Interview with Dubai Rock Band EMPTY YARD EXPERIMENT at HRH Prog

EMPTY YARD EXPERIMENT is a progressive rock/post rock band based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Founded in 2006, EYE have a reputation for their exciting and evocative live shows. Band members are of mixed heritage, from Serbia, Iran and India as well as the United Arab Emirates.

We had a chat to them at this year’s HRH PROG 3-day festival, held in Pwllheli in North West Wales.

We think the British audience is “Musically educated”
We think the British audience is “Musically educated”

So welcome to HRH PROG what does this festival mean to you guys?

“Well, it’s our first time… But we toured England last year… It was a 10 day thing, it went good. It was a nice way to cut our teeth in the UK. We think the British audience is “Musically educated” — this is what you don’t get, so much, in the Middle East. So when we played good music the audience gets it! People are very receptive and [on our last tour] we didn’t go to a single place where we got a bad review or… people were really impressed with what we were doing… it was a great validation since we came all the way from the Middle East — being able to click with audiences here…”

It’s true, people are surprised that there is rock, let alone progressive rock, in the Middle East…

“Yeah, we were just talking to a guy here in Wales about that. People are surprised .. They ask “There’s rock in the Middle East?”

Playing on the acoustic stage at HRH PROG 2016 “Untitled”
Playing on the acoustic stage at HRH PROG 2016 “Untitled”

What is the state of health of PROG ROCK in DUBAI ?

“Well, not good. We’re pretty much the only prog band. [There is also ABSOLACE ] because there is little demand for it in our region. What we have seen, though, is that the other genres of music that were originally generating music that was more mainstream are now generating music that is a little more proggy.”

What do you mean by other genres?

“Like, for example, we see post-rock bands taking on prog-metal elements (which is very new) and so it is growing. Not there yet. IRAN is becoming much better in prog. Than it was before. Unfortunately, music is forbidden there.”

“At some places there are some “institutional barriers…”

Entropy - Empty Yard Experiment "is the song that kinda ties it all together..."
Entropy – Empty Yard Experiment “is the song that kinda ties it all together…”

We have been listening to Entropy – tell us about how you came up with the idea and the influences behind it…

“It was one of the songs off of our recent album. We have just released a video for it. Entropy, the actual condition, ties together everything about the album… the notion of chaos and disorder and also the process of re-birth and hope of re-birth from a state of chaos. Entropy is the song that kinda ties it all together. There’s a monologue in the middle that kinda sums everything up. There’s a thread throughout the album — drifting through chaos, that kinda thing — if you look at the album artwork, for example, it’s different areas of your life seen through the eyes of different people. And how they can be interpreted. And there is an order in chaos [spontaneous order] and we do all operate in chaos. The universe is chaotic but it has an order. And we can function on a social level within it.”

What else are you playing at HHR Prog?

“A bunch of songs from this album. With maybe one song from our previous album. A fast song from that album. We are also playing on the acoustic stage. We are playing “Untitled

Tell us about the song-writing process…

“It might just start by someone humming something. It can be a [keyboard] riff or maybe on guitar or drums. And almost all the time — by the time the song is finished — the initial idea is already gone. So it is a very evolving, self-correcting, self-testing thing. But there is really no formula. Sometimes our guitarist Mehdi will write 90% of the riffs. So then everyone else comes and “dresses that up” — [we] write the lyrics, the melodies and sometimes we have ideas and these are glued together …”

It sounds like an organism, growing?

“Yes, It is. It is very organic”

But how do you not loose the essential character that you had in the first place?

“In most times, the initial idea does get lost. Each of us is a good “bullshit filter” for the other guys… because if it doesn’t pass with at least 3 or 4 of the guys then it won’t happen. In the end of the process everybody should be happy. We are a true democracy when it comes to being a band. Of course that makes things a lot more difficult [all laugh] because things are never unanimous so someone will always be unhappy. That’s the process.”

Our fan's response to our music is very visceral
Our fan’s response to our music is very visceral

Have you lost band members along the way?

“We have. But never just because of this crisis. We had our first drummer left because he became a fine artist. And he made a huge name for himself. The second drummer was an older guy and he was looking for different things… But it was really good for us because we ended up where we wanted to be. We needed that new perspective. Which our drummer Josh has given us. ”

“He’s very young [26] so when he joined us he helped us a lot and, we think, he made us a better band. He’s a very good session drummer so he pretty much listens to everything. We might listen to Karnivool or TesseracT   — but Josh listens to more diversity. Like for example he even listens to hip-hop. He figures he is a drummer and he should know all the beats. He modernised us, in a way. For example, we play with a proper click-track now. As basic as that might sound. We realize, now we had to be that professional. It’s not a luxury any more, it is a necessity. And we have live visuals to go with our performance, so we needed that level of synchronization.”

Are you writing any new material?

“Definitely. We have already played one of our new songs live, locally. It was very well received. Our fan’s response to our music is very visceral. And very kind of emotional, you know. We gave them a treat too — we gave them a big jam at the end of it. We left the end of the song open just so that we could do that. And fans really liked that because it reminded them of very, very old times. But yes, we are working on new stuff. It should be released the last quarter of this year. Even if there’s not a full album, there will at least be a few songs.”

Well, we are looking forwards to that. And it is great to have you here in North Wales,

Thank you very much Empty Yard Experiment

Empty Yard Experiment were talking to @neilmach 2016 © at HRH Prog Festival.
Main Photo by Lukas Gansterer for Red Bulletin

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