1.Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?
LI: We are based in San Francisco. We play Death Metal.
KH: Sounds from the underworld.
DB: We got together first as Corpus. It was just me, Kyle, RD and a friend Spencer. It was meant to be a side project. We recorded 8 or 9 songs. Never released it. We had a range of influences then. We knew Leila from Saros. I am a big fan of theirs. She had seen Acephalix many times and appreciated our music and ideas. We thought Corpus could use a second guitarist so we asked her to join. We kept some songs but decided to started writing in a more death/doom vein. She came up with the name Vastum.
2. How would you describe your musical sound?
LI: We take inspiration from everything that is obscure in music. We sound dark low tuned death metal with low fucked up vocals and lyrics.
DB: Primitive death metal.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the music explores?
DB: We write about relationships between sexuality, violence, the unconscious, animality, desire, emotions, religion, corporeality, etc. There is also definitely a vision to explore perversion from a dark perspective, which is to say the under-explored perspective (i.e. non-male, non-heterosexual). This is why, in a primarily psychoanalytic sense, patricide is an important lyrical topic to both Vastum and Acephalix. The Father is the head. The Father is in belligerent denial of his own perversion. This perversion rests in deviating from the lawlessness of animality. So we have perversion born of perversion yet masquerading as civilization, the Father’s civilization. This civilization is structured by symbolic order: Man, Woman, Father, Mother, Brother, Sister... But really there is only Father. Language doesn’t permit the signification of any authentic self outside the Father. There is only Father-other. There is no Mother, no Brother. There is only Father. Unbeknownst to himself, it’s the Father whose suffering is deepest. It stems from an ancient shame related to the incest taboo. We are all infected with this shame. Certain spiritual, psychoanalytic, religious tools are a means of uprooting this shame and living in the grief and joy of a lawless, unpredictable, healthily violent existence. These are some ideas I like to write about.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
LAR: Vastum comes from the Latin term Vastus which simultaneously means waste, emptiness, vastness. It perfectly sums up what we write songs about: the waste, the filth that is a natural part of ourselves and the core of our pleasure as human beings, and that, through being “civilized”, we are taught to deny and feel shameful about, and stow away from hidden view.
DB: Vastum means waste in Latin. To me it means all the shit we’d rather just forget, the waste of our pasts, our ideas, our emotions, the waste of society. From a Bataillean perspective it means the ‘accursed share’--the cursed gift.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
LAR: I think the best shows we’ve played so far were two of our shows in West Oakland- one with Atriarch, and the other with Anhedonist, Ealdath and Dispirit. Our very first show early last year was pretty magical as well. Our stage performance varies; Dan engages more closely with the audience more than the rest of us, since he is the lead vocalist. Some nights the performances are crazier than others.
DB: The first show was kind of incredible. People responded really well.
My stage performance is unpredictable. I like to think I’m becoming an animal, that I’m performing animality. This means I try to lose control, which can happen physically by writhing and flailing around on stage but ultimately this loss of control is more of an ‘inner’ event. It can happen when I’m stationary. And in that moment the performance is immanent. I don’t need to make you believe it. I just need to be there. Unemployed negativity. But for me this is a challenge. The immanent moment is obstructed by many layers of ego.
6. Do you have any touring plans for the future?
LAR: Yes, we will be playing some Pacific Northwest dates in July, and plan to do more touring after our schedules free up from our other bands and tours.
DB: We are going to the Northwest in the first weekend of July to play a couple shows with our friends in Anhedonist. And we will be doing more touring beyond that for sure.
7. Currently you are singed to 20 Buck Spin, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support that they have given you so far?
LAR: We’re not officially “signed” to anybody. I contacted 20 Buck Spin earlier this year about releasing Carnal Law, sent them a cassette version and they liked it enough to put it out on cd. We’re grateful, and they’ve been incredibly supportive.
8. What is going on with the other bands these days?
KH: Acephalix is in the middle of recording a new album and is doing a West American underground Death Metal Tour with Undergang from Denmark in the end of May and then a European tour in Sep. Me and Luca have a new Death Metal band called Necrot that is writing right now and will be recording a demo in Aug.
LAR: I just finished recording my first album with Hammers of Misfortune. Amber Asylum is writing new material and will be touring Europe again in November 2011.
9. on a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music from death/doom metal fans?
LI: People around here liked the show…
LAR: Really positive; I’m amazed at how much press, local and worldwide, there has been already, even before the album’s release date.
10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
DB: I see it heading down the same path of dark, primitive death metal.
LI: The music direction is the same we took when we started. We’re just gonna get always better at it.
KH: More focused, More Evil.
11. What are some band or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
KH: Early Slayer, Abhorrence(Finland), Rottrevore, Early Cannibal Corpse, Convulse, Anatomia, Grave, early Immolation, Funebrarum, Early Morbid Angel.
LAR: Early Cathedral, Winter, early Carcass…
DB: Lots. Early Tiamat and Therion, Mythic, early The Chasm, Mystic Charm, Morpheus Descends, Torchure, Autopsy, early Cenotaph, Nuclear Death, current stuff: Sonne Adam, Antedilluvian, Blessed Offal, Anhedonist, Undergang, Necrovation, Grave Miasma, Burial Invocation, Vassafor, a lot more...
12. Does Occultism play any role in the music?
DB: I’d say religion plays a role, but not so much occultism. Religion in the sense of the french word religare. Translations of this word are “to bind” or to “reconnect”. Bataille famously wrote religion is the search for a lost intimacy. Vastum (and Acephalix) take up this idea, foolishly embarking on that search down a pathless path that seems to go somewhere.
KH: Death Metal is an important part of my spiritual path and expression so there is no separation of the two for me.
13. outside of music, what are some of your interests?
KH: Meditation, Yoga, Sex. Experiencing the sensual aspect of this reality.
LAR: I have a graduate degree in Audiology and Speech Sciences. I’m interested in the relationship between language development and the brain. I don’t have any interest in working professionally in this field (anymore), but it is a hobby interest of mine and always a fascinating conversation to have with others who study it as well. I love learning foreign languages but don’t speak any other language than English fluently. I’ve been working in the nonprofit fields for seven years, because I like to help people in need, and it also pays my bills. I like to travel a lot, and always have a desire to learn from others.
14. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
DB: No additional words other than thank you for the interview.
KH: Pay attention, this is all there is.