Angel Vivaldi – Addicted to InspirationThursday, 6th December 2018
In the last few years, it seems that Angel Vivaldi has been practically living on the road. In addition to tours directly supporting a new release, he has also been conducting Guitar Collective tours, of which this year’s iteration also includes Nita Strauss and Jacky Vincent. Always pooling guitar talent for these, they are a must-see among the guitar and metal communities. Always with some energy and charisma in tow, Vivaldi sat down with us for a few moments in New Jersey before his set at Dingbatz. We go through some information and upcoming Synapse-related affairs, his thoughts on the Guitar Collective and touring, as some of his passions outside of music.
Dead Rhetoric: How much say do you have in these Guitar Collective tours?
Angel Vivaldi: It’s pretty much my tour. I do it every year – I try to switch it up. I try to give people who may not have had a chance to play live and give the audience a chance to see a new artist. This being Nita [Strauss]’ first solo tour it was the perfect platform.
Dead Rhetoric: What inspires you to have these tours with other guitarists?
Vivaldi: My addiction to being inspired. They inspire me – there’s a mutual respect on the basis of them doing something that I can’t or me doing something that they can’t. At the end of each night, we do a big jam so you can see everyone and their different styles and approaches. With Nita, her record is very heavy, surprisingly. Especially being a female, I think a lot of people expect it to be soft but it’s very no-holds bars and very badass. With Jacky [Vincent], he’s very much into EDM, as I am. But I’m all over the place – I have my ballads, my heavy tech metal, etc. We all have different influences and foundations, and that is the place to showcase it. It’s a good time!
Dead Rhetoric: One of the things that came up last time we spoke, around the release of Synapse, was that you already looking at some new material. Is there anything in motion at this point? I know Away with Words Part II is also on the horizon.
Vivaldi: Yeah, that’s pretty much what is next. It’s an all-acoustic record, which is brave but I’m going to do it anyway. That will probably be out sometime late next year. I have a bit of touring still with Synapse, an entire documentary series I have to do still with Synapse – it’s a very robust album cycle. It will probably last about two years, but yeah, I have a lot of stuff [ahead].
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the Synapse documentary a bit?
Vivaldi: It’s a series – it’s all of the footage of me writing the record, and the concept of how I painted the rooms and stuff like that. It’s probably going to be a 9-part series. I wanted to get it done before this tour happened. I was working on it pretty steadily but Oli [Herbert] passed away and he’s in a lot of the footage for “Dopamine” and I just couldn’t really watch it. It was a little bit too raw. So I put it on hold until January, when it will probably see the light of day.
There’s a lot of content – over the course of the year, I filmed mostly everything. I have to relive the entire experience in a couple of months, then I have to edit it – I do it all myself. It’s a lot of work but I remember all those moments. I’m looking forward to it to be honest.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s something that you get to do that expresses a different type of creativity than just guitar playing.
Vivaldi: For sure. All my playthroughs I do myself. Any demos that I do for Charvel I do myself. I am pretty hands on with that sort of stuff. Same thing with music videos, at least the bigger production ones. I can’t shoot myself, so I leave that – I work with quite a few production companies and that’s what they do 100% of the time. I am doing guitar, songwriting, videos, websites, whatever…I also have a management company as well. I’m spread quite thin, so they take my ideas and go with it. So I leave that to them [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: You are on the road constantly it seems. What are some of the ups and downs that go along with it?
Vivaldi: To be honest, I’ve had a pretty rough go at it with touring. I’ve been touring every three months for the past three years: the States, Canada, Europe. Every tour teaches me something different. The biggest thing is how to relate to people, and how to adjust your own temperament to other people, when they maybe aren’t as self-aware as you are in terms of vibes and intuition. The interesting thing is that I try to switch it up every tour. I see a lot of the same fans that come out, and I see a lot of new fans. I want to give the old fans something different, something new, and something fun. I want to play things I haven’t played before. I do the light show myself, so I’m trying to do something different with that too.
I’ve headlined most of my own tours and it’s becoming exhausting. There’s so much responsibility. You are talking about making a light show for a 50 minute set, doing the set and the transitions. Luckily I have the most amazing musicians on the planet playing for me, so I don’t have to worry about that. But just the logistics of getting the bus, the crew, and a tour manager, it’s a lot. But I learn something on each tour, and I get a little bit better with each one. I feel like when I finally do get that direct support for a much bigger band, I’m going to be so seasoned that it will be a seamless transition to level up.
Dead Rhetoric: I read that you and Nita are doing a different approach with the VIP, which I thought was kind of cool. Could you discuss your approach?
Vivaldi: On the last VIP I did something different as well. I actually jammed with all the VIPs. It was an improvisation – I sent them the backing tracks in advance and they chose which one they wanted to do and they came out and played. It was like a beautiful conversation when they came out. That was amazing to see – having these amazing players have something different to say over music I wrote and am emotionally attached to.
This time around, Nita and I have energies that complement each other beautifully. Her blue and my yellow make a beautiful green. When we both speak, we are very much about lifestyle stuff, positivity, motivational speaking, but very honest. I think that makes it different. We are very candid about our personal struggles and stuff that we don’t really talk too much about in press. It really depends on what the VIPs want. It’s their time. However they want to direct it, whether its guitar stuff, working out, or nutrition, it’s catered to them 100%.
Dead Rhetoric: With all of the VIP stuff nowadays, so many bands just have fans come in like a herd, shake a hand and take a quick picture, so it’s really awesome what you are doing.
Vivaldi: That’s not us – we definitely don’t take our fans for granted in any way, shape, or form. We want to honor that for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: Another thing that struck me last time was you describing your guitar as a voice. How would you describe your voice, and the way you project it on stage?
Vivaldi: I think on stage, compared to listening to a record, is starkly different. You have a lot of visuals that perpetuate and in some cases exaggerate what you are trying to say. Whether I’m trying to be very tongue & cheek or funny, or just very serious. With using the guitar as a vessel for me, on a record it’s just audio. But when you are doing a live thing, your body wears the voice as well in a sense. I’m not a cardboard cutout, I’m having a great time.
I think its important for people to see you having a good time, because then they are going to have a good time too. If you are just standing there, then people are just going to stand there too, with their arms crossed. Which I respect that – I don’t judge how anyone perceives me when I’m doing a show, especially when I’m touring Europe and it’s very different. The States is very stoic, which is fine, but having the light show and production that I have, it emphasizes the mood of the song a little bit more. I look at that platform as an opportunity and take advantage of it. That’s why I put a lot of work into the show and how the flow is, down to transitions. I do a little tribute to Oli on this tour, so that’s a big one too. He is one of my guitar heroes and he was a close friend of mine as well. I looked up to him, so we peppered some All That Remains riffs here and there, which should be really fun.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned doing the lights, so do you have it set up differently for all of the Synapse songs that have different colors associated with them?
Vivaldi: Funny you mention that but yeah, on the last tour I played the record from beginning to end and that’s exactly what I did. When I painted my walls red for “Adrenaline” all the lights were red and they were popping in and out. It was very difficult to do because it is limiting and you have to be creative. If you are going down one street, there’s only so many ways you can go. “Dopamine” was a hard one because it was black. What the hell am I supposed to do for black [laughs]? I can’t have black lights up there, so I really had to think outside the box, and “Synapse” was all the colors, so I had a white wall splattered with all of the colors all over it. The visual representation…I was very overly caffeinated when I was doing “Synapse,” and I was like ‘I don’t want it to be too much but I definitely wanted it to be like you ate an entire bag of Skittles in one shot.’
Dead Rhetoric: Circling back to what we said about ‘the voice,’ what speaks to you when you write music?
Vivaldi: It takes me so long to write a record, so I think life experiences shape me as a person and it shapes my intention. It sets the premise of my intention when I go to write. A lot of bands want to write/tour/write/tour, and a lot of their records sound exactly the same. It’s one thing to have a sound, but it’s one thing to have a sound that you can evolve. That’s why my records sound so different, because I can take 3-4 years and just level up and let my experiences help to inspire me. The more I mature, it’s evident. There’s a big difference between Speed of Dark and Synapse, but you can still tell it’s me.
Dead Rhetoric: This is a little on the nose since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but what are you thankful for at this point in your career?
Vivaldi: I’m honestly thankful to be touring with such incredible people. I think this is the third tour where it’s absolutely perfect. Everyone’s energy complements each other – from the driver to the band members and crew. I’m incredibly thankful for that. It’s very difficult when you are trying to get everyone’s red, blue, green, and whatever to complement everyone else. This time it seems to be going incredibly smoothly. I definitely don’t take that for granted.
And obviously my fans. I’m celebrating 15 years doing this and they are the reason why I do it. As many rough goes as I have had on touring, I continue to do it for them. I don’t financially need to. I can stay at home and make all the money I can and enjoy it releasing records, and living a very comfortable life. But I do this for them, I love performing live but I genuinely do it for them.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you enjoy outside of continually being on tour and writing music?
Vivaldi: I really enjoy interior design and cinematography. Those are two things that I really fuse into my art, as far as being a musician. Synapse is a big indicator of that. I did gymnastics for like 6 years back in the day. I’m really into choreography – if you’ve seen the “Serotonin” video, there you go. It’s pretty evident there. I think I just love creating in general. Whether it’s one art form or another, I know that’s my purpose here, across the board. I try to get better at every little thing I possibly can, because eventually I find a way to bring it back to my nucleus, which is music.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your plans next year, outside of the documentary we talked about and Away with Words II?
Vivaldi: As of right now, the documentary is the first thing that is on deck. I also have these visual streams – in the artwork of Synapse, there’s a photo for every song. For “Adrenaline,” we set a guy on fire – there’s no Photoshop, we set him on fire. I have video footage of all the photos being taken. So instead of just uploading the artwork, I’m calling these visual streams because it’s all of the behind the scenes footage of photos being taken. So there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff, but it’s all very artistically done in a certain way. So there are those two things coming up, and I have one very exciting thing coming up that the fans have been asking for a long time. I can’t say what it is yet, but it’s going to be released after this tour, right around Christmas. So it’ll be my Christmas present to them [laughs].