“The [European] tour started off with a performance at Euroblast in Germany and we had a couple of quick shows with Enslaved in Switzerland and Germany,” says violinist/vocalist Tim Charles. “Then we had a two week headline tour through the UK and went up to Scandinavia and did headline shows in Denmark and Finland before joining back up with Enslaved to do a month long tour with them.”
Building a solid European fanbase was high priority when planning the release of Citadel, and Charles speaks with accomplished determination about the results. “This is our fourth time coming to Europe in the last 18 months,” he says. “The first two were festival tours mid-2015, then at the end of last year we did an extensive club tour with Cradle of Filth. This once again is another very extensive tour with a mixture of a couple of festivals and a couple of weeks of headline shows and a month supporting a fantastic band in Enslaved.
“Everything’s going really well and we’re really excited. Then hopefully next year we can come back with album number three and do the whole thing again, but as the headliner.” Europe’s not the only territory they’ve targeted – while their following in Australia continues to blossom, the band’s also made it to North America and through parts of Asia.
“The idea was to try and branch out everywhere and anywhere that we could,” Charles says. “We had become a very established band in Australia, but we had only ever toured once internationally and that was a short Asian tour in 2013. So with the second album under our belts and with a bigger record label [Season of Mist] handling Citadel, it gave us an opportunity to start looking to North America, Europe, India and Asia. And we’ve thankfully had opportunities now to tour to all of those places multiple times.”
A 24-month touring cycle is a demanding workload, exceeding Charles’ expectations at the tour’s outset. The band’s primary intentions, however, were always clear. “The main thing we did know was that we really had to get to Europe and we really had to get to North America because we needed to give people an opportunity to see us play live,” Charles says. “We view ourselves, above all else, as a live act. We love making records, but the most fun thing about being in the band is doing the shows. So that’s something that we really wanted to give our fans across the world an opportunity to see.”
The music of Ne Obliviscaris is hugely elaborate. The six interconnected compositions on Citadel are highly dependent on dynamic contrasts – sections of hushed respite or ornate tranquillity leading into sections of intimidating aggression. It’s essential to illustrate this dynamic range in the live show, and the band confidently achieves this without having to employ surrogate technology.
“We don’t really have any backing tracks. The only stuff we do, there’s a couple of string sections in ‘Painters of the Tempest Pt. 2’, a bunch of violins and cellos, we have them on a backing track and I think there’s one third guitar part in ‘Pyrrhic’ that we have. But aside from that, everything’s just played live by us. It’s something that has never really been an issue because it’s always been a big priority within the band to make sure that everyone practises their parts as much as possible.”
Integral to the Ne Obliviscaris live experience is sound engineer and producer, Troy McCosker, the band’s unofficial seventh member. “He works with us as a producer on the albums then comes out on the road with us, which means he’s able to give the audience a mix that is extremely similar to the album. That’s something that’s really important because our music is complicated. If you don’t have a good front-of-house mix then it’s going to make it less enjoyable for the fans.
The band are also very particular about what gear they use in order to get the live show sounding just right. The equipment utilised on this tour has ensured that the sounds heard on record can be replicated. “Both of our guitarists are now touring with Fractal AX8s. They don’t use traditional guitar amps and heads. They just tour with these Fractal AX8s and have all their sounds dialled into that, which means that no matter where we go we can have the same guitar tone coming out of the PA. The same with Brendan [Brown] our bassist, he has a DI so he doesn’t use an amp. I’ve just got a DI for my violin and a few pedals. Basically we have a completely self-contained set-up.”
Citadel is out now via Season of Mist. Ne Obliviscaris will be touring nationally from November 25 until December 4. For more information visit wildthingpresents.com.