Interview with guitarist and vocalist David DiSanto
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 16, 2016
People have been anxiously waiting for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based "Space Thrashers" Vektor to release the follow up to their album Outer Isolation for four years and it's been a quiet time if you ask this Vektor fan.
In the fall of 2015 the stars started aligning and news of a new Vektor album broke the silence; Terminal Redux, the band's third album in five years will be released on Earache Records in the spring of 2016 and will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated Metal albums of that year. Vektor's true heart and soul, David DiSanto, was kind enough to tell the readers of The Metal Crypt about all the hard work that they put into this concept album and more...
Luxi: How's life in Philadelphia? I hope all's well over there. I did notice that people in Philadelphia were anxiously waiting for one well-known person's arrival; Pope Francis. Was there a little chaos with his arrival?
David: Yeah, it was nuts! They closed off the whole city to cars. It looked like a ghost town away from where the Pope was. I didn't see him though. That's not my thing, haha.
Luxi: From this grumpy old man to things with an unholy ring to them, let's concentrate on talking about Vektor if you don't mind. ;o) Vektor's third album, Terminal Redux, has been long in the making but now it's finally recorded and mixed. How would you say the material on your forthcoming album differs from your previous albums?
David: Well, I think it has a Black Future feel to it, but we also did some new things. The album as a whole is Vektor "Space-Thrash" all the way but there are some very cool surprises. I tried out some clean vocals in two songs. I was unsure how that would fit in with our sound but we were all pleasantly surprised when we heard it. I was going for a nice, old-school vibe for my clean vocals, kind of like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Another really cool thing was the addition of back-up vocals in two songs. We enlisted the help of some very talented Philly Soul singers named Naeemah Z. Maddox and RoseMary Fiki. They made some spots on the album ridiculously epic and huge sounding. It gave me goose bumps during their performances. It's not the type of thing you expect in a Thrash album but we're all about doing things the unconventional way.
Luxi: How many songs did you record for this new album and when you started "harvesting season" to pick the best songs from what you had, do you believe you got a really tight and compact package that represents what this band is all about?
David: This album is a beast! Haha! It has 10 songs and a running length of about 75 minutes. I am extremely happy with everything and it's a strong album throughout. There are no "filler" tracks. All the songs are solid and packed with memorable riffs.
Luxi: Are there any musical elements on Terminal Redux that might confuse and even scare some listeners at first because they sound so different from what they have gotten used to hearing on your two previous albums, Outer Isolation and Black Future, or would you say it's still 100% pure Vektor with some new twists and turns?
David: Overall, we haven't changed our style, the only thing that might be a surprise for people are the occasional clean vocals and backup singers. I do sing in my normal style for 95% of the album so we're not changing drastically. I felt it fit well with the concept of the album. The best way to experience the album, and understand why we implemented these changes, will be to listen to it front to back while reading along with the lyrics because it's a continuous story that starts with the lone astronaut from the title track on Outer Isolation. I really pushed myself and our sound to compose this enormous concept album.
Luxi: When you started writing material for Terminal Redux did you try to stretch your skills as gifted songwriters often do and still get a perfectly baked wholeness out of the Vektor oven?
David: This album was a challenge because I had to write each song with the bigger picture of the concept in mind. Each song had to flow into the next and go along with the storyline. In a sense the whole album is like one big song. I had a nebulous view of the album's story and it took a while to match the music I was writing to the feel of the lyrics. It was difficult but well worth it. I don't think I'll be tackling another concept album any time soon though, haha.
Luxi: How did you share the songwriting process for Terminal Redux? Was everyone in the band more involved with the writing of this record than on previous albums?
David: It was the same as the previous albums; I wrote all the songs and lyrics. It's how I prefer to do things. I basically write all the guitar parts and give guidance to the other guys of how I want everything to feel. Blake and Frank typically write their own parts after I show them the songs. Erik writes his own solos but I typically have the songs mapped out completely before the rest of the band hears them.
Luxi: Did you use any guest musicians on Terminal Redux maybe even some that were a huge influence on Vektor when you started this band more than 10 years ago (Denis Bélanger and/or Michel Langevin of Voivod, Antti Boman of Demilich, etc.)?
David: We did use a guest musician on this album, actually. Erik has been brushing up his skills by taking lessons with Rick Graham. Erik asked him if he wanted to do a guest solo and he agreed. It sounds completely wild! That guy is a maniac shredder.
Luxi: You recorded this new album using your home studio and Panther Pro Audio in Philadelphia. Did you feel it's more comfortable and relaxing to use your own studio for the recordings because you have freedom there to get things done without strict timetables? Or do you feel that it would be good for you guys to have an outsider there with you who could use the whip when things start dragging?
David: To be completely honest, it came down to our budget. We couldn't afford to record everything in a studio this time. Tracking all the guitars and bass saved us a ton of money and allowed us to get really solid performances without worrying about studio time. This album is almost twice the length of normal albums so we needed to save money wherever we could. We recorded the raw signal from the guitars and bass and we had them re-amped by Byron Filson at Villain Recording. He worked on our previous albums so we trusted his judgment. The only things we recorded live in a studio were drums and vocals at Panther Pro Audio.
Luxi: Could you explain the album title, Terminal Redux, and what it is all about?
David: Simply said, it means returning to the end. The album is a concept about life and death within a storyline of a man and his rise to power within a tyrannical space regime called Cygnus. Cygnus has control over life and death and the balance between the two is explored in the story. To fully explain the title would give away the story, so I have to stop there. ;-)
Luxi: The album cover artwork for your previous album, Outer Isolation, was done by the artist named Andrei Bouzikov. Will he also be responsible for the illustration of Terminal Redux or did you use some other artist this time around?
David: We went with a different artist this time. His name's Adam Burke. He has a really cool 70's sci-fi style but he can also do so much more. We wanted to use his art as soon as we saw what he was capable of. The album cover is as epic as the music and depicts the concept extremely well. It reminds me of a sci-fi movie or book cover. It's killer!
Luxi: Terminal Redux will be released in early 2016 on Earache Records. Did the label choose to avoid the end of this year because a lot of albums are normally released during X-mas time and are you happy with their marketing strategy?
David: I wanted it to be released in 2015 but we kept running into scheduling issues for studio time for my vocals. That kind of set us back and pushed the release date into the holiday season. I think it makes sense that Earache wants to wait to release it in early 2016. We want our album to have a huge impact on its release date and people might be a little distracted during the holidays. We promise it will be well worth the wait!
Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot a video for one of the songs off Terminal Redux? Obviously Earache Records will have some sort of a budget reserved for making a video with you guys, right?
David: We might try to put a video together using tour footage and stuff like that. Earache has offered to forward us some money for a video but it would have to be paid back. That's not really in our budget at this point. If we did a video I would want it to be awesome. I wouldn't want it to be cheesy or anything and that's hard without money.
Luxi: Vektor's previous album, Outer Isolation, was released in 2011. It's been quite a while since the fans have had a chance to enjoy some new music from the band. What are some of the reasons why it took as long as it did to get Terminal Redux recorded and out?
David: It's hard being in a metal band at our level. A lot of people expect us to just pump out music but they don't realize how little time we actually have. We all work full time jobs just to scrape by and pay for rent. It's hard to find time to really sit down and write something that's actually worth anything. We play in Vektor because it's what we love but it doesn't pay our bills. I wish I could just play music for a living but that's not how it is for an underground band like us. I put a ton of thought into all my songs and it was especially difficult on this project because of the grandness of it. I think we still have all of our fans from five years ago and they're going to love this new album. It will also open us up to new fans, so I think things will start going very well for us.
Luxi: You have your first European tour (titled "First Contact") coming up in November. How stoked are you about finally getting a chance to play in Europe for all the Vektor fans over here?
David: We are super stoked!!! We already had a small taste of Europe with the two festivals we played and we had a blast. I can't wait. It's also an extreme honor for us to be playing last every night of the tour. I'm excited to witness the chaos that will ensue!
Luxi: Spanish thrashers Angelus Apatrida and The Netherlands' Distillator will join this tour. Do you know the guys in those bands personally and what do you think of these Thrash Metal acts? Do you find their music appealing?
David: We don't personally know either of the bands but we're honored to have them on board!
Luxi: When this new album comes out early next year undoubtedly you are aiming to do some summer Metal festivals during 2016. Has anything been confirmed yet?
David: You are correct! Nothing is confirmed yet but Loud Noise says there is a lot of interest already for us. We hope to get out to Europe much more frequently now. Fans can expect to see us in 2016, hopefully more than once.
Luxi: The Netherlands-based booking agency Loud Noise is responsible for booking gigs for Vektor. How did you end up being a part of their band roster?
David: Well, they were the most helpful in trying to work with us. Our U.S. booking agent plays in a band called Witch Mountain and Loud Noise helped them with their European tour. I guess it was just a matter of time before we started working with them since they were fans of our music and we had mutual friends. They have been excellent to work with!
Luxi: 2016 will be a busy year for Vektor for sure. What kind of hopes do you personally have for 2016, besides the "fame & fortune" thing, of course? ;o)
David: My main goal is to develop our band as much as possible by touring and taking every opportunity we can. The new album is the culmination of a lot of hard work and I want to give it the best chance to be heard by new and old fans. I don't need much, but it would be nice if the band could pay my rent, haha.
Luxi: I guess that's all I had in mind for now. Thanks a lot for your time and may your road be rewarding and successful with Vektor. If you want to leave any closing comments for all the Vektor fans around the globe and the readers of The Metal Crypt, here's your chance. Use this opportunity well now... ;o)
David: Check out all of our tour dates and merch updates at www.facebook.com/VektorOfficial. We hope to see each and every one of you at our shows, so come support! Sci-fi or die!!!!
|Other information about Vektor on this site|
|Review: Black Future|
|Review: Outer Isolation|
|Review: Terminal Redux|
Copyright © 1999-2016, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.