|Posted on September 23, 2014 at 8:30 PM|
"There was a few times that I wondered if we would make an album again but deep in my heart I knew we would"
Having recently reviewed Enchant's fantastic new album, The Great Divide, Mike Ainscoe got the chance to chat with guitarist Doug Ott. He discusses what they've been up to in the interlude before their eagerly awaited return and what prompted it, the resurgence or prog and much more!
Doug – many thanks for the chance to chat for Manchester Rocks! It’s really great to see Enchant back! ‘The Great Divide’ is terrific so congrats on the new album and good luck with it.
Thank you very much! Glad to get the chance to talk to you!
The Enchant recording career set off at a rate of knots with 7 albums in 10 years! Pretty prolific by prog standards. Why did the band suddenly go on hold – I know there are the usual breaks but it seemed to be getting to the point when we maybe thought “it’s all over!”
Don’t forget the live album! Lol! There was a few times that I wondered if we would make an album again but deep in my heart I knew we would. Life just got in the way and it took that long to sort everything out and get focused on Enchant again. Ted and Ed got divorced and remarried. Sean got married and started a family. Etc. The timing had to be right to make it possible and luckily the stars aligned and we were able to do it again.
Fill us in with a bit of what you’ve been doing in the interlude.
I became a Real Estate Appraiser and was working fulltime. I also was playing in a bunch of cover bands and playing gigs all the time. I continued to write and even produced a few local band's records.
What was it that brought the guys back together again?
We got together for Ted’s 40th birthday and played about 5 or 6 Enchant songs and we all looked at each other and said, “Why aren’t’ we making more music?” That was really the catalyst. Shortly afterwards, we got together and started the writing process.
You’ve said it’s a more collective album – although you’ve always been the main songwriter – what did the other guys bring to or add to the songs?
I wanted to give the guys more say in what we were doing so they would feel like they were more a part of the process. I still wrote 90% of most of the songs but instead of telling everyone what to play, I allowed them to come up with their own parts. I have a structure and some definite ideas on how I want things to sound but I have a band of very talented guys and I thought it would be good to let them have more of a say in the songs this time around. It was really good to work with them and not have all the responsibility on my shoulders for once. Plus we’ve all matured over the last 10 + years and I trust their abilities a lot more than I did back then. I still have the final say, but it’s good to get more input from the band.
When you guys got back to do the album, was it like back to the old days or were there any surprises in how they’d changed/improved – like Ted’s experience with Spock’s for example may have had some impact on him?
It was kind of like riding a bike really; it was a bit shaky at first but we settle in quickly enough. We are all better musicians than we were 10 years ago, so I think that made it easier as well. Bill and Sean really helped out in the studio which made it a lot easier for me. Sometimes wearing too many hats in the studio can weigh the process down and they really helped make it a smoother process.
How long did the album take to record? And how was the process after not being in the studio as a band for so long?
The record took two months. It was a relatively easy process! I lost a few nights of sleep worring about how it would go but as soon as we got in the studio, it just started flowing. I had kept up on technology and had finished producing another record for a local band the year previous so my recording chops were up to speed.
How did Within An Inch come to be chosen as the lead track which has been streaming before the full album release?
It was suggested to us by the record company. Ted and I love that track the best and it’s such a powerful song that we thought it was a good choice.
The lyric for that I’ve read was inspired (if that’s the right word) by close to death encounters and your own personal experience. What else provided inspiration lyrically for the new material?
That’s correct; it’s based on my near death experience when I was 20 years old. All of the songs are fuelled by personal experiences really. Ted and I like to write about the things we go through or see others go through. For example, Circles is about the feeling of getting nowhere in life; something I think everyone feels sometimes. Here and Now is about appreciating the people in your life while they are alive. We try to write about the kind of things that we are going through and it is almost therapeutic when we put it in a song.
How do you think the new record stands up against the rest of the catalogue?
I really don’t look at it that way but I guess it stands up pretty well. Everyone has their opinion on what album they like the best but I think this is some of our best work to date. Each song/album is like a child; how can I say I love one kid more than the other?
The title track sounds to me just like a band like Yes could sound if they tried!! It’s good to hear a major band like Yes do some new music, but having listened to the album it’s ‘nice’ but very lightweight. Have you been following what’s happening on the prog/rock scene and what’s your opinion on the current state of affairs?
Thanks! I wrote the opening riff when I was 17 years old after listening to Yes’s Drama album! I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the Prog scene to be honest and I’ve not heard the latest Yes album but from what I have been hearing, it sounds to me like Prog is coming back pretty strong at the moment. Haken, Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, etc., have been putting out some great stuff and keeping the torch burning pretty brightly if you ask me!
Fans will have their fingers crossed for some live dates – are there any tentative touring plans?
Nothing is set yet but we’re are discussing the possibility of coming to Europe in Spring of 2015. It all depends on record sales of course but we are hopeful to get back to Europe next year.
And hopefully not as long a wait for the next masterpiece!!??
If all goes as planned, we hope to put another album out by 2016 at the latest!