For a band who has enjoyed a thirty plus year career, spanning over eleven studio releases in the more extreme end of the music business, it is hard to believe that they hail from Eastern Europe, in the Polish town of Olsztyn, but this is Vader. They are definite pioneers of the death metal scene and they have remained relevant, and pivotal to heavy metal, where so many of the death metal bands, from the prime of the era, just faded away. They have stood the test of time and weathered line-up changes, record companies and even the whimsical music scene itself. But here we are in 2017, with their release of The Empire, their first with Nuclear Blast, and an impending tour of Australia in September with German heavy weights, Kreator. This is a double bill that no Australian Metal Fan should miss and I caught up with Vader’s founding member, Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek, to discuss the tour, the bands history and The Empire.
To me Vader are the ultimate Thrash/Death Metal band, how do you as a composer combine the two? Do you have a formula?
“You know I never define this. When I started to write it was just metal, you know, and then extreme metal came from this. You know in the old days we called it different, I don’t really have a formula or a name we play what we play and this is Vader! So there is no definition, we write and play what we are. ”
How do you write your material, is it in isolation and then the band arranges the songs, or is it in a rehearsal setting?
“In our whole career, the first album was done before we entered the studio it was the end of demos and songs that we had created over some times. But after this, when we started to be real active we mostly composed in the studio, but generally, me personally, I really like to work in the studio. So we have a studio where we can work as long as we like. I work with the drummer first to make the backbone, and from there the guitarist, it is a natural process but is hard to explain. It is very orchestral actually how we work and put tracks together.”
Now to the new album, The Empire, it is a definite Vader album, but I feel there is more variety on this offering and I particularly like ‘Iron Reign’, how do you see this album fitting in to your back catalogue?
“You should not ask me, to me everything is pretty natural. I don’t think about albums and how they sit, I like the spontaneity of albums as I mentioned, and that’s why I like working in the studio. Before the recording I have a frame, but beyond this I don’t know how things will work out. The Empire is the most different album in the discography, it is typical to Vader, but altogether there is so much of the older influences on it. It was pretty natural at this time, I was listening to so much, and I rediscovered all of these old demos and I went through them from the attic and I listened to them on my Walkman and this has had a huge impact on the writing of The Empire.”
Thinking back to your beginnings as a musician in 1983, what bands and artists had the most influence on you?
“I started with Black Sabbath, and actually they have poisoned me totally with atmosphere and sound. They are a one of a kind band. I only actually saw them two years ago and they are the most important band who made me a musician. But Judas Priest, they made me a Heavy Metal Musician, and from this we created Vader. We had the same influences and also the NWOBHM, as a fan, Saxon, Iron Maiden and Angel Witch. All of these bands were on the way to extremity and then Slayer, Destruction and so many others. You know Vader worked as hard as all of them but it was even harder for us in Eastern Europe you know.””
Vader are a band who have stamped their mark all over the extreme metal scene as a pioneer and an innovator, how has being in Poland both aided and hindered your development as an extreme heavy band, I know you have just touched on this?
“The beginning was hard but I am happy that I remember, and that I was a part of this. We had passion and we could feel it and we fought and all of this made us hungry to make this work. It wasn’t to be famous, we were rebels and outsiders and nobody did it like us at this point in Poland. We have survived amongst the few. Many good artists gave up and I understand why, but I love it! I have always tried to find the same type of people in the band, who have had passion, we don’t want rock stars. We have also developed and evolved over the years and you can see over our back catalogue how we have developed. I can’t see what is the most important or not, but each of them is a piece of my life and a part of the career.”
How does it feel to be on tour with Kreator? Have you worked with them before?
“Yes, the first time I met with Mille was in in 1988 when they headlined Metalmainia. I waited seven hours in a hotel to get an autograph. They played two shows in one day and they were lovely and Mille chatted with us. The next time we were in the US and we supported them in 2000. They are a huge influence on me as a fan and composer. We played with Kreator, Sodom and Arch Enemy recently and this was amazing. The whole of Kreator, all of them and crew are amazing and like family and it is so good to know them and to have the opportunity to have them on tour with us in Australia is amazing.”
Vader have played in Australia before, but what is going to be unique about this tour in September?
“We have recorded a few albums in the meantime. We have a different line up and we are wiser than before. We are still extreme but we are stronger and better at what we do. This is the difference.”
Do you have any final word for your fans prior to your tour in September?
“I can’t wait to meet our fans again there. Ultimately, there is no place for final words you know, we love this country, but we still have so much to say and show and so nothing is final at the moment.”
It was a real thrill to speak with Piotr ‘’Peter“ Wiwczarek, not only is he an articulate and interesting individual, he is a wealth of knowledge on the scene and metal in general. This is going to be an amazing tour, Vader haven’t been here in seven years, and Kreator in three, and both bands are at the top of their game.
Interview by Mark Snedden
Kreator Australian Tour with Vader in September 2017
Tuesday 5th September – Perth, Capitol
Thursday 7th September – Adelaide, The Gov
Friday 8th September – Melbourne, 170 Russell
Saturday 9th September – Sydney, Manning Bar
Sunday 10th September – Brisbane, The Zoo