VILE VINDICTION – guitarist Jim Nickles (original founding member of Malevolent Creation)
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
Jim Nickles is one of the original founding members of Malevolent Creation. After parting ways with Malevolent Creation due to some personal reasons, he joined Hellwitch for a tour during 1990-91. Jim was struggling in his life due to having a drug problem, but however eventually learned his lessons by reaching many setbacks in his life by a continuous use of drugs.
Vile Vindiction is Jim´s new incarnation of a brutal and heavy blend of both thrash- and death metal which best could be described as a sort of early Malevolent-Creation-meets-Slayer type of musical mixture. The band will have their debut 5-song E.P. out soon – and while we are all waiting to get to hear it, please read what Jim had to tell about Vile Vindiction – as well as f.ex. his involvements with both Malevolent Creation (formerly Resthaven) and Hellwitch as well.
… AND THE FIRST SEEDS OF VILE VINDICTION WERE SOWN
As there´s so little information available about Vile Vindiction on the Internet yet, would you enlighten us a little bit about the history of the band. How did you guys find each other and what kind of things inspired you to play this type of heavy, strongly riff-based death metal?
Vile Vindiction was first started in 1990 by the current member George Grant along with a mutual high school friend of mine named Mitch McMurray who was on drums and Rick Nigro on guitar. The band played a couple shows, the best one being at The Skyroom Country Club in Buffalo, formerly known as the Rooftops Skyroom. It was one of the premier clubs in Buffalo in that day. That show took place on Friday, Feb 15th 1991. Later, the band recorded one track on a local compilation called "Frozen Metal Thunder". But the band didn’t have a vocalist so Mich McMurray took on the duties… That was it for Vile Vindiction at that time. Later in ’94 when I was up from Fla. for a stretch, George, Mitch and I got together at my house (where Malevolent Creation was born and rehearsed) and jammed for quite a few months on and off but never got the remaining members needed. So the band never got off the ground then either. So I went back to Fla. Although it was during that time that, we wrote two tracks that appear on our debut. "Your Honour" and "Death Wrapped In Plastic". One more track written then is yet to appear. Stay tuned…
Listening to Vile Vindiction´s songs, one can soon notice that musically Vile Vindiction has more in common with the old Malevolent Creation stuff that some other could realize at first. I mean, at least I found many musical references riff-wise to such Malevolent Creation albums as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and RETRIBUTION, and obviously you don´t deny the fact that some of those early Malevolent Creation albums still work as a good inspiration for you when writing songs for Vile Vindiction?
Our inspiration for our writing, to be honest, is mainly influenced by Slayer and many other old school greats – such as (old) Metallica. But there are very few left today…
STARTING UP WITH MALEVOLENT CREATION
Now when we are at talking about your ex-band Malevolent Creation, what I found a bit odd, there´s no mention in Metal-Archives.com that you would have ever played in Malevolent Creation. Can you tell a reason for that why your name hasn´t been mentioned there as a part of Malevolent Creation´s history?
Well, to be quite honest, you’ll have to ask Phil for the real reason? But he and I are always still friends, and he says he’s gonna rewrite the bio now and tell the real story. But, frankly I think the guys were just a little bitter, and embarrassed by my actions. We all thought we’d be a band forever – and when things started to happen, I disappointed them. Anyway, the truth is, Phil, Brett and I started Malevolent Creation in 1986 (we were formerly Resthaven). Brett thought up the name I think, cause he was always writing lyrics and titles… He’s good like that. So Phil, Brett and I jammed in my basement every day and wrote the first 7 or 8 Malevolent Creation songs. We played a bunch of shows and in 1987 recorded the first Malevolent Creation demo ever. It was recorded at Select Sound Studios in Buffalo, N.Y. It contained two mastered tracks,"Sacrificial Annihilation" and "The Traitor Must Pay and the Price Is Death", plus a live scratch recording of "Confirmed Kill". I own the original 2-inch reel to reel master and plan to soon have it transfered to digital, so it can be remixed and mastered. Phil and I plan to release it next year.
What made you to quit from Malevolent Creation back in the day? Some personal issues with Phil Fasciana, perhaps?
No, definitely not at all. Phil, Brett and I grew up together since Junior High School and have always remained close friends. To be quite honest, there’s no way of sugar-coating your mistakes. Cocaine consumed me. Later when I thought I had learned my lesson, I joined Hellwitch because I think Jeff was in my place with Malevolent Creation at the time. Incidently, right before Malevolent Creation I was in the band Leviathan with Jeff J. (and wrote the riffs for the track "Leviathan" which appeared on a compilation but I didn’t play on it. I had already left the band) – Rob Barrett who was an early Malevolent Creation fan later stepped in, etc.
PLAYING TOGETHER WITH HELLWITCH
You also used to play in Hellwitch during the period 1990-91, doing a little tour with them. Would you tell something about those times, how did you get involved with Patrick Ranieri´s Hellwitch anyway – and what kind of issues made you to step out from their troops eventually?
Phil hooked me up with Pat. I learned their debut L.P. (SYZYGIAL MISCREANCY, released on Wild Rags Records in 1990) in three weeks and went on tour. I was still messing with drugs on and off and later decided I wanted to do the family thing. But it didn’t last and my heart was broken. But I have one beautiful daughter Aja Marie, who currently attends college. Let me put everyone at ease and say that I did eventually grow up and learn the important life lessons. Just wish it didn’t take me ´til 2005 which is when I started playing again. I didn’t even own a guitar for like 12 years. Vile Vindiction is my way of gettin back on the map, and doing what I was meant to do. Make brutal fuckin´ music – and spread it. I’m never stoppin´ again ´til I’m dead. So again, STAY TUNED!
Are you still a friend with Patrick, and keep in contact to him from time to time, basically asking from him what´s up with his life and especially with his band Hellwitch that seem to be on hold – at least for time being?
Yes, I fuckin love that guy, and I think Hellwitch is currently recording – check their page!
Now let´s go back to Vile Vindiction and let´s talk more about this incarnation of heaviness and brutality instead. You guys have currently been working with your ´yet-untitled´ debut full-length album, which is supposed to get released by the year´s end, I assume? Would you be willing to share some thoughts about the entire recording process, how it has been turning out for you guys, how many songs it will contain all in all, etc.?
We seem to write in spurts. We are currently working on the 8th track, but have decided to take the art by Mark Cooper of Mindrape Art and press a five song, self-titled E.P. – with the hopes of label support in the near future for the full length. The CD is currently being packaged and will be officially released independently in October.
How painful/painless process was it overall for you guys to get songs together for your debut album? Did some songs take drastically more time to get them shaped up for their final format than possibly some other songs?
George is a writing machine, and we write well together. So it really hasn’t been that hard. Those sick riffs just come out. However, we were concerned at first because we struggled to find worthy candidates to complete the line-up. But it panned out, just in time for the studio dates, although we are currently auditioning vocalists. It seems Kris Poole was never really into the music. But he did a great job and we are thankful he helped us get off the ground.
GOING BACK TO THE ROOTS
Was your main intention basically to bring things back to the roots of death metal musically with Vile Vindiction, in which clear song arrangements, very focused riffs, striking solos (partly kinda Slayer-ish if you ask from me respectively), etc. play the main role as the core part of your death metal?
I think that it’s more because of our influences and the fact that this style of music is what we like and we wouldn’t write anything that we wouldn’t listen to. Today´s new metal is cool and all but I need to hear a riff, ya know? Where’s the riffs? It’s too cluttered up with breakdowns and guys that just wanna prove they can do sweeps over and over. We aren’t the greatest players in the world, but we aren’t the worst either, and we ‘re just here to make cool and heavy music – and to write about the sick, twisted and vile things that have gone on in our world in the past and today.
Talking about Slayer as being one of your biggest influences, what are some of those elements in their sound that you adore most in their style of thrash – and what you think of today´s Slayer compared to that Slayer that once made f.ex. such classic thrash records as HELL AWAITS and REIGN IN BLOOD?
I love their picking style and impeccable ability to structure songs. Sure, some of their songs are just straight forward, but a lot of them have serious thought put into the composition and structure of the song – with their harmonies, chord progressions and changes. Araya’s voice rules. As I said earlier, we are currently auditioning new vocalists, and would love to have Araya’s style incorporated with the new style of brutal Vox. I don’t really wanna say that old or new Slayer is any better. But they have definitely progressed, their soloing has gotten better, and I definitely love new Slayer. I learned some tracks off CHRIST ILLUSION to get my picking skills back in shape… All Slayer is kick ass.
How did you find the band´s name, Vile Vindiction anyway? Do you think the name of your band describes the best way what Vile Vindiction´s name is all about, both music- and even ideology-wise?
Exactly. "Vindiction" wasn’t even a word. But it is now! There’s so much vile shit that goes on in this world, it gives endless possibilities if you’re talking about writing stories that classify as brutal… As George first pointed out, if you put vile together over and over, What do you see? ( -> VILEVILEVILEVILEVILE <- ) The word "vindiction" to us is any brutal act, or the act of being vindictive… Thus the name and the theme.
Do find well-done lyrics equal to a well-done music? Do they need to go hand-in-hand in order that the whole package could work the best way for you personally? Or, if the music was good enough for your own ears, it doesn´t matter if the lyrics wouldn´t have any impact on making you curious about them at all?
This is our current task. There are plenty of guys with good, brutal voices, but the lyrics have to tell a story. Yes, there are many great bands that have good heavy riffing and drumming, but you can’t understsnd a word. To us it’s better if the lyrics tell a story, and can at least for the most part, be understood…
FALLING SICK WITH PERFECTIONISM
When you are in a song writing mood, and trying to come up with the best riffs and stuff for Vile Vindiction, have you found this little, inner perfectionist from yourself somewhere that is always kind of unhappy with the stuff in the end of the day that you may have churned for your band during a day?
That’s not only funny, but a great question. It happens with every riff. We have found that the hardest part of writing for us,is simply commiting to a riff, and saying "Yes" – this is what we’re gonna play. We always think it could be better…
You have already played some shows with Vile Vindiction, and now you have at least one show booked for November 22nd 2008. Once your debut album has been released, do you have some serious plans to organize a more extensive tour so that you could support the release of your debut album?
Actually we have two gigs booked for November and one for December by now. We are thinking about putting together something for after the holidays to go out of state…
How important do you find gigging itself for getting the band´s name better on people´s lips? Do you enjoy bringing Vile Vindiction to different places where you might have a chance to play even for hundreds of people at the same time?
I always love the thrill of playing shows, whether it´s for 50 people or 5 thousand people.
Europe is known for its huge metal festivals that are arranged each year. So I can only assume – hypothetically speaking, getting Vile Vindiction booked to as many metal festivals in Europe as possible, would be sort of a ´dream-come-true´ thing for you guys to reach thousands of metalheads, and make the band known among them within a relatively short period of time… Wouldn´t it?
Absolutely… Where do we sign??
THINGS WERE DONE BETTER BACK IN THE DAY
How would you see today´s death metal scene anyway compared to what we had in the ´90s? Do you think that many of today´s new death metal bands are unfortunately just a part of big faceless mass that really don´t differ from the masses well enough – having not their own identity, sound, etc.?
That is exactly how we feel… which is why we have stuck to our roots.
How much was you personally involved with the much loved and missed tape trading scene back in the day when metalheads overall seemed to be more united in the name of metal spirit than what they are nowadays?
I wasn’t, except with my own loop of friends… But Pat Ranieri from Hellwitch was and still is a crazy trader!
Can you tell what were some of the coolest discoveries that you made through the tape trading scene as far as some of the bands from those past times are concerned?
I discovered Morbid Angel before they were big. I donno, that’s a tough question… There is quite a few. Did anyone know that Alice In Chains used to be a doom band? I thought they were different and interesting back in the underground days… Immolation, Death, etc. – the list goes on and on…
What are some of these, new worth mentioning death metal bands from your locals area in your opinion that would deserve more people´s attention than they are actually getting now, because of their sheer musical talent to make killer songs, and overall sounding already ready to record their own debut albums?
Sons of Azrael, Perfidious Doom and definitely Fledgling Death featuring Doug White on guitar, who engineered our record.
As for one old band that you have also probably been following for some years, what´s your opinion about some of the recent albums Malevolent Creation have done during this millenium. I mean albums like THE WILL THE KILL (2002), (WARKULT (2004) and DOOMSDAY X (2007).
Phil’s picking skills are excellent and the drumming is brutal with past members such as Derek Roddy, Alex Marquez and Dave Culross. ALL Malevolent will always be top notch in my book!!
Do you have any plans to shoot a promotional video for any of your songs on the album in the near future? If so, what song would fit perfect for those plans in your opinion?
That would be awesome, and in my opinion, "Life Lost" would be a perfect candidate… Because the lyrics hit home. Many people I have known – including close friends, have committed suicide.
What´s your standpoint about all these DVDs of metal bands that are floated to the music markets constantly by both record companies and bands as well? Do you think the whole metal scene is a bit oversaturated by all these DVD releases by thousands of metal bands nowadays that people may loose their interest toward them little by little?
Tough question. I don’t really know what impact it will have, but that’s a logical possibility. Still, I hope we make one!