Interview with Morgan Rider of Vesperia, Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2015 Champions- Part I

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Interview with Morgan Rider of Vesperia

Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2015 Champions – Part I

by JP

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It was week after midnight in Toronto, Ontario on June 6th when it was finally announced, Vesperia had won the Wacken Metal Battle Canada.  We decided to contact the band and do a two-part interview.  In this first part we will meet the band and in Part II we will hear of their adventures in Germany this summer.  Enjoy!


Congratulations on winning Wacken Metal Battle Canada! For those not too familiar with

Vesperia, let’s go back to the beginning. Tell us very briefly about the formation of the band.

Thank you very much! We are very excited to be taking part in this year’s edition of Wacken Open Air. Vesperia began as a project band when I was still in high school as a musical outlet for my black metal ambitions at the time. Over the years, the line up has changed frequently and the music has evolved and gone through many elemental changes that have led to the lineup and sound we have today.

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Skipping ahead to WMB, was this the first year you entered the battle?

This is the second time we have participated in the Wacken Metal Battle. We performed in 2013, where we made it all the way to the finals in Toronto and placed 2nd overall in the competition.

Who did you consider the toughest competition?

For this year, I would say Midnight Malice was definitely the toughest competition. They are also a popular band from Toronto and had massive support during the finals. They are an excellent, excellent band ­ and a very hardworking one at that. In the end, all of the bands were amazing and it was a very close call from what I understand.

Since WMB is more like a showcase gig did you do anything differently to prepare your set? Was it hard with a short set ­time to pick your best material?

This year we rehearsed harder than we ever have in the history of the band. Our entire set is now one big backing track with click tracks and our orchestrations predetermined and fed straight to our drummer’s line mixer and headphones. In the end, we decided which songs were our strongest that would adhere to the 25 minute set length we were given and we rehearsed the hell out of it.

Was it more intimidating to play in front of the celebrity judges? Did you capitalize on any nervous energy and convert it into an elite performance?

Not really. We have played many large shows with many well known musicians, especially at the Opera House where the WMB Finals took place. We went in there determined and gave the most into a set than we ever have. We have always been increasingly critical of ourselves, our music and our live show and this particular show was no exception. We did not spare any efforts in regards to the delivery of our show, and I suppose that struck a note with the judges.

Last year WMB dropped the criteria that the band had to be unsigned. What was your react to that WMB management decision? Do you feel it is unfair that veteran signed bands can compete now with indie, unsigned bands?

This is actually the first that I have heard of this change in the rules. I suppose that if larger, signed bands are able to participate, then it would definitely change the dynamic of this being a competition that gives smaller bands a chance to grow as well as learn more about the industry given the chance they can play at a large festival such as Wacken.

When another Toronto band Crimson Shadows won a couple of years ago did it give you perhaps some extra hope that a Canadian band could compete on the international stage, let alone win again?

Actually, I played bass for Crimson Shadows during that time and went overseas to play Wacken with them. It was all a very new experience for us and for the scene here in Canada in general. That was the first year that an opportunity like that was open to smaller Canadian bands and it definitely built a lot of mutual excitement for everyone. I think that this is our opportunity to show the world what excellent metal is being created here in Canada. When we were sitting there in the VIP conference tent and our name was called out, it was definitely surreal for us, our families, friends and fans.

In the past 10 years, every single band that has won WMB (with the exception of Battlebeast in 2010) has some Death Metal elements in their sound. Why do you think that is?

I think that possibly the death metal element is bigger drawpoint and focus for the raw energy and power behind the idea and imagery of a metal band. Perhaps death metal bands have more of a primal edge as a result? Perhaps the judges just like death metal more…

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I know in past years there had been some (minor, largely unsubstantiated) accusations about the behaviour of some of the judges. The ‘sore losers’ always seem to come out of the woodwork after a competition like this. Have you experienced any backlash or negative commentary based on your victory on June 6th?

We were hoping that we wouldn’t get any nasty messages or see any backlash online, and to be honest… we haven’t. Everyone from across the board from bands to the fans of those bands have shown us nothing but support over the last few weeks. We actually couldn’t be more proud to be representing this country, these bands and these fans.

What is the next step? When do you leave to go to Wacken? Have you or any of the band members been before as fans?

Apart from me playing Wacken in 2013, none of my bandmates have even been overseas I believe, let alone attend the largest metalfest in the world. Before we go, we are actually completing the second leg of a full Canadian tour from coast to coast. On this run we are going to be doing our tour kickoff in Oshawa, Ontario and then touring out across the prairies, hitting every province on the way to make the halfway point on the main day of the 2015 Armstrong Metalfest. Afterward we are touring back across the prairies to get home in time to catch our flight to Hamburg and ultimately, Wacken Open Air.

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Lastly, do you feel any additional pressure, like the hopes of the entire Canadian Metal nation are riding on you?

In a way, yeah we definitely do. We are rehearsing harder than ever and doing a lot of promotion building up to and during the Wacken festival. We can only bring our best performance to Wacken and make the biggest mark we can on the crowd and judges there. Only time will tell!

Good luck, we will talk to you for Part two of this interview when you return from Wacken Metal Fest so we can hear all about your adventures overseas!

It was a pleasure. I look forward to following up with you upon our return!


Live video at Wacken Metal Battle Canada:

Western Tempests – Live Video:

Music Video – Pints Held High