FEBRUARY 27th, 2014
Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal entertainment worldwide. We are here talking with HAND OF DOOM, vocalist of VAMPIRE out of Sweden. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.
Thank you for having me!
1. What was the inspiration behind the band name VAMPIRE ?
I initially suggested Strigoi, which (supposedly) is Romanian for “vampire” or “undead”. Then Black String came up with Vampire, and we quickly agreed on that. Quite unbelievably, no other band ever released an album under that name. Us choosing it doesn’t have very much to do with an appreciation of vampire movies/books. Rather, Vampire is one of those simple, effective names that no one will ever have to ask you twice about. I mean, Nyogthaeblisz is a brilliant band, but I still don’t know what they are actually called.
2. You have some unique band member names, how did you decide to come up with those ?
We wanted something that went well with the brutality and darkness of the music and that suggested a weird randomness (instead of us all adopting names from the Lovecraft mythos or using our initials, e.g.). Hand of Doom is picked from the Black Sabbath song with the same name, and was initially a reference to my writing all the lyrics and playing the drums (handing out doom, as it were). I think Black String took his name in homage of the Root drummer Black Drum. Command is a big fan of the Exciter album ‘The Dark Command’. Ratwing likes aeroplanes.
3. Tell us how each of the members came to be in the band :
Me and Black String (guitars) got together and started making music without a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve around 2009. We spent a year or two downing beers and switching instruments before Command (bass) came along. I can actually give the exact date when we realized our aim with VAMPIRE. It was the 3rd of July 2011. We pre-loaded for the Slayer/Metallica gig at my place and listened to the Necrophagia song “Young Burial” that is on the New Renaissance sampler “Thrash Metal Attack”. We looked at each other and said, “This is it” (“Young Burial” is an impossibly ugly song). Then we quite instantly found our sound and started writing the songs that are on the demo. We recorded them in April and hooked up with Ljudkassett at the beginning of summer 2012. Almost as soon as the demo was out in the fall of 2012, record companies started throwing deals after us, but we took our time and settled with Century Media in the fall of 2013. At that time, Ratwing (drums) had already been drafted as a full-time member, after having played a few shows with us as session member.
4. There is a few death metal bands out of Sweden, is it hard to gather your own fan base when there are others to compete with ?
For us, obviously it hasn’t…But then again, we don’t claim a fan base of our own. My impression is that people who like this kind of music usually listen to hundreds of similar bands, and there is no competition between Vampire and our likes, regardless of their country of origin. However, for some reason we seem to have managed to reach out to people who are not very familiar with death metal but who have found something they like in our music nevertheless. That is almost cooler than attracting the record collectors who will get into anything with electric guitars and scary vocals and then quickly move on to the next comfortingly familiar scene thing.
5. On March 18th you will be releasing your self titled debut album through Century Media Records in North America, what do you hope will happen with this release ?
Century Media can hopefully help us reach out to new listeners and possibly get us out on tour. That’s what I expect from a label of their size and reputation. As for the album in particular, I hope people with good taste of music will appreciate it for what it is. We are quite humble with what it means to release an album these days.
6. What made you self title this album ?
We simply couldn’t agree on a title, and having no title makes sense on a debut album. I suggested ‘Death Strike From Under Ground’, which is almost a quote from the song “At Midnight I’ll Possess Your Corpse”, but I can see now that my Word spell check doesn’t approve of the grammar in that phrase, so maybe it was for the better that we didn’t agree on that.
7. You have 10 tracks on this album, how did you choose which songs to put on the CD?
We made one sequence each of the songs that we had recorded, where we also suggested what songs should be omitted (we had recorded slightly more material than what we “needed”), and then agreed on the best alternative. It is not only a matter of putting the songs together in a dramaturgically effective sequence, but also about paying attention e.g. to what key the songs start in. You wouldn’t think that matters very much, but listen to a Disgorge album and tell me there isn’t something itchy about the way you can’t tell the songs apart.
8. The artist for the album was Mattias Frisk, is this the first time you have used him ?
No, he is also the artist behind the demo/7” cover artwork.
9. Did you supply the ideas and then he created this image ?
Yes, we had a quite clear image of what we wanted, and he followed our instructions carefully. When he was close to finished, we gave him very minute feedback in a couple of rounds, to have it exactly the way we wanted it. The idea was to have something that resembled the Vampire aesthetics that people would recognize, and at the same time communicate the type of aggressive “buy me!” vibe from e.g. the Iron Maiden covers of the 80’s.
10. Who creates the lyrics for your songs ? And where does the inspirations come from?
I do, with the occasional assistance from Black String. Obviously I draw lots of inspiration from horror fiction, not least contemporary horror literature from Sweden (I can recommend Andreas Marklund and Anders Fager), but also from classic Gothic literature from the 1800’s, very visceral and atmospheric zombie films from Italy, J-horror, mainstream classics from the 70’s and 80’s…I’ve been a fan since childhood, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the other members in the band share that interest. The important thing for us is that the lyrics gel with the vibe of the music. We usually don’t discuss lyrics, but I have a feeling the other Vampire members trust me that I know what I am doing.
11. Is there a song on your new album that might be one of your favourites ? Why that one ?
That changes from day to day, but I am very happy with the lyrics for “The Fen”, which I wrote at the beginning of summer when staying overnight in a remote house on the countryside. It was the time of the year when nights are very short and the sudden flux of life around the lake – dragon flies, the loom, and things I don’t know the name of – make it an eerily busy place. That song is also one of our most well composed.
12. Was it a long process from writing to actually getting it all down on the CD ?
We wrote the very first songs for Vampire in the fall of 2011, if memory serves, and these are the ones that are on the demo. Two of those ended up on the album, which was recorded in the fall of 2013, so there you have it: two years from start to finish. The last couple of songs were finished only a few of weeks before we entered the studio, and as a member of the band I can hear a certain difference in terms of their level of detail, compared to the more carefully wrought out songs. Some songs go through any number of adjustments, additions and omissions before we’re happy with them, and honestly, these tend to be the very best ones. You can compare it with writing anything; if you are not an idiot, you revise your job application several times before submitting it to an employer. I would suggest the merit of spontaneous creativity is a myth, especially when it comes to metal.
13. Where did you do the recordings ?
At Svenska Grammofonstudion and in our rehearsal room (which we call Seven Gates Studios on the album). Svenska Grammofonstudion is owned by members of the Swedish rock group The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and is a veritable goldmine for vintage equipment. You can find just about anything you never knew you needed if you open the right door in that place. The sound effects in the intro to the song “The Fen” is me banging two things together that I found when digging around in the percussion storage room. Black String was laying down some guitars and I got bored. Voila: ghastly ambience.
14. When the album is released, do you plan on doing some touring in support ?
That will definitely happen, but I don’t know any details yet, as it is all very vague. No US plans as of now, sorry. If you know any reliable promoters, encourage them to get in touch.
15. When do you find that you're the most creative with your music ?
That’s a very interesting question. When only me and Black String are in the rehearsal room, we usually sit down with one guitar each in our laps and go over recent song ideas we both have. It usually ends with me adding something to an original idea of his, or vice versa, and we sit there playing those ugly riffs together without the amps on and just go, “yes, that’s really something!”. Every now and then, we will get into a sort of creative fit and I’ll jump between the drum kit and we’ll start arranging the song ideas with drum beats and will record really hideous sounding demo takes on our telephones’ voice recorders. Best case, these sketches eventually turn into proper songs, but that means a lot of, often less inspirational, work.
I suppose the condition for ever getting into these situations in the rehearsal room is to have some material to throw around together in the first place. I usually get the very best ideas whenever I have five minutes while waiting for my eggs to boil and pick up my acoustic guitar and sit down on the couch in my living room and just play…anything. The best ideas usually come in twos. E.g. the first two riffs in “At Midnight I’ll Possess Your Corpse” were written like that, and the three riffs that make the verses in “Jaws Of The Unknown” were put together in like ten minutes or so. The difficult part is to come up with really simple, but at the same time very rhythmic and primal, guitar stuff. Two ugly riffs that go very well together are usually more useful for making a new song than one really brilliant riff.
16. Is there anything that you would like to add that I may have missed asking, that you think people should know about Vampire ?
Sök och du ska finna. ( Search and you shall find )
Tack (Thank you) for taking the time to do this interview with us here at Metaltitans, and we wish you much success with your new album.