the meaning of the words into the sounds I make and serving the feel of the music.
– And now that I have mentioned your recognizable vocals; what are your influences as vocalist?
Well, I already described how I try to execute the vocals, to draw inspiration and create a relation to the music and lyrics, but regarding which vocalists inspired me and whose voices I admire, the main inspiration came from Chris Reifert from Autopsy. My style is very different to his, as is our music very different to Autopsy’s, but the character, variation and emphasis he put into his vocals was really felt and amongst many different death metal vocalists, he stood out as one of the most extreme.
– «Paragon of Dissonance» is your first album with guitar player Jim Nolan; what has he brought to ESOTERIC?
Jim’s style of playing and songwriting has brought a lot to the new album. He’s a great guitarist and also very good with creating sounds and effects. Jim contributed 3 songs, like myself on this album and Gordon contributed one. So there’s quite a lot of contrast between the different songwriting styles and guitar playing between the songs. Jim’s writing style is more melodic and consonant than mine, which tends to be darker and less accessible, and Gordon’s style is more psychedelic and climatic.
– In fact there have been several line-up changes in the band since it was formed; could you say is this one a more stable line-up?
Well, there have been several line up changes over the years. Only myself and Gordon are left from the original line up. Most of the band members who were involved in album recordings have been long standing members though, so at least there has been some consistency overall. The line up is relatively stable at the moment, though circumstances can change, people move to other places or simply move onto something else in life. The current line up is certainly one of the strongest we’ve had, if not the strongest in terms of musical abilities.
– You are the only founder member remaining; is there something you regret of having done with ESOTERIC until these days?
Gordon is also still in the band and is an original member, like myself. I don’t think we have too many regrets or feel that we’ve missed opportunities.
– And after so many years with the band; what have been the best and worst moments?
The best moments are when you really connect with and feel at one with the music, and play as though the music is just an extension of you. And when writing music, recording albums, and listening back to the finished mixes. And when playing live when the atmosphere is strong. These are the best moments and they are many. The worst moments, when our tour of the UK ended with our van and most of our gear in flames after just 2 shows,and when long standing members of the band leave.
– When you started with ESOTERIC, did you ever think you would ever get were you are today, getting good critics after good critics?
I guess we never really thought much about the future, just followed our passion for creating music.
– I guess you may had certain aims when you started with the band, after all these years and all these albums; have these aims changed?
I think the aim is still essentially the same. To write original, innovative music that relates to our own emotions, thoughts, experiences.
– And finally, what can we expect from ESOTERIC from now on? What are your near-future plans?
Future plans really are to organise and play some live shows to follow the release of the album. And to make a start on the song writing for the seventh album. Thanks for the interview Sergio. Your support is much appreciated!