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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Chris Themelco Orpheus Omega - Interview
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Melbourne has a great metal and rock scene and melodic death metallers Orpheus Omega are one of those emerging bands coming out who have been on a run of successful tours as of late. They have just released their 3rd studio album "Partum Vita Mortem" and in support of the new material, will go on tour for a string of dates around Australia kicking off on July 30th. We spoke to guitarist Chris Themelco about the new songs, how the album came together and the upcoming tour.



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Andrew: So how are things with the band at the moment?

Chris: Really good! The album is out today and the response seems to be really good so yeah, it's all going really well at the moment.

Andrew: You're going to be busy for the next couple of months because you got a whole string of tour dates coming up. Going to be a busy year by the looks of it.

Chris: Yeah definitely! There's still a few more things to announce in terms of shows and a couple of other things as well so it's only going to get busier which is good. But we're pretty much just getting ready for that and having a whole bunch of extra prac sessions and getting everything nice and tight for the new album and really just looking forward to getting on the road for it. That's the whole point really, get it all recorded, get it out there for people to hear and then do the fun bit!

Andrew: We're based in Perth and you have a couple of shows here in November. Have you guys been over here before?

Chris: Yeah only once actually, we came over early last year with Dark Tranquillity so that was the first time we played in Perth.

Andrew: How was that tour for you guys?

Chris: Good fun, the whole tour was really awesome so that was really fun.

Andrew: So how did you find the Perth crowd compared to other cities around the country?

Chris: Probably slightly harder to judge because we did come over with an international act. It was a Tuesday night but that said, there was still 200 or so people so it was pretty rabid. From all the towns it seems like the Perth crowd because of distance and all that, might be a little smaller but in terms of overall support, it seems pretty massive. A lot of our orders for the album have been from people from Perth and the people in Perth are always showing support so it seems like a really cool little rabid fanbase.

Andrew: Yeah I now remember catching you guys at that show when you opened for Dark Tranquillity and it was the first time I had seen you guys and to be honest I hadn't heard much from you guys before and I was quite impressed. And I think the crowd was pretty receptive to you guys.

Chris: Yeah we had a blast and I think it showed, the crowd got really into it which is probably the best judge for us. If the crowd had a good time then we have a good time and that sort of thing but we are definitely looking forward to coming back to Perth. I think we got the one show with Silent Knight for their album launch as well and we're in the middle of locking in an all ages for the Saturday as well so that will be pretty cool. So doing 2 shows in Perth, make the most of it while we're over there, hopefully get some sun as well!

Andrew: Yeah definitely! Now you mentioned that you got a new album which is out today (24th July) and I'm hoping I'm pronouncing this right - "Partum Vita Mortem" - is that right?

Chris: Yep that's it!

Andrew: What does that album title mean?

Chris: So the album title is basically a loose translation in latin for 'birth, life and death'. Early last year Joao (Goncalves) our guitarist came up to us with the idea of having a concept album for this one and although we've kinda touched on concept subjects on previous albums, with everything that's gone on with the band over the last couple of years, it felt like the right thing to do for us. To just really focus all the creativity and all the experiences into something that was a really massive story and overall idea that each song could really link into the next one and each part could link into another portion of that whole idea. Basically with the whole 3 parts of the album broken up where you have the intro to the album and there's 4 songs in each of the 3 sections, you can feel it when you're listening to them. They transition into each section and by the time you get to each end, the album sounds completely different but you never really notice where it changes. It was good fun to not so much force ourselves but to give ourselves a bit of a goal with that in mind.

Andrew: Apart from that, was there anything else you did differently on this album compared to your first 2 that was different in the writing process?

Chris: Yeah definitely a very different process. We got a change in the band that's just one of those things that obviously changed a bit of writing as well. We've all grown up and changed as people in the last couple of years and I think that had a really massive impact on this album, which is our approach to it as people. Outside of that, just a whole bunch of different influences, just tried a whole bunch of different things musically as well. We got some clean vocals on some of the songs now which is something we haven't done before, we had a guest vocalist do some cleans on 1 song from the last album "Degenerate" and that song basically had 5 or 6 guest vocalists and it was a massive sort of thing. But we really enjoyed how it worked and I guess it's something that I've been dabbling with a bit over the last couple of years, just with the clean vocals and whatnot. It wasn't something we wanted to force in there but there was a few parts in the album where we could expand a little bit and bring in different texture to the album that really wasn't there on previous albums. So little things like that, just really going outside of our comfort zone and trying things that we normally maybe we had been like, 'Maybe not'. It's like, well why not? Let's just do everything that we want to do and see how it turns out and I think for the most part, it's really turned out better than we expected.

Andrew: What do you think has been the biggest thing that you have learned in the few years that you have been as a band? Especially on this album as well.

Chris: I definitely think we have learned more in the last couple of years than we have since the band started. We've toured overseas, we did the headline tour in Asia last year which was incredible and very eye opening. We've done a fair few support shows in international support tours in Australia over the last couple of years and just really getting to know the ins and outs of the industry a bit more and touring and all that sort of thing. And how to make it work properly and how to make the band work for us as well instead of just throwing everything at it. And just being smarter and more mature with everything that we are doing and I think just a whole list of things that we've learnt as a band and as people that really has helped this album.

Andrew: OK well the other thing we should briefly touch on is you lost your bass player (Adam "Milky" Adams) a couple of years ago. Obviously that would of had a major impact on the band so in what way did that impact this album in particular?

Chris: I think that really had a massive impact on us with this album, it's something that we still struggle to deal with everyday as a band. For me personally I've never really lost someone that close to me outside of elderly family members or anything like that, and it has a huge impact. We were this kind of inseperable, unbreakable unit of people and then someone gets taken away from you and it just changes your whole perspective on things. There were a few moments where we were like, 'Well do we even continue, do we even bother'. If we're not all in this as we were, what do we do? We came to the point of, well we did this together and we want to continue that and if it was anyone else in the band, we wouldn't want to just drop it after all the effort that's gone in. I think if anything it's a keystone to the memory of them to keep going with it. It's definitely had a lot of impact emotionally and lyrically in some of the songs and I think it will be pretty obvious which ones they are on the album. But yeah it's a huge impact and luckily for us having Nathan (Mesiti) in the band, our new bass player has been a godsend, he fit in immediately and he's just become part of the furniture already which is fantastic and that's the best you can hope for in that sort of situation. So I guess for us it's just we got even closer as people and really seeing the bigger picture with things and overall changes on outlook on things and I guess for the most part, if anything it has culminated in all of us taking a step back, taking a look at everything and sort of coming back into this writing process with a very different overall view on everything.

Andrew: Yeah totally and as you mentioned before about the maturity and a tragedy like that would obviously make people mature in every sense of the word.

Chris: Yeah now having gone through something like that, I don't think we had a choice. You either can grow through it or you can break down and not go anywhere and for us it was pretty much that. We had to either let everything go and drop the ball and that's it, it's over or we struggle through it and come out on the other side stronger and I think we have, which I couldn't be more thankful for.

Andrew: Yeah that's good to hear. With that being said, do you find you are most proud of this album than anything that you have done before then?

Chris: It's funny because every band says that with every album like, 'Oh this is our best one, we're really happy with this one'. I love everything that we have written from the E.P. onwards, if you don't enjoy your own music, what's the point really? But I honestly could not be more proud of this album and I speak on all of our behalf because if anything it was the most collaborative work that we have ever done. Everyone in the band wrote these songs together and I think for me personally, the fact that I can listen back to the album and enjoy it is something that's really different because I mean, I love playing our stuff live but I've never been the kind of person to listen to our own albums. I just never really got a kick out of it or anything but listening back to this one and hearing everyone's influence on it and sort of feeling that it's not just me or something that we just wrote and moved on, it feels special. And I really hope everyone else picks up on that because it's definitely the best thing we've ever done, we're really proud of it and really looking forward to getting onstage and playing these songs live and just seeing how they come across.

Andrew: We were lucky enough to have a preview of the album that your PR guy sent us and I think it's great, it's even better than the first 2 albums. But live, I think it will translate very well live.

Chris: I definitely agree and I don't think it was a conscious thing but listening back to it and getting the feedback that we had from the singles so far, I guess overall the album does feel a little more anthemic. It does feel like something that, in a live sense can have a lot more interaction with the crowd and connectivity and that sort of thing so I'm really excited to see how that translates live but I do have high hopes for it. Especially in the prac space it's been awesome going through the new songs, I kind of already feel like they are going to be my favorite songs to play live.

Andrew: When you sit and write and record songs, does it ever enter your mind how they actually will play out live?

Chris: I can only really speak on my behalf because I also run a studio for a living so I work with a lot of bands and I guess my producer hat is on all the time. But with this album we kind of approached it like, let's just write it first and then go through the process but I guess I sat back a bit after it was written and then we all went through it a little bit and then I sat back and chucked the producer hat on and was like, 'Well what if we tweaked this a little bit and this and that'. I'm not sure if it was necessarily the idea of how it would translate live or any live sort of thing but I guess maybe we did have a bigger picture in mind with these songs instead of, if you focus too much on the little bits you kind of miss the whole point of the songs and you lose the hook or you lose the main theme of it. So I think themes and overall hooks were a little bit more focused on in this album overall but not necessarily for how it would translate live or anything like that. Just an overall mindset for us which is to just have the bigger picture with all the songs.

Andrew: Yeah I hear a lot of the hook stuff which I guess is something that a lot of people prefer in music, especially in heavy metal. Something that grabs their attention. Now as we mentioned before you got a bunch of tour dates coming up and now third album in, and I guess it's a problem that bands will eventually get to picking out a setlist and that kind of stuff. Are you the kind of band that focuses on the newer material or do you like to mix it up?

Chris: So with this we actually learnt something, and I think we did something, pretty smart and a lot of the bands we love do it anyway. But while we were over in Asia, we had 45 minute setlists and we had a lot more material that we were to go through and record for the live DVD that we did. So every night we actually had 2 different setlists so we changed it up every 2 nights which was really cool because obviously with 3 albums now it has been hard to sit there and go, 'OK what are we gonna choose'. But I think we have 4 or 5 new songs that get played in each of the sets, maybe 4 and then other songs that change every 2 nights so it's basically like an A-B setlist and that way we get to play all our favorites as a band and we also get to play the new songs as well. So that was kinda cool.

Andrew: And that's what you are planning on doing this time around?

Chris: Yeah we did that out of necessity last time but then when it came to coming up with setlists, because a lot of the shows that we are playing in each state are 2 shows and that kind of thing. We got Geelong next week and the day after is the Melbourne launch so we're going to be doing 2 sets, 1 night Geelong, 1 night Melbourne. And the week later we're doing 4 shows in Albury, Canberra, Sydney and then an all ages in Melbourne so we'll do the same thing again, A-B, A-B and all that. It keeps it interesting and it means people who do come to a couple of the shows, because it does seem like a few people will be checking out more than 1 show, they also get to hear something different every night so that's a cool little thing to do.

Andrew: Yeah and I think there are some bands that are conscious of that where they hit cities multiple times and rather than playing the same set twice in a row, why not change it up a bit.

Chris: Yeah exactly. And there's obviously favorites that people want to hear but changing up a little bit and getting some songs in there that people didn't expect to be in there. I like that when I go to gigs so I can only imagine or hope that people would feel the same way when they come see us too.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. As I said we're looking forward to seeing you guys and in Perth for your headlining shows. It's been a pleasure talking to you, have fun on the tour and we will see you in November.

Chris: Cheers and thank you so much for having me on man!

Australian tour dates

30th July @ The Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
31st July @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
6th August @ Carrier Arms, Albury-Wodonga (18+)
7th August @ Newtown Social Club, Sydney (18+)
8th August @ The Basement, Canberra (18+)
9th August @ Musicland, Melbourne (AA)
29th August @ Musicman Megastore, Bendigo (18+)
11th September @ The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)
TBA @ TBA, Brisbane (AA)
9th October @ The Loft, Warrnambool (18+)
10th October @ Enigma Bar, Adelaide (18+) METAL UNITED DOWNUNDER
23rd October @ The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (18+)
24th October @ Club 54, Launceston (18+)
6th November @ Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)
7th November @ TBA, Perth (AA)

Tickets and info HERE
Buy "Partum Vita Mortem" HERE

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 24th 2015