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Vektor feature: two live reviews + interview

Vektor’s David DiSanto. Those are pieces of a computer’s carcass grafted onto his guitar.

On the Northeastern leg of Vektor‘s 2010 U.S. tour — their most gruelingly extensive one yet — the band happened to play two venues that were only four miles apart within the Tri-State metropolitan area: one free show in Jersey City, New Jersey, and another [not free] show in New York City just across the garbage-choked waters of the Hudson River. Your neighborhood reporter was insane enough to attend both (because, frankly, no cover charge = no brainer). Read on for the reports, and also an interview! …

July 13th – Pearl Studio, Jersey City, New Jersey: The Jersey City show was actually hosted in a rehearsal studio located in some dark alleyway of the semi-slums, so it was sensibly offered as free to the public (but the event was so badly promoted that hardly anyone knew about it anyway). This reporter intercepted Vektor just as they were approaching the building, and the resulting interview can be read at the end of this feature (unfortunately, drummer Blake Anderson had to take care of some personal matters at the time, and so the interview was conducted without him).

Obviously, Pearl Studios could provide only the rawest viewing experience possible: with no stage, no “discotheque lighting”, and no way to escape the amplifiers’ immediate blast-radius, the place was a 20′x30′ killing ground– you’re lucky if you can catch an up-and-coming band in this environment. The three opening acts were all of local Jersey stock: notably, there was Lethal Strike (don’t ever call them “Lethal Weapon”), who had previously opened for Vektor on the Winter 2009 tour and were happy to once again offer some honest speed metal support to their Arizonan comrades. But, as the headliners for the night, Vektor appropriately outshone all of their predecessors with their decidedly brainier compositions and disciplined performance. Shortly after plowing through their designated opener “Black Future”, frontman David DiSanto specifically requested for his vocals to be turned down a few notches, probably because he noticed all the glass in the room on the verge of shattering under his supersonic screech, tearing everyone in the audience to bloody shreds. A blistering half-hour set was made to pass in a matter of nanoseconds: surely a miracle of spatiotemporal physics, made possible by constricting and suffocating the tenuous fibers between dimensions via the light-speed force of thrash. Or, in prole-speak, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

July 14th – Bowery Electric, New York, New York (note: all pictures shown here are from this event): This very modestly sized venue just might earn the moniker “CBGB’s Junior” soon enough! Anyway, Brooklyn’s Fin’Amor began the proceedings with symphonic/death balladry that had more of the fresh-laundered floral scent of Opeth rather than a proper corpse stench. Next, local speed metal establishment Martyrd brought in a huge throng of headbangers who knew all their songs by heart, but for whatever reason, most of their crowd didn’t stay over for Vektor, who were next on the bill. As opposed to their setlist for the Pearl Studio show, which was comprised mostly of the speedkill fare, Vektor took advantage of the better acoustics with their lengthier and more psych-tinged, zero-gravity numbers: as their finale, “Accelerating Universe” was even brought out in full, to impressive and brain-melting effect. Oh yes, and Canada’s Woods of Ypres headlined shortly after, but Vektor had already rendered them dead in the water: since when was black metal supposed to have ironic song titles and sound like Seether? Well, on with the interview then…

Interview with David DiSanto, Erik Nelson, and Frank Chin of Vektor:

So, you guys are on your most extensive US tour yet! How’s it been so far?– Any disaster stories? Any success stories?

David: Well, we played in our underwear in Salt Lake City. It was amazing.

Frank: That was disastrous…

David: (laughs) That was disastrous!

Frank: But it’s been really good so far. Personally, I’ve had lots of technical difficulties during this tour, which sucked.

Vektor is quickly emerging as one of the better bands in the neo-thrash movement. What do you think of the whole “’80s thrash revival”, and how do you guys keep your songwriting fresh and not retro?

David: We’re inspired by it– like, the ’80s stuff. But we want to take it in a new direction; add our own twist. We’re into a lot of older s**t too, like prog rock, art rock, Pink Floyd, Rush…

Erik: ’70s stuff.

David: All types of metal. We don’t just stick to plain thrash. We don’t want to limit ourselves, you know.

Erik: We’re big metalheads as well, so we kind of have that element.

Frank: We incorporate all interests heavy or not, but we try to… –if it’s something like art rock, we crank it up a little bit. (laughs)

David: Yeah, we keep it heavy and rockin’.

Frank: But interesting as well.

David: As far as the whole new thrash movement, I think it’s awesome, but I wish bands would kind of break out of the barrier — the boundaries, I guess — ’cause there’s a lot of bands out there that kind of sound similar, and I think that’s a shame.

Which term would you say is more correct: “speed metal” or “thrash metal”? And do you think it matters?

Erik: It doesn’t matter…

Frank: Use both!

David: In my head I picture “speed metal” as being a little more technical, maybe? “Thrash metal” maybe a little bit more like just Nuclear Assault style, or…

Frank: Or splash metal!

David: Heh, splash metal? (laughter)

Back in the day, Arizona had a few notable thrash bands: you’ve got Sacred Reich, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Atrophy, for starters. Do you derive any influence from these, or are you more like all about the Canadians, the Germans, and the Californians?

David: As far as my thrash influence goes, I love Atrophy, but most of my influence came from the Bay Area, the Germans…

Frank: Definitely German, for me.

David: German thrash. That’s probably the best.

Erik: I’m not the biggest thrash-head … I’m just not like a huge thrash-head, but I guess I would have to say the German and Canadian stuff more than the Bay Area stuff. The Bay Area stuff doesn’t do much for me, musically.

Black Future‘s got some epic cover art. I know your old drummer drew it, but is there any heavy symbolism or something that you’d like to elaborate on?

David: Well, I think a lot of it is kind of obvious. I mean, the whole technology thing covering the earth. The big human face in the sky with the brain over the city, shaping and molding the land to our will. And in turn, doing that, we’re totally f***ing s**t up.

Frank: And it’s negative. And wastefulness…

Where do you guys usually find inspiration for your lyrics? Astrophysics textbooks?

David: Yeah, totally. Definitely a lot of sci-fi movies. I took some astronomy classes, and that’s what got me really into it.

Oh, really? In college?

David: Yeah.

Was that your degree?

David: It started as my degree, but then I was like, “I don’t want to sit in a f***ing observatory in the wee hours of the morn’, plotting data points.” So, I didn’t want to do that.

What did you end up doing?

David: Now I’m in biology, and I’m graduating next semester.

In what ways do you think technology and the idea of “progress” have their limits?

David: I think humans have gone too far too fast. A lot of new technology isn’t well tested, and a lot of new technology just goes to use for warfare, which is s**tty.

Erik: It’s like imagination and mystery doesn’t exist anymore. Everything’s been kind of figured out and been done, or figured out and kept from the public. It could be anything; I don’t really know. I don’t see any bounds, honestly, because we can always create new stuff, and technology is just this driving force and it’s taking over our society.

David: As long as people think of good ways to use technology, then it can be good, but most of it is pretty destructive.

Frank: Yeah. We’re almost creating a whole new race…

Erik: There’s even talks in a scientific magazine of synthetic life-forms coming into light in the next 20 years.

Frank: Yeah, real war machines and force-fields and stuff–

Erik: From which scientists?

Frank: The Islamic scientists came up with something… something weird.

A while back, you guys explained the lyrics to the song “Oblivion” and how it was indicative of your existential beliefs. On a larger scale, do you think science and religion are compatible, or are they diametrically opposed?

David: They’re definitely opposing each other. I feel like religions have held back human progression, especially mental progression: people living in fear over religions; wars over religions. Human progression is just completely halted, in my opinion, by religious beliefs.

Frank: I agree. There are people out there who call themselves “Christian scientists”, and that is absurd. (laughter)

Erik: That’s just the most contradicting saying I think I have ever heard in my entire life. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Frank: You don’t get how good life can be without religion.

Erik: You know, we’re having a blast.

So, you guys aren’t religious at all!

David/Frank/Erik: Nope!

Frank: I have morals. (laughs)

David: We’re morally correct and morally good people and we don’t need religion to show us that.

The Southwestern desert areas of America seem to be a hotspot for extraterrestrial encounters. So, do you have any alien stories?

David: Well, yeah. We crash-landed our ship in the Phoenix desert in 2003, but unfortunately it took us a while to all find ourselves because we didn’t recognize each other in our human forms.

Erik: We knew about each other. I mean, we’re from the same galaxy. We’re just from different corners of the galaxy, if you can call a part of a galaxy a corner… You can’t, ’cause it’s a sphere, but anyways, that’s beside the point.

David: It’s a disc.

Erik: It’s a disc, whatever! F***ing astronomy nerd…

What’s next for Vektor after this tour?

David: Recording the next album. And then, Germany: we’re going to play Keep It True Fest in April; hopefully get a European tour. But definitely we’re going to be recording our next album in fall or winter.

You want to add any last words here?

David: In the words of Rian Johnson, “Sci-fi or die”.


Reader Feedback

4 Responses to “Vektor feature: two live reviews + interview”

  1. Z.K. Dundon says:

    Jeez, Pengo! I don’t think you can get more destructive than that!

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