Vicotnik (Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard) [Brutal Assault 2019, english version]
Ved Buens Ende..... This band released only a demo and an album before splitting up, surrounded by a myriad of unique bands which are among the most vital in the Norwegian scene : Dødheimsgard, Aura Noir, Virus or Void, to name the most well-known ones. But the Black Metal scene never quite fully recovered from the earthquake caused by Ved Buens Ende's Written in Waters, and still feels its aftershocks to this day. After a failed attemps to reunite in 2005, 2019 was finally the year when Vicotnik and Czral got on stage together again, still with Skoll (Arcturus) on bass and Øyvind Myrvoll from Dødheimsgard on drums. We discussed all things Ved Buens Ende with Vicotnik.
How did this utterly unexpected reunion happen in the first place ?
Vicotnik (guitars and vocals) : It's really a coincidence. A friend of ours, our manager, had her birthday and asked if we would mind playing a few songs at the party. We did and that sparked interest for renewing those old songs and it was a lot of fun. You know, it's wrong genre to use that kind of word, but it was kinda fun to pick those songs again. What's different about the last attempt to reform the band was that, this time, we did it the right way. We played all the old songs instead of making new ones, and we brought Skoll back into the fold instead of replacing him with another bass player. That's the biggest difference why it didn't work back in the day in 2005 and why it worked this time. We did it the right way, in the right order. Basically, in 2005, we ended up being more like Virus but with me on additional guitars. This time, it's the proper Ved Buens Ende.
And now the question that's on everyone's lips : are you planning on working on new material ? If yes, would it be brand new material or do you have some riffs stocked somewhere, like the unreleased album Half Visible Presence?
Yeah, there's probably a few riffs left from back then, I guess. And some stuff from back then has been used in other bands : some in Dødheimsgard and some in Virus. As for right now, our focus is on playing these quite exclusive shows. We're just doing five this year. But let's see what's at the end of it. I think that if we work on new music, it's really important to remember and try to reconnect with the roots, and have Ved Buens Ende from 25 years ago as the biggest inspiration for what to come, in a way. Otherwise, it will just end up being another band. I have a friend in Norway who played thirty years ago in a legendary punk band called Quok Process. They did some reunion shows a couple years ago and he was really depressed about it. They were booked everywhere and I asked him why he was depressed about it. He said "Yeah, we're just covering our own songs, we're not even the same people anymore." So, I think it's really important when it comes to Ved Buens Ende that is has to become Ved Buens Ende and not another band from 25 years later. I wanna avoid that feeling of keeping the name but being someone else.
Do you have boundaries in terms of how should a Ved Buens Ende song should sound like, and could you go for something completely different ?
You know, there's always room for some progression. But as stated before, I think that if we make something new, it has to be recognizable. If it's not, then it's just us reusing an old name for a different project. And that's what I want avoid. Of course, there's also always limitations to what you can do, it all stems from ideas, and from ideas are physical limitations of things : technical ability, how many instruments you use, etc... But I would wanna keep like it was in the old days if we go back at making music, because it wasn't something that we were overthinking. We just did it and it felt really natural back then. When you start overthinking things, then it ends up like Half Visible Presence : nothing. Because after Written in Waters, the bar was so high that no riff was good enough. If Carl played me something, I thought it wasn't good enough and vice-versa. When you start over-thinking and over analyzing, you can become your worst enemy. You just need to come together, make music and make it happen naturally.
Do you think it's still possible to innovate within the frame of Black Metal, if we can consider VBE as such ?
Yeah, why not ? I think the mind is the only limit. And that's why there's not much innovation within the genre because most of the people in that genre want to sound like another band they like. So I think, there's really no limit of how you can put things together. I think all music is basically written, if you think about music separately on every instrument, like a piano lick or a guitar lick. But the combinations are still multitude in terms of how you can combine and arrange stuff. It's still an open palette.
How do you feel about singing those lyrics today ?
That's pretty cool as well, because they were quite ahead of their time and they weren't about burning churches or killing people. There was nothing errand satanic about those lyrics. But they were dark lyrics, they pertained more to the mind and the self. It's like the inner life of somebody that's not really in a good place, I guess. It's about an internal darkness rather than a mythological darkness. It's still pretty cumfortable to sing those lyrics, I think they're still pretty good to this day. And that's what I thought when I read Carl's lyrics for the first time, like "this guy is so far ahead from everybody else that's writing lyrics today."
I read in an interview that when Carl was in Ulver, there were problems with the other guitarist Ali Reza being Iranian, as the scene was so obsessed about being Norwegian. Being half Indian, did you have some similar issues back then ?
Yeah, sure. You know Black Metal back then was flirting a bit with National Socialistic things, at a very immature and childish level. But it had some consequences anyway. A little portion of what was the scene at the time actually became neo-nazis or went into an organisation called Büd Boys in the 90s. So there was this thing there but there was also this divide, and I think also is probably the best place for the more left orientated Black Metal derivation, because that's where most people were situated. But I did have some problems getting into the scene, people weren't really interested. I think it didn't run that skindy, but people were more afraid of what the rest of the scene would think about them if they befriended me. It was a risk of sorts. But I remember, in the 90s, the nazis used to come to Elm Street pub and fraternized with the Black Metal community. They went around the table and introduced themselves, and I was always really clear about introducing my name as it is [EN : Yusaf Parvez]. I found it also an appealing challenge to be at quite opposite end with that.
There must not have been a lot of leftists in the scene at the time ?
No, except for Euronymous (Mayhem) that was a communist but you know, back then, you had very childish reasons for liking things. I don't think people really read any book or manifesto from politicians. I think Oystein's approach to communism was that they costed more lives that National Socialism so that was even cooler ! So, what can you say ? It was young people living in quite safe countries that wanted to oppose, be rebels.
So what do you want to achieve with Ved Buens Ende today ?
It's a dual thing I guess : first off, it's really great at last to come on stage and play these songs for people that thought it would never happen. It's so deserved for the people that have been listening to this album for 25 years. And then, there's the internal reason, that is, kind of reconnecting with what was the inspiration and creative force to begin with. Like I said before, when everything isn't about overthinking but just doing, reconnecting to that young and fresh spirit creativity.
Oyvind, how was it to go through Czral's drum parts and learn them ?
It was interesting and very cool, a little hard.
Is it about being faithful to the original parts or are putting your own vibe in it as well ?
Yes, I do my own thing as well and a lot of Czral's drum style.
Vicotnik, what have you been listening to these days ?
I've actually been listening to a lot of CES Cru, Tech9ne, basically rap music so it might be the wrong setting to disclose this information. [laughs] But you know, I'm trying to write lyrics for the next Dodheimsgard album as well, it's really an approach from a lyrical perspective because, these guys can really write so it's very interesting to see how they dissect words and put them together. And it's not gangsta rap, it's more personalized rap music, telling a story and telling it in a clever way. They're basically lyricists.
When's the next Dødheimsgard album coming ?
I'm really trying, it's hard. I put myself in a really shitty corner by trying to redefine the sound of Dødheimsgard on every album. Basically that means a lot of thinking. So what's good with Ved Buens Ende is there's no overthinking because I have then Dødheimsgard when there's too much overthinking.
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