Vesperia, first Wacken, then the World
Canada’s Vesperia have unleashed a brand new EP entitled “The Iron Tempests” upon the masses. While only 3 songs, it will certainly satisfy your need for melodic death, extreme folk and everything in between. Morgan Rider (bassist/vocalist) and I chatted prior to them embarking on to Wacken (and winning the Battle Of The Bands) to discuss the EP, their process of writing material, the challenges of playing bass and singing as well as a few other things….check it out….
Congrats on the amazing new EP “The Iron Tempests”. Have you been getting some reviews and feedback about it yet?
“Thank you very much! We are excited that some of our new material has finally reached the surface! So far, we have been met with quite a bit of positive feedback as well as some very excellent and comprehensive reviews. We know that we will only get a small amount of this for The Iron Tempests, because of it being an EP, though this is all the more encouraging for us before we enter the studio to begin work on our 3rd full-length album!”
Did you feel it was necessary to release an EP now as opposed to a full length album? What made you decide on these songs for the EP?
“Yes, definitely. We needed a small teaser, something to grab everyone’s attention to both announce our resurgence into the game as well as give a small glimpse into the mountains of effort we have been pouring into Vesperia for the last year or so of hiatus. We decided on the two originals ‘The Western Tempests’ and ‘Iron Saga’ because we had been rehearsing them the longest of our new material, so we felt they were the most developed of our new catalogue of songs. The cover of ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ is a song we’ve wanted to record for the longest time, so we felt it a perfect opportunity to record for this release!”
Categorically, is there a sub-genre of metal that works best in describing your sound? Or does the whole tagging thing get a little limiting when describing Vesperia’s sound?
“If I were categorizing Vesperia with a metal sub-genre… or two… I would say melodic death metal and symphonic metal. We have experimented with and been categorized as folk metal, celtic metal, viking metal, melo-death, death metal, black metal. The condition is always changing, albeit strengthening, with the time and focus we invest in Vesperia. I feel like we are finally beginning to discover our sound after all of these changes; our own musical identity. In our experience, the tagging or categorization that we get from reviewers or different media sources definitely has been a little limiting in the past. If someone who isn’t a folk metal fan, for example, reads that we are folk metal will immediately dismiss us and not give our music a chance when they may REALLY like what we do if they had heard us. At the end of the day, we like to call ourselves ‘Epic Metal’, because this is exactly what we are. The scale and immensity of our sound may belong in some, way, shape or form within the realm of certain metal sub-genres, but having a tiny part of our sound belong in one does not exactly mean we ARE that sub-genre.”
How do the songs come together? Do you “stockpile” riffs and piece songs together or do songs come together more linearly (meaning songs are worked on one at time until competed)?
“In the past, I wrote all of ‘Voyage from Vinland’ as well as ‘An Olden Tale’ in their entirety and would just give completed songs to the guys to rework in their own interpretation. When Frankie joined the band, he also brought a LOT of songwriting experience and mastery to the group. So these days, Frankie writes a lot of the material while I focus more on the band’s management. I also contributed some work, like a large chunk of the song Iron Saga, as well as some newer music that will appear in the future. When Frankie writes, he will begin with a riff or a melody and transcribe it onto Guitar Pro or into Logic Pro, where there is a little bit of back and forth agreeing on parts or direction between me and the other guys. He’ll usually take the song from there and complete it, actually very quickly. In the last 6 months we have managed to create and complete all of these massive songs.
How does your practice and writing schedule work in Vesperia? Is there a schedule per se or do you all just find time to get together and write/rehearse?
“Yes, actually! Everything we do is very structured and organized. We usually rehearse twice a week, going over sets for tours or festivals, or rehearsing new songs (after rehearsing them for hours on our own, of course). With almost all of the writing happening before or after the fact, it gives us a lot of time to work as a band to make the live set much tighter and engaging.
Who are your biggest influences either in music or otherwise?
“We have such a mixed bag of influences, it’s not even funny. We love everything. For example, in our van you will regularly hear: Opeth, Gutherie Govan, Bal-Sagoth, My Dying Bride, Stevie Wonder, Pantera, Rhapsody of Fire, Stratovarius, Alestorm, Gloryhammer, Stormlord, etc. We draw heavily from a lot of these bands and artists.”
What are the challenges for you in singing and playing bass? Do you make some compromises either in playing or singing where you have thought maybe you would choose one over the other to concentrate on? Was doing vocals always something you intended to do or was it out of necessity?
“I have definitely thought about doing either one or the other, and I may just do one or the other in the future. At the moment, I just enjoy being the frontman as well as the bassist. Bass is my main instrument, and I have been playing for over a decade, so it comes naturally without me having the think about it or even look at my instrument. I began singing and playing out of necessity when we began the group, and I had often switched to lead guitar when we lost a player, as well as continuing to sing. Singing is something that I also love doing, and I feel like I have made incredibly large advancements in my vocal abilities. As far as challenges are concerned, it is difficult to be an engaging front man while I have an instrument strapped to me/ in my hands. I motion with my hands and arms quite a bit during our performances to give more emphasis to my lyrics and ‘tell a story’ to the audience. I think in the future, we MAY employ a bassist on the road, but that’s something for the distant, distant future. For now: I’ll suffer both, haha!”
There are numerous tracks in your catalog that have keys/piano in them but you do not tour or have a keyboardist…who writes and performs these parts and is this something that will change in the future with addition of a permanent member?
“On our first two albums, I played all keys as well as wrote and programmed all of the orchestrations. Back then, we had a full-time keybaord player who would play the basic keyboard parts that I wrote live. Nowadays, Frankie and I both write and contribute a lot for the orchestrations, while I do 100% of the programming. When we play live, we have backing tracks comprised of all the orchestrations and sound effects. Actually, nowadays when you see us play, our entire set is one big .WAV file on an Ipod run through a little monitoring console we purchased. For the songs we have a metronome that only our drummer can hear, while us and the audience can hear all of the orchestras. For in between songs, I have programmed synths and all sorts of ambient percussion to keep the mood and flow of the set going while I interact with the audience. This also keeps our sets VERY on time. In the future, we may tour with a live keyboard player or a small string section, but for now we all praise the extra room in the van very highly!”
You recently departed Crimson Shadows as bassist. Could you give us a brief explanation of why you decided to depart them?
“I simply wanted to focus my energies on Vesperia. Crimson Shadows are an awesome band and an incredibly talented bunch of lads. We had a lot of great times touring, recording and partying together. But at the end of the day, both bands require someone who can give 110%.”
Your first album (under the Bolero name) “Voyage From Vinland” is probably under most people’s radars….will this ever see a re-issue?
“It may, in time. For now we are focusing more on the modern version of the band and breaking into markets we have yet to enter. For this to happen, we need to employ our strongest material to date. But a reissue of the first album is something we are asked of quite a bit from friends and fans. Maybe one day down the road we will compile that album as well as the demos and Eps surrounding it into some sort of special release. But that day may be a long while off!”
You are in the middle of a pretty extensive Canadian tour….how has it been so far? Is a tour of Canada a challenge since it such a large country?
“Actually, the tour has been fantastic! We have had some troubles with our van, but nothing that has hindered any appearances in any city. The scenes are alive and well across Canada and we cannot wait to return to many of these lovely places. Canada is definitely not an easy place to tour between the insane weather, massive distances and the small populations. Often, I have heard from bands and other musicians that Canada is the most difficult country in the world to tour. We find that despite these things, the fans are what make it worth the effort in the end, as they always deliver, no matter what time of year or day of the week.”
You also just won a “Battle Of the Bands” and are heading to Wacken to perform…..how did the whole contest experience go and how excited are you to play for the European fans?
“Yes! And we couldn’t be more excited to bring Vesperia to Europe for the first time! Having played and toured in Europe with Crimson Shadows numerous times, I know very well how massive the markets for metal are over there. I just can’t wait for MY band to experience this.
You recently got an endorsement deal with Ibanez….how did that come about?
“Actually, Matt from Cryptopsy hooked me up with them back when I was recording Kings Among Men with Crimson Shadows last year. We invited Matt to do some vocals on the album and have some beers with us. He also brought Mike, who is the rep for Ibanez there in Montreal, who in turn offered me a deal for Ibanez. I love Ibanez basses and have been using them for years anyways, so now I am proud to say that I am on my 2nd year as an Ibanez artist!”
What are you listening to right now and what your favs from 2015 so far?
“Right now I am listening to the new Septicflesh, Symphony X, Arcturus and Paradise Lost. All have put out fantastic albums this year! My top album for 2015 so far has been Arcturus – Arcturian!”
“Thank you so much everyone, for all the love and support! There are big things coming for us this year, I have a strong feeling!”