Saturday, December 3, 2016

Vircolac Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

Jamie: Very little currently to be honest, as our individual “real life” commitments have kept each of us busy since the end of summer and we’ve had little time to get together because of that.. I guess also we’d been preparing for the release of “Demeter” anyway, so there’s been a fair bit of behind the scenes type stuff that had to be done in terms of label contact, mastering, art, etc. In the interim however myself and Brendan have been working on song ideas together in preparation for a full length album so we’ll be back in the rehearsal room probably in the new year to start work on that in earnest.

2.Recently you have released an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

Jamie: If you want a soundbite I’d go with “Atmospheric Death Metal”. I think we had a chance to push the sort of morbid, nocturnal and dare I say “gothic” elements to the music a little more on this release which was the goal. The speed has been backed off in places a little to allow the personality in the music to come through, and I think we tried to make it a little more dynamic and really have the music carry a mood. I guess I’d explain it to anyone thinking of checking it out to approach it in the way we did – think of it as four chapters in a book, each having its’ own identity but all fitting into the main narrative. But if you want riffs, we’ve got ‘em.

Brendan: While we were in the studio words like dramatic,intense and atmospheric were used a lot between us.

We used these darker tones to guide us through the creation process, always aware of our aim.

There are subtle moments throughout the EP which is quite uncharacteristic of a standard death metal sound,

but we used subtlety as a tool to create the tension and atmosphere we wanted and of-course increase intensity by contrast.

The EP has a very distinct start, middle and end which helps to heighten the drama.

We also draw on our individual influences throughout to add diversity and variety to the sound.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?

Darragh: The first song and title track is centred around the ship Demeter that the Count sails in from Varna to Whitby in the novel Dracula. Given Bram Stoker was  a Dublin man and how much his novel has influenced me personally, I wanted to pay some kind of tribute to him but also, at the same time, write something allegorical. The concept is "death arrives on a ship" and can be applied to the coffin ships that sailed from Ireland to the US during the famine in the mid 19th century or even the arrival of the Conquistadors in South America.

The second track, Charonic Journey, is effectively a meditation on death and rebirth. I've been somewhat fascinated with megalithic tombs and have spent a bit of time researching them and this provided some of the inspiration behind this. The third song, Lascivious Cruelty, is loosely based on Emperor Caligula's reign and his proclivities. It can also be reflected on those in positions of power today, for example Dominic Strauss Kahn and his decadent, opulent, frivolous lifestyle.

The final song, Betwixt the Devil and Witches, is a paean to the eternal allure and wonder of the female form in their beguiling and bewitching ways. It is greatly influenced by the mythology of witchcraft in the woods we may have heard about when we were growing up or passed down through mythology, which is a massive part of folklore here in Ireland and part of oral traditions that stretch back into the pre Christian era.

4.In a couple of interviews you had talked about Celtic Mythology, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic?

Darragh: This I can only assume is related to the Bardo Methodology piece where I mentioned Cu Chulainn. I don't recall mentioning it in any other interview. let me know if you want me to comment on this as well. (addressing this to you Jamie, not the interviewer)

Jamie: I have a hunch here that you might have mistaken “Irish Folklore” with “Celtic Mythology”. We don’t really have anything to do with Celtic mythology at all apart from a couple of members having a personal interest, but we have talked at length in previous interviews about our interest in the darker end of local history in a wider sense (things like the Hellfire Club, Bram Stoker And Le fanu being from here, the crypts and tunnels under Dublin city, old Irish witch tales like Alice Kyteler and Darky Kelly etc). Our drummer was formerly in the “celtic Metal “ band Cruachan for a while but that’s as close as we get to Celtic Mythology. Only death is real baby.

5.I know that the bands name means 'werewolf' in Romanian, how does this name fit in with the music style that you play?

Jamie: I associate old werewolf myths with a combination of bloodthirst and tragedy – the transformation into a feral force of nature, balanced with the inability of the afflicted party to control their transformation and the consequences of it. I think that sums up a couple of the major elements in our music pretty fucking accurately. Violent in some places, melancholic in others. Plus, let's be clear on this: werewolves are just really fucking cool,

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

Jamie: could say our stage performance has a hint of the werewolf about it to if you’re looking at it as “transformative” I suppose. I think we definitely approach the stage with a more “rock n’roll” approach to performance than some of our peers and the five of us generally use it as an excuse to let loose and release as much energy to those in attendance as possible, anything can happen on stage with us. None of this standing around with hoods up swathed in dry ice, and I think people are often very pleasantly surprised when they see us because of that. We’d much rather be Metallica in 1986 than Mayhem in 1996 if that makes sense. I think in terms of best shows my personal favourite was Metal Magic in Denmark this year. I think the room was the perfect size, the sound was fantastic and everyone in the crowd was up for it. Such a great weekend overall too.

Brendan: The Dark Arts festival in Galway was pure insanity. The crowd was a blur of bodies, alcohol and glass.

The boundary between floor and stage didn't exist anymore. Equipment was damaged, injuries sustained (by crowd and band),chants, pits, crowd surfing and a complete disregard for all order and sense.The feed of energy from the crowd was indescribable. It was a welcome reminder of the true spirit of heavy metal.Our main objective during live performance is once again to create an atmosphere that is uniquely Vircolac without sacrificing any of the energy.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

Jamie: Not as many as we’d like currently, and we’ve had to turn down a few things we really wanted to do because of work commitments lately which is massively frustrating. Opening for Asphyx locally in February, then North of the Wall festival in Glasgow and another local festival in April so far. I’d really like to try and do a small tour, even 4 or 5 days next year, as we haven’t done that yet. We’re open to offers for 2017..cough cough..

8.What is going on with 'Invictus Productions', these days?

Darragh: The label continues apace and is entering into it's 18th year of existence next year, which is quite a feat given being located on an island on the periphery of Europe that has a very limited capacity when it comes to underground metal. Currently preparing for two big end of year shows and lining up things for 2017.

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

Jamie: I don’t know really. I’ve seen many positive words but really I can only gauge it by where we get orders for merch from..and in those terms we’ve had an amazing response from all corners of the world, from South America and the Far East to Mainland Europe . It’s an amazing feeling to know people in places like Mexico or Korea are listening to some shitty little band from Dublin. People here are largely not interested in what we're doing outside a handful of folks.

10. Do you have other projects

Brendan: Yes, Bassist Karen is involved in quite a few projects. Disguise, Wizards of Firetop Mountain and Cat Piss Brain rot.

I play in a 70s Rock/ Blues cover band that tour Ireland.

11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

 Brendan: We will most likely use the EP as a platform to build from. I can see an expansion of the newer elements that we  have added in Demeter.There are no boundaries when we write so it is very difficult to describe what it might sound like.If you dismiss adventure you dismiss growth. We will incorporate any element as long as its true to our overall vision.

But I can say for sure that it will be strange and dark.

Jamie: I have a bunch of it already written, and outside of what Brendan says, I'm saying nothing else just yet. Wait and see. It's not going to be "Demeter Pt 2", I can assure you of that. Defintely strange, definitely dark.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Jamie: The influences on me remain constant: Voivod, Celtic Frost, pretty much everything Peaceville/Deaf records released in the 90s, Immolation, Ceremonium, Decomposed (UK),  Carnage, Divine Eve, Bolt Thrower, Coroner, Morbid Angel, Dark Angel, blah blah blah then maybe the likes of Coil, Swans, Portishead, Bauhaus, the Cure, John Carpenter, and  Christopher Young for atmospherics. My recent listening has mostly been non metal and widely varying so some recent favourites: Egisto Macchi, Clipping, Pact Infernal, The The, Tenro, Bee & Flower, Danny Brown, SURVIVE, Lycia, Chris Connelly/Cocksure, Echo Beds, Intensive Care, Anna Von Hauswolf, The Saints, Nick Cave etc.. I’d like to especially mention an Irish experimental collective called Eordeslajyr’s new album,inspired by the film “Haxan” which is a brilliant, evocative and genuinely chilling piece of work. In terms of metal I’ve really enjoyed Tideless, Slidhr, Unyielding Love, Blood Incantation, Irkallian Oracle, Tomb Mold, Qrixkuor, Taphos, Deiquisitor and Coscradh recently amongst others.

Brendan: As there are five of us we have many influences to draw from. Everything from 70s prog rock, punk, late 80s and early 90s death metal. The strange chord sequences could be attributed to bands like Genesis and Voivod. The expansion to the dual guitar comes from bands like Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Judas Priest.Autopsy, Morbid Angel and Soulside Journey era Darkthrone are a huge influence on the overall sound.Speaking for myself, I have been listening to our label mates Grave Miasma, Vorum and Blood Incantation.The new Bolzer album" Hero" and lots of Pink Floyd, Ulver and Portishead as well. There really are too many bands to name here.

13.How would you describe your views on Occultism?

Jamie: I’ll jump on this grenade for the rest of the band: we have no belief in or association with it whatsoever. I’m the only one as far as I know in the band with any interest in it really, but I’m very clear on the fact that my interest in it is more as someone with an interest in the arcane in general, and I’m certainly not a practitioner. I greatly enjoy reading about certain schools of occultism  but I find little that applies to me or my daily life in there, and as such I can’t help but view a lot of it as fiction – albeit enjoyable fiction – in the same way one would view, say, HP Lovecraft. I enjoy reading about traditional witchcraft (eg Gemma Gary’s “The Black Toad”) and some of the materials published by Ixaxaar, Fall of Man and Theion. There have a been a few books that have struck a chord in a personal or philosophical way with me and I’d recommend Peter Grey’s “Apocalyptic Witchcraft”, “Aghora:At The Left Hand Of God” by Robert E. Svoboda or Ramsey Dukes’ “SSOBTME” as fine pieces of inspiring writing in that regard, and Thomas Karlsson’s “Qabalah, Kliphoth and Goetic Magic” as one of the few books on that end of the scale that makes its’ subject in any way really graspable to non academic types like me. I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming Craig Williams book that Anathema publishing are releasing next year, and I’m going to start reading Richard Gavin’s “The Benighted Path” this evening.  There are flashes of truth in the occult in the same way that there are in many other spiritual outlooks, and I think those are ones that resonate on a deeper level than just being  some mysterious evil dude a la the Order of the Nine Angles or whatever (a lot of whose stuff, much like the likes of Crowley, I see as glorified self help manuals for loners). Vircolac as a band doesn’t embrace the occult as a religious or spiritual thing, but we embrace occult knowledge if you get me – the hidden, arcane and macabre underneath the day to day world.

14.What are some of your non musical interests?

Jamie: Horror movies. I fucking love Horror movies. And their soundtracks. I write for a couple of websites here and there including my own "Destroyed Human" one, largely about either horror films or music. My interest in travel both local and international grows as I get older too.

Brendan: Stand up comedy, movies, books. Music really takes up the majority of my time whether it is listening or playing.

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

Jamie: go watch Lucio Fulci’s “House By The Cemetery” and “The Beyond”. They’ll give you a better understanding of our music than this interview will.

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