Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vintage Warlords Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

   Conor Byers: It really came together organically. Thomas and I worked together for a little while and I used to blast my Ipod over the main speakers. We figured out real quick that we had a lot in common as far as musical tastes go. Behemoth, Celtic Frost, Tryptikon, Paradise Lost, Gojira etc. I was in a band at the time that wasn't really my style and Tommy asked me what would my "dream band" sound like? After talking about how much I love doom/death metal we realized we were both on the exact same page. He wrote some stuff and had me listen to it and I was an instant fan. I knew right away this was something that was right up my ally. He ended up getting a new job but we continued to email back and forth until we had the blue prints for what eventually became Vintage Warlords. It's so rare to find two people that are on the same page and just clicked right away like we did. I couldn't be happier about how seamless this process has been.

2.In May you had released an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

   Thomas:  The music is very bleak, abyssmal, hopeless, and soul crushing. As most good bands do, we tried to invoke the bands that have inspired us to create our own unique vision. I think we have achieved that with "The Invisible Foe" and we will continue to develop our sound as time goes on.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explore with your music?
   Conor: Some of the stuff that ended up becoming "Orange to Gray" and "Exodus of Souls" I had already written pieces of before this whole thing came about. I've always been fascinated by war. To be more specific I've always been interested in what it's like playing a very small role in a massive army. In chess terms, what is it like being the expendable pawn? Does the teenage soldier that died in a ditch because frost set in over night feel like he died a glorious death? What is glory for that matter and who does it shine down upon? I really wanted to bring THAT side of war to the forefront. Not the epic battles with the shining metal, with heroes and villains and all that, but more the psychological aspect. What's going through a soldiers mind when they're sitting around in the cold and damp and just waiting?  War is a lot about waiting... Battles are 5% of what a soldier goes through.
   "Orange to Gray" is very much a love song. "Can I wash the blood from my skin? So that I may touch your face again" Here's a soldier a million miles away from home doing terrible things wondering if he's even worthy of making it home and seeing his long lost love. "How can a man like me find salvation after all the wretched things I've done" is the reflection of a career soldier who wants to understand his place in the world once war is finished with him. I also wanted to make sure that all of the lyrics could be applied to any culture or any time period. I purposely threw pieces of different cultures and time periods into "Exodus of Souls" for example. I mention both Valhalla and Tartarus which are after-life concepts from separate eras and cultures. I don't know of anyone that has taken this approach to writing about war despite the plethora of bands out there that write about swords and sorcery and all that. This is my take. The bottom line is I have no interest in being Hammerfall with growling. The idea of taking a more cerebral approach to the subject appeals to me more.

4.In your past bands you played more of a black or death metal style but on the ep you go for more of doom/death metal style, what was the decision behind going into this musical direction?

 Thomas: Honestly, that was our goal from the beginning. Conor touched on it a bit in the first question, but we decided to go this route through chatting at work and brainstorming. We challenged ourselves by asking the question,  in a perfect scenario, what would we like to be playing? - Vintage Warlords is what came out.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Vintage Warlords'?
   Conor: My lyrics focus on the nuances of war and both Thomas and I are inspired by all of the bands we grew up on. We're a new band but with a healthy amount of respect for all of the bands that we enjoy that helped lay down the foundation for what we are doing. Vintage Warlords suites us.

  Thomas: Conor came up with the name and as he said, it was inspired on his very unique focus on war. The psychological side of war, the waiting, the wondering, the fear, the anxiety, paired with battling the elements, are things that all soldiers of any time period have faced.... Hence Vintage Warlords...
6.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you planning on expanding the line up in the future or do you chose to remain a duo?

   Conor: We haven't discussed it too much but I've always felt that even if we bring others into the picture it'll be in a sort of mercenary role. Hired guns if you will. I think Thomas and I work so well together because we are completely on the same page... bringing another perspective in could muddle our vision for what Vintage Warlords is now and should be in the future.

  Thomas:  Hard to say at the time, but couldn't agree more with Conor.

7.The ep was released on Redefining Darkness Records, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

   Thomas: That's a bit of an involved answer. I am actually the owner of Redefining Darkness Records and sister label, Seeing Red Records. I decided to release Vintage Warlords as the label's debut release more or less as an experiment. If I was going to make any mistakes or have any hiccups on a first release, I'd rather fuck up my own then someone else's. Haha
    Redefining Darkness and Seeing Red Records came from having a lot of friends in the industry that either  are involved in new bands, or are still playing with their original band, but have amazing side projects. I think thats how most labels begin...I have a lot of friends that are making great music that I want to help get out to the rest of the world. I've just recently started reaching out to other bands whom I've stumbled across and really dig.
     Redefining Darkness has a number of releases coming soon including classic Decrepit releases on vinyl, From the Hellmouth (featuring Alan Cassidy of Black Dahlia Murder), Xul (Canada), and some other surprises. Likewise, Seeing Red Records has some releases scheduled for Summer/Fall including Gore Punch (featuring members of System Divide, Malignancy / Fear Factory), Haul (Indonesia), Mutilatred, Serpent Speech, Axe Ripper, True Cross and Shit Life.

8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of doom and death metal?

   Thomas:   Quite honestly, I'm humbled by the fantasic response. Everyone into death/doom have been very receptive and we have received quite a bit of press from online as well as print media. Always stoked to find another review out there, and there are still a bunch popping up being that the EP has only been out for about a month now...feels like much longer...haha. Hoping the positive feedback will continue, we're very happy with how the EP turned out, and can't wait to get to work on new material.

9.When can we expect a full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
  Thomas: Speaking of new material...yeah, it probably won't be for quite a while. Besides running both of these labels which are brand new, I still have a pretty demanding day job that I am fond of, I have a family / kids, and to top it off I have a slew of other projects waiting to be released. I have a grind band called To Dust which will be releasing a split 7" on Give Praise Records this Summer with Bent Sea (Dirk Verbeuren, Shane Embury, Sven De Caluwe's grind project). I also am just wrapping up a death metal project called, Humanity is Cancer, with Lyle Cooper (ex-Faceless) who completely crushes on this album - very stoked for people to hear this! So, to answer your question, hopefully sometime in 2016 will see a new Vintage Walrords.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
  Conor: I'm influenced by so many groups and artists that its hard for even me to tell you what has influenced me. I love doom and death metal. Paradise Lost, Novembers Doom, My Dying Bride, Serpentine Path, Behemoth, Gojira, Katatonia, Vallenfyre, Shape of Despair, Swallow the Sun, anything Tom G. Warrior has done etc. I could go on forever!! But I've also spent a lot of time listening progressive metal or symphonic metal which had definitely influenced my need to tell stories with my songs and coming up with concepts instead of just writing lyrics. As far as what I've been listening to lately, it's been getting warmer and for some reason when the sun comes out I listen to a lot of Devin Townsend. Haha Katatonia is on my regular playlist and I've been a big fan of what Monolord has been doing recently as well their record from last year "Empress Rising" blew my mind.

    Thomas: Like Conor, I am also influenced by a myriad of different styles, but for this particular project, Celtic Frost and Triptykon were the two major culprits. The newest Vallenfyre was also a big inspiration to writing this record. Otherwise, we were just trying to create an old school vibe (ala My Dying Bride, old Paradise Lost), with a modern spin.

11.What are some of your non musical interests?
    Conor: I'm an enormous Cleveland sports fan!! My Cavs are in the middle of the NBA finals so that's big for me! I love to play video games as well.. Big fan of Dragon Age, Diablo 3, the new mortal kombat game is sick! I'd have to say reading is one of my favorite pastimes tho. George R. R. Martin, Joel Shepard, and Joe Abercrombie!! I love everything Mr. Abercrombie has written!! I've read the First Law trilogy countless times!!

    Thomas: Well, as my fiancée can attest, I spend pretty much all my freetime on music in some form, but I love spending time with her and my kids the most. I enjoy the outdoors and exercising, and my other passion is food and drink. I actually work in the beer industry working directly for a brewery, so I get to indulge on the drinking side quite a bit!

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

   Conor: Vintage Warlords is something that we love. In the end all we can hope is that there are other like minded metal heads out there that love what we're doing as much as we do.

  Thomas: I guess I would just say to keep supporting bands and small labels. How tough is it to purchase a $3 - $6 album on bandcamp, where a band or label actually receive the majority of funds? Bandcamp has been a blessing for small labels and DIY bands to be able to get their music to the world while still being able to earn more than a penny from their art. These days labels, managers, booking agents are looking for anything they can to steal a percentage from, so please don't forget the bands and smaller labels that are actually helping to continue to sustain and grow  the metal community worldwide.Thanks for the support and please check us out if you have not already. Cheers!

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