VITAL REMAINS – En prat om mesterverket Dechristianize og litt til
Etter lang tids venting, fikk undertegnede endelig avtalt et telefonintervju med Tony Lazaro, mannen som har en gitar formet som et oppnedkors. Årsaken til at jeg har prøvd å få til et intervju med Tony er selvfølgelig Dechristianize, et banebrytende album med en helt klar vinnende formel. I løpet av samtalen ble det blant annet pratet om hans mening av skiva, trommelyden, den kommende skiva og gitaren hans.
ET – For almost 2 years ago you gave us Dechristianize, an album which is a classic over here now. What do you think of this album today?
TONY – Well, I still get blown away listening to it, and I think it’s my best work so far and Dave also agrees. A lot of people seem to like it and it is overwhelming. Even 2 years after we released it we still get e-mails from fans that has picked up for the first time and showing their support, their opinion on it and stuff, and it’s great. We know it’s going to be hard to top that album, but I will give everything I got to try to top it.
ET – I am on my second copy now.
TONY – Oh, that’s great man, hehe. I have a couple of tracks on my own copy that skips hehe. It’s great that people not just buy it once but even after they have wore out their first copy.
ET – Dechristianize is something different than the rest of the death metal records. How did you come up with the idea of mixing brutal death metal with the melodic guitar parts?
TONY – Well, when Dave first came into the band we started to bring in stuff like a bit of classical guitars and my songs has always been fast and heavy with epics and some melodic stuff, it’s just my style. But it got more and more melodic parts as I kept on pushing myself in the writing process and when Dave came into the band in 96, I thought that I can play some music and he can do some of the solo parts with the classical guitar, some melodic stuff. We started working together, I pushed myself even further and the stuff became more dynamic, with more elements of the old school and mixed it with the newer stuff. And it kinds of became like that, not accidental, but yet, you know.
ET – The only negative thing I have found with Dechristianize is the snare drum sound. What do you think of it yourself?
TONY – Yes, I’ve heard that a couple of times from people here and there. The reason with the sound on the snare drum is that when we (Dave and me) were recording it down at Morrisound, we weren’t able to bring Dave’s drum set so we had to use what they had. We specific asked for a certain type of drum set with small drums and stuff which Dave was playing, but when we came down there, we realized that the kit they gave us was something completely different than we asked for. It was a big Yamaha drum set with big tam tams and Dave sat up his snare drum, which he brought with him, and started to set up the mikes with the engineer, and he was more of an assistant engineer, and his knowledge wasn’t the best and we ended up having some drums with the tones we had. When we came back to Rhode Island we listened to it forth and back for weeks, and we decided that we could do better. When we were in Morrisound, we trigged the drums and we miked it on top and bottom. We found out that the guy screwed up and tracked it backwards. But we tried to do the best we could with it, we worked with what we had and we learned a lot of it, and I can guarantee that the drums on the next album will sound a lot better, hehe.
ET – It seems like you found a winning formula on Dechristianize. Will the next album be similar to Dechristianize?
TONY – A lot of fans have asked that question. I don’t know how much I will tell you about it besides I have already written half of the songs. I think the new album will be heavy and it’s going to have some elements similar to Dechristianize but it will have some surprises in there too. I am also trying to put some more melodic stuff in there on this one. I have a lot of really big epics written, kind of like on Dechristianize. It has some elements but then there is some other stuff in it which got some rawness to it. I think it’s going to be a more brutal album, but it’s hard to say. Dechristianize is such a brutal record, and I can’t say I’m going to top it, I can only write the best I can and I hope that the fans like it. It will be brutal but it will be different and I will not say exactly what it will be, because that will be giving it away, hehe. But you will notice as soon as you get the record that there is something there that wasn’t on any of the other records, and I am saving that to this record. It’s also our last record for Century Media.
ET – It`s been, as I said earlier, almost 2 years since Dechristianize. When can we expect the next album?
TONY – As I said, I have already half the songs written and I am tracking them now. We will start the recording soon for the preproduction and continue to write, and I will think it will be out sometime this year. When, I can’t say right now, maybe summertime, maybe later, I don’t know.
ET – Is Glen a regular member of the band and will he be doing the vocals on the next album as well?
TONY – Yeah, Glen will always be a part of this band. But it’s up to him, he says he is a member of Vital Remains and will always be, but you know, hehe. He is into doing another record. I’ve already told him about it. I don’t know if you heard but he also wants me and Dave to join Deicide.
ET – What would you say Glen has brought with him to the band?
TONY – He has brought with him a lot of experience, he is one of the pioneers as far as it comes to brutal death metal, and he has been around forever. He brings with him professionalism into Vital Remains; I have never worked with anyone that professional before than on this album. He wanted everything perfect and when he came into the band we knew that he was the right person for the job. Not to mention his believes, he believes in the same as me and Dave so it fits right in. It was what we wanted, you know the satanic thing. We wanted it as evil as possible and I don’t know any other person who could fit in as Glen did, hehe. He really helped us, but at the same time I think we helped him too.
ET – The songwriting process in Vital Remains, I understand that you are in charge of the music.
TONY – Well, so far I have written all the music and have used pretty much the same formula since the beginning. It has always been me when it comes to the music. Then when Dave and I come together I tell him how it is and how I like it, then we do decide how the drums should be and then we normally record it. And then he comes in and does his magic on the guitar, normally he comes up with some weird ideas, and we tries some layers together, and that is pretty much how things are. That’s why it takes so long, hahaha. We are 2 men only, hahaha. I got myself a Yamaha recorder, and I can send Glen a disc so he can listen to it and learn the songs that way. There has actually been talked about him playing the bass on some of the songs on the new album. But we will see what happens.
ET – The lyrics are about the dark things in life; your hatred for Christianity and stuff.
TONY – Yes, actually all the lyrics for Dechristianize was written by Dave. And yes, it is very dark and satanic and it is an anti-religion kind of album. We sat down and talked about, maybe we could use Dechristianize as an album title, and then we knew exactly what we wanted as far as lyrics were concerned. The lyrics have to be as important as the music and visa versa.
If you met Dave it’s weird because he is usually the quiet one, and you always should worry about the quiet one, hehehehe. When Glen read the lyrics he thought they were fucking evil and over the top, hehe. And that is one of the things Glen really enjoys singing.
ET – Dave plays more or less everything on Dechristianize.
TONY – Yes, he is definitely a prodigy, I don’t know of too many guys like him in the metal scene. He can play equal instruments as well, he play drums as well as he can play the guitar. And also, he sings, I don’t think how many who knows that, but the way we tracked everything on Dechristianize, actually Dave sang the entire album. And it was real black metal, the way Dave sings. We have some rehearsal tapes where we tracked him singing, and everything is black metal. If you could hear that recording, I think you would enjoy that too. It is so sick as well, hehe, especially on some of the high parts on the vocals, and those parts was actually Dave’s ideas. So he is definitely a prodigy, hehe, we could clone him and make a whole band of him, hahahahaha.
ET – I was thinking of asking if he would do the vocals as well on the next album, hehe.
TONY – I think that we should have had him do some backing vocals when we did the tour, but the tour didn’t happen. I think that would have been great, and when he came back from Europe recently, I heard that he was singing Deicide songs on that tour. I think on the next album we will have him collaborate on some parts live it will make it so much closer to the record. When we did Dechristianize live, he was singing some of the lyrics and people were shocked, they didn’t know that he could sing. You don’t hear that unless you see us play, and people thinks that it is just Glen doing the vocals on that album, but Dave do his parts as well.
ET – You have played a few gigs in Europe last year. Is there any chance for us Norwegians to see you here sometime?
TONY – Oh, we would love it man. I have wanted to go to Norway and Scandinavia for a long time, but it is up to the agency. I have asked for it maybe 10 to 15 times, but no luck. I have asked Century Media to check it out, but they couldn’t do anything. We have yet to go there to support this record and let the fans get a chance to see us live and hear what it sounds like live. We want to go to Europe to brutalize everybody with this album, but we only had the chance to do the US and Mexico. The response here has been fucking overwhelming, so killer here, you know. But I am ready to go to Norway tomorrow, you know, hehehe. Believe me, I will try as hard as I can to get to Norway and Sweden and the Scandinavian countries. We basically just wanna play as many shows as we can, in Europe and everywhere.
ET – Ok, before we end this interview, you have to tell as a little about your guitar.
TONY – Well, I designed it myself and its called The Crucifier. I had this idea of making this sick guitar for about 10 years and I used to joke around with the old members of Vital Remains that one day I would draw this sick guitar, and the said I was crazy and stuff, hehe, you will never be able to build something like that and then they laughed about it. But I met up with the guy who made the guitar on a restaurant and I drew a schedule of it on a napkin while we were drinking beer, hehe. And I said ”Something like this, I can’t draw”, hehehehe. The guy said ”You not giving me much, but I will work it out”. So he started to work on this guitar, we called each other frequently to see how things went and stuff, and finally when he showed up with a prototype, I tried to play it, but it just wasn’t right. So I told him I about another idea I had, and he replied ”You’re killing me”, hehehe. But it worked out and I finally got the guitar the day we played the Milwaukee Metalfest. It was flown in and came in a guitar case which he also made for me. It was all covered with diamond plates; it was huge and weights about 500 pounds, hehe. No one can steal it if they try; it’s so fucking heavy, hehehehe. But the guitar, it’s an evil looking guitar. I am actually thinking of making a couple more, hehe.
Samtalen fortsatte en stund til, men da for det meste rundt emnet Super Bowl. Men intervjuet avsluttet her, og dermed er det bare å håpe på at den neste skiva til Vital Remains kommer i løpet av året.