The Netherlands are not particularly known for their contributions in the prog world, but there are some very talented bands here as well. Acts like Day Six, The Dust Connection, Schizoid Lloyd and Cirrha Niva are clear examples of that. Another worthy addition is Obsidian from Amsterdam. Recently they released their second album, entitled Point Of Infinity. It may not be the most spectacular record of the year, but it certainly has its share of quality music. Enough reason to have a friendly chat with guitarist Sjaak Kassies. Enjoy!
Congrats on releasing a high quality album that is Point Of Infinity. How is the feedback coming along so far? Are you satisfied the way it came out?
Thanks! (Wearing a party hat yet looking serious.) The first reviews are coming along now. Overall the feedback is very positive. “Lots of respect, in spite of the fact that it is not the easiest album to listen to” seems to be the general consensus. We are very happy with it, we go to bed with it.
Point Of Infinity was written and recorded in 2009, however it got released almost a year later. Why this delay?
The actual complete creative process has finished somewhere in the first quarter of 2010. The gap with this date and the release date has everything to do with the fact that we are now signed with a bigger label. They have more great acts to release and you have to wait your turn. It was a long wait.
Can you shed some light on the creative and recording process? How did it go and what were you guys aiming for?
Our songs mostly start with the guitars recorded on a computer, using a drum kit from hell for the very basic rhythm parts. Then we (try to) play this in the practice room so that each of us – but especially the drummer – gets a feel for it. Then the recording starts with the drums. This is in fact the only instrument we recorded in the studio for this album. Then two parts of guitar and a quarter ounce of bass, and finally finish this with a good table spoon of vocals. Once you have your ingredients in a bowl, mix and flavour them with herbs (the computer bleeps and cracks).
We were aiming for Kiss with a side of Creed, but we failed horribly. Only our outfits are spot on with a capital K.
The new album is released on the well-known Candlelight Label. How did this deal come about and what are the benefits for Obsidian compared to your previous label Rusty Cage Records?
The biggest plus for Candlelight over Rusty Cage Records is that Candlelight still exists. A major advantage. Also the distribution is better. Another less obvious advantage is that with a bigger label, you get to be perceived as a more serious band by the outside world.
We got into contact with them via a special promo web page we made just for labels, showcasing three songs with Robbe’s beautiful artwork. If you know your way around designing and making good looking websites, this is a great option to easily showcase your stuff. Much better than a crappy CD-R with a crappy booklet, fresh from your crappy printer.
What I really like about Point Of Infinity is the nifty balance between technical elements and solid song structures, a more mature approach if you will. Is this something you were aiming for while writing Point Of Infinity? Is this something you want to continue in the future?
Yes, very much. And we think we can take this even further. It is very difficult to plan in advance what you are going to write. It’s like doing the number two; you can try to write a “b” with your product turning out as a “y”. Also a nice letter, but it can just as well become a pile of shit, which isn’t a letter at all. Then you have to rewrite.
Obsidian is clearly influenced by Meshuggah, especially in the polyrhythmic and dissonant department. What do you find so inspirational in their musical approach? Can you tell us about your own musical heroes and sources of inspiration?
The first band that got me into death metal was Death. Meshuggah for us is the band that revolutionized the rhythms and harmonics in metal and helped us a lot finding our style. Now it is not just Meshuggah anymore that do great things in this department. They have become part of contemporary metal and all kinds of parts now influence us. Opeth did the same for me in the melodic part. Creating a CD like Damnation, acoustic with only clean vocals. Amazing. And the metal scene ate it like the last piece of chicken on the table. This opens the way for more widely accepted ingredients in the genre, which means that more bands will work on its development.
Point Of Infinity is a rather enigmatic title. Is there a deeper meaning behind it? Can you tell us some more about the topics tackled on the new album?
This is something for Robbe to answer. And I quote: “Point of Infinity is about personal borders and personal constraints. It’s about breaking through them by understanding what these borders are about and how to evolve beyond them.
You could see these borders as a point in time. Breaking through these borders opens up a world of infinite possibilities!”
The landscape within the music industry has changed dramatically and the rise of social media like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook gives bands the opportunity to make themselves known. What’s your take on this and how important is promotion through social media for a band like Obsidian?
I am not sure what the exact impact is, but we are working a lot with it. Our website is integrated with our Facebook (www.facebook.com/obsidianofficial). It’s very cool to be able to get into contact with your listeners, without having to smell their breath. We do not use Twitter because I myself do not care about what others ate and shit. MySpace sucks, but it is still the place where people look for to just listen to a song.
To continue on this subject, how important is a record label for a band nowadays? Bands like Marillion, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead released their music in a completely independent way. Is this the way forward in the future?
I have much respect for bands that decide to squeeze out the middle man like a big red zit with a white nose. Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have the big advantage ofalready having a strong name. People and the media are actively following them and they have the financial means to hire other people to spread their love.
This is a big difference for smaller bands, especially in the death metal scene. If you want to be in the spotlight on your own, you have to media present your ass off. It means you have do everything it takes to have a band and double that. So, props to them.
Let’s move on to the touring part. What touring plans are there on the horizon?
No definite plans yet. Some of our members have recently multiplied themselves, so we need to figure this out a bit. We hope to do some small tours and of course play a lot in driving distance from Amsterdam.
Time for the last question. What’s in store for Obsidian and its members in the near future?
For the members: death. Let’s hope not too near. Sleep deprivation for some for sure. Obsidian will do what it does, make music.
Thank you very much for doing this interview. If you have any comments or final thoughts, please put them here!
Empty, emotionally drained from this interview. Nothing… more to give. Buy… CD… archhh…
written by Raymond Westland