For those of you who don’t know of Vektor, these guys are sick. Originally from Arizona, Vektor relocated to Philadelphia on the heels of a new record contract with Earache. It seems the world is opening up for them and their brand of sci-phi progressive thrash. It certainly has piqued my interest. Drawing influence from thrash such as Emperor and Voivod along with classic dystopian film Blade Runner and Sagan-esque cosmic philosophy, Vektor serve up something other than the ground and pound of years past. The torch carried by them burns with introspective reflection and progressive ferocity.
Singer/guitarist David DiSanto and bassist Frank Chin spoke with me over cigs and a chilly wind to give me a more in-depth look at where they are coming from, and more importantly, where they want to go.
Click here for the interview.
What was your greatest accomplishment of ’012?
Frank Chin- Moving?
David DiSanto- Dude! I think the Municipal Waste/Exhumed/Napalm Death tour. That was like an eye opener for us. We’d played with Municipal waste a couple times before that and got to know them over time. They’re all good dudes and we’ve been talking as friends and stuff. When they offered that tour to us, it was amazing.
F- Also knowing that it was really a hand-picked thing, those guys picked all the bands they wanted to open for them in the different regions they toured in.
D-The fact that they chose us was pretty flattering.
F- What’s rad about this tour, is we get to play Philly with Iron Reagan, which is Tony and Phil’s side project [vocalist and guitarist from Municipal Waste]. It’s good to be in contact with those guys, they’re good dudes.
D- Exhumed, Napalm, we felt like we got super close with those guys while out on the road together for like two weeks and it was such an awesome experience. We’re used to playing bars and clubs and all that, but playing theaters was a humbling experience.
F- We all look at each other… [grinning wide-eyed in awe of the venue]. It’s like, okay, no more fucking around.
D- Before that, we were still playing basements if we wanted to, house shows, fun shows, whatever. Just small shit.
F- Off that tour, we played in a basement. We literally went from those theaters and then went and did our own shows on our way home. We played at a place called…shit…
D- The Hair Hole.
F- The Hair Hole!
D- It was in Missourri…right?…
Sounds like Columbia.
Both- It was!
D-Yeah! Shout out to The Hair Hole!
What are you guys looking to accomplish this year in ‘013?
Both- New album.
D- Thats the biggest thing we’re concentrating on. It’s a concept album that will take off from the song from Outer Isolation, the title track.It’s going to follow that lone astronaut’s journey and then take him into places…yet unknown. We’re going to have somewhat repeating themes throughout.
Lyrically or musically?
D- Both, but we’re not going to rely too heavily on that. We’re going to make some good flow between each song and the storyline and not try and make it too much like a narrative where it’s just like “ here’s what happened and then this happened afterwards.” It’s going to be more of a philosophical concept album following an underlying story.
F- People can have their own opinions at the end.
D- Overall, it’s probably going to be based off of philosophizing about life and death and humans place in the universe and touchy topics around that.
What are some of the things you want to bring back from Outer Isolation?
F- Progressing into being better individually and as a band.
D- Outer Isolation about the philosophy of the mind and social philosophies. Black Future was kinda the same way, but a little more doom and gloom. Outer Isolation was more of a scientific way of looking at things.
F- With the line-up that we have right now, and the fact that we re-recorded some earlier demos, we can start fresh and really start something new.
D- With the older albums, we were wondering where to put the old songs that we didn’t want to leave as demos. We couldn’t let go of them until they were properly recorded. There was a big discussion on where do they go on the album, where’s it going to fit. With this album, we have a fresh slate to start clean, make all new material, and really express the direction that the band is going in now rather than looking back and trying to recreate old things.
What are some mistakes you’ve made that you know you don’t want to encounter again?
D- Don’t get too drunk in the studio!
[laughter all around]
F- We were never really…
D- I got hammered on Black Future.
F- Not while we were tracking though.
D- True…but when we’d be mixing with a 30 pack, everything sounded awesome.
F- With that album, we were new…
D- Just fucking around and having fun.
So you guys did all the mixing yourselves?
D- We were just there. That would have been the worst mix ever!
F- We definitely had some professional help from Byron Filson.
D- He did both our previous albums and when it came time to do Outer Isolation, all of us agreed that it was time to step it up. People are actually listening to our band and we can’t mess around.
F- Either everyone is going to hate it or love it, so fuck it, lets just go into it and be who we are.
D- Now we realize people are actually waiting to hear what we’re going to do next.
D- There’s more pressure now.
How did that little nickname for your fans come about?
F- The Vektornauts? [laughs] Fucking 2005! I remember seeing that shit well before I was in the band.
D- It was just a funny thing to say back then and it just stuck.
When you guys hang out and talk to fans, what’s the most common thing they want to talk about?
F- Dude, it’s all over the place. There’s kids who talk about old thrash and our influences and all that normal stuff. then you have the kind of older dudes more into science and into philosophy that want to get deeper into that. Not a lot of metal bands will have that and it’s awesome.
D- At least fans acknowledge the fact that we’re not some surface level band. We care about what we write, musically and lyrically. Some people get real in depth about crazy cosmic topics. Everyones getting drunk and having a good old time talking about Carl Sagan topics and fun stuff like that. One of the coolest things my philosophy teacher ever told me was back in the day all the Greek philosophers would just be sitting around drinking wine philosophizing. Dude, they’re just sitting around getting drunk, that’s pretty cool.
F- Even before I was in the band, I’d be at Dave’s house hanging out all weekend and that’s what would happen.
D- We’re not crazy frat bro beer pong party dudes, that’s fucking stupid.We just drink and talk about interesting stuff and that’s how a lot of our ideas start. In that messed up state of mind, you kind of let your mind go to places where you’re a little too conservative.
Have you ever had to walk away from a topic before?
F- If something escalates too quickly and you know the other person isn’t going to see your point of view or not accept anything you’re saying, then yeah, this isn’t going anywhere. You don’t give up easily though.
So what’s an example?
D- [chuckling] Eye patch guy talking about humans in the wild?
F- Ok, for instance, I was at a bar and some guy was talking about how no matter what, humans will overcome any other species, any other animal, no matter what. and I said, “Well, what if you’re a stripped down human and you’re in the jungle, in the Amazon, defenseless? You’re not going to survive.” He said “NO! You will! You make your tools, and do this…”
D- You can’t just pop a fresh person with no knowledge of survival in that kind of setting.
F- This conversation was in Arizona, so I said to the guy, “I’ll drop you in the desert and see what happens” and he’s like “Yeah, I’d do it.” [scoffs]
With that in mind, all these people that have studied these animals and ecosystems for years, and then they go out there and live, like that guy who lived with bears, and then he got eaten. Where does that fit in? I’ve got knowledge, experience, I can live in the wild and I still fail?
F- The thing with that guy is he didn’t know as much as people think, he’s just a thril seeker. He set up his tent next to this family of bears and feel them blueberries and oats and shit like that and just camp out. When that guy was getting eaten, he sounds just like any of us would sound like if they got attacked by a bear. He’s all helplessly screaming “I don’t know what to do! ” Yeah, you don’t know what to do.
What are some of the noticeable differences now that you guys are on Earache’s label as opposed to Heavy Artillery?
D- Publicity and exposure. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been around longer and we’re just catching on,even if it’s just looking at our Facebook fan page, it’s starting to grow exponentially. When we hit 10k fans we were like “Oh my god, this is insane!” Then 15k hit, it just keeps growing faster and faster.
F- Earache is way more professional. You get these connections, the PR person here,we know these lawyers here, and these directors there. They know all these people as a result of being around for awhile. They have more advice, rather than [Heavy Artillery saying] “We’ll toss you some cash and a budget for something you want to do and go figure it out.” with Earache, it’s more them asking if we’re down to do something and throwing ideas at us rather than if there is something you want to do, let us know and we’ll help you budget it out.
D- Basically since being signed to Earache, the whole world of music business and connections has opened up to us.
F- Especially internationally.
Yeah! So is Earache going to be the ones to send you to Europe this year?
F- We’ve had some offers to play internationally before, but just didn’t have the means to get there. We were just starting out, just getting our name on the map. These people we tried to contact then to try and put something together to get us out there, cause we dodn’t have the money dude, and you never hear back from them. Now, this person is seeking you out. It’s weird to see that change.
I can totally relate. Like I said earlier, this site is only about two years old. In the beginning, I sought out this person for that band and that person for this band and I was blown off countless times. Now, these publicists and PR people are contacting me for shows. I was just asked to set a show up in Boston for my wonder twins. That deal was sealed in half an hour and its just a coupe days out. It’s awesome.
NichNote: The show referenced above is Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders. Be on the lookout for that coverage very soon!
F- Being on a tour that was booked for us makes it so much easier. It is so stressful booking your own tour.
What is something you want to improve on live?
D- Getting tighter. The thing for us is we want to nail it more perfect than the album. Until we do, it’s just never going to be perfect. it’s something to strive for. At the same time, we have a blast on stage. We don’t want to stand there and try to like make it sound perfect and be all boring on stage.
F- yeah, have fun, but don’t settle for anything. Don’t push it. I want to get better at all aspects of playing and putting on a good show and just acting like you love it. Because we do love it.
D- Yeah, we don’t have to act.
F- Exactly. I should have said showing that you love it.
Do you guys have any interest in down the road having a stage production?
F- Of course.
D- I’ve had a lot of ideas. The two kinda sharp insect looking pillars on top of the Vektor logo, if we could get really large versions of those on stage that would be cool. Some electrical mad scientist props…
F- There was a minute where we were talking about having screens over the amps just showing TV static. Nothing too much to take people’s attention away from the music. Nothing too outlandish.
D- We wouldn’t have jugglers or weird circus crap going on. It wouldn’t be a theatrical thing by any means.
F- As much as I live KISS, it’d never be anything like that.
D- For us, we don’t want it to become some parody where people only come out to see us for a stage show. We don;t have any props now and it’s working. We’re much more concerned about putting on a good show and playing to the best of our abilities.
True statement.I was creeping your Facebook pictures and found a picture of a modded guitar fit with computer parts. Tell me about that.
NichNote: At this point, David had a pleasant interruption. His sister pulled up in a cab to see him play. Too cool. Family rules.
D- It was an old late 80s computer terminal that I ripped apart and just screwed onto the guitar body.
I make sculptures out of motherboards and RAM cards. I felt we were kindred spirits on that one.
D- That’s awesome! I gotta actually fix that guitar. It’s all messed up right now.
If Vektor was a disease, what would it do to the human body?
F- It’d be like LSD man.
[laughter all around]
How would you catch it?
F- Someone slipped it in your drink?
D- It’s sonic. It’s infectious airwaves. You catch it through the sound.
How would you treat it?
D- It’s incurable.
That’s all I got guys. I am really really excited for this show. Thank you so much.
Both: Yeah man! Thank you! Hope you enjoy the show!