November 8, 2014

Interview - 'Vircolac'

Due for release in the near future, from Iron Bonehead Productions, is the debut release from Dublin's upcoming death metal band, Vircolac. This in itself is exciting news, especially if you're familiar with Iron Bonehead's releases thus far, so we can only expect good things when Codex Perfida is released.

Ever the fella's to get the lowdown on new bands, here at the Lair, Trevor Proctor recently interviewed J and D, from the band, about Codex Perfida, gigs and Balkan werewolves. Read, enjoy and order the tape!

Firstly, thank you very much for agreeing to an interview, it’s greatly appreciated by Jude and me over at The Lair of Filth.

I’m aware the band was formed towards the end of 2013 – can you tell us a little about the band and its formation?

D: The band came about as a result of JG having written and recorded some very rough material himself that he had originally intended to be done entirely by himself as he's a multi instrumentalist. After mentioning it to me I told him if he wanted someone to do vocals on it, I can help. This then expanded into adding NH and KB on drums and bass respectively and beginning to rehearse. Having tried a few different things over the years that hadn't worked it was important that the rehearsals went well and worked out between the respective parties. After a couple it became apparent that everything was going to gel nicely and so things moved quite quickly creatively.

Members of Vircolac are already involved in various projects within the underground scene – could you tell us a little about the members, their roles within Vircolac and also their other current bands/projects?

J: Actually it’s only KB who is involved in another band currently. She holds down the subsonics, NH hammers the kit, Laoghaire  is the voice of the night, and I provide guitars and additional atmospherics. Other bands we’ve been involved in past or present aren’t relevant to Vircolac so we see no point in talking about them.

The name Vircolac refers to a werewolf from the Balkans in Eastern Europe, why was this name selected and what relevance does it have to your music? Also, what’s the meaning behind “Codex Perfida,” the title of your demo?

D: JG had read the name in a book and it was something that stuck in his mind and upon searching online he found that no other band had used the name in any capacity, which made it even more appealing. He had decided on it as a name and when we began to work on the music, lyrics and themes, the name began to make more and more sense. The symbolism of the werewolf is one of transformation: man into beast or even man into the unknown. With our music, we wanted to be able to create something that the listener would feel 'transformed' by. Be that mood, atmosphere or emotion. The whole point of making and performing music, to my mind, is to evoke some kind of reaction in someone. This is what the indelible mark of metal has made on me since I first got into it. For something to reach into you and take your on a journey in your own mind, that is transformative. So, the band name fits succinctly with what it is we're trying to do. The real test, obviously, will be when people hear what we've done and whether they feel that what we are trying to achieve has been reached in any capacity.

As for the demo title, which means 'book of the faithless' it was something that JG also came up with and actually makes perfect sense thematically for the songs on the demo and also reflects the members' collective 'faithlessness'. It ties in conceptually with what it is we have done on this recording entirely

Vircolac has been practising and rehearsing for close to a year now – how does it feel to finally have the demo finished and have you many other tracks written in preparation for your next release? 

J:We’re in writing mode currently – the bones of one song are complete and there’s a couple more waiting in the wings to be finished.

D: The sense of achievement is strong but it's really only the beginning. We've learned a lot, which gives us new focus for the next steps we aim to make. A JG said, we're already creating new material, which we hope to record at some point in 2015.

I understand your demo, which features three tracks is set for a November release via the excellent Iron Bonehead Productions on cassette – so far no tracks have been released for public listening - what style of music can we expect to hear and is the band happy with the final recording?

D: As a band, we are completely satisfied with what it is we have done. The recording has exceeded our collective expectations in terms of how we developed the songs in the studio and also the additional elements we added. If this turned out to be the final thing I ever got to do creatively, it would be a fantastic eulogy in that regard. I think the performances of each person on the recording was the best that could have been obtained. Everyone poured every ounce of themselves into it. As for style, simply, we're a death metal band. Too much focus these days is on the adjectives added to 'death metal' to describe a band's sound, which is absurd and largely irrelevant. A track should be available online shortly so everyone can make up their mind though the three songs on the demo vary a lot from one another. 

Ola Ersfjord engineered and produced the demo, what’s the connection with Ola and did he travel from Stockholm specifically to work in Sun Studios with the band?

J:Ha, no, Ola certainly didn’t specifically come here to work with us..he was here to record with three other bands as well. We knew him through working with friends (for example Malthusian), and we jumped at the opportunity when it arose.

There’s a striking piece of artwork on Vircolac’s Bandcamp page – will this be the cover of “Codex Perfida” and whose work is it?

J:Yes, that image is the cover artwork. The art is by Stephen Wilson, a talented artist and interpreter of the unnameable from the US who’s been a friend for a couple of years. That particular piece was done long before we saw it and wasn’t done with us in mind at all, but once we saw it the four of us instantly realised it was a perfect visual accompaniment for this set of songs. When we approached him about it he consented very quickly after hearing some rough tracks. Stephen also designed an amazing logo and two sigils for us – the logo isn’t used on the tape purely because we didn’t want to to shrink the detail on it, but you’ll see it on flyers and shirts. The layout for the tape was done by Brianvdp.

Your first live appearance is on the second day of Redemption Festival in Dublin this November – the bill for that particular day includes Wizards of Firetop Mountain, Dread Sovereign, Bolzer and The Ruins of Beverast. Will playing on a bill with so many established bands bring any extra pressure?

J: No, it won’t. We’ll treat it as we’ll treat every other performance, regardless of who else is on the bill and give it our all.

Vircolac’s second gig is scheduled to take place in Dublin on 14th February next year. As with your live debut it’s a sterling line-up with Malthusian, Zom, Sheol, and Qrixkuor also playing. Can we look forward to seeing further live dates and does the band have any short term plans to play in any other countries?

J: We’ll see what lies ahead once the demo has had time to sink into the underground, but yes, our aim is to get off the Island and perform on foreign shores whenever and wherever possible. Owing to various personal circumstances (we’re all in our 30s and as you can imagine with age comes various real world responsibilities), long term touring won’t be an option but that won’t prevent us from pillaging the mainland or further afield when suitable opportunities arise. There’s nothing concrete as yet if you’re fishing for specifics.

Aside from the fantastic bands you’re already scheduled to play alongside which other bands would you most like to share a bill with? Also, which bands, past and present, have influenced Vircolac and its music the most?

J: Influences are plentiful given that we’re a band of four people with four widely ranging sets of tastes (I think the only bands we’d all be 100% on as influences are probably old Slayer, Autopsy, Morbid Angel and bands Glen Danzig or Peter Steele have been in). At the core of our music we’re literally a product of the 90s tape trading underground however – that’s how Laoghaire and I first met 20 odd years ago now – so that era in and of itself influences us more than specific bands I think, but I guess to my mind rather than name individual artists (of which there are many), I can summarise things by simply saying  I reckon the Peaceville/Deaf records catalogue would have been the ideal home for us had we existed in 1992. Throw in a little Voivod and and the “Twin Peaks” soundtrack and that’s about it. I don’t think any current bands musically that are an influence on a musical level. I think we draw from the source, rather than the well.

To be honest, horror films have been as much of an influence as any band I could mention in terms of atmosphere for me personally. To give you an example, some of the riffs at the start of the song “The Worm Turns” were written while I was absent mindedly messing around on a guitar while watching the Dario Argento film “Inferno” at home one night. Make of that what you will. In fact some  of the band watched “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” while I was recording the guitar and piano tracks for the demo.

Sharing a bill? I haven’t thought about the top of my head ideally I’d love to play with maybe Tribulation, In Solitude, or Irkallian Oracle, all bands whose live sets whose recently left a mark on me in terms of elevating the simple act of playing music into something greater, which I think is something more bands should aspire to do. It’s also a personal hope that we can maybe share a stage with Slidhr someday too if and when JD chooses to do so.

To date 2014 has been a quality year with regards to releases, what have been your favourite albums so far and what other releases are you most looking forward to in the future?

J: It’s been a phenomenal year for music of all kinds so a full list would be mountainous:Morbus Chron, Swallowed, Swans, Drowned, Pharmakon, Thantifaxath, Trepaneringsritualen and Godflesh spring immediately to mind, and demos by Reverie, Qrixkuor, Athanatos, Obscure Burial and Kthonik Cerviiks rarely left my tape deck. Obviously I look forward to the Zom lp and new Malthusian and Slidhr EP’s ; and I have high hopes for the upcoming Antiversum demo, Infra 7” and albums by Tribulation, Irkallian Oracle, Rebirth of Nefast and Chthe’ilist next year.

Thank you very, very much for taking the time to answer these questions and good luck with your preparations for the shows; I’m very much looking forward to seeing the band on both occasions. I wish you every success with those and also the release of your demo.

D/J: Thank you, you’re very welcome.

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