It’s been a month since OBSIDIAN TIDE released their debut album Pillars Of Creations and it’s been well received by critics and fans. It takes you on an incredible journey filled with twists and turns. Lotty Whittingham spoke to the band members Oz Avneya, Erez Nadler and Shachar Bieber about the album, the band’s sound and their plans to travel and spread their message.
Hello there, thanks for joining us today. First introduce yourselves to the readers.
Erez: I’m Erez, I play drums mostly. I also do the production and recordings for the band.
Shachar: My name is Shachar, I play bass and do the harsh vocals.
Oz: I’m Oz, I play the guitar and do clean vocals.
So, you have released your debut album, Pillars Of Creation. What comes to mind when writing the songs?
Oz: It varies. Sometimes it comes from riffs, Oz does them in a cinematic style. When he plays, I try and close my eyes so I can see some sort of image. For example, it can be things that are actually happening. For me personally, inspiration comes from riffs and different emotions.
Erez: We often use band references for riffs and songs. It’s not like we’re copying them but it’s more like taking different vibes off certain bands and songs then working with that. The lyrics are more in Shachar’s domain.
Shachar: For me, the inspiration is either come from lyrics or the music. It has to be one of two things so for music, it’s stuff that I have listened or stories that inspire me. I am a big fan of good story telling and my biggest influence has been The Kingkiller Chronicle series. There’s a song that is based around one of the books The Wise Man’s Fear.
Erez: The series of books is by an author called Patrick Rothfuss.
Shachar: We actually have two songs on the album talking about events that happened in that story and the characters in those books. Erez and I are big fans of the books. So, what inspires my writing are certain stories and how they make me feel.
Would you class Pillars Of Creation a concept album? I think that was what Debris, your first EP, was.
Shachar: Pillars Of Creation is a concept album but that wasn’t the intention from day one. We started writing songs and later on decided to gather them together in a loose concept. The first and last songs on Pillars Of Creation wrap the whole thing together into a single story.
Who are you musically influence by?
Oz: It’s individual, all of us come from different musical backgrounds and have our own preferences. For me personally, I am huge fan of post rock and in the past few years I have been getting into death metal. Particularly the more technical stuff. As far as bands that inspire us, Opeth are an amazing inspiration. Also, Mastodon and Agalloch. The influences are a mixture of all of those.
Shachar: Fallujah in some points of course. I can tell you during the writing process of the album, we were all very into Autothesim by The Faceless and L’Enfant Sauvage by Gojira.
Having listened to the album, it definitely sounds like you aren’t trying to copy anyone else. It’s quite a unique sound.
Shachar: Yes, we try and incorporate all our different influences to create our own sound. We actually work on it a lot, everything we play sounds like us. We don’t try and sound like anyone else. You can hear our influences in the music. People do keep mentioning Opeth to us even though I think we drifted apart from that. The album takes us to a different place musically.
Definitely. Kingdom Of Realm suddenly breaks out into a jazz piano solo.
Erez: It was a classical piece that a friend of ours did. He’s a classical pianist so we told him to write something. We said to him about where the song was about and told him to write something that will fit well with the song. We told him that the story in the song and what it’s about. It talks about going through rough times, for example addiction. I like to experiment with music, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This was one of the times where it worked.
Including that classical pianist, you have had quite a few guest musicians on the record including Mike LePond. How did you go about choosing these musicians for the album?
Shachar: It came from necessity. We realised in one part of a song, we wanted a flute part so we needed a flutist and for another part we wanted a violin playing so we searched for a violinist. When it came to Mike LePond, we got in contact with a mutual friend. We thought we would seize the opportunity to work with a musician with such a high profile. At the end of the day, he was originally supposed to play a solo but he played for the whole song and it was amazing.
Do you guys have a certain song writing process you follow?
Oz: Most of the time, it often starts with the melody and what the instruments will sound like. It comes in different waves. I will bring in a template for one part of the song and then Shachar will bring a template of something he did. We then try to connect it and we work on it in the rehearsal room. We always start with the instruments and then only after we have finalised all the instrumental parts, we then get to the lyrics.
Erez: Actually, Oz improvises the melody most of the time. The growls have a certain rhythm and sound, then Shachar works to find words to fit the lines. You have to understand in those songs, particularly the ten-minute songs, it takes months. I think we worked on the last song Magnanimous for six months. So, during the weeks, we would work on Magnanimous and one other song.
The album cover is very beautiful, could you tell more about that? Who designed it, what ideas you had?
Oz: An artist from Malaysia designed the cover for us, his name is Dixon Jong. I originally found him on Facebook and I saw some of his stuff. I showed his work to the lads and we started talking about who could do the album artwork. I spoke with Dixon and the rest of the band; we all sat down together and spoke about what we would like to have on the cover. We sat down with him and had a plan of what we wanted on the album cover; for example, we wanted to see the seven brightest stars and the crown.
We spoke about everything and brought forward the idea again. Step by step, we got to see our album cover. The person working with him was very good. He was very professional and we were happy with the outcome.
Do you have touring plans to promote the album?
Shachar: The obvious answer is yes; we would like to tour as much as we can. We have some restrictions, the first one being that we are from Israel and Israel is far away. It’s not that the metal scenes in Europe and the States aren’t aware of what’s happening, it’s just that travelling is expensive. We’re not going to let it stop us, we are going to travel and get our message out there.
Erez: Another thing is finding a plausible venue to play. We have connections in Germany and Italy. Those will probably be our first stops.
What’s the metal scene like in Israel?
Shachar: In the metal scene here, there are a lot of metal bands in Israel. Actually, ninety nine percent of concerts happen in Tel-Aviv at the weekends, so a lot of the clubs are over booked. If you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the places where you perform, that is a restriction.
Erez: Also, the cost of performing in Tel-Aviv is pretty high.
Oz: I have friends in bands from different countries and we speak a lot. When it comes to logistics, it’s much more demanding to make it happen and pay for the place that we play. In average, we play about eight times a year or so. It’s quite different to how things happen in Europe but as far as it comes to touring, playing live is the ultimate labour of love.
Do you have advice to those who would like to start a band?
Oz: First off, don’t stop believing in yourself. Even when it gets really hard. You start off very small at first. Practice as much as you can, involve whatever it takes to make your songs better as well as playing and singing. Also choose correctly with who you play music with, it’s the number one factor when starting a band.
Erez: You have to play with your friends. If you’re not playing with your friends then it won’t work. You have to be persistent over the years. I think the best advice would be to write good songs, you can’t just start up a band and then say let’s play. It’s like when Oz started in the band, he had some songs that were nearly ready and what made us get into the stuff really quickly is listening to the songs and working around that. If we didn’t have material to work around, we will probably be chasing our own tails for years.
Shachar: And eventually perish, this has happened to a lot of bands or groups. They form and they start to get things going. Then all of a sudden, they perish after one album or one EP. You do have to choose really carefully who you work with, we used to have a fourth member of the band but he’s no longer with us.
Oz: We also tried to work with a keyboardist but it didn’t work out.
Shachar: From together for a few years, we have a great chemistry both musically and on a personal level with each. We see each other for music reasons and we often see each other just to hang out at places or to play some games like Magic Gathering.
Erez: Me and Shachar are in the same D’n’D group.
Thank you so much for taking time out to speak with us today.