Interview With Doug Ott
Welcome to another interview by one of the best Progressive Rock/Metal acts on the scene right now. Enchant are a great U.S. band who have released several albums over the years and to me they are without doubt an awesome act both in the studio and also live. The band are currently promoting their current release titled 'Tug Of War' through Inside Out Music in Germany, and I have to say it's a great album for fans of Yes, Dream Theater & Marillion among others, which I highly recommend. I managed to speak to Doug Ott at the recent UK show in London to find out what's been happening since the last interview, in the meantime check out this awesome new album, you will not be disappointed if you're a fan of the Prog scene.
"OK Doug, first like to say it's a pleasure to finally meet you after all these years, so I'll start by asking you some warm up questions, so let me start by asking you out of all your previous albums which is your favourite and least favourite and why?"
"Well Jason that's a tuff question to answer, I would say my least favourite is 'Wounded' because there was a lot of stuff going on within the band and we lost our label and it took us a long time to get some money together and I also built my own studio which I had no idea what I was doing!! It took about 6 months to record that album, so when I listen too it I remember all those things(Ed: That's my favourite album) It is for a lot of people, I like it too it's just for personal reason why I don't like it. As far as my favourite album goes, well I like 'Blink Of An Eye' and 'Tug Of War' because I had such a great time making those records.I think making an album is like having children, you can't say which is your favourite because it is unfair on the other children if you know what I mean, I like them all!"
"So how did you hook up with Marillion's guitar player Steve Rowe for the debut album and do you still keep in touch with him?"
"We hooked up with our old drummer Paul Craddick and we went to see Marillion in L.A. at a club called 'The Roxy' and there is a bar next door to it called 'The Rainbow' and we met Steve and the rest of the band hanging out. So I went up to him the first time around and introduced myself to him and told him I was in a band and I played guitar and I handed him our demo tape. After listening to it 2 weeks later he called and told me he really liked the stuff we were doing and askied if he could work with us. So when we got signed he wanted to produced the debut album for us and most of the album was done in San Francisco and I did not like the way it was turning out so Steve called me and told him we were not happy with the way it was turning out and asked if he would help us out with the recording as the producer we were working with for that album did not do a great job. Steve came in and finished off the album and did the best he could of under the circumstances. In the end Steve invited me to come over to Liverpool and mix the album with him so I did and it turned out better in the end. So now we are friends but I doubt if he will turn up tonight (Laughing)."
"I noticed that the first 2 albums have been re-mastered with bonus material, could you please tell me more about these?"
"The 'New Blue Print..' album has almost the entire album songs done as demo form trax with different singers and bass players, and me singing some trax. I think it's great!!"
"Are you happy with the way 'Inside out' are looking after the band?"
"Oh yeah there great, we could not be happier!! If it was not for them we would of gone under when 'Dream Circle' went bust!! They helped us out, so yeah we O them a lot - thanx guys!!"
"What would you do if a Major label approached you, would you leave 'Inside Out' or stay with them?"
"I think we would stay with the label were with now, because I cannot see a Major label doing anything better for us to be honest."
"How long do you have left with your label as a contract and will you resign to them?"
"Well our contract ends shortly and I think 'Tug Of War' is our last record for the label, so we will be taking about a new contract after the tour. I think we will stay with them."
"How do you see each album as a progression from one another?"
"Well the first album was 4 guys writing and playing together 3 nights a week and giging on the weekends for 5 years. so that music took a long time. In the end we got a new singer and bass player to record with us and then debut album came out and there was a big buzz about it and we went on tour. The 2nd album could of been better but I took a lot of things on my shoulders and Paul talked about quitting & Mike had left the band for long time. I don't think that album got the attention that it should of done, I thought musically there were some really good songs on there. 'Time Lost', came out very quickly after the 2nd album and we made that album to sell on the Dream Theater tour. (Ed: Was that album like of like Metallic's 'Load & reload' albums?) Yeah pretty much in a way, so you when we recorded 'Wounded' we had more songs than we needed, but at that time we did not record them, they were just demo versions. So when the Dream Theater tour came up we were asked to record an E.P. but we had enough material to record a full length album, so that is what we did."
"I have noticed that you have used Tom King on the recent releases you have put out as producer, will you be using him on the next record?"
"Yeah for sure!! He has worked with Mr. Big and other Bay Area bands."
"What other bands from 'Inside Out' do you admire and who would you like to tour with from that label?"
"Mmm, that's a tough question, Well 'Spock's Beard' who we are touring with right now, I love touring with them!! There are bands on the label I like but I am not sure if the mix would be right, bands like 'Symphony X', 'Vanden Plas', there's a lot of good bands on there. I am not sure who would be the best for us to play with."
"OK Doug, so lets talk about Paul's departure, do you still miss him and I know you're still friends."
"Oh yeah I miss him, we are god friends and we talk a lot on the phone when we can. When we recorded the album 'Juggling 9 & dropping 10', it was Paul and myself who wrote all the music. Mike and Ed had gone from the band, so we produced all the music together & then got Ted involved to write some lyrics. I think Ted & myself wrote 4 songs each and Paul wrote 3, it was a great record to do but I just felt that Paul was pulling me in a direction that I did not want to go towards. So when it was time to get the songs in order for the album Paul & I started butting heads together and I had the label telling me to do this and Paul telling me the opposite and I do not listen to anybody else but myself. I wanted to do what was right for the bands future and I felt his choices were personal to himself and not the best things for the band.
I noticed with the album 'Break' he started to put in more Grunge and Alternative styles of music, which is something I felt I did not want to do. So in the end we decided to go our separate ways, of course it was hard because we started the band but it came to a point were we either change for the worse and go our separate ways, I think it was the best choice for both of us. Yes I do miss him and this tour was very hard for us without him because he was my best friend, not to take anything away from Sean he is a great replacement and drummer."
"So where did you find Sean and who else did you have in mind?"
"Well Sean was working in a music store and I walked in wearing a 'Blue Print Of The World' t shirt which did not have the bands name on it, just the cover, it was a crap shirt and I heard somebody playing Dream Theater on keyboards, which I went to investigate only to find out it was a young kid playing it, Sean turned around & said 'Where did you get the t. shirt?' I asked him if he know the band and he said 'Yeah I love them!' I told him I was the guitar player in the band Sean was playing in a band with Matt Guillory in a band called 'Dali's Dilemma'. So I gave Sean my demo as he was also in a band at that time called ' Kaos Therory' and I gave their demo to our label and the label asked me if I would be interested in producing their demo, so I ended up going to their rehearsals and I watched him playing double bass drum kit and he was awesome, I knew we had the right guy for the job, he was my first choice."
"Besides the 'Xen' project does anybody else within the band have any side projects? Also don't you think it sound too close to Enchant's music?"
"Well Ted was working with some guy from Texas on some space metal thing but I don't think it will be released, I know he is not that impressed with it. Well Xen started out as Paul's solo project and he went off with a different producer and singer and he called me one day & asked me if I wanted to play the guitar on it . He told me the singer is fucking up and the producer is terrible, he asked if he could come to my studio to record the album. I agreed and i took some time off to help him and the more time I spent on it the more I became involved. Before I knew it I was playing guitar, writing music and producing it and next thing he said was let's get Ted on vocals, and before I knew it , it was almost Enchant without the other 2 members. It was Paul's baby, and yes you are right it is an Enchant album but dominated by Paul."
"Ok Doug, so let's talk briefly about the album 'Blink Of An Eye', who cae up with the title and cover and were there any others?"
"Well I came up with the title and cover and I gave it to Thomas @ Inside Out & I try to make covers that reflect in our songs and one of the songs 'Under Fire' was very powerful for me and to me it was how thing change so fast. One minute we were working with Paul and now we are working with Sean, the was the idea for the title of the album."
"Was that album a success for the band, especially Sean as it was his debut?"
"Oh yeah!! We sold a lot of copies of that record, but we did not get a tour for that album but our fans love it!!"
"Thomas did your new album cover as well as the last album, so who else has he worked on previous covers?"
"Well our debut & 2nd album were done by our old keyboard players brother and he was a graphic designer & he also did 'Time Lost', and then Thomas did our covers from 'Break' up until now. I am not sure what other covers he does as he works with our label and also with bands outside of our label. I wish I knew what else he does, he should put a portfolio together so I can look at it. He asks me if I am happy with certain changes with his work, I tell him to mess around with it and show it when it is done, then we don't take longer doing artwork."
"So who writes most of the songs and what are they about on the new album?"
"Well I have wrote musically I have wrote all the music on the last 2 records expect for 1 song which was wrote by Ted. Lyrically Ted & I split up the lyrics and as far as the subject matter goes we write about what is going on around us in our lives and what we see. We write about some things that have means to us and if it doesn't then we don't write about it."
"So what songs from the new album 'Tug Of War' stand out for you and why, also do you have any least favourite ones?"
"Well I like the song 'Sinking Sand', that is a great song because it is the first opening track and it's about Ted's brother contracting aid's and that was very powerful for us, especially Ted & close to home. I also like 'Beautiful', because I wrote it about me divorcing my wife, and now I can't even play it anymore (Laughing). I really don't have any least favourite trax."
"OK Doug, so how long did it take to record the new album?"
"It took about 2 months and it was recorded at my own studio & we are happy with the way it turned out."
"Did you use any special guest's on the new album or will you use any for the next album?"
"Well we had Steve from Marillion helping us out on the first record and nobody helped us with the new record and I wanted him to help us on the new record, maybe playing a solo or something, maybe in the future we might do a project together with other musicians, who know? As for Enchant I like to keep it as a family thing really."
"You found keyboard player Bill Jenkins for the new album, where did you find him and what happened to the old keyboard player?"
"Well I don't know what happened to our old keyboard player, I guess he fell off the face of the earth (Laughing). I try to call him but I never get a call back from him. Bill, well ted found him and he lives near Ted and they met through a mutual friend and we told him to check out our website and download some of the songs and let us know what you think. Bill thought we were great and after listening to 5 songs he ended up playing with us as if he had known our songs for years. He fits in really well with the rest of the guys, we are happy and so is he!!"
"So what sort of press reactions has the new album been receiving?"
"The response has been great!! They have been really good actually & the last 2 album and it is great for me to go on these PR tours, usually I have to sell a record and the last 2 records I haven't and people are telling what a great record it is before I even get to say anything out of my mouth."?
"So why has it taken the band so long for you to hit our shores? Also why are you not headlining?
"Well I think we are not headlining because we don't sell any records within the UK (Laughing)!! If we sold records here be would be here all the time!! We have always wanted to play in the UK and every time we go on tour I think about all my friends over here and I'd love to play here."
"Before we finish what sort of bands do you recommend to your fans?"
"Well to be honest I have not listened to that much, because I am too busy touring, and I tend not to listen to any bands whilst I am playing music or recording records. but before I left I was listening too 'The Star One' album and I saw the DVD and its great!!"
"Well Doug, it's a pleasure to finally meet you ater the last interview, do you have anything to say to your fans and readers?"
"I would like to thank our fans for their support and it's nice to have people who enjoy our music & come to our shows. Thanx for the interview and it's a pleasure to finally meet you too Jason."
Live Pictures by Jason Brown © 2003
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