The Enigma Division Make First Transmission – 1977

The Enigma Division today made their first transmission by releasing a teaser ‘1977’ for their forthcoming self titled album due next year.

Today we both bring you a formal introduction to all members and had a chat with the bands co-founder Conor McGouran. Not to mention their teaser for 1977.

The Band

Conor McGouran – Guitar/Synths

Conor began playing shows at the age of 11 and over the years has performed and recorded with notable acts such as Brian Robertson(Thin Lizzy), Bobby Kimball(Toto), Riccardo Cocciante, Oakhaart to name only a few. In 2013 he joined U.K. Progressive Metal titans Xerath which led to performances at notable festivals such as Euroblast, Tech-Fest, Bloodstock, Hammerfest etc and tours with such bands as Tesseract, Periphery and Fleshgod Apocalypse. He recorded the album “III” with the band in 2014 and the band’s swan song single, “Regret” in 2017. He is also co-founder and co-producer for The Enigma Division.

Ronan Burns – Bass/Synths

Ronan has been playing live since age 11 and has toured with the likes of Riccardo Cocciante and Craig Walker as well as a number of original projects. His roots are in metal but playing wise have swung from progressive rock to jazz fusion / blues and back again over the years. Probably listens to as much classical music as anything else, so long as it’s loud and unsettling. He is also co-founder and co-producer for The Enigma Division.

Ben Wanders – Drums/Vocals

Ben started playing drums at the age of 8 and has toured extensively with many acts around the world. His beginnings were in rock and metal but eventually evolved into jazz, fusion, pop and progressive music.

Some of the most notable acts he has performed with include Xerath, Noel Hogan, Elmore, Síomha and Shardborne, to name a few.

William Alex Young – Vocals

“Having been in bands since 2013 and having written a variety of my own music since I was a teen, I’ve sang in many different genres of rock and metal. From the metalcore influenced grunge to epic progressive metal, including many guest spots.

I’m excited to help get the vision for The Enigma Division off the ground as it is shaping up to be something truly unique!”

Interview: Conor McGouran

BM: Can you please tell us about the origins of The Enigma Division?

C: It started as the brainchild of myself and Ronan Burns who I’ve played with since I was a kid. We both have a quite a wide range of musical tastes and the idea was to create a sound that combined all of these influences and make it our own.
We were sending each other clips and it was like – “lets make some Blade Runner metal” – or something along those lines.
And it kinda turned into a mish mash of all of the stuff we’d been listening to over the years and incorporated our love for 80’s Sci-Fi and space exploration in general to the equation. We began writing in 2017 but in a way it’s a project thats been in the making for years. It’s nice to finally achieve it.

BM: As you have already been involved in an excellent prog metal aka Xerath III, and preparations for album number four were underway, did any of your writings make it onto this album?

C:Not really but the experience of working with Rich and Mike was incredibly influential. Xerath was their baby and I was very fortunate to help facilitate their ideas at the time. Their influence and my time in the band has certainly become a part of my DNA.

BM: As Ben from Xerath is your drummer for The Enigma Division. Were there any plans/ideas for Richard to do some guest vocals on this album?

C: All I can say for now is that the album will feature a few vocalists. William Alex Young of course being one. 

Dave Whyte (Riverdance/Session) who provided a guest solo for the album

BM: As an acclaimed Irish musician, you of course had the opportunity in Xerath. Do you find that living here may have held you back in regards to many opportunities that may have came your way?

C: When growing up in Dublin I was fortunate enough to witness a great music scene happening here at the time with many world class musicians. People like Louis Stewart, Anto Drennan, Jimmy Smyth, Peter Browne, Dave Whyte, Mal O Brien, Billy Bergin, Greg Boland. To be honest there’s too many to mention. Ireland really is blessed with top class musicians. Watching those guys at an impressionable age helped make me understand music on a deeper level and I’m grateful for that experience. I’m also incredibly honoured to have Dave and Mal guesting on the album.

BM: You have recruited legendary keyboardist Derek Sherinian for the album. Was that a difficult procedure, or was he very open to your ideas for this project?

C: It’s quite surreal having Derek Sherinian on the album. Myself and Ronan have been huge fans of Derek since his debut with Dream Theater on “A Change of Seasons” and through Planet X onwards. In fact “Universe” from Planet X began my fascination with 7 string guitar. When i first heard our music with Derek’s distinctive lead tone, i was just floored. Proper dream come true stuff. He did an incredible job.  

BM:  What has been the biggest obstacle so far for this project?

C: Time. It’s been extremely demanding all round. The writing part was probably the easiest and most fun. Because of the nature of the music the sessions tend to be quite large, and it can be hard to make the instruments, orchestrations and vocals fit together well. So this led to lots of rewriting and difficult decisions in order to make the ideas flow.

BM: Are there any plans to take this album to the live circuit or will it be a studio project?

C: We certainly aspire to gig it at some point once we figure out the logistics.

BM: As we all know it’s very difficult to make money let alone break even in music now. What are your overall goals/aims for this album?

C: We just hope that people will enjoy the music for what it is and we thankfully are an independent band in every sense so no musical idea was diluted. It is what we wanted it to be and if it hits some people, then that’s our goal.

BM: If you could go back in time, would you tell your younger self anything?

C: Lots but I’ll save that for therapy. Actually wait no, the lotto numbers. ha ha ha.

BM: On a similar note, what advice would you give to young aspiring guitar players?

C: Just enjoy playing and don’t worry about what other people think. Just make music at whatever level your at. Shawn Lane once said you can make beautiful music at any technical level – and I couldn’t agree more. The technique will naturally happen along the way and how you apply it is whats important. I’d also add to try your best to see the best in things. I remember hearing a story about Jimi Hendrix when he went to see a band in a club in London. The guitar player wasn’t great but he managed to make some cool symphonic feedback effect. Jimi was inspired by that one moment in the show and took that. The point being, you can learn from anyone if you’re open to it.

BM: You have of course played with some amazing musicians over the years. Who/what would you consider to be your favorite memories? I won’t say the best as that’s subjective and potentially offensive…

C: Honestly each tour and experience is unique to itself. I’ve been fortunate that i’ve gotten to see a lot of world through music and jam with some pretty amazing people along the way.

BM: When can we expect The Enigma Division album to launch roughly?

C: Early next year. 

BM: If the band were to play one gig and one alone. Who would you like to have n the bill. Go mad here!

C: Peter GabrielMeshuggah
Devin Townsend
Planet X
Faith No More
Brad Fiedel

BM: Is there anything you would like to add?

C: I hope you all enjoy the album!!

We thank Conor for taking the time to speak to us and we’re very much looking forward to this album.
Those that know, just know this will be a masterpiece! It’s a given with the talent onboard…

There’s other progressive metal albums in the works for 2020, so along with those and The Enigma Division. 2020 could be a special year for this particular genre of music in regards to Ireland.

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