1997.08 Corridor of Cells Interview
In August 1997, the now defunct corridorofcells.com webzine did an interview with Eric and Away
One of the most influential bands of the metal underground during the last 15 years, Canada’s Voi Vod have carved out quite a devoted following for them through years of playing hard-hitting, dissonant music and inspired quite a large number of bands along the way. After the more accessible albums of the early 1990s, this band has returned recently in full force with their newest, exceptionally powerful CD “Phobos”. Here’s what the band’s legendary drummer Away and new bassist/vocalist Eric have to say about Voi Vod circa 1997…
Let’s start off with the brand new CD “Phobos”. In your opinion, how does it differ from “Negatron”, which was a sort of a comeback CD for you?
Away: I think “Negatron” was a bit more impulsive. What do you think Eric?
Eric: I think they’re both great. I’ve been in the band for three years, so I feel a little but more connected with “Phobos”. I think it’s a little bit better of a record, but I like both of them, there’s no question…
Away: The chemistry is much better now in the band. I find “Phobos” a little more mature. I think we’re tighter as a band too.
When you were coming back after the “Angel Rat” period, when you decided to come back to doing something really heavy, what sort of new sound did you want for Voi Vod? Did you want to do a straight continuation of “Dimension Hätross” or do something new?
Away: Definitely looking for a new groove for the year 2000. (laughs) I mean, we do have the same nature. It’s normal that my odd time changes came back, Dennis’s weird chords, they always come back. For “Angel Rat” & “Outer Limits” we went very far into that space/psychedelic sound and we kind of missed the heaviness of Voi Vod’s music, so we decided to incorporate some of that a little more. We went to the total extreme with “Negatron” and now we decided to put some psychedelia back into the music, so there we go…
I remember when during the height of the “Angel Rat” period you were doing a Xmas show here in Montreal (back in ’92 or so) and I was surprised, ’cause around 80% of the material you played was from “Dimension Hätross” and “Killing Technology” and of course it sounded way heavier than what you were doing at that time. I presume you were still into that sort of music, even when you were doing more of the spacey stuff…
Away: “Angel Rat” & “Outer Limits” were studio experiments. Live it’s always been heavy.
Considering that some of your fans were disappointed with that period, do you consider it to be a lost time in terms of your career?
Away: “Angel Rat” still sold 125,000 copies, so we were pretty happy. I know that we had a new crowd. We probably had two crowds at that time: an ’80s crowd and the beginning of a ’90s crowd, so the goal was to bring those people together, that’s what we’re trying to do. But we’re also trying to get new people, so that’s why we’re always trying to reinvent ourselves from album to album.
The addition of Eric to the band, who replaced Blacky & Snake in one shot, how do you that has changed your sound?
Away: Well, in a power trio the energy circulates much faster. It’s easier to get things done and there’s a little less arguments, or actually none. We never argue now and I think the atmosphere is so much better than at the end of our four-piece unit. It had become impossible to work with Blacky & Snake, since they wanted to leave the band. It’s obvious that now Dennis and I are much, much happier. Everything seems to go faster too…
One of the interesting aspects of “Phobos” is the inclusion of some programming effects by James Cavaluzzo of Malhavoc. Was that something you prepared before, or did it just happen in the studio?
Away: It was a very good coincidence. We wanted to work in this studio in Toronto that used to be called Hypnotic Studios. It was taken over by a very good engineer, Rob Sanzo. He happens to team up with James Cavaluzzo, who does all the computer stuff. I was very happy about that. Originally we had asked Dave Ogilvie to do it, but he was very busy with Motley Crüe! (laughs)
It’s kinda hard to believe that anybody can be busy with Motley Crüe!
Away: Yes…Anyway, I think James Cavaluzzo is like a mad scientist. You can ask him to do anything with his computer and he will do it.
Dealing with the more industrial aspects of your music, you’ve collaborated with Jim Foetus on “Negatron”, where he sung the song “D.N.A” for you. Was that his idea or did you both write that song?
Away: Well, we wrote the song, and he wrote the lyrics and the melody lines for the vocals. He’s an old friend.
You’ve worked with him on the Steroid Maximus projects as a drummer. How did that come along?
Away: Actually, I was playing accordion on those projects, believe it or not! (laughs) Both of us were very much into freak side shows. We tried to write songs that were a little bit like the movie “Elephant Man”. I know how to play accordion so I played it and he threw in a lot of samples and stuff like that. It was very interesting. We did that for two albums of his, both of which were released under the Steroid Maximus name.
Are there gonna be any future collaborations with Jim Foetus?
Away: Yes, in the next European tour he’s jumping on stage in Germany and it’s gonna be fun. He did that once in New York and he’s quite unpredictable… (laughs)
Eric: Yes, it was quite a fiasco, it was hilarious. Jim likes to have a couple of beers and get up there. If you ever met the guy you’d know what we’re talking about. He’s quite a character.
Away: He’s the master of chaos.
What countries shall you be visiting during your upcoming tour in Europe?
Away: We’re going pretty much everywhere, We’re gonna be in Germany a lot, and Italy, and Poland, Holland, Prague (which we always like) in the Czech Republic, England, everywhere…We have huge crowds in Italy. The first pressing of “Phobos” sold out in 48hrs over there. It’s gonna be big crowds again.
Back in the old days when you were staring to do some more unusual stuff, when “Killing Technology” came out, there were really few metal bands that dared to do something different. The only ones I could think of in the early 1980s were Celtic Frost, Mekong Delta and of course Voi Vod. Nowadays, there’s a lot more experimentation in metal: bands incorporating keyboards, samplers, symphonics, etc. How do you see the place of Voi Vod in 1997 compared to those early years?
Away: It kinda depends. I know that all those bands like Fear Factory, they all listened to Voi Vod in the past, they learned to play listening to Voi Vod. I think it’s true that we were an influential band, stayed very much underground. I think it’s good we can still record and tour every few years, because we have a very loyal following.
In the early 1980s, there were huge crowds for thrash. Looking at the “Voi Vod” video one can see you playing in front of thousands of people. Do you still get that sort of response these days?
Away: Yes, I think it’s good, cause we can still play at festivals. We played at Dynamo, to 10,000 people…
Eric: Yeah, I think there was like 100,000 people scattered all over the park for a couple of days, people in tents and stuff.
Away: It was amazing. It depends also which country we go to. The metal in U.S. is pretty underground. You get like 200-300 people. When we go to Europe we have big surprises sometime. In Prague, 800-900 people showed up, etc…it depends…
After the tour is over, what are your plans for future Voi Vod releases? What sort of direction do you see Voi Vod going into in the next 3-4 years?
Away: Well, it’s hard to tell. Before all of that, we have to put out a live album. It was half recorded. We recorded a few shows during the “Negatron” tour, one in Berlin, the Dynamo one, the show at the CBGB’s in New York…We want to record more of the next tour and mix down the tracks before the end of Christmas. For the next studio album, I don’t know…I only know it’s gonna be the seventh chapter of the story of the Voi Vod, it’s the last chapter. We’re gonna be careful and try to make it like a masterpiece, I hope so…
It’s not gonna be the end of Voi Vod, right?
Away: It’s gonna be the end of the vampire Voi Vod, the character…
But not the end of the band?
Away: That’s another story. (laughs)