Vesperian Sorrow – Of Absence and Accolade
By: Matthew Bowling
Blistering.com: “Of Opiates and Accolades” is an absolute monster of a song, both on its own merits and in that it encapsulates the entirety of Stormwinds of Ages within its running time. Can you elaborate on the foundational elements of the song and the process that brought it about to being the way it is on album?
Kristoph: “Opiates” was actually the first song written for SOA. I wrote “Opiates” in 2006, but it didn’t come to be the song it is now until Will helped me complete it. After RC I wanted a darker sound on the next album. I started to throw some ideas together with riffs that were unlike the previous VS stuff. I even had a few of my friends comment on how different the song sounded. They also asked if I was depressed or something ha-ha. I showed the raw song structure to Will, and we went to work. We tracked the song along with four others in a 2008 promo to shop to labels. With no bites we continued on the DIY path vigorously. I took it upon myself to go on a writing binge for the rest of the album. I was in a funk at this time in my life, but used it to my advantage. In all, I wrote around 23 songs, so we had plenty to use. Once tracking started for SOA, “Opiates” was reworked a little from the promo version. The changes enhanced the song to my ears, and made it what it is today.
Blistering.com: The guest spots on the album were spectacularly executed and a tad surprising. Were they all purposely sought out or did it happen to be a matter of happy accidents? Carl August Tidemann (Arcturus, Winds) was a particular treat for me considering the painful shift to inactivity from Winds over the last few years, so it was fantastic to hear him unleash again! How did each of them mold into the song writing process?
Will: I would have to say that they were more of a string of happy accidents ha-ha. Carl August Tidemann has been a huge influence on me ever since I listened to the first Arcturus album back in ‘96/’97. I have always loved the neo-classical shred sound, so when I heard a black metal band incorporate that into its music, I was hooked! It was kind of funny, we were preparing to start doing solos for the record and Kris told me “just channel August” when you are about to lay them down. It kind of stuck in my head all day and later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said. I finally had a bit of an epiphany, and thought “man it would be cool to see if he could lay a solo down or two.”
I sent him an email and had a few discussions back and forth. He listened to the material and seemed rather delighted to help us out. From what I know from talking to Carl, the guy is a class act and very humble and generous, we were very honored to have him on our record. Everyone else that did a guest spot on our record is personal friends of ours from here in Austin. One thing we did not want to do was truly paint ourselves into a corner stylistically. We wanted to incorporate female vocals and power metal vocals all onto a extreme metal platform and see where that took us. We asked all the top talent in Austin like Jason McMaster, Erika Tandy and Jon Zig if they would like to contribute. Everyone of them were kind enough to help us achieve exactly what we were shooting for, which was a modern and more evolved slant on epic extreme metal.
Blistering.com: Do you think your geographical location has helped or hindered you over the years? Given the rise of various black metal variations that have blossomed on coastal cities (especially the northwest), have you ever considered that things might have turned out very different if you’d been located elsewhere?
Will: We live in a very cool city in Texas. Austin has been a creative hub for many bands, companies, artists for many years now. I’ve traveled all over the world for the most part, and still look forward to coming home when it’s time to. You know, a lot of people like to think of Texas as a desert type climate, but really nothing could be further from the truth. We do have very brutal summers here, but we also have very cold winters when you factor in the humidity and all. I live a little east of Austin outside a city called Bastrop. Out here is what is called the “Lost Pines of Texas” region. So we have an ancient pine forest out here, and it very much has the feeling of any “black metal” region on Earth ha-ha!
There really are so many landscapes in Texas that as far as inspiration goes, we have it. I think no matter what part of the Earth you are from, as long as you have that “feeling” within you that inspires you, and makes you want to write this kind of metal, it doesn’t matter where you are from. I find it funny when I see pictures on Facebook from other members of bands from either Scandinavia or the Pacific NW, and they make comments like “Oh, the best place on Earth.” Well, we have places here that look just like it or even better. Inspiration comes from within. If being from Texas has hurt us, it has only in the fact that other people have their own misinformed prejudices, but we are all very proud Texans.
Blistering.com: What’s the touring agenda look like for the immediate future? Long-term future? What kind of difficulty is there in presenting the complex on disc work of something like Stormwinds of Ages in a live setting?
Kristoph: As a DIY band we need to push our name out as much as we can before we submit to any major touring. For now we’re concentrating on promoting SOA; however, we are taking one off shows here and there. I suspect touring for VS won’t happen till late this year or even early next year, but we are always on the lookout for major festivals if the opportunity arrives.
To recreate the album sound for our live performance has taken some time to nail down. I use the actual recorded strings and keyboard tracks to stream live from a laptop. I also play to a click track live, so the tempos are as they were on the album. The biggest problem was finding a streamlined way of combining samples with a live keyboardist, and getting things setup in a timely manner on stage. We’ve gotten better at it, but have plans to explore other means of sampling.
Blistering.com: That essentially wraps it up, here you can sign off on what we should expect from VS in the future and any parting words you’d like to throw down on us!
Will: Just want to say thanks for the interview, and thanks to all the fans out there that have taken time to read what we have to say! We are already working on our fifth album, starting to write and arrange songs. We are hoping to have it out by the end of next year, and hopefully start getting on the road playing more shows and festivals.
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