Obiat Interview: Meet the World’s Local Band

Megaphoning it in.With a truly international lineup involving members from Hungary, Italy, Poland and the UK (where the band as a unit makes its home), semi-psychedelic hard rockers Obiat are bound to cull together a unique bundling of influences. And just as diversity of culture brings different perspectives to other group works, Obiat‘s third album and first for Small Stone, Eye Tree Pi, leans toward post-metal without falling prey what are fast becoming the cliches of the genre, thanks in no small part to the individual elements each member adds to the sound.

Eye Tree Pi is an album that requires more than an immediate impression to go on. There is more to hearing it than just sitting passively and enjoying the sound; it is the process of digging deeper that gives the most satisfaction, and it was in that spirit that I hit up the band for an email interview, for which I was accommodated by vocalist Laz Pallagi and guitarist Raf Reutt. Among the issues discussed is the band’s storied heritage and how they all came to congregate around London and Reading, the making of Eye Tree Pi and how it stands in line with its two predecessors.

Interview is after the jump. Please enjoy.

Relax, the megaphone isn't here now.You?re from Hungary, Alex is from Italy, Raf is from Poland and Neil is British. How did you guys get together in the UK? What was it about Reading that made you want to move there?

Laz: I really wanted to get better with my English and closer to the real music scene. So I figured UK is the closest one although I still have my eyes on the States as well as other countries but my Finnish is not that good but I’m improving… here I come Scandinavia!!!!

Anyway back in 2002 I’ve met Raf via an advert in Notting Hill Music Shop, London. Singer audition type things into Kyuss, COC, Sabbath, Soundgarden, which were really my cup of tea at the time. Bear in mind still love them bands.

As for moving to Reading, it wasn’t really planned. First I was living in some nearby villages Pangbourne (famous for Jimmy Page and the black swans in the Song Remains the Same film) and getting closer, Purley (Ian Gillan used to live there in the ?70s). After a while I didn’t really bump into them at the local pubs so I decided to move to the town of Reading, I like visiting London but not to live there. Too much destruction for me.

We had many drummers and bassist before. Neil was in a local Reading band which I did some promotion/sound engineering for and Alex used to play with Raf?s other project, so we steal them all at the end of the day!!

Raf: I moved to London to be closer to my influences and bigger vivid scene. I love to travel and living in different country gives this ?on the road? feeling as well as it?s a challenge and boost your creativity.

How much does the band?s Eastern European heritage play into the sound? Is it something you try to include or exclude on purpose?

Laz: I grow up in the dark ages of communism in Hungary, under the reign of Hammer and Sickle. To get some real music rather than the Russian hymn and some disco crap was very difficult and pricey, I remember my Dad and me used to smuggle some vinyls from the former Yugoslavia/Austria. I needed a lot of groundwork to decide which one,?as it was a case of an album maybe every half a year. I tell you we weren’t spoilt… so apart from our European heritage such as trad folk, marching bands, etc., I think it was the true love of music through our heroes which really helped me and the rebel in me. So I would say if people can hear our roots that is good. I don’t deny it. It?s there.

I think it comes out naturally as well, because we have been studying at school from the masters like Bartok, Liszt, Chopin.

Raf: Laz and me has been the core of the band since the beginning and both of us are from Eastern Europe, so that?s something we have in our blood. We write and play what we feel.

The band seems pretty open to including guests on songs and bringing in outsiders apart from the main four guys. In your opinion, what do these guests add to the songs (aside, obviously, from the extra instrumentation)? When you?re writing, do you have the additional parts in mind, or does that come later?

Laz: We like to experiment and bring friends in to do something quite unique and they?re such good players on some A bit of reflection.instruments which I don’t really play but can hear those sounds like a vision in my head. For example, hurdy-gurdy, saxophone, etc., and it really works live like sometimes two drum kits, congas, etc. Imagine as a painter; in this case we have much more color on our palette.

Raf: We do have a strong vision of what we want to do, and being music fans influenced by many different genres, we always foresee and hear the final tune in our heads and to achieve that we have to be open for experimentation.

What?s the meaning behind the title Eye Tree Pi?

Laz: Well for that I’d need a whole day to explain and explore some of its meaning. Put it this way: it?s Obiat?s third album, it?s three symbols with various meanings. An ?eye? is a door to your soul. ?Tree? is very earthy with or without falling leaves and fruits and the Greek letter “?”?is kinda endless and quite mathematical and so on.

But believe me this is just to start with… All I suggest is get the album, preferably on vinyl! Listen it on a good stereo with the album cover in hand, analyze lyrics and you might get closer. It?s all out there. Way trippy.

How did you get hooked up with Small Stone for the album release?

Laz: Well as they put it they liked what they’ve heard and we liked what we heard about them. Contacted other labels as well as other labels contacted us and in the end we’ve chosen Small Stone hoping to get more US shows, distribution in Europe as well as in America and Japan and Australia.

It?s been four years since Emotionally Driven Disturbance was put out. Why the delay?

Laz: Long story cut short, we needed a better lineup, better production and bigger wallet while we are building our fanbase.

Raf: We are musicians not businessmen. We always have lots of tunes but not necessarily money to record it and release it.

Describe the recording process for Eye Tree Pi. How was it different than Emotionally Driven Disturbance and Accidentally Making Enemies? Is the band more comfortable in the studio now?

Raf: First of all Obiat has the best lineup to date. And having such a good groove section — Alex and Neil — it was Singing the blues.much easier to put our vision into reality. Also, we got the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful locations of Welsh countryside with one of the most hardworking engineers out there, Chris Fielding.

Laz: When we have the songs, we demo them and look for a decent place with decent reputation to record, mix and master. Sometimes we?ve been let down but like the grass against the wind, we stand up. As for the first album, it was pretty much done live in a studio in a day and a half… very live vibe.

Second album, we spent some more time: 10 songs on 10 days including mixing and mastering with my friend John Mitchell.

With the recent one, to start with we had an amazing time at the Foel Studio with Chris Fielding back in June 2008. I highly rate the dude, he’s such a hardworking one. 10 to 15 hours a day we spent with him, five days in a row. Go record with him now!!!

It was an experiment to work with an outside producer from the States, Billy Anderson, who took quite a long time working on our tunes, sending music forward and backwards. Don’t get me wrong I love the dude?s work, it just took like a year to get it done. But the end result is what we were aiming for, dirty, heavy, eerie plus those noises which he’s been famous for working with Mike Patton, The Melvins, Neurosis, Swans, etc.

Was there anything going into this album the band wanted to change musically?

Laz: I?think we tried to get a bit more psychedelic as well as darker, heavier than before with the addition of more tribal elements as well as some weird rhythm changes — not that so noticeable though. More like a dirty wide river of lava needed a dam to tame before there?s a waterfall of those hot elements.

Raf: All the songs were ready a long time before we entered the studio, so if there was time if there was anything we wanted?just to record more, spend more time on experimentation, late night jams.

You?ve done tours with Orange Goblin and you?re going out again this fall. What?s the tour experience like with Obiat? Any stories you want to share?

As seen in the review.Laz: Make sure we know where is the show having well prepared anything that could hit you! Check the map and signs, roadwork. And for me, a warm cup of herbal tea before the show with plenty of spirit and honey, then party and play foosball with local promoters and bands, fans and enemies.

Raf: Orange Goblin as well as Doomraiser and many others on our own. You have to imagine four different nationalities in one van. Four different tempers and personalities. There are stories that would scares you (a notorious one with German police).

Apart from that, we speak up to seven languages within Obiat and that makes us feel at home in most of the countries we visit. We are the world?s local band.

Any other plans you?d like to mention or closing words?

Raf: Can?t wait to hit the road and expect another album sooner than later!

Laz: First of all is to get the third album in our hands then to pass it to the right people. We?re hoping to release a split and plenty other music projects, and of course writing for the fourth Obiat album, looking forward to find the right management and booking agents. We want to tour a lot more.

Obiat on MySpace

Small Stone Records

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2 Responses to “Obiat Interview: Meet the World’s Local Band”

  1. […] the fact that I wrote it on the intertubes and that makes it true. Cross-cultural rockers Obiat (interview, review) are having their CD release party for their third album, Eye Tree Pi, in Foggy London Town […]

  2. Rob says:

    Still listen to this album great band, are they still around?

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