Interview with Sander Vogt, Drummer of Deserter
May 17, 2017
Interview by InfamousButcher
Hailing from Belgium, new Death / Thrash band Deserter is making their mark on the metal scene. Their blistering debut COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT has just been released on Vile Records. I was lucky enough to catch up with their drummer Sander Vogt to find out more about this killer new band!
How long have you been in Deserter and how did you join the band?
Sander Vogt: I’ve been in the band since 2012 and have been drumming away with Deserter ever since. The band started out with Yacine in 2009-2010 (our frontman: vocals and guitars) scouring the internet for band members and forging alliances with Thomas (bass) and Robin (guitars). The story of how I got into the band is pretty funny when I think about it. It all comes down to my younger brother bragging on about me to Yacine’s younger brother – which all started because he noticed me wearing a Kreator band shirt. Sometime later, Yacine contacted me personally and asked me if I was interested in joining the band. 16 years old and stoked as I was, I didn’t hesitate to join a band of experienced dudes who were all way older than me at the time (19 year-olds are really cool when you’re 16). Before I knew it, I was playing with the band and did a first show ever with them in 2012.
The band’s path hasn’t always been straight and even. We’ve had to get through some real challenges: difficult line-up changes, logistical problems and (as all young metal bands know all too well) trying to keep things together financially. Deserter deserted its own cause for a few years (whatever that means), until we finally got stuff back together again. I had been doing lots of session work with a few other bands (Bloodrocuted, Funeral Winds, and Carnation) during the “Deserter hibernation”. I learnt a lot from those experiences and really wanted to apply all of that to Deserter. In the end it really came down to the cooperation between Yacine and I with our endless late-night conspiring on the band’s future which paved the way. What really finished the whole operation was our new lead guitarist though. We are immensely proud to welcome Pablo to the band. His outstanding talent literally swept us up to the next musical level. He helped us out in the past several times (including the many shared memories of crazy parties etc.) and we knew him well, making him the obvious choice. In short, I’d like to put it the way Yacine puts it: “We started out as metalheads wanting to play music – now we’re musicians playing metal.” When we asked Pablo to stick around, he didn’t hesitate. Not that it really matters, but that made us the most ethnically diverse band in the Belgian metal scene, with Yacine being of Moroccan-Belgian descent and Pablo of Mexican-Belgian descent (whilst Thomas and I are just plain Germanic white boys)!
What bands have influenced Deserter and you personally? What drummers do you admire?
SV: It might be surprising, but for us in the band: that’s a hard question. Our influences are incredibly diverse. If we would mention a few bands that undoubtedly influenced Deserter throughout the years, they would be: Kreator, Warbringer, The Black Dahlia Murder, Slayer (duh), Exodus, Destruction, The Crown, Havok and our local heroes Sanity’s Rage. Most of those bands have the same thing in common: at least one of their records was played constantly as we drove around our tiny country, inspiring us in many ways!
For me personally, I’m a huge fan of the real technical drummers. Guys like Alex Rudinger, Andrew Baird, David Diepold, Phil Dubois, Ken Bedene and of course: the mighty George Kollias. Those guys really inspired me to practice like hell to reach high speeds, which I frequently use in our music. I have a real diverse taste in music for the rest: ranging from experimental technical death metal like Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil to bands like Exodus, Kreator and Sepultura to the occasional post-rock band and indie. Yacine also has a real diverse taste in music and his stuff definitely comes back in the band’s influences. We both have a distinct passion for spiritual oriental music and classical music for example, which has definitely influenced the record. Thomas is a true Teutonic Thrash-lover, though he also delves into Stoner and the occasional Viking-Folk record. Pablo, as a true guitar genius, loves pretty much any music that has a guitar in it. His main inspiration is Jason Becker. I’ve heard him mention the most obscure bands ever, the ones you hardly believe actually exist. He does share my huge interest for very technical music, which will undoubtedly have an influence on stuff we’ve been writing and will write for the records to come. I’m proud to say that we have a pretty broad musical repertoire, which helps us create our music!
What is the Belgian metal scene like?
SV: I wouldn’t say the Belgian scene is the greatest out there, because I’d be lying. First of all, few organizations take younger bands seriously. However: one should keep in mind that the environments in which these organisations are supposed to function aren’t very comfortable. The Belgian music business (with the exception of major mainstream artists whose degrading and intrinsically corrupt bullshit is essential to making our sound contrast as much as possible with what’s on the radio) isn’t very lucrative, especially not in the underground. This affects the bands too: and we all have serious expenses, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Belgium is a very small country though, which means that the scene is pretty compact and everybody (at least seems to) knows each other. Considering that Belgium is a federal state and split up into two major communities, you have an even smaller pool for the scene. There is no real “Belgian scene”: but a Flemish (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) one and a Walloon one (French speaking part). Adding to that, we’re originally from Brussels, which is another separate entity, so you can imagine the scenes can get pretty small. It is sad that the Flemish and Walloon scenes don’t really mingle. As a multilingual band, we would be glad to do our best to merge these scenes. Although it isn’t easy to survive as a metal band, it is the brotherly bonds that are created in between bands which really make our (Flemish-Brussels) scene special. Lots of the band members intertwine, giving rise to a brilliant overall atmosphere amongst the bands. Pablo and I played in different bands throughout the years. On our release show in April, we covered ‘Refuse/Resist’ from Sepultura with the guys from Bloodrocuted joining in. That being said, we’d like to mention some of the bands we’ve bonded with throughout the years: Bloodrocuted, Cizin, Malism, Sanity’s Rage, Warckon, Evil Invaders, Carnation, Skinweaver and many more!
Tell me about the recording of your debut full length album COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT. Where did you record it? How did you get in touch with Vile Records?
SV: COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT is the result of a long musical journey, a journey that wasn’t always easy. We recorded the entire album once before, until we decided to practically redo everything. Lots of the songs on COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT are pretty old, but we reviewed them over and over until we were really happy with the result. In other words: we really took our time to put the bar as high as we could. Yacine rewrote the lyrics for some songs three times over!
The record wouldn’t be what it is in any way without the guidance and expertise of our main man Bob Briessinck at Breeze Inc. Studio. Not only an amazing producer, he also does live sound for bands like Havok, Warbringer, Gorod and Exmortus. As a former fellow band-member and great friend of mine, he helped us get through with all the logistical mess of being in a band as well and really brought the sound of COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT to a level we wouldn’t even have dreamed of. We got in touch with Vile Records through meeting the guys from Hellcannon in 2014. They were on their European tour and we played as an opening band for their show in Belgium. Jim was real enthusiastic about our stuff, and with the way he talked to us and advised us on things – we immediately knew that we couldn’t lose this guy (and not only because we were amazed with Malevolent Creation being mentioned on Vile Records). We really shared a very similar view on Thrash Metal. That night in Belgium with Jim, Ryan, Joe and CW (filling in on their tour) truly was historical for the band! I kept in touch with Jim throughout the following years, and once our recording process was starting to finalize I mentioned our imminent release: and that brought us here, to this interview. We are really proud to have the Vile Records logo on our CDs and to see our stuff on platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, eBay…
Will your earlier EP CHERNOBYL’S BEAUTY be available on Vile Records at some point?
SV: Our EP (2013) isn’t comparable to COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT in any way. We’ve discussed re-recording the whole thing for the sake of our reputation, but we’d rather invest our time and energy in writing new stuff. Therefore, we aren’t going to put any of our previous releases on Vile Records, or at least we’re not planning to now. Suffice it to say that we sounded like a completely different band on our EP and in many ways we were a different band (I wasn’t even the drummer on CHERNOBYL’S BEAUTY nor was Pablo featured on it). It is kind of ironic… one of the main struggles for the band was getting shit back together after the band’s first EP – which in a way turned out to be our own Chernobyl. However; it still is worth listening to, as is the case with our first demo BEAUTY IN CHAOS (2011). The raw sound kind of seems like a prehistoric display of what we are capable of musically. If I’d continue comparing the band’s musical record with the history of human kind, then GLOBAL RUI-NATION (2014 demo) was when man discovered fire and the endless possibilities that go with it. COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT is undoubtedly Ancient Egypt in all its mystery and technological (better still: technical) superiority. Maybe that illustrates that we’re capable of getting even further than our latest record!
What are your tour plans for 2017?
SV: We’ve had offers in the mail, which are worth considering. Nothing can really be put out publicly yet. Considering the fact that we all have very busy personal schedules, we want to put the bar high for shows from now on and set a certain standard. The release of COILS OF THE LESSER SERPENT was a big step for Deserter, and that should materialise properly on stage – stages that are big enough, might I add!
Thanks very much for all of the great information Sander!
SV: You’re welcome and thank you!