I had a chat with Dubai prog rockers ahead of their appearance at HRH Prog Festival March 2016. They also play a short run of UK gigs while they’re over here. Their latest album ‘Kallisti‘ is their strongest yet and has been met with some well earned praise.
Mar 18: Swansea, The Scene 2
Mar 19: Hafan y Mor, HRH Prog Fest
Mar 20: Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms
Mar 24: Basingstoke, Silkfest
“We’re Empty Yard Experiment, or E.Y.E. for short, and we’ve been playing our own brand of progressive/alternative/post-rock in our hometown of Dubai, UAE, where we’ve become known for our engaging live performances and opening slots for bands like Metallica, Anathema and Evanescence. Though the city is where we live, none of us are actually from here – our members are originally from Serbia, Iran and India. We’ve released two albums so far and are currently working on our third. We’ve toured the UK before (in December 2014), and are now scheduled for our second stint of performances with Voices From The Fuselage around our first appearance at the HRH Prog Festival in Wales.”
The band have been going for nearly 10 years and how has the band’s sound evolved other the years?
“Yes, the band, although with a different line-up, had been gigging since 2007. At the time, the band (bassist Kaveh Kashani, guitarist Medhi Gorjestani, keyboardist Gorgin Asadi and drummer at the time Sami Al-Turki) exclusively played a more experimental form of instrumental post-rock, and did not have a vocalist. When the time came to record the first album in 2010, EYE’s music was already in the process of evolving and the need for a full-time vocalist became clear.
So, Bojan Preradovic (Vocals, Rhythm Guitar) joined, and after Sami’s departure (and another drummer, Sasan Nasernia, in between), Josh Saldanha (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals) completed the band’s current lineup in 2013. Of course, our sound is constantly evolving, as evidenced by the more song and structure-based approach that took shape on our last album, ‘Kallisti’. And what we’re doing with the upcoming record is a bit darker and more technical – at least so far.”
The time seems to have come for Prog rock, lots of bands out there doing interesting work and it seems to have a growing audience. Do you feel the world is finally ready to embrace prog?
“We live in the most exciting times for prog since the ‘70s, that’s for sure. But we also live in a time when the music industry has changed quite drastically from what it used to be only 20 years ago – both in positive and negative ways. Positive because of the proliferation of both the artist’s ability to create and disseminate music, and the listener’s ability to get their hands on it. But negative because bands like Karnivool and TesseracT are not out there playing stadiums and making millions after so many years in the ‘business’. Acts like those have been making some of the most interesting, thought provoking and inspiring material in decades, and yet they are far from being recognised and rewarded for their contributions to music.
So, is the world finally ready to embrace prog? We sure hope so, because it would be a colossal waste if it wasn’t.”
Any bands at Hard Rock Hell Prog Fest that you want to see or can recommend to fellow festival goers?
“Ian Anderson, of course, is an absolute legend. We’d have loved to be able to catch Soft Machine on March 18, but we’ll be down in Swansea with Voices From The Fuselage on our first tour stop before making our way up to the festival later in the evening. Focus are playing on the same day as us, so it’ll be great to see those guys in action too.”
What is the music scene like in Dubai? Do you find a wider audience abroad or is there a strong following in your homeland?
“The regional scene has been blossoming into something very exciting in the past couple of years, and we have been thrilled to be a part of this evolution. We know that the audience for the kind of music that we play is steadily growing across the Middle East. However, the level of overall support and resources for local and regional artists leaves a lot to be desired. We’re privileged to have the support of Red Bull, who are deeply committed to backing and growing talent in the region. But many other artists are not so fortunate and struggle to produce their own material and gain exposure because of the many limitations that they have to endure – both financial and otherwise. Sadly, however, if local rock bands want to make anything of themselves, they have to break out beyond the borders of both the UAE and the Middle East and work on generating exposure for their work to an international audience. It’s as simple as that.”
Head over to their website for more info www.emptyyardexperiment.com