In 2015 we told you that Chaos Divine had the goods, and today we’re lucky enough to speak with them. Starting off as something of a melodic death metal band, Chaos Divine have gradually evolved into the progressive/alternative rock sound which Australia has become famed for. We speak with them about their fantastic 2015 release Colliding Skies, their experiences with crowd funding, the Australian scene, what it’s like being a band from the isolated west coast of the country and, of course, eggs.
Thanks for joining us today guys, it’s a pleasure to have you. Let’s start off with 2015’s Colliding Skies: that was an awesome album, well done! It had been four years since your previous release, so were you nervous about how it would be received after such a long wait? And once it did come out, were you happy with how it performed critically and commercially?
We went into the process feeling pretty calm and relaxed given the time between albums, with little expectation about exactly what product we wanted to come out at the end. We were all really happy with the result, as we didn’t place too much pressure on ourselves to make it sound a particular way.
Yeah I think that relaxed kind of approach can often yield the best results. Given how long it took to release Colliding Skies, I take it most of you have full-time jobs—after all, we know that playing this kind of music doesn’t make many people rich. So given you each have your own lives, from the band perspective what do you define as success, and what are your goals moving forward?
It’s about having fun, doing something we are all passionate about and ultimately giving our listeners enjoyment and inspiration. If we were in this game to purely make a dollar, we would have given it all up a long time ago. I think there is a natural balance for bands like us where music is a ‘second’ profession, but more than just a hobby. It’s about making sure you are doing the right things so your band can sustain itself through the next album cycle, but not worrying about how much is going in the bank at every step of the way. Enjoyment is key.
Absolutely. I would label your guys as alternative/progressive rock/metal, as you’re sort of straddling a couple of sounds. I’d say the first wave of that sound came from amazing bands like Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect and COG, with you guys forming right around the time they were releasing their debut full-lengths. You started out a lot heavier, but there were still many similarities, and so just how much of an influence did that first wave have on you when you were starting out? Also, do you think the fact they were also from Australia, and Perth in the case of Karnivool, helped establish them as key influences, or was it purely based on their sound?
Apart from Karnivool and Cog (as we all really like their material) I would have to say the remainder of the ‘new’ wave of Australian alternative music didn’t actually have a massive influence on us in terms of our own material. Obviously when we started out we were in a heavier realm, and we likened ourselves to bands like Fear Factory, Soilwork and Arch Enemy. As we evolved we started to bring in a lot more prog and rock influences which came a fair bit later than when the Aussie rock bands were in their prime. Sure we love those bands, but I think our newer sound is derived from more from the European and US prog scene.
By and large, a lot of the bands we’ve mentioned so far had similarish sounds when they started out, but I really like that each and every one of them seems to have gotten more progressive over time, with each band moving in a slightly different direction. What inspired you to shift your sound in a different direction, and was that a conscious decision, a natural evolution, or a bit of both?
It was fairly natural. As mentioned above I think more of our European and American prog influences started to come through on our last two albums. I recall around the time we started writing The Human Connection, we were all heavily influenced by Katatonia’s newer sound, so those type of bands had a big impact on us.
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Nice. So whilst we’re on the topic of changing sounds, I really like the way in which you’ve done that over the years. There’s been a clear evolution from each album to the next, yet you always retain enough elements of where you started from for it remain distinctly Chaos Divine. So, where do you envisage going with your next album and what sort of time frame could we be looking at?
We are aiming for an early-mid 2018 release at this stage. I think we are always looking to explore new ideas so it’s hard to say where our sound will go. From the early tracks we have been writing things are sounding slightly bigger and heavier, but still in a similar style to Colliding Skies.
Mate, I think a lot of people would be more than pleased with something similar to Colliding Skies, that was a great album. Over the last 15 years or so I feel like Australia’s reputation within the rock/metal community has soared, and we keep seeming to get more and more amazing bands coming out of there. Why do you think that is?
I think honestly it is about volume–volume of new bands, volume of tours, volume of promoters and volume of festivals. These all give bands more opportunities to be a part of bigger shows and to gain more connections, but on the flip side it means it’s also harder for new bands to have their voices heard.
Yeah that makes sense, and I think the internet has seen that kind of development in scenes all around the world too.
It’s tough to survive as a touring band from Australia given its small population and geographical isolation from major markets like Europe and the US. You guys know that better than most, as Perth is so isolated even from the rest of Australia. Everyone’s got it tough compared to bands in the US/Europe, but how much tougher do you think it is for bands who aren’t from the east coast of Australia?
It’s very tough. We really love playing on the east coast but we are limited to doing short run shows unless we land a bigger support tour which is a rarity. I think it comes back to making sure that local scenes within WA are thriving. I think that the local industry and venues have a big role to play in ensuring they keep providing feasible avenues to give new bands opportunities to thrive.
Absolutely. You guys crowd-funded Colliding Skies, achieving your goal and raising a fantastic $15,000. Talk us through the decision-making process in terms of whether or not to turn to your fans for that kind of support, and what kind of effect that will have on how you look to fund your future record(s).
It was a bit of an experiment, to be honest, and there are a few things we would do differently next time when looking at the end-to-end process-and-reward delivery. It was a great learning experience and it showed us how much support we have to be able to reach such an ambitious figure. The best part was having on board 400 or so really dedicated fans throughout the album release process that had invested their money in the work because they believe in you. That made the whole thing really special.
Yeah, and I feel that a lot of bands who have been through the crowd funding experience can really relate to each of those points. Speaking of crowd funding, what do you think about campaigns like that of Ne Oblivscaris’ Patreon, and do you think these types of funding models can remain sustainable as more and more bands (like Allagaeon and Shining) begin turning to them?
I think it is a little early to comment on the success or validity of the Patreon model, as I am yet to really see other bands do it. I think as long as fans are willing to participate then it’s a totally viable option, although I feel that project based crowd funding has more to offer fans.
So I did some research of Australian bands, where in the country they come from, and the style of music that they play, and I got some interesting results. I found that, generally speaking, Perth & Brisbane had a much higher proportion of alternative/progressive rock bands not unlike yourselves; compared to other parts of Australia. There also looks to be a relatively strong post-rock scene. Having toured around Australia fairly often, can you pinpoint something specific or unique about Perth that makes it so conducive to producing the style of music that you play?
To be honest we have found that Melbourne seems to be producing the largest amount of progressive rock and metal bands, although perhaps they aren’t as well known outside Victoria. The scene there is really thriving. I think Perth has a long reputation in the genre of producing bands so I think it just inspires more listeners, artists and bands to forge their own path and really get themselves out there.
You guys have been around a long time now, over ten years in fact. How do you feel the Australian scene today compares to what it was when you were first starting out, in terms of crowd sizes, tour opportunities, album reach etc. Is it noticeably different, or is it much the same, but the outside world just seems to pay more attention these days?
I think the local scene has changed a lot. It is now harder for local bands to pull numbers to small shows which is a shame, because that’s where their biggest margin for profit is. On the other hand, there is a big focus on venues now hosting larger touring shows which also gives the scene more exposure. As mentioned above I think the local industry and venues all need to work together to ensure that local shows are kept feasible for bands that can’t afford the costs associated with large promotional campaigns to compete with bigger tour shows.
Getting buy-in from various stakeholders is definitely extremely important. At the end of the day, if a scene wants to thrive it needs to band together at each link in the chain to be successful.
Now this is a tough one, but is there a characteristic about the music coming from Australia that really stands out to you? For example, a lot of people familiar with melodic death metal might hear a song and go ‘this sounds like it’s from Gothenburg’. So is there a certain sound that you hear and think to yourself, this sounds like it’s Aussie?
I think the original wave of alternative rock is always going to be a distinctly Australian signature of what makes our music scene remarkable. This style really has formed the foundation for why we have such a good source of talented bands with really dedicated and passionate fans. This keeps international bands wanting to come back and tour more.
Did you want to highlight a couple of Aussie acts that perhaps don’t get the attention they deserve?
People should definitely check out a couple of bands from Perth we love that deserve way more attention: Forstora and The Siren Tower.
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us today, we really appreciate it and wish you the best for all your upcoming endeavours. Before you go, we saved the most important question for last. How do you like your eggs?
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