Wednesday, January 3, 2018

interview: Vesuvian

Vesuvian is a relatively new band on the stages of the state of Washington, U.S. In a couple of years the Seattle band has been working on their skills and sound, and they have an EP titled Lahar (2017) of melodic extreme metal that you can hear on Bandcamp. This publication contacted the band in order to get a better understanding of where things stand for them now that they have a recording.
Thank you, Vesuvian, for taking time to answer the questions.
Here is the interview.
Hello, Vesuvian! Metal Bulletin zine here. What’s good?! This is the first time that this publication interviews your band. So, tell us please, Vesuvian is a band from the rainy and grey state of Washington, but where specifically is the base of operations of the band? Where do you play shows the most in Washington?
First off, thank you for having us on here! Well we as members are scattered around the Seattle area, but our practice space (we call Vesuvius haha) is based in Puyallup, Wa. As for shows, locally we have played the circuit of Seattle, Everett, Fife and Olympia a lot, though we have been known to go on the other side of the pass to play shows in Kennewick and the like!
According to Metal Archives, this is the band:
Josh O'Neill: drums (2015-present)
Corvin Costache: guitars (2015-present)
Rider Ingalls: guitars, backing vocals (2015-present)
RJ Mitchell: vocals (2015-present)
Brandon Carnahan: bass (2016-present)
Is this accurate? By the way, who is answering this interview?
The 2015 on a few of us is actually technically inaccurate, due to this band’s first incarnation (started in 2014) had a different name, which we were all pretty new when it started, so we changed it to a name better suited to the concept behind the band, while also leaving some old amateur moves in the past! Also by the time this is out, it has been noted we have parted ways with our bass player Brandon, for creative and personal issues, it was a good move for both parties! Also, while the whole band is reading and giving feedback this is being typed out by RJ Mitchell the vocalist!
This publication does a concert calendar and I remember that a band called Ocean of Obsession was doing some shows in this region. Was Ocean of Obsession the same band as Vesuvian? Why did you all feel the need to change the name?
Yeah, that was us in our very raw and untested form, but as of now we do not play really any songs from that era. The name was picked out at that point by a group of people that were no longer with the band and as most of us were very young, (Corvin was still in high school) we ended up not being the best and didn’t want that old work to reflect on the band going forward.
I have been listening to your recording Lahar. Does your vocalist RJ Mitchell do both the growling and the melodic singing? If so, has this always been the case? Also, if so, how did RJ Mitchell discover that he could do both?
In the recording, yes, I do all of the screaming vocals, cleanwise there were some parts where we had backing harmonies done by our guitarist Corvin Costache, and the gang vocals was actual all five active members at the time. I have been doing the vast majority of both since the band started. One of our old bass players used to do some back then, but live I tend to do all of them with Rider doing some extra screams here and there!
Actually, I have a longer question: From looking at the pictures of the band, you all seem like a young band. I am right in assuming that RJ Mitchell was growling before he was singing? Was growling easier? How is this balance of growling and singing working out for the band at this point? Are you thinking that you would like to keep it at around 50/50?
That is a good question, overall we are a pretty young band on average we are all in our early to mid 20s. But in my first bands I found growling and screaming, as I was the only one who could really do it in any way, so I have been doing that the longest and am very comfortable with them, then I am on my cleans. As for the question of which is more difficult between the two styles, I would say clean is a lot harder, there is a lot more thought of melody and key which one has to put in to write out something good, as in screaming as long as it sounds good and fits tonally, it works! But as for the split this year it has been more on the screaming end. We have as a band decided to never go under a 70/30 scream to sing ratio, but in some of the new tracks we are looking to get our guitarist Corvin involved in some of the singing as well!
The Vesuvian guitar work has death metal, metalcore, deathcore, melodic death metal, and other extreme metal sounds. “The End of What We Knew” also has some very melodic guitar work. Both Killswitch Engage and Iron Maiden seem to coexist and get along very well in that song, and in the process it comes across as the Vesuvian melodic extreme metal sound that characterizes Lahar overall. “The Infection 1” leans a bit more in the direction of brutal metal. How has your guitarists’ thinking changed over time about the direction of the Vesuvian guitar sound? How do your guitarists see the rhythm and riffing for Vesuvian at this point, in comparison to the early days of the band?
I handed this one to Rider!
Well, we have a ton of influences, and they really come through across Lahar as a whole. “The End of What We Knew” is probably most in line with the direction we are heading in, but we are taking in elements of that entire album in the future as we write. We really liked the feel of that song in particular, though, so a lot of our newer songs tend to have a lot of the same melodicism that flows throughout that track, but we are also learning how to add more and more layers to our songs, throwing in more little complexities that greatly add to the cohesiveness of the new material. We’re very particular about our songs, even before playing them live, and part of that is that we want to have fun playing them just as much as we want the audience to enjoy hearing them. As of now, we are still growing and experimenting with our sound and we’re crazy optimistic about what’s been coming out lately!
I have read the lyrics. Are your lyrics based on relationships, mostly of love lost? “The Infection 2” could be about politics or religion or celebrities. It could be a horror movie, too! I’m not sure. How much does depression affect the nature of the lyrics?
Well, Vesuvian as a band has a conceptual narrative which flows through the bands songs, most of the time through the lyrics, but this EP is a small parable within the concept, in the overall scheme of it, the Lahar is the “big bang” to kind of kick off the concept! In a way, you have kind of touched very well on some of the ideas in the question as song one and two are both based on the antagonist of the concept “The Pestilent One” a creature of Lovecraftian horror, the herald of the plague which drove the last of the uninfected to take refuge in the great mountain.
While “Disfigured Archangel” is the story of how they were let go through emotional manipulation of the one guarding their cage, which is where the depression comes in, within the final survivors society emotion has been all but cast out, leaving most sitting in a constant state of apathy, or of depression of those who can sort of remember what it is like to feel. But while there is a story, it is based around real concepts and ideas, but as someone who enjoys interpreting what songs are “really about” beyond the baseline story that I am happy to share, the meaning behind it all I like to leave to the listeners imagination!
You curse in all the songs, except one. Malcolm X used to say that cursing could be a reflection of a lack of appropriate vocabulary, something along the lines that a person curses because they don’t have the words that they are thinking. Why do you curse in the songs? What is it a reflection of? Of youth and inexperience? Of the culture that you live in? Lots of metal bands curse on stage to look and sound macho and tough and brutal and manly. What is your thinking about this issue? Is there pressure for a vocalist to curse in the songs and on the stage in order to be cool or hip or trendy?
Honestly, I really enjoy this question! On the final cut of Lahar, there are five songs and in it two of the songs have swearing in it, while one is considered a “censored version.” It was the oldest song on the album and we decided that we would cut out the one swear word, as I was young and “edgy” so we felt the censored version of taking that one was the version we wanted. But the songs that do have swearing in it are used very sparingly, unlike film ratings you can’t have a Pg -13 film with light swearing that would not make it and R or “explicit”; in music terms it is very binary in that regard.
But as for the songs with swearing in them I find myself using them when the subject of the song is in a moment where no words seem to fit, like in archangel the person in the song has been subjected to so much manipulation they could not tell which way was up so it was a shrieking of pain and the end of what we know the protagonist of the concept is experiencing color for the first time, almost forcefully with no context in a since, they are learning all they knew was little to nothing of the real world around them. Most words have their place if the context is right, but on stage I don’t really swear even though I do a lot when off, but the projected bravado of metal bands of old is slowly fading into something new but in the heat of it all it is easy to roll into something like that. The idea of being forced to swear isn’t much of an issue if at all, but the idea when you are up there you want to be larger than life is always in the back of your head, like Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse swears a lot and is a scary dude, till he is off stage so it’s not really pressure beyond how you want to project yourself, I guess!
Vesuvian says that the music was recorded with Jason Dagget and with Ahren Lanfor. Can you please tell us who they are? I am not sure that I know. Are they sound engineers in the Seattle-Tacoma area? Do metal bands record with them a lot?
First and foremost, those two were super fun to work with and we are super thankful for the final product we were able to create with them! The first half of the EP was done with Jason Dagget, who is the bassist of the awesome band from the PNW called Avoid, he had worked with a few other bands we knew of and they all recommended him by name, though after us I am not sure if he is taking on any other clients as of late as Avoid seems to always be on tour! And Ahren is slowly becoming the go-to guy for recording around here, he is also the bassist for the band Lo‘There, so he knows how bands function inside and out as well, he recently got a very big studio upgrade from when he recorded us and the roster of bands around here he has recorded is only getting larger by the moment!
Now that Vesuvian has an EP, where does that lead to at this point? For you as a band, what were some purposes of doing the EP? To see what you sound like at this point? To test and see if all of you are happy with the results? I sense that Vesuvian is still settling on a particular sound. I am wrong in assuming that you want to test the waters before you commit to a full-length album? Vesuvian seems fluid and open to change, that you want to improve your sound and get better as musicians. Do you feel like you are getting close to the Vesuvian identity? Whatever the Vesuvian identity will be, are you all feeling more comfortable, like you are getting closer to where you want to be in your sound?
For sure we were very happy with what became of that EP, it was a kind of here is what we got to show the world what we sound like and it seemed to go over with people pretty well. You are very true about us settling into our sound, since the EP we have definitely been tuning into what we really want Vesuvian to sound like! We are demoing out what will be the LP as this is being written and in the first time in the almost four years we have been a thing we are finally close to be what that identity may be and we will not commit to that full-length till we have it completely locked down, we are very comfortable in writing with our core members as of late, and are excited to start playing some of these new songs live!
Are you pleased with the response to your music so far in Washington state? You seem to play lots of shows. Has putting your recording on Bandcamp been worthwhile for Vesuvian? Is your music available also on other formats like iTunes and Spotify and names like that? Also, do you have shirts for people to buy and show their support? Where can people get your shirts or hats and stuff?
So far, since the release of Lahar we have taken it on the road and played a lot of shows locally, to a success none of us expected it has been great, crowds have gotten better, mosh pits have erupted without us even asking for it, this mixed with the national shows we have gotten to play as of late have all but sell out of our first physical pressing! We currently have it available anywhere you can find music sans Pandora but Spotify, iTunes Amazon, etc. has us in full force! We actually have sold out of all three of our t-shirt pressings this year, but are in the midst of creating an online store and getting more merch out there!
Vesuvian also has a secret weapon: Melissa Barns, Cindy Lopez and Ashley Burdic. What do they do for the band and how do they help you a band to continue in the music business? Vesuvian is a band, of course, but there are other people behind the scenes working for Vesuvian, correct? You kind of need a whole team to keep the Vesuvian machine going, right?
These three names you dropped are of our amazing merch girls, but in all honesty they are so much more! They are also our street team, help promote the band to everyone at shows or just wherever they happen to be and are also helping with online sales. Beyond that we don’t really have anyone but the four of us running this whole thing, I have taken charge as the acting manager and am the main booking contact; we all do our part keeping the wheels rolling, we are looking in 2018 to potentially sign with some form of management as while all involved is good at what we do, it would be nice to have someone who knows more to keep up our current pace!
Do you have any news about upcoming Vesuvian activities? I sense that you have an album in the works, but you don’t want to tell us yet, so you probably don’t want to mention it! Thank you for your time!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! But we have a few shows early in 2018, but after those we are stepping in the studio while we work on the full-length to track some singles and get some things online that are more than just the music! But overall we are going to play as many shows as we can while we get these things ready, at the moment the LP has a name and a concept behind it, but anything else I am not able to tell at this time, but next year will be a very intense year for the Vesuvian faithful!
Thanks again for having us on here,

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