Vhöl - Interview
Traditional heavy metal, black metal and doom metal. Those are the backgrounds of the members of Vhol. Made up of current members of Agalloch, Yob and Hammers of Misfortune, Vhol combine those genres of metal and much more. With the release of their second long player, Deeper Than Sky, Vhol have furthered their sound. Their pedigree alone should warrant you taking a listen. Trust me, if you do, you will be floored by their sounds. With a little psychedelia, a lot of crushing riffs and amazing vocals, Vhol set out to and accomplished one upping their debut. Drummer Aesop Dekker took the time to do a little Q & A for MetalBite so we can learn a little more about what drives the "supergroup" from the Bay Area.
Who got Vhol together? When the band got together was it the intention that you were forming a full time band or was this just supposed to be a side project?
After our band Ludicra disbanded John and I started talking about making an album together. He sent me some demos he'd done at home and I was floored by the material. Our only real plan was to record an album, we didn't think much beyond that. Sigrid was a shoe-in for the bass. Not having to worry about having it be a full-time concern we decided to ask Mike Scheidt to provide the vocals. He's been a long time friend and obviously one of the best voices in metal. However, once we recorded the debut the momentum was there and we almost immediatley started talking about doing a second record.
Is there a majority song writer or is it more of a collective effort? How do you approach songwriting? Do you get together and jam or is it more sending ideas back and forth and putting them together in the studio?
John records demos at home and sends them to me. Sigrid works from sheet music, but we get together and play through the songs and experiment with the arrangements a bit. Then the rehearsals are recorded and sent to Mike so he can start sorting out vocals and lyrics.
On "Deeper Than Sky" there's a directional shift away from the black metal and towards speed/thrash metal. Was this something that was intended or did it just come out that way in the songwriting process?
Only John would really know. I think the only real conscious decision as a whole was to make a better album than the debut. We never discussed a "direction."
Have you always been a drummer or did you start off playing another instrument?
In my first punk band originally I was the singer, we had a really amazing drummer but he left for college (college killed hardcore) and I was asked to fill in. I wasn't terrible and I loved it so I just stuck with it.
Who are some of your influences as drummer?
Oh man, so many. Phil Calvert, Bill Stevenson, Bill Ward, Carl Micheal-Eide, Helder from Raw Power, Boris Williams, Tony Williams, Nicke Anderson...
You stated before that the intention was to get together and make one record. You also said when making "Deeper Than Sky" you wanted to make a record that topped the first one. I think you guys succeeded at that. What are your plans moving forward? Can we expect a tour? Will Vhol continue to be a band?
I think we did, we spent a year making Deeper Than Sky, so it was nice to have time to really sort it out. From the songwriting to the mixing it was just more relaxed and focused. I expect that we'll start working on new material soon. Touring is tough because of our comitments to other bands, family… We'd done a few scattered shows after the last album came out, VHOL live is still very much a work in progress.
The name Vhol is a very interesting name. Who came up with the name? What does it mean?
We decided that the best way to name a band would be to just make up a word, this way you aren't in jeopardy of having another band come along with the same name. Originally we asked Mick Barr of Krallice to name us but his suggestions were too bizarre and unpronounceable, we settled on VHOL. Some have speculated that the weird robot bug on our first album cover is a "VHOL" but honestly, it's just a made up word we thought looked and sounded appropriate.
Aside from being a musician you are also a fan. At the present time "Deeper Than Sky" is in my top 10 of 2015. What are some of your favorite albums released this year?
1. Mgla "Exercises in Futility"
2. John Carpenter "Lost Themes"
3. Leviathan "Scar Sighted"
4. Aerial Ruin "Ash of Your Cares"
5. Crown "Natron"
6. Cardinal Wyrm "Black Hole Gods"
7. Vanum "Realm of Sacrifice"
8. Krallice "Ygg Huur"
9. Cemetery "Wind and Shadows"
10. Mondo Drag "Mondo Drag"
You didn't list Vhol in your top 10. So, you mentioned back in your first band you were the singer. When can we expect to hear you do lead vocals for a Vhol? I am formally requesting you sing a track on the next record.
Not going to happen.
Aside from the bands that you are currently and active member of, are there any other projects on the horizon?
Well there will be a new Worm Ouroboros album recorded in January and I'm currently working on a band with members of Vastum, Repulsion, and Scolex. It will be just strapght up primitive knuckle dragging Death Metal.
Any working monikers for this new project? I would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure getting to learn a little more about you.
My pleasure. No the new thing has no name as of yet.
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