(Andy Synn presents his interview of Orion, vocalist/guitarist of Poland’s Vesania (and of course a member of Behemoth), whose new album Deus Ex Machina is coming our way. All photos accompanying the interview were taken by Aleksander Ikaniewicz.)
In case you missed out, I previously featured Polish behemoths Vesania in the 22nd edition of The Synn Report, covering all three of their albums, addressing their underground (sort-of) supergroup status, and comparing their Symphonic/Blackened Death Metal hybrid sound to Emperor, Zyklon, and Dimmu Borgir.
If you want to read more about them, then head on over here to check out what I originally wrote, then come back to this article to get some updated goodies.
You see, recently I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to conduct an interview with Vesania main-man Orion, since the band are in the first stages of promoting their upcoming fourth album Deus Ex Machina.
It’s a short, but ultimately revealing, interview, where you really get a feel for the drive and personality of the members behind the music, and of the difficulties inherent in pulling together a band made up of such busy musicians, as well as the growing theatricality of the band’s stage show!
Well then… what can I say… it’s been 7 years since your last album, Distractive Killusions… what kept you?
After we released the album, we tried doing some tours, one in Poland, one in Russia and one in Europe, and somehow, all three were really unlucky for us. During the European tour, we had to cancel some shows and go back home early, purely because the promoter of the French part of the tour just ran away!
And that really was the cherry on top of all our problems, none of which were our fault! So leaving the venue, unable to play the show, passing by all the people out front waiting for the show… that was enough for us to stop it all for some time.
I don’t blame people about being angry, I understand it. They don’t know all details behind the scenes… they’re paying to see the show and shouldn’t be afraid of whether the booking agency can handle the things they’re doing!
Ultimately it was just too much bullshit within a relatively short time that kept us from working with this band… we all had better things to do than struggling with incompetence of other people.
Exactly! I mean, you’re all already so active in so many other bands… I assume, even without the added bullshit, that it’s often difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules and availability?
It’s not easy at all, especially since Behemoth’s schedule is rather busy all the time. But if you really want to make something happen, there’s always a way to make things work, even if it’s hard to coordinate. This band, Vesania, is like our precious child. We started it when we were teenagers, we’ve all been friends since we were kids, and we just enjoy this band and its music. There’s a lot of enthusiasm in us whenever it comes to Vesania stuff, which is what makes us always manage to put aside some time for the band.
What/who was it that got the ball rolling on working on the new album?
Once you become a touring musician, you can’t sit at home for too long, because you just start freaking out. On the other hand, being on tour for too long makes you want to go back home for a while! Everything needs a balance.
It’s the same correlation with the band. Once you sacrifice a big part of your life and yourself for it, you can’t just watch it being laid off for too long. We all started talking about things to come, we all wanted and needed it. Once we realised we have enough ideas to start arranging music – we just did.
When it came to the writing process, how did you split things up between band members… did you share the writing-load, or was it more focused on one or two members doing the majority, then bringing in the others later?
Each one of us is always gathering and writing down or recording ideas, constantly. Then, generally, me and our drummer, Daray, take them all and start arranging song structures.
The two of us lock up in the rehearsal room for a month or two and search through ideas, make them into basic outlines for the songs. Then we record a demo and show it to the others. They add their thoughts, make their changes, rearrange much of it… basically they make it become Vesania. After that we can all finally look at it together and give it some final thoughts and changes.
But things still change a lot in the studio. When we record, we do a few weeks or months at a time, including breaks so each of us can catch some distance to what we’ve just done and make sure it’s the right direction. I’m happy to have very creative people in the band. Everyone cares, everyone has things to say. Our brainstorming about ideas is not comparable to any other thing, I love that.
How would you describe the new material you’ve written… how does it compare to what you’ve done before?
Honestly I often end up reading or listening to what musicians say about their newest record before I actually listen to the record itself, and the thing is I find it’s usually very different from what fans have to say afterwards! For some reason we, behind the scenes, the ones behind the creations, tend to see things differently, so whatever I say now will most likely be judged differently in the future.
Anyway, I think on this album you can still hear it’s Vesania and some things in our music will never change. But still in some songs we’ve made quite a significant step towards rock music, though in others we’ve moved more back to what Vesania was all about at the very beginning!
We started working on the album with this thought that we want it to sound very ‘alive’. I didn’t want to record another typical metal album with the kick drum sample straight in your face, edited to the very edge and with super high gain guitars. The idea was to make this music breathe, to give this sound some air, so we made it very organic. You can hear Daray playing harder and lighter, and sometimes you need to make some effort and pay real attention to get everything that’s really going on.
It’s like standing next to a live playing band on real instruments. We made it less rigid, and even some vocal parts that normally would go through some tuning plug-ins – we left as they were recorded.
We’re not infallible, we’re not perfect, we’re human and we wanted it to be heard.
The title of the album, Deus Ex Machina, has a lot of potential connotations and interpretations. Can you illuminate why you chose that as the title… what it means to you, as a band, and what message the album is trying to get across?
The overall impression after reading through the lyrics of the album is one of sorrow. It relates to a human being trapped in a hopeless situation, it shows no sense in anything, even being quite nihilistic sometimes.
I chose to entitle it Deus Ex Machina, which literally means ‘god from the machine’, which is a term that comes from ancient Greek tragedy where it meant a trick used in play, a godlike solution to the down-to-earth problems. When the plot was becoming simply unsolvable, suddenly a ‘god’ would show up to solve it. An actor playing god was lowered on stage from some sort of a machine, a crane, and then by his divine intervention things were made better.
In our case, deus ex machina is more like a calling for such a thing to happen, a need to get help. Still, it never comes. In one of the songs, deus ex machina comes down to the people, but he’s already dead before he touches the ground. The conclusion is that we’ll all be dying alone, and every life comes with a death sentence.
How was the recording process this time around? Better, or in any way different, than before?
It’s always rough for us and it always takes terrible amounts of time. I wish we were one of those bands that just plug in the amps, plays the songs, and that’s it. But in Vesania, the music is so multi-layered, so dependent on samples and keyboards… it’s just very demanding. Even if we don’t spend a super long time tracking things, we spend a lot of time mixing it.
It’s just the way it is here. This time was no different… maybe worse time wise! But still, the end result was very pleasing. We’ve done most of the things ourselves which makes us even more happy with what we’ve done after all.
You’ve just finished up a tour with the legendary Vader… how was it?
We’ve just got back from it and, I have to say, it was the best tour Vesania has ever been on. Apart from great company, great bands, great turnouts and reactions to us – this was the most creative tour for us.
The thing is we’re using very non-standard stage setup. It’s more like a theatre… there’s things reminiscent more of theatrical scenography than a metal show. And this setup made everyone come up with ideas, so every show was different, and most of the tour crew and bands were taking part and playing some roles in it.
At the Warsaw show we had (including us) 10 people on stage, and even Peter, Vader’s vocalist, was there playing his part. It was a lot of effort for everyone, but seeing all these people, who normally do hundreds of shows a year, repeating the same thing over and over… here they were all smiling and getting enthusiastically involved in our ideas. That made me very happy and I’m really thankful to everyone there.
Vesania have always had a very dramatic, visual, component. What inspired the new look?
I think we were just tired with doing the same thing again. We needed to make it look more theatrical and less sweaty, bloody and headbanging-like. There was always a lot of theatre and masks in our history, but simply not enough. We thought it was a right time to go further and make it all the way. We turned the whole idea of the band into a performance. And having very creative people around makes such things so much easier, even if it’s a lot of effort.
Finally, a couple of closing questions… First, when does the new album come out, and where can we get it from?
We’ve just released the new single track. “Innocence” and started a pre-order. The album will be out on 28th of October, on Metal Blade, so you’ll find it in good music stores. For now, you’re welcome to pre-order from Metal Blade website.
Also, what are your plans for the rest of the year, and for 2015 in general?
For now, I have some Behemoth commitments to fulfil this year. With Vesania, we’re working on some tours early next year. We’re also planning to show up at some festivals in 2015. We’ll push as much as we can. What is happening now, new record deal, this recent tour – it really keeps us going.
And, lastly, any final words or thoughts you want to share?
I’m just glad to be at the point I am now. This album means a lot to me, and hopefully there will be people sharing it with me. Let the show begin again!