Vektor – This Is Not An ExerciseSunday, 31st March 2013
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)
While the retro thrash movement appears to have reached its (very welcome) nadir, along trucks sci-fi thrashers Vektor. Able to allude many of the unfortunate trappings of the high-tops and jean jacket crowd, these Philadelphia-by-way-of-Tempe thrash upstarts already have two widely-acclaimed albums under the belts in the form of 2009’s Bleak Future and more recently, last year’s excellent Outer Isolation. The latter is the utter definition of advanced thrash, the sort that Watchtower and Coroner would be parading if they were still active recording artists today. Credit this to main dude David DiSanto’s deft knowledge of technical thrash, which when combined with his love for science fiction, turns these lads into a perfect cross of Agent Steel and Voivod.
Lots on the docket to discuss with DiSanto, including a boost in the promo department thanks to Heavy Artillery’s fresh union with Earache, how they plan on following up Outer Isolation, and why the band is somehow connected to the movie Total Recall. Read on…
Blistering.com: I read somewhere you relocated to Philadelphia from Tempe. What made you trek across the country for a new locale? Was it done in order to play more shows and get better tours?
David DiSanto: Yeah, absolutely. The main reason we moved was to play more shows on the East coast. We toured the East a couple times before and liked where Philly was located, plus the people there are all very cool. We were all getting sick of being stranded out in the middle of a boring desert and we needed a change of scenery. We have played countless shows in California and we wanted to spread the Vektor disease in other parts of the country.
Blistering.com: Heavy Artillery recently joined forces with Earache. What are your hopes/expectations for this?
DiSanto: There have already been talks about more extensive tours that we could never afford before. Earache is pushing for us to go overseas, so that will happen pretty soon. We’re extremely stoked to have some tour support, finally. There are rumors of us going to Europe and Japan soon, so we really hope it will all work out. There is nothing confirmed yet, but at least it is in sight for us now.
Blistering.com: You could be seen as sort of a black sheep in the thrash genre right now. Do you feel more ties to technically-inclined bands like Coroner and Watchtower than traditional acts like Exodus, Slayer, etc.?
DiSanto: Yeah, you could say that. We love all the classic thrash acts of the 80’s, but we also really like the more technical bands in thrash. We like being the black sheep of thrash. It’s all about being true to yourself and creating something unique. It puts us in a cool position too because we’re able to play with a wide variety of metal bands.
Blistering.com: Outer Isolation certainly pushes the technical envelope. Did you ever have any moments when writing or in the studio where you thought you went too far?
DiSanto: By the time we took the songs to the studio we were extremely stoked to get the tracks laid down. The only song where we thought we might have gone too far was the title track, “Outer Isolation” because we barely had any time to practice it. I finished writing it only a couple weeks before Blake got to lay down his drums, so that was pretty stressful. We weren’t quite sure how it would turn out because we only got through it once or twice as a full band before we had to record it. All of the rest of the songs were very planned out though. I went into the writing process not wanting to stray from the Vektor sound while also evolving the band musically. I think we found a good middle ground to where we could please the fans of Black Future while also reaching out to a broader audience. On that note, we love the fact that we’re gaining a lot of fans, but at the end of the day we have to write the music for ourselves and be proud of what we do.
Blistering.com: Furthermore, where can the band go in terms of technical metal?
DiSanto: We don’t really have a direction or an ultimate goal. Each song is its own unique entity. In that regard there’s really no limit to where our music can go. At the same time, we don’t like a bunch of guitar wankery. I’m a big fan of awesome riffs that get you banging your head, and you can’t really bang your head to something that’s too complex. Basically, we never want to become too technical. We always want to have elements of good old thrashing riffs.
Blistering.com: Outer Isolation essentially improves upon Black Future. With your third album, what do you have planned?
DiSanto: I think we really figured out our sound with Outer Isolation The next album will be very similar while continuing to evolve. We are going to do a concept album which will take off where the song “Outer Isolation” ends. It will continue the lone astronaut’s journey through the deepest parts of space and tell a story about the philosophy of life, death, and where humans fit into the scheme of things. We’ve already worked out a few songs and they are sounding incredible. There’s a ton of thrashy riffs, and a lot of Vektor weirdness and strange new chords. They’re some of the best compositions we’ve done.
Blistering.com: Your vocals are one of Vektor’s defining elements. They’re quite different than most vocalists of your ilk…they’re almost futuristic in a way. When did you stumble upon the fact you could sing in such a manner?
DiSanto: Thank you. I always used to sing along to music in my car like goofy teenagers do. My favorite albums to sing along to when I was 16 or so were Metallica’s Kill em’ All and Emperor’s Prometheus. The thing I like about both of those albums are the multidimensional aspects to the vocals. Young Hetfield and Isahn both did this lower growl sound with a higher screechiness to it. I tried to emulate them in a way and ended up sounding the way I do. After that I got into Destruction and Kreator and Schmier and Mille both helped refine my vocal style. Playing sci-fi metal led to a lot of experimentation with my vocals and I started doing different things like the robotic sounding vocals in some of our slower parts. For the record, I don’t use any effects on my voice to get those sounds (besides reverb and delay) and all of my screams are outward. People always think my screams are inward, but that just makes me cough, ha-ha.
Blistering.com: The science fiction angle of your lyrics presents a connection to someone like Agent Steel. Do you see it that way and/or were you influenced by them?
DiSanto: Nah, I just wanted to combine thrash with sci-fi because those were the things that interested me the most. I didn’t even know about Voivod when I first started writing the riffs to “Destroying the Cosmos” back in 2000. I was unaware at the time that anyone had really brought sci-fi together with thrash, but I was obviously just a teen who hadn’t heard it all. I was stoked when I found out about Agent Steel and Voivod because it filled a musical void for me that I had been looking for.
Blistering.com: In a way, science fiction is oftentimes associated with people with “nerd-like” qualities. Are people thrown off by the fact that you’re interested in both sci-fi and metal?
DiSanto: I don’t really care for overly judgmental people. I like what I like and that’s all that matters to me. I think sci-fi and metal fit perfectly with each other, and it seems that most people see it that way too when they hear us.
Blistering.com: Because your logo bears some similarities to them, Voivod will always be a band in reference with you. However, you don’t sound like them. Lazy journalism or guilt by (logo) association?
DiSanto: We’re honored that people link us to Voivod because they’re awesome, but we never thought it would be such a big deal because we sound pretty different. I made the logo to look like a sci-fi spaceship, and I wasn’t consciously trying to go for the Voivod aesthetic. We wanted a logo that fit our sound, and that’s what I tried to do when I made it. It’s funny how a lot of death, black, and thrash metal bands all have very similar logos within their respective genres, but it wasn’t a big deal until we came into the scene. There are also a ton of thrash bands with Nuclear Assault-style logos. It doesn’t really bother me though. Once people hear us they realize that we’re doing our own thing.
Blistering.com: What are your thoughts on the new version of Total Recall? From my standpoint, they should have left the original as-is…
DiSanto: I haven’t had time to see it yet. I was pretty pissed when I first heard about it, but apparently it follows the book more than the original movie did. I’ll have to wait to pass judgment until I see it, but the original will always be a classic. Any movie with Arnold in it should be left alone, ha-ha. About the new Total Recall… We met one of the best fans ever and now a good friend on our last West Coast tour in L.A. His name’s Siavash and he’s a stuntman in the new Total Recall. We got totally stoked to hear that he was such a diehard fan.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2012?
DiSanto: We’ll be touring a lot. We’re finishing up this U.S. tour in September, and then we’re going back out on the road in late October with Exhumed, Napalm Death, and Municipal Waste. We so stoked for that! So, look for us and hopefully we’ll be landing our shuttle in your town.