Greg Chandler (ESOTERIC, LYCHGATE) - z temné a smutné hudby nemám deprese, naopak mě nabíjí

Greg Chandler (ESOTERIC, LYCHGATE) - dark and sorrowful music doesn't make me feel depressed, it's actually uplifting

Greg Chandler is personality and have the opportunity to talk about Esoteric and Lychgate could not be wasted.


Let´s start with Lychgate. Why did you decide to join this band/project?

Well, basically I knew James (Vortigern) before, when he´s been playing in Spearhead, and he asked me for doing vocals for Lychgate, and he sent me a music, I liked the music, this was for first album, and then as time progressed, he decided to bring the band to play live as well.
Vortigern is the exclusive composer of Lychgate music and he also wrote all the lyrics. Or were you,or the other members somehow involved in the writing process too?

Yes. He wrote all the music and lyrics. Tom a little bit, but basically James writes all of the music and Tom composes the drum parts and percussion. The rest of us just performed the parts in the studio and played live.
Can you tell us anything about the recording process of An Antidote for the Glass Pill, particularly with respect to the recording of church pipe organ? Where did it take place and where did you get church pipe organ? Is it the same place that we can see on promo pictures/photos?

We wanted to get as authentic pipe organ sound as possible, but it was very difficult logistically to hire a church organ. To get a get a good acoustic and to actually get enough time to record in any church without any people being present, so we used the Hauptwerk system, which was recorded in studio in Belfast, which is like a modelling system. It´s like you have physical console, it’s just the same as a pipe organ and uses samples from real organs. It´s sampled organ basically, so it´s real organ, but it´s sampled. It´s like a software based for using real sounds from the organs recorded in the actual cathedrals  - St. Notre Dame in France and so. And the rest of recording - the drums were recorded in a James own studio and then they recorded the guitars at homeand then we re-amped all the guitars and bass in my studio (Priory) and did the vocals there and then did the mix and mastering.


No, the pictures we have done in couple of different places. They were done inside various churches, and there was also a shoot done in an old house.
How was the cooperation with organist K. J. Bowyer?  Is he a metalhead and fan of your music, or was it just on a professional level?

It was mainly on a professional level, although he did say he likes and enjoyed the music and recording our music. It took him a long time to learn all the parts. It took him about 160 hours just to learn the parts. (laugh)
Do you want to cooperate with this guy again and make another album with him?

We are not sure at the moment, because we have a live organist that would join us for some live shows. It´s just not very practical, because the organ is very big and hard to transport, so we will do it for festival shows and stuff like this. When we will play Roadburn next year (2016), we will have the organist with us. But we only recently found someone who would play live with us, so he is still learning the material.
What is it like with new Esoteric album? When can we expect the release?

We don’t have any release date yet, we are still finishing the songwriting. Hopefully it will be finished in next three or four months. And then we´ll book the studio to the recording, and hopefully it will be released in the middle of the next year, in summer maybe or autumn, hopefully.
Can you describe in what it will be different from the last one?

I think it´s just a very logical progression from the last album. It will be a little different from the last album, I think it will be a little bit more effect orientated,it willmaybe have a bit more psychedelic elements than on the last album. And also with the new album we are doing more collaboration with the songwriting with myself and Gordon (Bicknell), we are writing a lot music together as opposed to individually.
On Paragon of Dissonance there were even more and very sophisticated solo guitar lines than before. It was also benefit of your, relatively new member Jim Nolan?

Yes. Some of them  were from Jim Nolan, because he very much likes to play solo guitar. He incorporated a lot of a lead playing into the songs he wrote.
EsotericThere were also relatively accesible and „catchy“  tracks like Cipher or Abandonment. Do you want to continue this way?

A little bit, yeah, I mean it´s always a question. With Esoteric, we’ve come from very dark roots, and that is still present in the new material, and maybe more so than on Paragon…, but there is still a bit more light and shade than on earlier albums. There is more writing in atmospheres rather than total chaosall the time.
The Pernicious Enigma seems to me the most experimental and the weirdest record. Do you have any special memories on these times, writing and recording process of this album?

I think that main reason TPE had more experimentation is, because the band was still relatively fresh and now is over 20 years old, and also we were quite young men, we had more time, not working so much and we had more time to practice. We used to practice like three four times a week before we finished and recorded TPE, so we had a lot of time to develop songs and sounds and experiment with the structures.
NOXBC9701040. Was it completely an improvised track?

Yeah. It was completely improvised, we basically just chose a key to playing. We just played in diminished key and completely made it up in the studio as we went.
Don´t you wanna try anything like this again? With your musician skills it would be very interesting.

Maybe one day yeah, hopefully. I think at that time we kind of enjoyed the process of doing improvisation, but for us we prefer the actual songs.
EsotericHow do you choose the setlist for live gigs? Do you include the older tracks – for example, from Metamorphogenesis?

Normally we do a selection, arrange of tracks, usually playing more from the most recent albums (PoD, TMV) and then we will include some older tracks as well. And when we toured in Europe in 2012 we played songs from every album, so from all six.
You focus on the new songs because you’re probably enjoing them to play live…

Yeah. When you´ve been playing old songs for twenty years, you have less inspiration to play them all the time. (haha)
Have you ever played Ignotum per Ignotius from The Maniacal Vale live?

Yes. We played that quite a lot after TMV was released. We played that on tours, on gigs, but because it´s a very long track, we can´t play it at festivals, otherwise we just play two songs…
But usually you play Circle live…

Yeah, quite often, yeah.
EsotericDo you, or especially the drummer, play live with metronome? Or you let the music flow to be more dynamic…

A bit of both. We use the metronome particularly when we don´t have a keyboard player, so we use a metronom so we can run the keyboard tracks as well through the PA. At the moment we don´t have a keyboard player. What we usually do live is that we use metronome for most of the set, we‘ll just take it off parts, when we want to play them differently, or speed up or slow down.
Now about the drummer. He plays the difficult parts a lot and the polyrhythms too. Does he write all the drum parts?

A bit of both. It’s written into the music, the different time signature changes and tempo changes, all written into the music. When we compose, he will listen to the ideas that we have on guitar and bass and he will come up with his own drum parts. Maybe sometimes we programme them ourselves and give it to him and he will turn up in his own way.
Greg ChandlerYou are the owner of Priory Recording Studios. Why priory? Is it real old priory or monastery?

It´s the actual location. It’s in an old farm that was converted into business, and this actual location is called A Priory Business Park. I didn´t name the studio, I took over this studio after it was already named.
Is it your full-time job?

Yeah. I was working in studio before - in Rich Bitch studios and various studios around Birmingham freelance. And then basically I had a chance to take care the business (in Priory) ten years ago, so I took it.
Can you tell us more about the other members of Esoteric? What do they do for living?

In Esoteric a couple of guys work in the music industry too. Gordon works in the music college, he teaches music and sound engineering. Mark (bass player) works in the theatre doing a sound and so on. The other guys (drummer and one of the gutarists) work for  NHS - so for/in medical.
The drums on your records always sound very massive, which is great. Do you aim for specific kind of sound? Do you tune them down?

We just tune them low, but still with enough lifein them so they‘re quite resonant. And we always use real drums, never used triggers. We usebig drums and just record them in the way they sound quite natural, but then add a lot of reverb and we use room mics as well in the studio to capture more ambience.
You are musician and sound engineer. What do you think about the „loudness war“ phenomenon? It is clear that metal music must be loud, but don‘t you think that sometimes the dynamics suffers?

Yeah. I think definitely the dynamics suffers on a lot of metal records, especially when the drums are so heavily triggered. There´s too little dynamics in the playing. I think, in general, a lot of metal records are mastered too loud, so they are almost distorted. When you‘re listening to the album from start to finish, the volume never changes. I prefer more of dynamics in the music so you have crescendos and so, in the sound.
Greg ChandlerYou definitely approve more listenable music than just loudness…

Yeah. With some music it suits very well - industrial music, for example. It’s considered very good, when it´s very loud and compressed and for some different metal bands it works well, but I think for to do it to every style is not right.
There is a cliché that people who play or listen to doom metal are sad and depressed. Does it apply to you?

I have been through a lot of periods in my life when I had a clinical depression, particularly when I was younger, but I think a lot of people who listen to, or write and do music tend to know of be familiar with this kind of periods of depression.
Is there any specific kind of humour the group likes?

Oh yes. I mean humour is important, especially when you are on the road with the band together, it keeps things from becoming  too difficult.
Do you enjoy Red Dwarf, or Monty Python?

Yeah, yeah, very much, especially Monty Python. We like that kind of dry humour.
Can you name your favourite?

Monty Python’s Holy Grail is a very good film and Life of Brain as well. 
Maybe some unknown series?

Monty Python Flying Circus, which is isn´t quite known.
How often do you rehearse with Esoteric? Personally, I can’t imagine that you make a big mistake in half of Circle and you have to play it again…

No, that doesn’t happen really. Once we’ve written the music we will take it into rehearsal, or while we are writing the music we take it to rehearsal, then we experiment, develop the song more and the different parts and so on. Generally speaking, once the music is written, then we just play through and it‘s not really a problem, we rehearse every week, so you tend to be quite focused.
How long does your rehearsal take?

Normally four hours. Everyone plays at home as well. We rehearse together, but we also rehearse on our own.
So you’re not used to making any mistakes…

Yes. At least not too many. (haha)
EsotericWhat is the right tempo for Esoteric song or riff? Do you slow down them intentionally? You said that you turn off the metronome on your shows and the tempo develops…

When we write the music, the tempo is never static. I think maybe one or two songs in the whole history have one tempo from the start of the song to the finish. We always programme the metronome to suit the feel of music, so for one section it might be sped up or slowed down. We have a lot of tempo changes in the music, it’s never static. Basically, we write the music and then programme the metronome to work with music rather than programming and writing the metronome and then writing the music.
Is there any band everyone in Esoteric likes? Band which could be an essential inspiration for you? I think you said in some interviews before you like Thergothon.

We have quite different musical tastes in the band. There are a few bands that we all like a lot and tend to be more music that isn’t metal like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or someting more classicaly influenced like Rachel‘s or something proggressive like King Crimson. Because we have a quite wide range of taste, not everyone in the band endores the same thing.
Were you inspired by the British industrial/noise scene? I have in mind Skullflower especially, because it is one of the few bands similary monumental as Esoteric.

To be honest, we really don’t know that kind of music that well.
Do you know Whitehouse or Coil, for example?

Oh yeah, we do. We have listened to Whitehouse or Coil, but I wouldn’t say that we are particularly influenced by that. I would say that musically we’re more influenced by psychedelic bands like early Pink Floyd. We take that kind of psychedelic and drug influence and put our own much darker spin on what they do. 
LychgateYour voice has always been very distinctive. Why did you start to use the hall efect so prominently?

Because of the psychedelic influence. We were experimenting with the psychotropic drugs like LSD and so on.  When you have the effects like this, it is very intense to listen to music like this, when you are on LSD or smoking weed and so on.
Many people believe that sort of music filled with psychedelics and surreal cannot be created without drugs. Is it the same case for Esoteric? Do you use the psychedelic drugs to create your music?

(haha) No, strictly no. I think with psychedelic like LSD it’s a strong experience. You don’t need to take LSD everytime you want to create or write something, because the experience is remained with you. So you have that inside. I think, for creating music, it comes from within, it’s not something that drug will provide it. The drug will just enhance certain feelings, or certain atmospheres or sounds that you wish to create.
I saw your gig in Prague and I think I saw you smoking weed before. So you used to play live being a little bit high? You don’t have to have a clear mind to play such a difficult music?

Because we play so often, then we quite used to. Obviously we don’t get completely wasted before, we still have a sense. (haha) 
Greg ChandlerCan you tell us what specific vocal effects you use?

Everything really from – if you go across all the albums I have used every kind of effect imaginable.
Reverbs, hall, echos…

Not just reverbs, I’m conventional, and I’ve always used processors which are very flexible, where you can programme routes to effects. For example, I could have one vocal effect where I have four different flangers. And they can be routed back into each other and so on. So you can create kind of sounds that you have never normally hear.
Are there any ways left for you to develop your vocals?

Maybe. I think when you change your equipment as well, it gives you the new possibilities for the new sounds. And also, sound is such a vast... could the creation of sounds and effects is such a vast area. You can always find something that you haven’t done before.
So we can expect some new sounds in future.

Yeah, for sure.
Which emotions do you have when you listen, or play your music?

It depends on time. Usually music for me is related to period of time or a past experience, the emotions I was feeling at that time of writing the music or lyrics. It’s quite a personal and powerful thing so you get back into that frame of mind of what you’re feeling at the time of writing music.
Which emotions do you envisioned common listener to have?

I think every individual is different, so different people will perceive things in different ways. I like very dark and challenging music, so for me it’s uplifting to listen to music that is very dark, sorrowful and it’s a release of emotion rather than something that makes me feel depressed. Some people if they aren’t into this kind of music it makes them feel dang or disinterested, but for me, it’s close to my heart and I enjoy it.
Does your music have to be dark, depressed etc.?

No, it just happens, it’s more of a natural thing. It is our expression rather than something we are trying to create.
Are you nowadays more focused on the psychedelic part of music or the doom metal aspect?

We don’t really try to consciously steer in one direction. We just try to write music from inspiration rather than setting down a list of what we are trying to achieve. We just try to keep it quite natural.
Greg ChandlerLast question. Do you like classic bands like Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus? Or typical doom metal acts like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride?

Yes, I do like them as well. I mean I like every kind of metal. I like bands from every genre really, to be honest, from heavy metal to the most extreme metal. I like everything, different bands from every genre.

Conducted by: mIZZY
Questions: AddSatan, onDRajs, JSt, bizzaro
Transcription: AddSatan, onDRajs, JSt
Translated: JSt, AddSatan, onDRajs, mIZZY
Editing: onDRajs, AddSatan, mIZZY, JSt