John Chavez – Guitarist for Vehemence
VEHEMENCE have been called more sick than Six Feet Under, more vile than Vomitory, and more violent than Vader. Recently we got to pose a bunch of questions to John about the band, lyrics, touring, etc. If you like true melodic death metal, we hope you’ve already taken notice of Vehemence!
You recently returned from a tour of Mexico. How did it go and how were the turnouts?
The turn out in Juarez, Mexico was as average as any other show we had on the run we did in Texas in early August 2004. The crowd however was just amazing and displayed a frenzy of moving, moshing, and hitting the ground. There wasn?t any security at the show so it was mayhem. The city in general looked like Las Vegas and Hollywood combined, all lit up and everything with tons of people outside. We look forward on touring more cities in Mexico and going down south to the bigger cities.
How much more touring are you hoping to do before you concentrate on the next album?
We are working towards extensive touring plans covering all markets possible including overseas and in our own country. We are a band that is accepted by the death, black, metalcore, and hardcore scenes. With that in mind we have some upcoming tours with Crematorium, All Shall Perish, and Animosity on the west coast of U.S. from Sept 6th to Sept 11th. After that we have a month tour with Mortician, Ackercocke from Sept 19th to mid October. For next year in 2005, we have talked with the band Crisis for a tour in January as well as a 3 week European tour with Abscess in April.
Has anything been started with regards to a new album?
There was a tour offered to us with On Broken Wings and Six Feet Under in March but we weren?t ready to tour at that time without our album being released. We co-headlined a great tour with Prong in June 2004 on the west coast of the U.S. Originally it was supposed to be with All That Remains and Dog Fashion Disco but they pulled for various reasons.
Recently you did a tour with Prong. How did that odd pairing come about and what was the tour like (did you scare off anyone? ha!)?
The tour was diverse and was well respected by all the people that came to the shows. We do very well even in mixed packages like that, touring a band that innovated most of the nu-metal/hardcore scenes really brought out some of the truest of music listeners that were open minded enough to get into our more extreme style of music. Nu Metal kids can only get into heavier music, safe assumption that they will enjoy heavier forms of music.
You’ve played with a number of bands in the USA, what band has treated you guys the best or who you’d love to tour with any time? Were any of them band’s you’d rather not tour with again?
I don?t want to play favorites because all of the bands have treated everyone as they want to be treated and all of the bands have great respect towards each other when we all sit down at the venues and bond. We got along with Decapitated from Poland the most, those guys are very kind same with Behemoth, hospitality runs high on metal tours, we do what you got to do to make the show a complete success. As far as American bands I can name are Impaled and Deicide, both are excellent down to earth bands to tour with.
A few months back you released a video for the song “By Your Bedside”. Why’d you pick that song and what was it like to film the video?
We choose that video because we had access to the elements to create the video like the hallways, hospital gurney, and nurses with cleavage. The video depicts the human condition, and represents the process of dealing with some one who is terminally ill. The feelings that you have before a loved one, friend, dies right before you is what we are trying to conjure up in the song.
The song (“By Your Bedside”) is about dying, did writing or recording the song make you take your own mortality more seriously or are you still in the “I am immortal” stage of life? ha!
Yeah you only live once in this world, and you got to make the best of it. You can either be a risk taker or hide in a cave. Human disease affects us all at the end; we are not immortal, only memories can withstand the fall of time haha. (Those that you don?t know I total made that response so Immortal, in regards to the band Immortal?)
Has the video gotten any airplay that you know of or has most of it been online viewing?
We are about to resubmit the By Your Bedside video to MTV2 and FUSE. We are also going to record a new video for our song called We Are All Dying Sept 14th and 15th in New York with MTV/TRL director Elliot Phear.
Wes Benscoter did the fabulous artwork for your latest, HELPING THE WORLD TO SEE. How’d you hook up with Wes and did you give him any ideas for the cover art or was that all from his own twisted mind?
Well at first we sent out a news update saying we needed some artists who are interested in doing the next Vehemence album cover, and we had all of these submissions but we didn?t want to use anything that was submitted respectfully, we did find someone?s artwork intriguing, an artist by the name Badfinger, but Metal Blade decided to recommend us to Wes who offered to do our cover for a fee. It was money well spent and we created that masterpiece in less than a month with no help from us other than just giving him the title of our album.
What or who is Trinity Broadcasting about? Anyone in particular?
We take on televangelism with this song, Trinity Broadcasting is a one sided Christian extremist network on basic television, They rip up phone books for Jesus, touch someone in the head and the magically heal the blind. The person in a wheel chair can suddenly walk as soon a minister touches their head, stuff like that is what the song is about. And the number is always on their station for you to donate all your money for their crusade to help others and of course themselves buy yot boats and islands.
Does the band maintain contact with former members Jason Keesecker (Keyboard, Piano) / Scott Wiegand – Guitars?
Jason Keesecker I saw him recently one Fear Factory came through here, he is doing pretty well, no hard feelings. I wish stuff could have gone down a bit smoother when he decided to leave the band. He basically had 3 songs out of 40 and we weren?t going to compromise our sound to be more like Dark Tranquility or Soilwork. Scott Weigand, there were some personal issues concerning him recently and we don?t ever see him, last we saw him was the demo sessions for Helping The World To See in early 2003. He lent us the Peavey Triple XXX amp which we used for the Kill For God Demo.
In your online profile, under former bands, it lists the band Deprecated and says “in 2000, band will reform at a later time”. What are the plans to reform? What is different about Deprecated from say Vehemence?
Deprecated is a technical death metal band, based in San Diego, main guy is Derek Boyer which is now in Suffocation. The project has been all talk, there were 10 songs recorded and mapped out for a full length release that never came out. I have some songs written and we are just looking for the perfect line up, which will consist of the original members that started the band. When our schedules are cleared up, we will begin to try and record what we have made.
Also in your online profile under influences is listed a load of death metal bands…but wedged in there is a Canadian rock band – The Tea Party!! How’d they make there way in there besides the obvious (that they are one of the only interesting ROCK bands out there)?
Well as a kid I actually got the channel Much Music and they played their music video for the song The River and I was hooked to their music instantly. I like the Doors and they reminded me of them so much, they are a great band even though they are religious in their lyrics. I am also a fan of the alternative band?s H.U.M. Weezer, and another hard rock band called H.I.M. as well, any innovators like that gain my respect.
Are there any other odd bands that listeners would be surprised to learn that you listen to?
Well as I said above, that was pretty interesting information, but there are some bands I would like our fans to check out, Illdisposed form Denmark, Embraced from Sweden, Gojira and Symbyosis from France, Theory in Practice from Sweden, Infernal Method from Australia, and the super group called Bloodbath from Sweden. I listen to all forms of metal and music in general, I?m not elitist or anything when it comes to music.
As a fan of all styles of metal from glam metal to death metal I found it a bit odd that you didn’t mention other metal bands as influences? Do you only listen to death metal these days or does anything else in metal interest you?
Ah there is too many to list I am influenced by, I didn?t want to clutter up my profile with a variety of styles, just more of the bands I want people to check out now, but yeah I listen to everything that is recorded properly.
One of the main things I like about your sound is that it’s not just brutal and “noisy” death metal, There are plenty of elements of melody without the melody taking away from the heaviness. Would you call your band melodic death metal, or does that conjure up thoughts the wrong type of band to you?
I would call us melodic death metal, or just death metal. Bands like Gorefest and Carcass kept their heaviness but were very melodic, call us what you called them.
Musically you have varied tempos, riffs, etc..but the vocals are a bit, how shall we call it…one-dimensional. Have you thought about adding more variation in the vocal department or are you content to stick with the more typical death metal vocals?
From the beginning albums to our new one we have only experimented with adding more vocal tracks, different ranges from very guttural to mid ranged vocals combined. There is only so much you can do in Death Metal, and we don?t plan to have clean vocals in Vehemence, we have spoken word stuff but that is about it. Our front man does a great job on stage, he is a people person so he?s not up there acting elite or anything, if you care about us we care about you and he will talk to you and the crowd as other likeminded individuals.
How do you see the band’s sound and style evolution from 1998 to 2004?
We have learned a great deal more in song composition, and we make sure we are not too off the wall and have songs you can actually remember. Our guitar techniques improve with each album. Some bands design music simply to be the fastest or the most technical, and some bands try to be the most spikiest, painted, masochistic band in the world. To each to their own, and I have respect for anyone that has the drive to keep doing what they do in music for so long without compromising to styles that can sell more. Our band appeals to the metal core and hardcore kids now, but we have always remained with our same style, and never compromised, we are just seeing an integration movement, and we are in this era seeing everyone unite.
How would you say that your playing style differs from or compliments the other Vehemence guitarist, Bjorn Dannov?
The way we work together is real genuine, our styles differ completely I think and we do feed off each other by learning each others techniques to create the same Vehemence vibe that ended up on our past 2 records.
On the latest album, the track “Alone in Your Presence” stands out since it’s both an instrumental and more melodic than the other songs. What inspired the writing of this one?
Bjorn wrote that song, and he is inspired by many forms of music like I am, but he is more so into some others than I am, he decided to make the song start off slow and build up, it is mostly an acoustic song and separates the album from all the chaotic songs in the beginning and at the end.
What is the track “Spirit of the Soldier” about?
Spirit of The Soldier is an ode to all the soldiers at war right now, and was written during the time when my friend Adam Gill was still alive, then he suddenly died from a heart complication and I finished the song right after starting from the solo and up. For me it?s a personal song, but most importantly an ode to the soldiers especially the ones that listen to Vehemence.
One of my other favs on here is “What Could go Wrong” which I think almost has a Testament thrash feel to it in some places…would you agree?
Thank you, I wrote that one and it does have a thrash metal influence to it. I wanted it to build up but stay stagnant through out the song without riff cluttering and just have the same formulas I have always done, something catchy, then something technical, solo, then catchy again.
God/religion in general has been a recurring theme in your lyrics. Did any of you grow up in a strongly religious household or is more a matter of listening to too much Deicide?
Nathan our lyricist/vocals grew up with a religious stepmother and in your teens you have to put up with whatever rules your parents give you. We have some pictures of him in a suit and tie, and wore that ever day throughout his school years. He did a 360 though after the early years of high school started. We all grew up in an Atheist fashion and we still stand by that.
What other types of topics might you cover for the next album?
We don?t know, we have a song already written called A Look Inside with lyrics and everything, I just haven?t read clearly through the lyrics of it yet, but I think the next direction we will take our music is experimenting in different tunings, dabbling in Drop A for one song, and making more complex solos. As I always say, if you like the stuff now, you will like our new songs even better, we always have a different lyrical structure with each album so we will keep you all guessing until we are half way into it.
When you’re not working on Vehemence stuff what occupies most of your time?
Promoting Vehemence via internet, networking, and I work for an audio and video company called Avid as a customer sales representative but I don?t work many hours.
I noticed some nice graphics with what I’ll call the theme of “let Jesus fuck you” on your site…What other work have you done and have you done any other work for bands?
That phrase is actually a sample we used before that we were going to tac on to the beginning of Made For Her Jesus, and comes from a Japanese Animated cartoon but we wanted the song to be more serious.
If you had to list your top 5 death metal albums, could you…would you?
1. Resurrection ?Embalmed Existence
2. Gorefest ? False
3. Bloodbath ? Resurrection Through Carnage
4. Suffocation ?Pierced From Within
5. Gorguts ? Considered Dead
If there is any other news to report on the band, here’s your chance to plug it!
Thanks for the interview and please visit our website at http://www.vehemence.com and anyone can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Join the Ultimate Metal message board, or hit us up on wwww.myspace.com/vehemence see you on the road.