The human evolution according Vile
Vile is a brutal tech death metal band from California and spewing their music since 1996. The band had several members but the main man behind it is Colin Davis, the guitarist and composer. Vile released in 2011 their 4th full length "Metamorphosis" and now they are doing an European Tour together with Brazilian Lacerated And Carbonized. With the great album and the upcoming tour I had a little chat with Colin.
Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
Thank you. My name is Colin Davis. I am the last original member of the California death metal band Vile and the main songwriter. I am also a recording and mastering engineer and run the studio Imperial Mastering.
Also introduce the other members who are currently in Vile? Maybe some secrets to know about them?
Ok. Mike Hrubovcak is our second vocalist and he is also in Monstrosity. Mike is also a long term member fo the band since 2006 and together we are the main drivers behind the band now. We also have a new touring line up that included bassist Mike Poggione also of Monstrosity (US), Thomas Luijken of Caedere (NL), and Timo Hakkinen (FIN) from the band Sotajumala. All great guys and I am very happy to work with them!
History of Vile is going back to the mid 90's, so how does it feel to be still active? And what is the drive to deliver quality all these years?
Yes its true the band has been around since 1996. I guess that I am the primary driver because I was always the main songwriter. But I do take a lot of time between albums and tours so its possible for me to save energy and keep going slowly but surely.
Vile is your band and it seems you are holding the strings very tight with a lot of DYI (recording, writing, booking etc). How democratic are you as the Vile dictator?
In the beginning, for the first album it was much more democratic. But as musicians left, I had to take over those positions and now its mainly me making the core decisions, because if I don’t, no one will. But when we tour its always a fair situation and I try to be a nice guy and work with everyone and I am definitely not a dictator, although there was a time around the second album where I probably was. I don’t like being that way though, its not me.
Doing a lot yourself gives advantages but also disadvantages. Are disadvantages stimulate you trying to turn it into advantages?
The main disadvantages are the fact that it takes a lot longer to make music and to do things alone, and also that I have to find new musicians more often, but the advantages are that it makes things fresh. And its not a choice I have. There are no local musicians who can play the parts right where I live, so I have to do things alone and hire people, because that is reality. Its not like Holland where there is a huge metal scene!
Beside Vile you are having the Imperial Mastering Studio and work for other bands as well. This will take a lot of time as well. How do you manage to divide the time between work and band?
Well, Vile is not taking up that much of my time except before recording or touring. The rest of the time, I am doing audio engineering, and I also do legal research for people in foreclosure and I study economics, sociology and other subjects. I like to do a lot of things. But my life is not super busy, I take my time and try to do things in a quality way.
Mastering is done for other music styles too. Is it not difficult to switch from metal to folk and then to reggae?
It is sometimes hard to do that, yes, but this is what mastering engineers have to do. Most of the music I master is metal, but I do master other styles. I listen to many types of music so I have some perspective.
The Metamorphosis album was released at the end of 2011 and was spawned in 2007. Why so long the wait?
Its because I am writing one song every few months. Also I spent all of 2007 experimenting with new styles and ideas then really started writing in 2008. I finished the music in 2009 but then it took a long time to get all the musicians to come out and record and I spent a long time mixing. There is no money in this so I have to do this in between my other work. Finally, our contract with Listenable Records expired in 2006 so I had no pressure from the record label!
It is a concept album and what is the idea behind it? Was it obvious from the beginning it should a concept album? Can people understand the concept without reading the lyrics? Should the songs be listened from 1 to 11 or is it allowed to shuffle?
You can shuffle the songs, no problem, but to really understand it, you should read the lyrics. I knew I wanted a concept album from the beginning and worked for a long time to design the album artwork, to find the proper artist, to write the lyrics, and to design the album in general. I really made sure that I was totally happy with everything this time.
People take music from the internet nowadays so aren't you afraid they won't understand the concept behind it? And why was the album initially released as MP3 and later licensed to Willowtip?
Actually Willowtip released it before it was put on the internet. They released it in November 2011. I cant do anything to stop downloading, I even do it myself. So its just something I have to deal with. Not too many people will care about the concept. Those that do, can buy the CD.
Some people swear not to download but buy CDs for the supreme quality. You as a mastering pro, can you explain the difference between the sound quality of CDs and high quality MP3 files? Will the average person notice the difference?
If the MP3 is 320 KBPS its good quality. You wont hear much of a difference from the CD at all. But anything lower than that is not nearly as good as the CD.
You are ready to invade Europe with the Metamorphosis Tour. What are your expectations for this tour? What is your personal joy for going on tour?
This tour is just with one support band, a Brazilian band called Lacerated And Carbonized. The other bands are all local bands so it wont be a huge tour, but it’s the first tour of this album and I think we will have a great time and then I hope to come back on a bigger tour in 2013.
Visiting countries is most of the time interesting. Do you have interest in other countries? Sightseing? Cultural interest? Gastronomic interest? Local alcohol abuse?
Oh yes of course. This is why I love touring Europe. I love to visit other cultures, try the food, and see the history. I usually stay longer in Europe after the tour and do some things with friends. I definitely love that part of touring. I only wish there was more time on tour to explore each city.
The tour is named after the 2011 release. Will the majority of tracks played come from Metamorphosis? Or playing songs from the previous 3 albums as well? Will you do some covers too?
No covers this time. There are 14 songs in the set, 4 from Metamorphosis and then 3 from each other album.
How do you make up the set list? Are you doing this at home or do you decide it while on the road? And what about the Pearl Jam tradition to have a different set list every time they play?
I would like o do that but because many of the musicians are new, its better to have one set list. I make the set list myself and then I take suggestions from the band members and the fans too.
How difficult is it to plan a tour when the other members also play in other bands? Or even having jobs and families? Or is Vile a band that easily pick up members for having on tour?
It is possible to have different members for some positions. Not for singer, but for others, its possible. I don’t like doing that, but for the reasons you stated, its sometimes necessary.
Speaking of the other members, two of the recording guys are the Hrubovcak brothers. I know Mike is also a graphic artist so why didn't he made the Metamorphosis cover art?
Every artist has their own style. Mike is a great artist but I was looking for a very specific style so this is why Marco Hasmann did the cover art. I think he did an amazing job.
And now we are talking about the artwork, is it a metamorphosis from an innocent human being into a devilish entity? And another thing I noticed is that the pages are switched in sequence. On purpose?
If the pages are switched, that must be a mistake in Hammerheart’s pressing. I don’t see that in the Willowtip pressing I have here. I will have to look at that.
The artwork is the same subject at the lyrical content. Its about human evolution from an individuated species to a single humanity. The earth is a living organism that is evolving, and humanity is evolving out of the Earth. People used to think that humanity evolved on its own, but I believe that it is the Earth that is evolving and humanity is conforming to that process. It all works together. The only question is what the evolution will look like. Will we use technology, will we change biologically, how will we look and feel in 300 years? I believe we will be a single global society that is more cooperative than now in that time. The snake represents change and also chaos. During this transition, all of our repressed, dark energies come out and there is a time of chaos and destruction that precedes the new organization.
Are you religious in any kind of way? Or what is your absolute power all above us?
I believe that the universe is a single living organism that is organized fractally and holarchically. Everything operates in accordance with everything else. I believe that the spiritual traditions and religions are trying to explain the universe in the only way they knew how. And we too are not able to understand it but we just keep trying to make a picture that works for us. We will never be able to see it from the outside because we cant get outside, so we just need to make the best picture that we can that lets us live in a way that is healthy.
And what about politics? In the USA there is a new race going on with Romney and Obama for the White House bed. How is it possible to spend so much money on the campaigns and how is it possible to choose between bad and bad?
This type of national politics is a game. It’s a childish game that is made for the benefit of the Americans who are a historically new, naive and frankly immature culture. American society has been taken over by predators and these people make a movie that they call politics to show to the millions of Americans who sit in front of the TV and get programmed. Their goal is to keep the Americans busy with nonsense so they can continue to exploit the world by leveraging the credit and labor of the American worker who has no idea what their life energy is being used for. Fortunately there is a percentage of Americans, especially younger ones, who see through this now. This country is going to be going through some very tough times in the near future, but so is the entire world, until we as human beings decide to wake up and take control from the ground level. We have to decide what our values are again and then re design the entire system according to values of life and health, instead of growth and conquering. There is no more room for that now. We have to shift from growth to sustainability as a species. Because America is based on a growth model, it will probably have to collapse to a second world country if it can’t change. But this goes for most other western or western influenced cultures as well. Its all good though because this is when new models come forward and when new leaders and ideas come forward. Its already happening. We are the new leaders of this world, that is something we have to start to realize.
Ever thought of doing a campaign song for either Repub or Democrats?
I will never be in that terrible movie called US Politics.
Do you have any other hobbies beside the music industry?
Besides doing the CD mastering, I am doing legal research for people in foreclosure and their lawyers. I also study economics, sociology, biology, psychology, many things like this. I have a lot of interests, yes.
To close this interview is there anything you wanna say that must be said? For the rest I wanna thank you and good luck with the European Tour!
I just want to say that I really love the Dutch people and culture and of course the metal scene there! I also love going there and I look forward to seeing everybody at the three Dutch shows! Please see our website or Facebook page to see the tour poster. Tour starts Sept 6 in Arnhem.
Thank you very much!