VADER – Stand strong and fierce
Vader er i min mening et av de death metal bandene som best behersker tremolo-plukkede "melodiøse" riff som tidvis er harmonisert og som frembringer følelser av tidløshet i min kropp-sinn-sjel-organisme. Jeg var så heldig å få en prat med vokalist Peter sammen med Roy Kristensen, og Peter viste seg å være en veldig hyggelig og imøtekommende mann.
Some bands have had to fight harder throughout the years. The Polish Vader have fought their way onto the top five of the death metal throne. Vocalist/guitarst Peter has stood strong and fierce and believed in his own visions from the darkside right from the beginning. Andreas Aubert and Roy Kristensen met the man in question in Oslo mid-November.
Roy begins by saying that the introduction to the new album, “Between Day And Night” is surprisingly beautiful. Vader have some introductions/sections here and there that are kind of alien to Death Metal. “Impressions in Blood” consists of a lot of symphonic stuff. Is it only due to the dynamics of the album that Vader has included these parts, or is it a mission behind them? Peter, founder of Vader, begins by saying that mission is a too big word for that.
“It is not the first time we use introductions or something different from the regular music. This time we use it a little bit wider, to make the atmosphere of the album a little bit more specific, more infernal. We wanted to combine the main style of the album with the opposite side, the more classical style. It is something we have used before, but this time we use it more than usual.”
When Roy comments that Vader has got a new keyboard player, Peter resists to agree.
“No no no no, I have never liked keyboard. We use it just as introductions and we use samples live. Previously we have just used sampled intros live before the songs, this time we can combine it. The drummer has a sample, and it sounds much more interesting live.”
And it is not death metal all the time, but a little rest for the ears for ten seconds once in a while, and a rest for you as well, Roy suggests.
“We have played for years with no mercy for the fans, but that is probably why they like it. If the show is more than one hour, maybe two hours, it is good to make it more dynamic by also playing the slower parts, having a little break; not only for the listeners, but also for us.”
Roy agrees with Peter and thinks about the “Predator” and the epic “The Book”. The latter has some ethnic drums inside, which is really cool. He did not notice them the first few times, but then he thought “what is this”? It is something very, very cool. Does Peter think that the majestic feeling in the “Predator” or “The Book” would have been reduced if Vader had not introduced it with the samples?
“For sure, the introductions make them sound more interesting, better as a whole. And that is important. When we started to create the music, and to create those two songs as well, we had just the main part. Then after that Siegmar, the keyboard player from Vesania, when he was working on the introduction, he knew the song and he knew what he was doing the song for. That is why it is so much feel to that, the songs, the introductions, to the two mentioned songs especially. “Predator” is not the first really heavy epic song we have done, we did “Kingdom” and “Revelation of Black Moses”, that is probably the most known. This time the album is pretty fast as a whole, so the songs like “Helleluyah”, “Predator” or “The Book” is always something which people recognize at first listen. And this is important. The album as a whole should be interesting from beginning to end. It should not be three boring songs in the middle of the album or something like that. There should be something like props for the ears and the emotions. It is emotionally different, and that is very important.”
Many people’s reaction when they hear Death Metal is to think that the musicians must be really aggressive people. I wonder if you see yourself as more aggressive than the average person, or is it more that you have a more conscious relationship to aggression?
“Me as a more aggressive person on stage, after or outside?” Peter asks.
In general, I say. In everyday life, do you see yourself as more aggressive than “the average person”?
“No no. I never was an aggressive person, but I have played the music for so many years, so maybe that’s why. Playing so many shows a year probably helps me to keep calm in real life. I am a watcher, I like to travel and I like to watch. And what I see is not so nice sometimes, what I watch going on around in the world. So it is better to spend the energy on stage than on a warfield.”
Concerning the theme I am asking Peter about, Roy comments that today there are wars in the Middle East and people are throwing rocks and all that. He would like to ask if Peter think they should listen more to death metal.
“I think it would help. It is not just metal. I think that if people can spend their energy somewhere, in a way like… and I think metal – hard rock and now metal – is the best way. You can feel like in a different world. You can spend these bad feelings, all the stress, but this is of course just one point, one good point of metal; the emotions, spending energy.”
Roy says that it is a strange thing that Vader’s metal which is very extreme… Peter breaks off.
“…it looks like. For people who do not know metal, metalheads are aggressive people, because they look aggressive.”
My co-interviewer thinks that those [us] who listen to metal are the nicest people, listening to music, hanging around, having a good time and drinking some beers.
Peter agrees. “90 percent of metalheads are very friendly, and they respect each other. So that is what I keep trying to explain in Poland for some people who never understood metal. For them – if somebody looks aggressive he is aggressive, he must be aggressive. And this is stupid. This is always the situation with those who never even try to break through the noise into the music of metal, who always keeps away. It is always easy to blame somebody for weakness. Metal was never really popular compared to the pop music. The pop music brings money. Even if the pop stars bring more aggression in people, like in hip hop nowadays… there is way more aggressive people in hip hop, but nobody blame the hip hop stars because they have too much money.
Roy becomes aggressive when he listens to Celine Dion on the radio (of course).
Peter says: “So stop listening.”
Roy does not listen to it, but when it is played on the radio it’s like “I got to listen to some metal to make me relaxed”.
I wonder about Shamanism, thinking of the references to shamanism on the album “The Beast”. “…post-shamans gather around…” etc. Do you see yourself as a kind of shaman with your music? Peter hesitates a bit.
“….Shaman… maybe there are people who call me like this, but you know, it’s like we – in the music and between the lines – we leave a big spot for imagination and interpretation. We don’t name, we don’t show the way or something. We try to keep away from any religions, things like that. There is so much divine power and so much symbolism in the music we do, but we try to explain that this is like a key to something, but the power is inside us, or is inside everybody who listens to the music. We don’t want to be like… especially when you are a teenager, to blame the others for something wrong, but after you are older you try to explain yourself, maybe there is something wrong also in yourself. So we are trying to show the power of us, which is in us. And the symbols are just like a key to the doors we already have in us. Kids like symbols because they look good. Same with the names, like magic. But magic is not a symbol itself; the magic is a door the symbols are just a key to. And this is hard to explain for teenagers, but we try. We try to at least keep the imagination in our brains, especially of the youth today. The music like hip hop and this rush for money is irrational. We try to keep something we have as humans, like imagination, emotions, we are losing that. And the music we do is just trying to show what we have, or what we had. We still have it, but….”
Do you look at your band as a spiritual band?
“Spiritual is too much, but I cannot say that there is no spirit in the music, because it should be spirit in the music. If we talk about emotions, the spirit is emotions. It is very close together. The difference is like; usually if people talk about spiritual things they think about religions – one way, the only way and things like that. It is not like that. So we are using such names sometimes, but that is just using names to close up – you know – to close up something (he means open up?). This is interesting, it is like a book. If you try to talk to somebody who likes history, you can read a historical book, but there is still something between the lines. And if you read something you like you can still feel something which is in between the lines. This is just the other style, I do not know how to explain that”, Peter laughs before Roy says “Impressions in Blood”.
To him it is one of the strongest death metal albums of all times because of the way Vader incorporated the new elements into the identity – to put it that way – to such a great extent compared with earlier. It is really something fresh, I would say. There is one thing he wonders about: The new album has a lot of catchy, memorable refrains, which is more…. Let’s say pop music, in the sense that Vader writes verse/refrain/verse/refrain/solo etc… I suggest the “Predator” track as an example, Roy suggests “Helleluyah!”. Peter understands what we mean, but this isn’t new to him.
“I have from the beginning been the main composer, and I was always very much influenced by heavy metal in the classical way, so even we play differently, of course more extreme compared to classical heavy metal, there is still something to keep in mind, something you call the chorus and things like that. This is music, it is songs. Even if the construction is different, it is still songs.”
Roy suggests that this is probably why people stick to Vader. He won’t use the words “…to feel safe, but they know your identity, it is Vader. Even though the band develops, you know it is still Vader”. That is a good thing when you are a fan of a band.
“I think that is the best thing, the greatest success if we can say it like that, that we became Vader. We became recognizable for the fans. This is the regular way, when you start you are influenced, you got teachers. During the years you might be able to become a teacher, which is the best thing as a musician. It is like a natural evolution.”
This interview was done prior to Vader’s gig in Oslo Autumn 2006. Vader is very renowned for being a good live band. Roy had to ask: How does it feel to play? How does it feel to play one song for the 1200th time and still go “let’s play this shit!” Peter begins by saying that they do not think in that way.
“We do not think in the way that we are a routine band or something like that. It is routine, but just technical and mental, so we do not feel under stress, even though we play in different places like bigger places or smaller places like tonight. Every situation is good, because as a band we never had a real push. What we have we usually have because we are working for that…, it is twice as hard as everyone (laughs). But on the other side, that is probably why we are still here. Too big and too fast success means you fall usually a few years after that. I’ll rather stay in a constant…, maybe in the shade a bit, but still being here, than being a very well known band for a while and then disappear in a moment. We like to play, you know. Maybe for some people it is hard to imagine that (laughs). We like to play live, you know. It is the meaning of metal.”
Roy wonders if Vader still plays songs from “The Ultimate Incantation”?
“It is always a big problem to do a set list for such a tour. We have to play something new, but we can not forget about the hits from the old albums, so we try to mix everything. Sometimes we have one or two songs from the album, but it is not possible to put on more. The people are hungry, but we are just humans, we cannot play for two hours or something. It is not just because we couldn’t, probably if we made a set with some breaks, we could. For ears, for people that would be boring. It is too much.”
Roy thinks that for death metal one hour or 90 minutes is pretty good.
“Especially if you are not playing alone. If we were playing alone we could play for two hours, but on this tour we’ve got two good extreme bands playing before us. All together it is at least three hours of live music. That is enough”, Peter laughs.
Do you think that death metal is a reflection of society and the state of the world, I ask Peter?
“It depends…”, he begins. “Death Metal is just the name of a style which is actually popular at the moment. You can call it Life metal, Death Metal. Sometimes the same band was called different names depending on what is the popular name at the moment. But for sure, metal and extreme metal is a kind of society, it is. Like an elite, you know. The people who really listen to it and like it, enjoy it, they feel like an elite, something different. And maybe they like the difference. If you do not understand the world then you do not want to understand it, and you rather keep in shade as an elite to feel like that. Which is good. If you can not change the world, keep away on that.”
It is similar to what Peter said earlier, that people who do not understand it will not understand it, Roy recalls.
“If you do not want to [understand] something, you never will.”
When Roy brings up the band Hermh, Peter confirms that he know it. Roy thinks that they are very good. Bart [of Hermh] was saying something like that with the new album they had a lot of trouble in Poland. There are two twin-brothers in the government and it is going in the worst direction more than ever, it seems. What struggles have Vader been up to the last 20+ years?
“’83, that is when the name started. We survive more than many politicians in their careers, so that is right. Maybe that is because we try to keep away from politics. Politics influence us whether we know it or not, but we do not talk about it straight. We put our feelings in between the lines in the music, and we do not touch that dirty thing, politics. This is moving, this is different, like different worlds. Sometimes I wonder – Poland has changed so much in these 20 years. And if the fans change, they change because they have everything now. The fans in the early days sometimes had to fight for even small things. The only difference is in the minds, because there is not as much passion now as in the early days.”
Roy remembers all the tapes, and when they had to wait for two weeks for a tape and… Peter continues
“For many people now, even in Poland, it is impossible to imagine that fans had to make their shirts, they had to draw their patches, they had to do everything. They had to travel hours to have a demotape. Everything has changed so much. The passion has decreased. I remember, just to give an example, in the 80’s, to see three Slayer songs on the video – it was the Ultimate Revenge video – with Venom, Exodus and Slayer, we travelled with 50 persons to a Warsawa club, and it was like a show. Now, if Slayer plays live in Warsawa people are too lazy to travel one hour. They are waiting for Slayer to knock on their own door, probably. That is the difference (laughs). There are still thousands of fans, but their attitude has changed. Poland is closer to Europe now, just because the people are more similar now than they were in the past.”
Impressions in Blood
Roy raises this question, which is a kind of fun question: Do you think that your skill and comprehension is perfect now?
“Perfection is just a myth. It is like a point you will never reach. Perfection is a myth, and sometimes perfection makes people blind. So many musicians want to be perfect. The problem is; it is not them who decide about that, it is the listeners. In your opinion you may be the best guitarist, drummer or the best singer. You can release the best album ever, but the other guys don’t fucking like it. I rather like AC/DC or something, that is all about the music in your heart.”
The reason Roy asked the former question was because Vader wrote about skill and comprehension in the song “The Book”. All three of us laugh. Roy continues by asking Peter: “When the lyrics are sung on stage and you see that people are kind of coming along with you. When you sing on the “Warlords”, one of my favourites of the album, where you have this “I stand strong and fierce, I am so mighty, I am so dark”, are the people joining you or are they just banging or…”
“That is why it is nice that we started to tour after the album was released. Since the first show of the tour, in Warszawa, Poland, people are singing, they know the lyrics already. “Warlords” is one of those taken very well by the fans, and they probably feel the same. We can say that there are two sides of the stage but actually it is just one side. We as musicians are from their point of view, we are also metal freaks, we are just playing at that time, but the feeling is very similar.”
What about “Predator”? “
“Predator” is (also) about a different view of a typical vampiric story. It is more about what we can call a monologue of a vampire. The lyrics deal with a guy who sometimes writes the stories about Dracula things, but it is just because people like to listen to that. The reality is different. He is more real than in the stories. And all those crosses, day/night, everything is just a myth created to make people feel different. But the reality is blood, real blood. Not the blood on a screen or in a book, you know.”
I wonder about your vocals. Was it difficult to do this kind of vocals in the beginning, and do you sometimes have problems with your voice?
“In the beginning of the tour, or…?”, Peter asks, so I clarify this as I asked about the beginning of his career. “That was fun, because I was not the singer in Vader in the beginning. We had a different guy who was singing in Polish. But in ’88 when Doc joined the band, I wrote the first lyric in English, it was “Decapitated Saints”. We were preparing for the “Necrolust” demotape, to record that in a studio. We had the opportunity to do it, and it was kind of rare in Poland at that time. We had four songs, and I tried to teach the singer the spelling of the lyrics in English, but it was not possible. And we had one big underground festival in 89, in the south of Poland, it was called Thrashcamp (?). It was two days, and it was like two stars. Every band that came from outside of Poland was a star in Poland. People were so hungry. Pungent Stench and a band from Sweden, Casio (?), was playing. We were playing that song, but it was the first time I had to sing it, because he couldn’t. So I was playing and singing, and that was my beginning. Then we had some problems because he, the ex-singer, started to think about the family and he moved to Germany, so I started to sing. That was not easy, because I never ever practiced my voice outside the stage. I never had a chance even to practice when we practiced with the band. So the first records are so different, because I was looking for a way of singing. The “Necrolust” sounds more like a mix of Thrash metal vocals and Black Metal Vocals. “Morbid Reich” was more Growling style. The “Ultimate Incantation” was like a mix of that. I think something between “De Profundis” and “Black to the Blind”, the second and third album, which was the time when I found the way of singing. It is a kind of growl, but I wanted to make it clearer, so you can hear the lyrics as well. Sometimes…”, Peter chuckles.
Roy thinks that it is even mightier… Peter agrees.
“Yes, I agree. I am singing way way stronger. It is not like (makes weak sound with the throat), it is coming from…”
“…coming from the guts?”, Roy suggests. Peter confirms and I ask him about his technique, if it is natural or if he’s thinking a lot about this?
“Natural. I am not like a professional singer, so I never practice and think about the technique of that. Some people ask me how I make it, and I just say “I don’t know”…”
Roy implies talent!
“Some young people think maybe I drink something, but I neither drink nor smoke”. “Then it has to be talent”,
Roy concludes before he raises one final long question in order to save Peter’s voice for the night.
“Believe it or not but sometimes talking is more a problem for the voice than screaming”, Peter says. Roy understands.
His favourite on the album is “Amongst The Ruins”. He likes the lyrics and the way Vader describes the last minute of life, which is how he interprets it. Musically it is very fast, it is a brutal track that grows on him with each listen. There is one section after the great melodic solo about 2 and a half minutes into the song. There is this part from 2.43 to 3.12, half a minute. It is a part that amazes Roy because the music grows and the drummer is using some kind of brushes or something. It is like “what is he doing there”? He notices that it is mostly from the right to the left loudspeaker when he listens to it in the headphone.
“Daray had more time to think about the songs than before, and he put some details, some things on his drumming to make it more interesting. This is what I like in Judas Priest. They could put sometimes just two notes to make everything different, like three-dimensional. And he did – you just mentioned this drumming in “The book”, the Epic we call it. He just recorded it in the studio, and not everything is possible to do live. If you listen to it you get these other dimensions, these cymbals added. Not too often, but sometimes it is nice to do such things. It is nice that you hear it.”
Roy adds that these details are things that make the album grow, because you notice these small details and feel “I have to listen to it again”.
“It is nice if you can discover new things after listening to it again”,
Peter says and Roy explains that one has to move behind the brutality, because it is very brutal, and then to go beyond that and see what is going on.
“It is brutal, but we are not like a hardcore or grindcore band. Brutality is just a part of the music, and the most important is the emotions. Emotions are different, and that makes it interesting. That is why we try to put different emotions also in the music, so brutal music.”
It is brutal music, but still there is more to it than just brutality, Roy finishes off and we thank Peter for the interview, shaking our hands while looking forward to the gig this November night.
“Thank you!”, Peter ends.