VEKTOR: Sci-Fi or Die! (Interview)


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Vektor is a Progressive Thrash Metal Band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The four guys including singer, guitarist and founder David DiSanto have been around for almost 15 years, creating their very own approach of Metal, including enthusiasm for Science-Fiction. In December 2015 the band were more than excited to get on their very first European Headliner Tour, just very shortly after the horrible terrorist attacks at Bataclan Club in Paris. I talked to David right before their only Swiss Show about their roots and Thrash Metal in general, about philosophy and religion and of course ubout their upcoming third album „Terminal Redux“ (due in May 2016 at Earache Records). This interview is a raw and unedited transcript. There will be an edited, german translation coming up at Whiskey-Soda Webzine, which I conducted the interview for.

Whiskey-Soda Magazine: It’s your first tour to Europe and you’ve been to France and Italy. What are your thoughts touring Europe considering the latest events? It’s only three weeks after the Terrorist attacks at Bataclan in Paris. Do you feel safe and comfortable?

David DiSanto: There was just a very short conversation in the band like: „Are we still gonna do this? Yeah, let’s do it! Fuck that!“ Obviously it’s very sad what happened from these terrorist assholes. But we won’t gonna let detour us from playing. There was already a bunch of people that wanted to see us. After something like that happens, there’s much tighter border control, there’s tighter security. It was a little nervewrecking some night, though. A few days ago when we played in Paris, there was a mobile police station outside the doors. Once we started playing the crowd started going nuts. The venue was close to being sold out. So when everything kicked off, we felt okay.

WS: You are a Thrash Metal Band. What about this Statment: „Thrash Metal is still musically relevant today.“ Agree or Disagree? In my reception, there’s mostly the veteran bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and so on.

DD: At the core, we’re a Thrash-Metal band. There’s a lot of newer bands, and a lot of the new bands only like the old bands. So I kind of fall into this category. My favourite Thrash-Bands are the old ones, although there are a few ones that I really like. Like Antichrist, „Forbidden World“ was a great album. But there’s no huge bands. So People might call it a revival, but it’s not anywhere big as it used to be.

WS: But the old bands are still very popular, or popular again. I think it’s because Thrash has a good part of „old values“ in it, it’s usually raw, straight-forward and authentic. Unlike a lot of polished, over-produced newer Metalbands, that sound pretty much the same and become boring very soon. So why aren’t there more younger Thrash-Bands coming up a little closer to the Surface of success? There are a lot of Death-Metal-Bands that get bigger audiences, and of course the more Mainstream Stuff. So if Thrash is altogether honest and straight, why isn’t that the case for them, too?

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DD: Well, I think it’s a lot of factors. For a lot of Kids today it’s much more easier to copy other people because of the internet. They have the world at their fingertips. They can go to Youtube-Channel after Youtube-Channel and just binge on it. When I was younger, I didn’t have a ton of bands. They way I found out about bands was reading Thank You Notes in Albums. When I decided to start a Thrash-Band I didn’t really know about many Thrash-Bands, but I was listening to all kinds of music. So I ended up blending a lot of different things. But today there’s so much Thrash available so the kids tend to just copy it all. And it doesn’t end up coming off as genuine as a lot of the older bands. You can name them all, they all sound very different: Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Destruction, Slayer, Violence, Forbidden. They all got Thrash elements, but you can tell them apart easily. That’s not something you can really do nowadays.

WS: Maybe it is just because there are some many bands nowadays. It’s much easier to produce an album, you don’t necessarily need a record deal. You can pay for the production of your own album with crowdfunding. With the internet, the world is at your fingertips and once the music is done, and album is just „a few“ clicks away.

DD: Well, there probably was a lot of bands back then, but nobody knew who the hell they were. It wasn’t flooded like today. The only people that actually got noticed were the really good bands.

WS: I assume you guys are close to the metal underground, at least at the US East Coast. What exciting stuff is going on there? Are there any great new Metal bands coming up that you can recommend to our Readers?

DD: One of the coolest younger bands coming out of our area is called Noisem, they’re from Baltimore and they’re awesome. When they came oout with there first album, which is just a year or two ago. They’re only teenagers, but they’re ripping it up. So they’re a great band. We’ve some friends in Black Fast, they’re not so much East Coast. They’re getting bigger now and they’re gonna catching the last leg of the Voivod Tour with us. Black Fast is very progressive, for fans of bands like Cynic and late Death and stuff like that.

WS: You are an insider recommendation to discover within the Thrash Metal Scene. Why should any Metal Fan pick up your music in the first place? I give you some room for free promotion and shameless profiling.

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DD: This is the one thing were I don’t like thrown in with the Thrash bands. Because there are so many more elements to our music, it’s not just one thing. It’s a little bit of Black Metal, there is parts that are almost reminiscent of Pink Floyd, very atmospheric, big chords. There are a lot of dynamics in our music, so a lot of proggy guys like it because of all the changes and the technicality. Thrash kids like it because there are a lot of Thrash-Riffs, Black Metal kids like it because of the vocals and there are a lot of Blastbeats.

WS: Let’s come to your upcoming album „Terminal Redux“: I know music can’t be described easily, but will you take the challenge? What are the differences compared to its predecessor or what else do you consider important to know about it?

DD: A little bit. It’s a constant evolution, constant progression with our sound. Without straying, I always despised bands when I was growing up. I like a natural progression, but I hate it when bands just change. Some bands loop around full circle. Like the new Voivod Album for example. I think it is much more reminiscent of their earlier career. Coming back to our album: It has got all the elements that make up a Vektor record: A lot of heavy Thrash riffs, there are nice, pretty clean parts. But everything is just like times ten. I think it maybe sounds a little bit more like „Black Future“ (Debut-Album von 2009), feeling-wise. I tried out a few things, I did clean vocals in parts of the last two songs. We got these two Soul Singer girls from Philadelphia with crazy, powerful, soulful vocals on a couple of songs. It brought tears to my eyes when I heard it.

WS: How did that happen, Soul Singers on a Metal Album? Was it something you tried to challenge yourself with, did just met them?

DD: The guitar happened first, that’s how I work. I just write it all out on guitar. When I play it and listen to it, ideas start to pop up in my head. The first song on the album has this riff that switches from major to minor – going back and forth like the key changes but it has it’s very grandiose sound. I started making up this vocal melody in my head, thinking of some of the guys singing it. When I was thinking I had the feeling of „I need Soul Singers for this.“ I don’t know, it just kinda happened. But I’ve always been a big Pink Floyd fan, which had probably something to do with it.

WS: A lot of Metal Bands deal with Gory Monster, Skulls and Pentagrams and stuff. You developed an fictitious universe telling the story of an individual in the Cygnus regime. Why is metal and science-fiction so close? And why Science-ficiton and not Fantasy?

DD: The easy answer is because we’re all nerds. (Laughs)

Well, I think it just kinda fits with our technical kind of music. And I think people that dig technical music also like science and philosophy, deeper thought patterns. I don’t get into a lot of brutal stuff, I like thought provoking music and I like music that moves me. It can still be Thrash metal, I like Slayer a lot.

WS: So Science-Fiction fits your music much more than pathetic fantasy stuff?

DD: Yeah, safe the fantasy and unicorns for Prog Music and the Dragons for Power Metal. (laughs)

WS: Do you know any other Metal Bands that fascinate you when it comes to the Science-Fiction approach?

DD: Voivod of course, they’ve been one of my favourites for a long time. There’s also Algebra from Switzerland, they’re awesome and Aspid from Russia. They’ve one album, „Extravasation“, it’s from 92.

WS: The protagonist of „Terminal Redux“ takes command over the Cygnus forces after a coup, but eventually realizes that power is just an illusion. This appears very interesting to me. What political or philosophical thoughts are behind that conclusion?

 

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DD: Power is an illusion. At the end of the day, we’re just people. We live in this universe that we don’t fully understand. You can expand the topic into a lot of fields or different paths of life. For my it’s a very personal, kind of reflective approach. Thinking about what my life was, what I wanted in life, about my goals and if I got those things to happen. What if I had everything I wanted and would I be happy. It’s kind of a battle, detaining this, these unreachable things and what happened when you have those. There’s a lot of meaning within the lyrics, like Cygnus itself was chosen because it signifies the bird atop the stellar tree that controls this flow of souls. I don’t really believe in the astrological things like that, but I thought it was just pretty cool. There is certain things in there, there’s a star named „Our Shame“ that explodes. It’s all about balance, and when you put people in charge of life and death – what happens then? Because that’s what we try to do. We try to do it in our cities, in our home, within our friendships – we try to control these factors that aren’t necessarily meant to be controlled.

 WS: For you as a musician, are technical achievements just a tool to get your job done more easily or is it something you also enjoy? You already mentionted that you see yourself as a „Nerd“ also. What’s your opinion?

DD: I like to keep it simple on stage. I still have just an instrument cable from my guitar to my amplifier. I don’t have a lot of crazy effects, as far as making things interesting and new – that comes from my brain. I don’t need a lot of tools to make that happen. A lot of people are very much into weird effects, but I like to keep it simple. Guitar. Distortion or clean. Otherwise I just use effects that have been around since the 70s.

WS: Switch of topics into another direction. We touched the subject of philosophical themes, of responsibility. I had the pleasure of interviewing several christian metal bands in the past. Do you know any christian metal bands and what comes to your mind when you hear the topic? Religion and metal?

DD: Well, there was this particular band, Believer. They’re fucking awesome. I really, really like their music. But lyrics are such an important part of music for me, that I can’t just overlook it. If the lyrics are too cheesy I kind of wanna laugh. Every time I hear very christian lyrics, I reminds me of South Park. (Imitates a South Park song that is overly satirical). If you’re from an educated society, you shouldn’t even be doing anything like that. I like science, and I like reason. For me Christianity or any religion shouldn’t fucking exist in any progressive society nowadays. It doesn’t matter, if it’s connected to metal or something else. Living in Philadelphia I understand why a lot of people are religious. It’s because they’re poor, the education system sucks. A lot of them get a good education, so they can’t really think for themselves. I understand, why it exists, bot it bothers me.

WS: Your band name refers to a a position and a certain direction, like the mathematic term. Right?

DD: Yes and No. Actually I took the name of the biological definition, where it means „carrier of a deasease“, we are the carrier of a deseased music.

WS: Well, sounds a little bit more appealing to a metal band, but it doesn’t fit my last question. (Both Laughing) Because that was: What postition is Vektor now and what direction are you going?

DD: Hopefully up and up. We just gonna stay true to what we do and see where it takes us. If it doesn’t make us happy any more, we figure something else.

WS: I was smiling when I read all your excited comments about the upcoming first tour in europe. You were so enthusiastic and it appealed to me very much in a authentic way. Thank you for your time, looking forward to the Gig, David!

 

An enthusiastic Growl of gratitude and friendship goes out to Carin Vinzens at http://www.bodypics.ch for the photos.

 

 

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