Posted on by Oran

With new music on the horizon, and hope to qualify for as the Irish delegate for 2024’s Eurovision Song Contest, EDM/Metalcore crew, Neon Empire guitarist Hassan Ali brings us up to speed…

Having released “KAOS” last month, the four-piece are working tirelessly in the follow-up to their 2022 ‘Revel4tions’ EP with a peppering of live shows which included their debut performance in the UK.

Guitarist, Hassan Ali took some time out to give us the latest on new music and their decision to put themselves forward for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest

OD – What is the status of new music at this present time and how many tracks have been recorded?

HASSAN – We have fully recorded one track so far, another is in the late stages of demoing while three are in the pipeline at various stages of completion.

OD – Can you give us any indication on song titles and if it’s a continuation of the last EP, or is there a slightly different direction being taken this time around?

HASSAN – For song titles, there’s nothing quite set in stone but there are ideas floating around for a heavy horror-themed song and another song that’s more of a breakup song (also feels like a natural antithesis to one of our previous songs ‘Crave’).

Unlike our previous EP, which was a concept based on the four horsemen of the apocalypse, this record will be more of a mixture of sounds that we have been experimenting with and we are tackling both ends of the spectrum. On one end, we have a soft, melodic song, but on the other end we have a song where we are aiming to go as heavy as we can. That being said, we’re also not trying to set any precedent like a lot of bands where we state that this will be “our heaviest record so far”.

Photo – Down The Barrel Photography 2023

Also with Nathan now being in the band since the start of the year, and becoming a big contributor in the song-writing department, his influences have been highly impactful in the writing of new material.

OD – Are the plans to release single by single, or will there be an album or EP?

HASSAN – Our feeling is that singles seem to generate the most momentum. Very much like our previous EP, the plan is to release single by single which will combine into an overall EP at the end.

OD – When it comes to writing the new material, are all band members involved?

HASSAN – The primary skeletons of the songs are assembled by Nathan and I (Hassan), but we bounce them off John and Veronika for feedback. That’s where the refinement of our songs start. We often rewrite parts or drums based on the feedback we receive. For example, re-writing a lot of drum parts based on Veronika’s feedback as she states that she “doesn’t have 5 arms and 4 legs”.

From a lyrical perspective, John likes to throw around lots of different themes and ideas along with different flows and vocal styles. Overall, I would say there is heavy involvement from all members in the writing of the new material.

OD – Regarding the “KAOS” remix, would you consider doing that with the next batch of songs that you are planning to release?

HASSAN – Not necessarily, but now that you mention it, Nathan had a great idea to create EDM counterparts to each track that we can release to capture an even wider audience. It’s something we are heavily considering. For the song that we recently recorded, we decided to experiment and only play the electronics and it still sounded like a coherent and fun song! Put a 4-to-the-floor kick on it, and we’d have a summer dance hit

OD – Are there any plans for live shows in place for 2024?

HASSAN – We are hoping to once again take part in playing Metal to the Masses this year as we feel those shows are always fun, exciting and a great platform to attract new listeners. There are also plans to go to Slovakia to play some shows there (Veronika is looking into making that happen).

In general, we want to tackle more international shows to build off of the last mini-tour we played in the UK with NTT and the small tour we just played with Survivalist. Festivals are also a big goal in our 2024 game plan, and we are working hard to try to make that happen!

OD – It was recently confirmed that Neon Empire have applied to take part in the 2024 Eurovision as representatives for Ireland. What led to your decision to get involved with this?

HASSAN – We applied to Eurovision this year primarily for two reasons. Firstly, we believe our sound is diverse enough to captivate the general public. Our song, which we submitted, boasts our catchiest chorus yet, infused with big vocal hooks and a dance party vibe, while still incorporating our signature heavier elements to attract the metal crowd. Of course, old-school metal fans might still not be on board – but that’s all in good fun!

Secondly, we think Ireland needs a fresh perspective compared to its previous entries. Over the past decade, most entries have featured pop artists – no disrespect to them, but we aim to truly stand out and shake things up.

OD – Have you prepared specific new music for this?

HASSAN – We’ve just completed the first song for our upcoming EP. When we learned that Eurovision was accepting submissions for 2024, we felt that this song was a perfect fit. We adjusted the song to comply with the contest’s rule of staying under three minutes.

If you’ve followed our previous releases, you’ll find that the song carries a similar vibe to our previously released track, “Crave,” which we proudly consider our official party anthem.

OD – In light of other bands such as Cruachan, who have also applied to take part, do you feel you have a good chance of being chosen, especially since there’s very little attention given to alternative/heavy music in Ireland?

HASSAN – Hypothetically, if Ireland’s Eurovision panel is seeking to depart from the pop genre this year while still maintaining a local flavour, we believe we have a strong chance to appeal to a wide range of music enthusiasts. “Old-school” rock and metal fans might remain skeptical, but the song shares vibes with bands like BMTH, Bad Omens, and Amity Affliction, who are currently some of the scene’s biggest names.

‘KAOS’ is out now. More news coming soon…

Photo – Down The Barrel Photography © 2023

Oran O’Beirne 2023