After being amazed by their debut album “The Time Traveller,” Gilbert got the chance to chat with Matt Quayle from Breaking Orbit. They talked about the new album, the writing process, live performances and much, much more…
Can you start by telling us a bit about the band. When did Breaking Orbit form and what were the circumstances? Who is in the band now and what instruments do you play?
Breaking Orbit was born in the second half of 2009, however the current lineup has been together for over 5 years.
The lineup is:
Matthew Quayle – lead vocals/guitar
Dylan Mitrovich – guitar/percussion/vocals/programming
Mark Tyson – drums/vocals
Ayden Mitrovich – bass guitar/vocals
Matt and Tyson have been playing in bands together for just over 10 years. The previous band was called Cocoon where Matt played bass and lead vocals, and Tyson was on the drums. This band dissolved in early 2005 with a couple of members heading overseas, long term.
Matt and Tyson decided to form a new band with one of Tyson’s school friends (Brett) and Matt moved onto guitar. Needing a bass player to complete the lineup, Matt met Ayden (who knew Matt from Cocoon) at a local gig who later came and impressed the 3 of them at an audition, where he secured the role of bass player. The band ‘Nucleus‘ was then born in mid 2005.
A little over a year later, Brett transferred to the country with work, and the search for a new guitarist began. A couple were auditioned, however it was only a few weeks later when Ayden‘s older brother and multi-instrumentalist Dylan filled in for a show and the decision was made easy.
The band performed under the name Nucleus for around 3 years, until late 2009 saw the name change to Breaking Orbit and the new band was born.
You’ve recently released your first album – The Time Traveller. What has the response been like?
The response has been amazing. We put so much into the album and were all really happy with the way the it turned out, so regardless of the response we received, we were all really proud of what we had created. To get the incredible response we have received though, was more than we could have hoped for.
Reviews from not only all around Australia, but as far and wide as France, Germany, Hungary and the US have hailed the album as one of the best of its kind to come from Australia in recent history and the words ‘album of the year’ have been thrown around from fans and reviewers alike and that is within the first week of its release. We can’t wait to take the album on the road and start recruiting!
The record was a long time in the making. Tell us about the process. Had you always expected it to take a while?
Given the nature of the music, an album of this kind is always going to be a long process (but I will go into that more below).
We initially entered the Grove studios in 2010 to record two singles to be released in the lead up to the album. We ended up recording around half the drum tracks and a few of the guitar and bass tracks in that session. The plan was then to release and tour each of the singles, then go into the studio to complete the remainder of the album in 2011.
The departure of one of the founding members of the band prior to the release of these singles, saw the band tour with a session bass player for both single releases, and no progress towards the album could be made until the lineup was once again complete. Replacing the member proved more difficult than initially hoped, and momentum ground to a halt in 2011.
With a replacement member found, recording recommenced in August 2011 and the album was back on track. Majority of recording was completed between the Brain Studios and the Jungle Studios by the end of 2011. It turned out, the founding member ended up returning to the band at the start of 2012 and rerecorded his parts and the final tracking was completed in Feb 2012. The final mix was completed in March 2012, and final master was received in April.
With the music ready to go, it was just the artwork that needed to be finalised, along with the distribution deal and marketing plan, which all takes time, so the release date was set for 20th July.
Dylan engineered, mixed and produced the entire album. It was great working with him on so many levels; The fact that he was part of the song writing process meant he knew exactly how the song was intended to sound, it is obviously more comfortable working with another band member, it gave us more time to perfect all the parts without the financial burdens of an external producer, but on top of all of that he has a mixing style and ideas that suit our style of music so well that we would have had trouble finding a better fit for the job – regardless of our budget.
The record tells a story but the songs were not all written together. How much was written for the actual concept and how much was existing material? Did you change the existing material to make it fit better, or has the band had a natural inclination to write songs around the themes in the record for a while?
Well it is interesting. As described below, I don’t write lyrics until the best part of the music is complete as to gauge the ‘feeling’ of what the song is about – before giving it a story, but in using that process, the concept of the album still came out – as if being a creation of the music itself.
The title of the album is based on the story told in the title track ‘Time Traveller’. This track represents everything we do as a band the best and has the main theme for the concept. The reason this was chosen for the title of the album, was the way a lot of the other tracks link into this story line or concept and complement the theme. The title of the album not only relates to the title track and the themes throughout the album, but this also fits with the style of music with its unusual time signatures and also the period of time that the tracks took to evolve.
With the album title cemented and the concept decided, I wanted to make sure that the artwork would match this story and in essence tell a visual story of the album. Josh Meney from Non Entity Design had done our previous artwork for the singles so I enlisted his services and explained in detail what I wanted the artwork to look like. The finished product was better than I could have imagined.
What is your process for writing songs? Where do you find inspiration?
Our song writing process (for this album) usually consisted of; someone bringing an idea (be it a rhythm pattern, a riff, a chord progression) to the rehearsal/writing space and we would all jam on this for a while.
We record all of our writing sessions so in the time between sessions we can listen to what we jammed on a pick and choose the best parts and come up with new ideas. In this way the songs would evolve over a period of time. Sometimes the ideas would free flow and the song would come together (relatively) quickly, however, some songs would be ‘in the bank’ so to speak for months, even years waiting for that critical idea to complete it. During this process I would start writing a vocal melody to go with the song and once the ‘feel’ of the song was established I would look at writing lyrics.
The inspiration for the lyrics would mostly come from the music itself, but I guess things that inspire me are things like; mythology, space, consciousness, time, numbers. Whether that is because of the style of music we write or not, I don’t know.
As far as inspiration for the music itself goes, its probably a little difficult to put a finger on. Numbers and patterns play a major part in the structure of songs, but grooves and melodies are also key. Making technical music seem simple.
There is a healthy progressive rock scene in Sydney. How important do you think that is for developing your own style and gaining support from punters?
Given the nature of progressive rock, it is always hard to attract a mainstream audience. The songs require some thought, and time to digest (which not all people have available to invest in music!)
The fact that the progressive scene is developing is always a good bonus for us, though we would like to think that in some way we have, and are contributing to continuing that growth. There have been some awesome progressive bands from Sydney before us, that have assisted us to slot into the market, but we are developing on that and events like Progfest among others, are making progressive music more accessible for punters. Lets hope the trend continues.
What is your most memorable live show to date?
It is difficult to say and I’m sure you would get a different answer from each of us if asked individually. For me personally I would say when we supported Dead Letter Circus at the Factory theatre in 2010. The show was sold out and we just got the most rewarding vibe from the crowd. We played really well, and while the crowd was one of the biggest we have played in front of, it somehow felt ‘intimate’ and there was a good connection with the crowd.
What do you hope punters take away from your live performances?
There are a lot of different aspects of our show. We put effort into visuals/lights, along with the clarity of sound, and our stage performance. We are always trying to get the crowd involved in the songs and the setlist, so we want them to take away the experience of an all round show. Obviously if they take away a t-shirt too that helps!
Leading up to the release you used social media extensively to engage with the public. This included a weekly Monday Media clip on YouTube. You also interact fully with fans on Facebook. Tell us your thoughts about how you get heard in an age of saturation and free downloads.
It’s difficult as the market or the medium are changing. A couple of years ago, we were all about MySpace, but that seemed to die overnight. Facebook for us is working pretty well. We have worked hard, and invested some money into building a large fan base to when we have things to say, there are plenty of people listening. It is also important to only say something, when you have something to say. If there is too much saturation, you lose people’s attention.
The Monday Media Day videos were great. It gave people initially an insight into life in the band and in the studio. It allowed fans to know what we were like as people and evidently they were more comfortable coming up and chatting to us after shows – which is great. We always like meeting and hanging out with fans, especially when we are out of town.
The videos were so well received by fans, that we had people chasing us up for them every Monday, and people saying things like ‘Monday is my favourite day of the week’! (which is pretty unheard of in our circle)
How do you make a living out of progressive rock, or do you not even bother trying?
Ha ha – you don’t! Obviously, we would like to be doing this full time in the future, but the progressive market is a difficult one to crack, especially in Australia. We are looking to take this album overseas next year where there is a much bigger market for this style of music, and we have already received quite a bit of interest.
In the meantime though, we all have day jobs to support our music careers.
What’s one thing people need to know about Breaking Orbit that they probably don’t know?
We have revealed a lot about ourselves through all our Monday Media videos, so that is a tough one. Breaking Orbit is self-managed. I guess a lot of people probably don’t know that.
Thanks for your Time.