Artist: Enochian Theory

Origin: United Kingdom

Genre: Progressive Rock

Label: Mascot Records

Link: https://www.facebook.com/enochiantheoryband and http://enochiantheory.co.uk/

Band Members:

Vocals, Guitar and Piano – Ben Harris-Hayes
Bass Guitar – Shaun Rayment
Drums and Percussion – Sam Street

Synthesizers, Extra Sounds and Orchestral Performance – The Lost Orchestra

 

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Hi Ben,

First of all thanks for taking your time doing this interview. As there may be some readers of Time for Metal that don’t know you and the band Enochian Theory, could you please give a short look on the history of Enochian Theory?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Guten Tag, Heike.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you and the readers of your site, via email!
And of course, I’m more than happy to give an overlay of the bands past…

We formed in September 2004, as a four piece with myself on vocals, Scott on guitar, Shaun on bass and Sam on drums…after my younger sister handed me a flyer, which advertised a band looking for a singer in the area of Portsmouth, UK

I was in a ‘technical metal’ band called In This Defiance, playing guitar and doing vocals at the time; who’d done a few short tours and some good things, but it was coming to an end for personal reasons for us all…and I actually wanted to explore my singing voice more than just screaming/growling, plus I felt that I wouldn’t be able to recreate the same level of musicianship in another ‘metal’ band, basically because the drummer that worked alongside me for  In This Defiance was such great drummer…so, as one band passed away…another was just beginning…and I had no idea that some 10+ years, we’d still be plugging away!

The other guys wanted something in the vein of a more nu-metal singer, but I came along and did my thing…and they really dug my efforts over the efforts of the other trialists. I agreed to join the un-named band and we set about re-working the basic structures the guys already had and I wrote some riffs for songs that would appear on our demo…as well as coming up with the band name…which was based on some books I was reading, along with Sam’s suggestion of attaching ‘theory’ on the end; as we were all skeptical of religion and harkened more towards science, but it was a good band name for what we wanted to cover.

We recorded that 1st home demo, Our Lengthening Shadows, in our practice space on zero budget and used that to get some shows/help spread the word locally about that band. After working on the old songs, playing some shows and getting tighter…we then took a bit of a musical turn, in terms of how we wanted to sound and I brought in keyboards to the scenario; which helped shaped the development of the band and the subsequent release of our (I’d hazard) first ‘official’ release in the form of the A Monument To The Death Of An Idea  E.P. It was somewhat more grandiose and refined than our home recorded demo and really started pushing us forward, both in terms of exploring sonics and in terms of songwriting.

We then hit a bit of a bump in our forward movement, due to a clash between certain band members. Thusly, Scott decided to leave the band in about 2008 for personal reasons and we decided to carry on as a 3 piece, with me taking over writing the music/playing guitar live…as well as introducing a lot of technology to ensure what we recorded could be played live. I had a firm idea of what I wanted to do and thankfully, Shaun and Sam were excited about how we could carry on. We openly embraced technology to achieve a full band sound, even if we’re only a 3 piece/rock trio…as our logic is that we wrote the music as a 3 piece and we wanted to find a way to perform it as the band without any additional people in the band, as that just added logistical and financial issues that we didn’t need…and besides, we found that the 3 of us worked very well together. We tried other instrument players out during 2008-2009, but they didn’t ‘get’ the band or what we wanted to achieve…so, we’ve remained a 3 piece since 2008.

So, after Scott left and things looked quite grim for us…we didn’t think we’d continue as a band; until we sat down and talked it all through…and I went away and wrote the songs called The Fire Around The Lotus and Waves Of Ascension; that really allowed the floodgates to open for me for the rest of album writing. I set about writing some 90+ % of our 2009 debut full album, Evolution…Creation Ex Nihilio, which we then finalised as a band in our old practice space, whilst we implemented the new technology we’d learnt and we self-released the album with some very hard work behind the scenes in terms of PR and self-promotion from Shaun, who did a stunning job on that task. We really did work hard during this phase of the band, because we needed to prove to ourselves that we COULD do this, despite how times we were knocked down or rejected by others. The more we were knocked down, the quicker we seemed to get up and the harder we seemed to push back…it became our attitude to life / being in the music industry. We were doing it for ourselves and no-one else…and that fuelled our fire!

Evolution… was a massive push forward for the band technically and musically over the material written alongside Scott…and I’m very proud of how the record was born, considering the personal and professional hardships we were going through at the time. It’s a solid testament to a ‘never say die’ attitude! With the release of our debut album on our own label, we secured some amazing press and reviews; as well as some fantastic gigs and were eventually signed to a Dutch/German label, Mascot Records; who then re-issued the debut album.

We toured for a few years in support of the record and then I set about writing the 2012 album, Life…And All It Entails; which was born out of some dark times…but still stands as a positive beacon in the dark because writing that music got me through some bad times and well…I’m still here…pissing people off and still not giving a damn! The Life… record got some ‘Album Of The Year’ awards on music websites, some amazing 10/10 reviews in printed press; as well as being one of the top Rock and Metal albums on i-Tunes for that year (as voted for by I-Tunes)…so, I guess I did something right in terms of shaping the record; which of course, the band finalised together before its eventual release. It was the final stage of validation, I guess…because if you write for yourself and put your true heart into something…most people with any sense of humanity will sense the honesty and integrity placed into that record.

With the release of Life…, we were selling a fair amount (digitally) for an unknown band with little-to-no promotion behind us (despite promises from the label) and were consistently in the Amazon rock charts, rubbing shoulders with bands like Metallica, Gojira and AC/DC in the Top 30 selling bands…so, even for that brief moment…we knew we had something unique and that is pretty much a brief summation of our history!

We are now slowly writing our 3rd album…

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

So more than 10 years ago you released the first tracks on Our Lengthening Shadows EP/Demo. The following EP A Monument To The Death Of An Idea included, as far as I understand, reworked versions two of the songs of that first EP. Why did you do that? Didn’t you have enough material for a new release or did you think, these songs needed to be reworked and released again?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

I’d say it was more a case of taking a couple of songs that we felt could be re-worked with keyboards/synths and the additional ’epicness’ that we were striving to add to our debut E.P. We had other songs, but the more we played about those couple of songs that straddled both our home demo and the E.P; the more it felt right…and to listen to the two recordings on each release; there is a stark difference. A willed progression, if you would…

We’d gone from a straight forward average metally/grunge band on our 1st demo to heading down a more ‘doomy/keyboard-driven metally’ sound with the potential to go anywhere we wanted musically. It was just how things ended up once we settled into the project. Also, those two songs were staples of our live set and we wanted to continue performing those songs to our growing fan-base; albeit in the new ‘epic’ manner. It was a way of introducing the crowd to our new direction without taking away some songs that they enjoyed us playing and as we grew, they grew with us.

Enochian Theory / Sam Street:

We wanted to bring the production up to standard with the new record, and thought the songs deserved the type of release we had planned opposed to the demo they had come from.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

In 2009 the first full-length Album Evolution: Creatio Ex Nihilio was released, but the space of time to write and record that album was shortened. So how did you all deal with that time pressure? The album nevertheless is a masterpiece, so obviously this pressure didn’t lead to a lack of creativity…

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

It was born out of a tough time for us all. Scott had left (almost thankfully, in the end) and the rest of us sat down to decide what we’d do next…whether we would even carry on. We were financially destitute and everything just seemed to conspire against us. There’s only so many times you can get up after being knocked down before you have enough and call it a day…which we ALMOST did…

Alongside all this drama in band life (which was supposed to be the fun output in our lives), my personal life was in a complete mess due the demise of a long term relationship (I was due to be married, which collapsed) and that affected me on many levels…but I managed to pour all that negativity into the writing process for the album and it was great to be exorcising some demons that haunted me.

The other main reason it was written in a quick time, was because we’d not written any new music for nearly 2 years at that point, with Scott still in the band…mostly due to the growing tensions between certain band mates…and that was just a frustrating mess that got washed away with the new album process and a fresh perspective. So, when I took over writing the music; I literally just let it flood out…and the Evolution… record is what you have from all that. It’s a chaotic record in a way…but it truly did reflect where we were as a band and people then…and we’re proud of coming through that with a positive item from those frustrating times.

Enochian Theory / Sam Street:

It was rushed yes, but it is what it is and we were pleased with the outcome. Upon reflection we could have ‚personalised‘ the whole album more and that is all it came down to really.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

The last album to date is Life…And All It Entails which was released in 2012, and again you managed to maintain the sound, that makes you so recognizable. At the same time you took a great step forward for songwriting and performance. How would you describe the proceedings from Our Lengthening Shadows to Life…And All It Entails?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

I think you cannot really compare the two in any way really…they’re worlds apart! But the process of moving from one to another comes from passing various stages of learning, development and damn hard work! The …Shadows demo was one incarnation of the band and the Life… record is a different, more-seasoned entity entirely.

We’d grown massively after Scott left and if I’m honest, our re-birth with the Evolution… record was when we felt we really started working hard and also where people/press really started to notice us as a band.

We wasted a lot of time and effort on things between 2004 and 2008; but we toured and worked hard…and most of all, we learnt how to do things better with each release.

After all, it’s about learning from your mistakes and we felt we manage to achieve that.

Enochian Theory / Sam Street:

Experience really is the key to success in any field; as well as keeping the mind open yet still maintaining focus. We wanted it and we still do.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Actually you are busy with the preparations of the new Enochian Theory album, so how do the works proceed? Can you tell anything about the musical and lyrical content of this upcoming album?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Things are moving VERY slowly, which is a frustrating thing for me personally.

Shaun and Sam wanted to try to be involved more in the writing process with this 3rd record and I’ve handed over a lot of time to giving this process a go. Whether it works; remains to be seen…but for me, currently…not so much! haha

I’m keen to have a new album done asap; especially after the relatively speedy processes of working at my home studio to get a bulk of things done, as I have successfully done in the past (the previous albums increasing quality speak for themselves)…which I felt was the right way to proceed; but I conceded to the guys request and I guess we just want to see what happens with this new process. The truth of the matter is that we’ll be working in this new way for half the record and working in the usual way for another half. I do not foresee any complications in this because what we write WILL be Enochian Theory, it cannot be anything else really…it’s what we do when we get together. Sure, we muck about and jam about with jazz, black metal and anything we want…but we know the E.T. sound we want and where we’ve come from…and more importantly, where we’re going. Evolution… was written in about eight months and Life… was hammered out in about six months…but we’re already some year and bit into this process without anything truly tangible to hold/listen to.

At this rate, we’ll be doing a ‘Tool’ and our fans will have to wait 10 years for a new album!

I joke…and I hope not, but it does seem like that sometimes! haha

We’ve got a lot of ‘jams’ that we need to go through and see if anything works, as well as the full song demos I’ve written myself.

The other main aspect is that we’re now living a fair distance apart from one another in other cities, so that affects getting together to write with ease; like we could on the previous albums…but I don’t see that as an excuse really…but life is like that and you have to make do with where it takes you and the decisions you make to better your own life. It’s about effort and capitalising on what we’ve got/built…and stepping up that game. I have some songs written that we think work great and once we’re through this ‘jamming’ process, we’ll be working on them; at which point I expect things to speed up massively as the music is there to use and it sounds like a logical step forward in our musical evolution. I feel I’ve pushed myself as a songwriter a lot on the new music I’ll be submitting for the album; it’s very us…as I am Enochian Theory; just as Shaun and Sam are Enochian Theory too.

It’s the three of us, somehow battling through the myriad of nonsense to get another record done…which we will!

I have an album/working title and some lyrics/themes that I am keen to use for the songs I’ve already written. Sadly, I cannot share anything more concrete because we’re saving the juicy news for a massive press release in the future…but I’m happy with what I’ve written and we just need to hammer it out as a band to get it done.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

As far as I understood you also will release a solo album and you are engaged in some other „projects“. How do you manage to rotate from one „project“ to the other? Are they completely separate or possibly even syndetic?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Personally, I am indeed working on my own solo record and will be working with a selection of fabulous and noted musicians…as well as cracking on with the myriad of other projects I do to keep myself sane!

My solo album is moving along nicely thus far, because I can just write and write without having to deal with anyone else’s demands on my time. I enjoy a LOT of different styles of music and I found that when I sit at my piano, workstation or pick up a guitar…whatever I play quickly lends itself to whichever project I have that would be a good association for that piece of music; whether it’s my more electronica leanings of my ‘Massive Dynamic’ project, the random soundtrack work of ‘The Curator’, the ‘broootttaallzzzzz meeetttuulllz’ of my forthcoming melodic black metal project, ‘Lifeswallower’ or material for my forthcoming solo album…it’s that simple.  I just let it flow out and then I can see where it takes me…and without sounding too ‘hippy’…sometimes I just feel I’m a conduit for these random selections of notes and chords that filter through me!

Mind you, I’ve got days upon days of material that will never see the light of day because it sucks…so maybe that hippy talk is not so true… hahaha

I’m very excited about how my solo album is shaping up and I currently have about 4-5 songs I’m happy with, as well as a ton of unfinished demo ideas that I’m working on. The key thing for me with my own album (even though I technically write the music the Enochian Theory) is that I just want it to be the best it can be and most importantly, to reflect where I am as a person right now. It’s going to be big sounding…that’s always been my thing that I brought to any project.

I have an excellent/noted 5.1 surround-sound producer who is going to record me and make it sound amazing, after I record a bulk of it at home and in local studios to me. I also have a stunning vocal producer/collaborator from a noted UK band that I’ve had the pleasure of touring with and finally, I recently met a new friend, who is in an amazing American band that I’m a big fan of; who is going to assist in capturing all the orchestral ideas I have using a live 40 piece orchestra in California…which, if all goes to plan…will be stunning and the complete ‘next level’ for me, personally.

I’ll be releasing a PledgeMusic campaign with ALL the relevant news and reveals of who I’m working with, once I get another couple of songs finalised. I’m very excited about it all and with a lot of hard work; it will be a good sounding record. Again, I have some lyrics and an album title…but nothing I can reveal as yet…but please do visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BenEnochian/  for news updates and the release of my PledgeMusic campaign…which I’m hoping people will support me in!

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Talking about solo tasks, are Sam and Shaun also busy in other musical activities?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Guys, you up to anything?
*waits for Shaun and Sam to reply*

No…not really!

Shaun is working on building his home studio business, by mixing and mastering bands in the local area; and Sam is working on his engineering job and building his computer services business.

Enochian Theory / Sam Street:

Yes I have worked on a couple of other songs for other projects, where drums are concerned but my main interest is E.T. It takes a lot of arranging and presence of mind to not only get together but to focus in the time we have available.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

To my knowledge the songwriting tasks are mainly up to you, then you present your ideas to Sam and Shaun so they can contribute their bass and drum plays and together you do the finalization. As your songs are quite complex, I wonder if anyone of you has any musical education for composing or playing instruments?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

In the beginning, no…not really!

For years we just rolled with what we knew and did what we felt was right, although I’d stuck my head in a few music books over the years to get some basic theory!

Eventually, I felt a little restricted in my knowledge and I studied a degree in ‘Sound and Music Technology’ from 2007-2010, so that I could really get to grips with what I wanted to do…and although it helped me in some aspects of my development; I felt it wasn’t that good a course/experience, sadly…but I won’t deny the change it had on my outlook to music, so that was a positive in some ways.

But what it did do is push me to learn more off my own back and I’m currently studying more about theory, orchestral arrangement and music production…but as with most things, I just learn as I go and pick things up along the way! The complexity of the songs is how I’ve always written to be fair…and that adventurousness just rubbed off on Sam and Shaun, albeit not as fluidly.

I was a drummer originally when I started playing music at the age of 8 (and still play to this day), so that helped me in terms of timing signatures and having odd feels to sections in the songs…but in truth, it’s just how I’ve always written.

I never liked ‘normal’ sounding songs and just let the music flow out…and that’s how I try to continue to write, albeit; armed with a firm knowledge of theory now…that I then completely disregard! haha

To me, theory is all well and good…but it can really suck the soul out of music. I find a lot of ‘widdly widdly’ music to be vacuous and soulless.

To us, we’re all about feel and enjoyment…and that will shine through when coupled with music theory.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

In 2012 I attended your amazing show in Oberhausen, where you also had to deal with some technical problems. Was that one of the moments you will never forget, or do you just say „shit happens“?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

To be honest, we’ve had technical issues before and we’ll have them again…so, it really is a case of “shit happens!”

Although, I don’t really recollect any major technical issues at the Oberhausen show…but, we’ve a lot of shows and sadly I cannot recollect them all…or rather, I prefer to focus on the positives.

It’s very frustrating when we cannot play our songs for people who come to see us because of whatever reasons are conspiring against us on the night…but we always promise to come back stronger the next time, especially if we have a bad show…and I know we’re keen to come back to Germany and play again there; as we ALWAYS have such a great following and support there.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Is there any other incident in the history of Enochian Theory, may it be positive or negative, you will never forget?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

I like to focus on the more positive aspects, if I can…but I recognise the negative aspects as things that shaped us…so, they are equally as important to our learning and development.

I will always remember our first ever European show at the Prog Power Festival in Holland, which was a stunning validation of our struggles and the decisions we made to carry on the band after Scott left. Our first European tour with Spocks Beard was a great memory, as well as the tours with Tesseract, Threshold and The Enid. The festival slots at Metal Camp in Slovenia and Night Of The Prog in Germany were all great experiences that we’d love to do again

There’s so many good things we’ve done over the years, but just doing our own thing and being recognised for that hard work is perhaps the best thing of all. You end up sacrificing a lot personally, to be in a band that does more than constantly play locally… especially a band that tours/has pressure on them to release records from labels. It’s been a great journey and we hope it will continue for a while yet.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

On that evening you also took care of the merchandise booth and have been available for some talks with the fans directly after the show. On the other hand I only accidentally caught Sam and Shaun in the middle of the audience, watching the support band. I could imagine that it’s quite difficult to switch between being somewhat private before and after the show to chat with the fans and then turn to the professional musician on stage. On the other hand you receive some immediate reactions from the fans, and by the way I am still astounded that you remembered our correspondence prior to that show. You seem to have a long memory 😉

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Haha, well…I remember people who are kind to us and who support us regularly…so, it’s always nice to meet someone in person; if we can. 🙂

We try to give as much time as I can to talking to people and we’re all happy to spend time before and after the shows speaking to people who support us.

The odd thing is that we’re pretty much the same people on and offstage. There’s no ‘act’ or ‘bravado’…we’re genuinely so pleased to be able to take the stage and perform our music to people…we’re truly blessed in that aspect…but of course, it’s taken hard work and sacrifice to be able to do that…so, it evens out!

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Prior to that show I also wondered how you would present all the orchestral arrangements on stage. Did you ever think about employing some additional live musicians, at least for the keyboard and maybe the rhythm guitar?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

To be honest, no! Not going to happen. 🙂

We decided early on (pretty much after Scott left the band and after trying out other musicians) that we wrote the music as a 3 piece and we’d play it as a 3 piece. Every other external input seemed to ruin the vibe we’d built…that whole ‘3 musical brothers in solidarity’ thing we’d been forced to create after Scott left and almost imploded as a band/business. Every live band we’ve toured with uses backing tracks and technology to augment their live sound, some much more than others…so, we don’t feel bad about using the tools of the trade to play what we’ve written live.

I’ve honestly been quite surprised by some bigger bands and how they use technology to ensure their live shows are great…and it’s always funny when a fan says “Oh X band were amazing, whilst you use a backing track…” I always laugh because they know NOTHING of what happens backstage or goes into making a show work.

One band we toured with had ALL their backing vocals, some guitars, keys and other bits on backing track and the funniest part was they mimed the vocals onstage…so, I can honestly say with a wry smile that we don’t care and we all do what we can to play our music live…but at least we’re honest about it when asked!

It’s not cheating at all, as some people say…it’s about a performance and we give 110% when we play…regardless of if ‘purists’ want another performing onstage.

As mentioned, we tried other performers…but it just never works…and thus far, we cannot afford to pay someone to be a ‘hired gun’ onstage…and we’d rather invest in technology that plays back what we’ve actually already recorded ourselves.

Another thing I like saying is that if someone wants to pay for another musicians to tour with us, they are welcome to, but we make little to no money as it is…so…
haha

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Besides these headline shows you did support shows for bands like Threshold and TesseracT. In my opinion your albums should be played in their entirety, but I think that is not possible as a support band, so is it difficult to cut your own setlist and to choose specific songs for these shows?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Well, we’ve got songs we like to play and songs we know that people want to hear live…so, we try to cram all that into whatever set length we get.

Being a support to a band with a bigger fan base has brought us a lot of ‘convertees’ to our cause, which is great. We tend to choose a setlist for a tour and stick to it for the duration, primarily focusing on performing a majority of the newer record we’re promoting at the time.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

You take care of the Facebook and the homepage of the band and you also have your own Facebook page. What do you think about the possibilities of spreading the news this fast? On the other hand did you already have the feeling that people are getting impatient when no news is being posted for a certain period?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Yeah, I have taken care of the social media aspects for quite some time now…as I like interacting with people. If people show an interest in what we’re doing, then I’ll do my best to acknowledge that and respond in kind.

The thing about not being able to give any news is because there is NO news to give. We’re not being secretive or anything…if we genuinely have anything to share, we will!

We were in a bit of a rut and life simply took over for a few years after the Life… records’ touring cycle was complete. We had to sort our own lives out before we could work on music together again…and it may be some time before we finalise our new record…but we’ve got other projects moving more fluidly on the go too, so they may see the light of day before a new E.T. record…but who knows!

I think in summation, we cannot care what others demand or want…if we did, we’d only be performers and not creative artists (or something!). We HAVE to do what we feel is best, or there is little point on doing what we do.

There are pros and cons to social media and the ability to post news fast…because once something is out there, it’s OUT there forever. It’ll be logged by Google’s searches, perhaps stored as a quote on a music site and so on and so forth…so, being careful what you post if perhaps something to consider.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

Meanwhile you also started recommending some other bands or musical genres. Is there any kind of music you never would listen to or even would give it a try?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Personally, I’d say I like a LOT of different music…and as I get older, I care less and less what others say about something.

If I like a song, for whatever reasons…whether it’s a noise/sound in the song, through to a lyric or phrase, through to the artist or whatever…I like it and that’s that.

I enjoy some by some artists that ‘metallers’ might frown upon, but f**k it…I like it and that’s that!

I used to dislike things like Techno and Country & Western especially when I was 16 and was purely into death/black metal…but after being exposed to other elements of those genres; I find certain songs to be rather enjoyable now and in all honesty, I spend more time listening to everything BUT rock and metal.

Time For Metal / Heike L.:

And that’s it for now. Now I’m waiting with excitement for the release of the new album and hope to see you on stage again one day. Is there anything else you would like to tell to your fans and the readers of Time for Metal?

Enochian Theory / Ben Harris-Hayes:

Many thanks for this opportunity, Heike.

We appreciate the interview and hope your readers will have a little more insight into the band and what we’re up to. As soon as we have any more solid news, we’ll share it on our social media pages…and I hope that people will begin to follow my own solo musings by keeping an eye on my own social media pages.

All the best!

Ben (and occasionally, Sam) from ENOCHIAN THEORY

 

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