It is rare that all the albums of a band – at least those I got my hands on – receive the maximum rating 10/10. Vanishing Point from Melbourne, Australia, can claim to be this one rare act, and also their latest fifth album “Distant is the sun” should be a must-have for everybody who likes Melodic Metal (with a Prog touch). Yet fans of the band had to wait for seven years for the band´s new material – what happened? Band mastermind and guitarist Chris Porcianko satisfies our curiosity ...
Hey Chris, how are you? It´s been a long time since the last STALKER interview and also until the release of your new record – can you fill us in what happened, why did it take so long (7 years)?
Yes sure , basically in the last seven years we did some touring in Europe and in Australia , we supported many bands and had good exposure with everything, feeling relatively good and productive .
Unfortunately we did have some delays in getting another album out, because our previous label had gone bust, we were owed quite a bit of money, and to be honest, it took a bit of a hit on the band in a big way.
After a while we found that when we were writing what was to be the newer album at the time, there were differences direction wise as to how each one of us wanted VP to go, in the end we had three guys leave the band, leaving Silvio (Massaro, vocals), Christian (Nativo, drums) and I to continue, which was a strange situation but something that we felt that we wanted to continue with .
All the songs that were written were totally scrapped and we started again, which in itself was scary yet liberating in a way as well, because the songs that we wrote together as a band previously just didn’t seem to really click with all of us, it was as if we were trying to find another personality to our music where we already had one heheh.
So anyways, to cut a long story short, after all the ups and downs and all the shit that goes with it , we are still here, rejuvenated and happy to still being here :D
The new album got pretty good reviews everywhere, as far as I could perceive, and I was pleased to find you among the Top20 in Finnish charts (Rumban Albumilista 13.–19.3.2014 – place 14, right after Michael Jackson and before Daft Punk) - so how was the response to the album from your perspective, did you expect something like that?
That’s really cool , I mean really awesome, because we have never had any chart positions anywhere, this is the first time that anyone has told me about it, heheh, I sincerely thank all our Finnish fans out there, I’m actually positively stunned :D
To be honest, with the album I was just happy to get it out there and I suppose in a way it was reassuring that we had AFM interested in us for quite a while, which I suppose is a good situation to be in.
Over the years we received many emails from people all over the world wanting to know when the new album was coming out, and in a sense for us it was just something that we felt we needed to get out of our system to close a chapter at that part of our lives and of course something that we felt we owed to the small group of fans we have worldwide, who have been very patient and supportive of our music through the years .
In terms of commercial success, I honestly don’t know what that is, because as you can see, we haven’t had any chart success or real financial success as a band, we are the guys who pretty much like many bands do the music that we do, because we love to create music and play it live, so in many ways I´m just really happy that the album is out there, and judging by the responses thus far many people seem to like it, which is cool :D
What is your status in the Australian scene now? Is Metal in general still a rather underground thing happening in particular underground circles and not too much in "the public", or can a local band (other than AC/DC) fill a stadium?
Our status is that we are like so many bands here, we just do what we do and if we get some more opportunities to play bigger shows and tour overseas, then that’s a plus for us .
The Australian metal scene in a way at the moment seems to be doing really well for the death metal bands , the metalcore bands as such, because that’s where the young people are and they tend to fill up massive concert venues quite regularly, which is really good to see , it´s good to see that at least some form of heavier music is at least getting some major exposure instead of all the pop shit on the radio at the moment .
In terms of our music , we seem to be getting a really good flow of people still listening to us and many new people listening to us these days as well, which is really cool, like many bands here we are just happy to be around and doing what we are doing for many years now heheh :D
The band had many line-up changes since the founding year 1997, and I read about the recent one in the band info, so how did you meet the new guys? Could you please tell us a bit more about James Maier (guitars) and Simon Best (bass)?
Sure , the new guys being Simon and James came into the band after all the album was written, so it was more or less a step of them just stepping up to the plate and jumping into the deep end of the water heheh, they swam well and they are still here heheh :D
Simon joined VP back in mid 2011 just before we were about to start recording the album , Simon´s musical background in Melbourne was having been in a cool melodic thrash band called Envenomed years ago, his influences I suppose stem from bands like Opeth to Dream Theater etc and everything in between .
In terms of James just like Simon we found each other on a online music forum, which has bands looking for musicians etc , it was relatively simple and uneventful hehe , they liked our music and wanted to join :D
James’ guitar playing skills are really good for what he does and as a result after all the tracks were done I actually had some of the solo sections to some of the songs lengthened to give James an opportunity to really go for it , he did and it all came out well thankfully .
James’ musical roots I suppose stem from everything from Megadeth to Dream Theater and many progressive instrumental bands as well as many experimental technical death metal bands , he’s all over the place, yet somehow he finds his center, which is a good thing hehehe.
Was writing a whole album by yourself more of a joy for you, or a burden? What was the most difficult aspect of bearing such huge responsibility?
To be honest, it was a bit of everything and more heheh, but I just went for it, it was more a case of sink or swim and just do it and not think about it too much.
I had the freedom to write the album how I wanted to write it and not feel like I had to compromise or try to make anyone happy, it was more or less a process of just going with the flow and doing what comes naturally .
I have the opportunity now in my own little studio to write as much as I want and put everything from piano to string orchestration and dynamics to the music I create without having to have people saying “it sounds like it´s done before “ etc which can be very negative to any creative flow.
I just worked on the album and wrote what I felt at the time where the best songs that I felt could work for VP , it was more or less if the songs good , then it´s good , no point in trying to reinvent the wheel heheh.
I am lucky that at times when technically speaking with all this technology, it can become little overwhelming, so whenever I ran into any problems, I had Christian come over and we worked together a lot as well, which was really cool, because he liked where the music was going and from a drummer´s perspective in regards to time changes etc he wanted to put some parts in, so we did , no arguments and no stress.
It was really good to create an album that in some ways represented what we had been going through for the last few years without any inner struggle whatsoever.
Did you also write the lyrics all by yourself? When reading them, I perceive an emotional rollercoaster between disappointment, resignation and new hope, but they seemed somewhat thematically connected – so what inspired you, is this a summary of those past 7 years making this album, can you tell us more?
I would say that most of the lyrics I wrote and in many ways as you mentioned, they are a story on what happened to us in the last few years .
In terms of a emotional rollercoaster, perhaps it does come through what was going on in my head as I find that for me it´s best to deal with something in a creative sense and put as much energy into that instead of subconsciously letting negative energies consume me and lead me to other forms of temporary escapism which I have no interest in whatsoever.
I seldom drink, I don’t take drugs and I can at times be an opinionated bastard so it´s best for me to write about how I see things in a sense and leave the songs lyrically open to the listeners individual interpretation .
In some ways I am a melancholic person and in a sense I like to write about things that I find easy to write about lyrically than actually talking about it , I seem to have a problem of having my mind racing at a hundred miles an hour, yet my tongue can´t keep up heheh , so it´s always best for me to write about something purely from a open point of view and leaving it open to a degree where the listener can make up their own minds on how the song feels to them, what lyrically the words mean to them .
I´m not here to tell anyone what to do, and I´m definitely not here to impart anything on humanity in general , I suppose I´m just here to try to write songs which I think are good, and if people out there like the songs, then I feel blessed and thankful, if they don’t like the songs, then that’s ok as well, because I like playing them live and I like to create so either which way it’s a positive energy for me :D
Vanishing Point has never been a band where I´ve been lyrically socially breaking down any barriers or starting a revolution , I just write about how we see things in life in general and it seems to be a really cool connection with the listener because what we write about are things like loss , anger, fear and hope which people seem to connect with within our music, this to all us guys in the band means a lot .
The cooperation with Tony Kakko on “Circle of fire” - how come, how did recording process work – only in virtual world or really together in studio? Why this particular song for the cooperation?
Of course in the virtual world heheh, because as much as I’d love to visit Finland and record Tony in the studio, I don’t have the cash or time to do it heheh, one day I hope to visit more of your beautiful country, that’s for sure .
In the meantime I had Tony just sing the lyrics that I wrote to Circle Of Fire and left him with some basic instructions and a guide track and off he went , he did it with no fuss whatsoever; it was really nice to have him on a VP song after all these years, as many people out there know, we have a close friendship with the guys in Sonata Arctica and I say this with utmost respect to the guys , without them in many ways some people would not know about VP, so I am sincerely thankful for all their help and good words over the years.
Tony is a gentleman and a person that I consider a close friend, much respect to the guy and the rest of the Sonata gang :D
Apropos studio – why did you choose Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann (Orden Ogan) for the mixing of “Distant Is The Sun”? How was working with him?
We pretty much sent a few tracks to some people all over the world who we thought would be good for the job , some of the mixes were good but to our ears Seeb’s mixing technique and his ears really hit the spot with what we were thinking in terms of a sound that would be best suited to VP’s music.
Seeb was good to work with and communicate with, he charges a realistic and reasonable rate for his services, and that was a big factor for us as well, because we funded the whole recording process etc of the whole album ourselves with our own money, or what little we had heheh.
He really likes our music and that’s a plus as well, because that means he really puts everything into it and we feel that he did a great job on the album as a result :D
The video clip for the song “When Truth Lies” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgJYsQav90E - why this song? Did you come up with the story?
It’s for us one of the songs that’s just driven, its got a cool riff and some really good vocals on Silvio’s behalf which I think really represents him well , so it was more or less an obvious choice to choose the song for a clip.
I think the other thing that we took into consideration was that the song didn’t go for too long heheh
In terms of the storyline I think I remember Silvio coming up with the concept of it and then with the director we just ran it from there .
Basically we wanted to break down some of the views that some people would hold in today´s world towards their fellow human beings , that being that its not hard to show some compassion to someone who may be in need and a the same time we are all so fearful to try to make a small change at times which could really mean the world for someone , so it was great to have a good storyline that in a sense fits the song and is relative to the song, yet at the same time it is actually a really cool interpretation of the song which I personally would have never come up with , so I was pleasantly surprised and really happy that the clip came about how it did .
The general vibe to it is really good and of course there´s some twists to the story which break down some barriers people have :D
Do you have any “favorite song” on this album, or which one was the most difficult of all, and why?
I get asked this question a lot and to be honest with you, it´s hard to pick just one song, as they all feel close to me in many ways .
The one song that for me really represents a turning point in my life and tells a story in a way is Let The River Run, as its about my late Father, in life sometimes we make choices that we think are for the best and then those choices that we made sometimes don’t become the eventual happy ever after endings that we all wish they could be , so for me it was important to write something as an honor to him as any son would and perhaps free some of the restraints in life that held him back in many ways.
You also changed the record company – was it because of the long process to get the album done, or other reasons?
When we released The Fourth Season, it was through a smaller independent label, which was distributed through a big distributor, they went under, our label went under and there we were with basically no money from album sales, which basically rendered us broke in return .
There where a couple of people who where instrumental in letting things fuck up, perhaps one day I will meet up with them and have a good face to face talk with them.
In terms of our new deal with AFM, it is really great to be with a label that actually cares about our music and is very organized , that for us is important as we wanted a place to call home for a long time so now we have it and it feels right .
And you just signed with a Japanese label – was this a milestone for you, which consequences does it actually have for the band?
Truth be known it will be our first time in Japan this year, and we have been trying to do something like this for so many years, but unfortunately we never had the money to get over there; this year we are just going there to do five headline shows of our own in some really cool places and we couldn’t be happier .
We are happy that the guys are Rubicon like the new album, and we are happy that the album is getting a domestic release there, it’s a dream come true.
Hopefully it is the start of a great working relationship that will see us visit Japan often in the future.
If success in the Metal scene could be defined precisely, having your music on the trailer of the Wacken DVD might be it :D How did this happen?
Heheh it would be nice to have some cool feedback from it and I suppose time will tell , it´s really cool to see that our music went to the right people for a change who really like our music and wanted to put it to the trailer for the dvd.
When I got the news about it, I actually initially didn’t believe it because I was like “ there are so many awesome bands to choose from and they chose us ? huh? wtf “ heheh so it was honestly a pleasant surprise and really cool to see that parts of our music has been used for the Wacken dvd trailer.
In terms of success from the trailer placement , I don’t know , I really am just happy that our album is out so anything else is really a bonus for me .
I´m happy that we are getting some exposure from it :D
In your long career, did you have these moments of “been there done that, so many times, I am so fed up with it”, or do you rather still feel this certain excitement of sharing your art, your creation, with other people?
What was the most annoying aspect of this long hiatus? Or did you rather perceive it as well-deserved “time out” to sort things out and start over with new strength?
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel all of those emotions at one time or another, because it’s a hard road in which you make so many sacrifices and sometimes they pay off and in many ways they don’t .
Personally speaking for me it has always been about sharing the music that VP does and also for me to share some of the music that I have inside of me , after all these years I feel that I still have music to create and write because I still enjoy doing it immensely , it´s such a positive release for me and I truly feel blessed that the outside world is still giving me time and the opportunity to do the music that VP is known for .
We won´t make a lot of money doing this music , but what we are happy to do is create music that people out there seem to enjoy, and if some people buy some shirts or a cd and that gives us petrol money to the next show, then that’s a cool thing hehehe.
In the years where things were very quiet when the album was being written there were times when some dark clouds sat above our heads , there was a lot of silence that’s for sure , in some ways though it was actually quite good to have the breathing space.
Is the dream, making a living by making music alone still alive, or have you actually accomplished that by now?
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t think I’ll ever make a living out of music , in many ways what we do to this day is still somewhat as a hobby because we have responsibilities and families , so we are fortunate to be in a position where we have all our responsibilities and at the same time we are able to do the music we create as well .
In my younger years I was really driven to achieve some form of success and unfortunately we as a band just came to bad luck many times along the way and as a result some of the previous members left the band because they could not sustain it financially with all the pressing bills etc back home , so in a way I’d say that we never had success financially but we had success from having some awesome experiences touring when we were younger and perhaps with the new album that may bring some more cool opportunities to tour more , we’ll see :D
The New Dead metal festival in Adelaide, and you had gigs in New Zealand and with Royal Hunt - how was it? Anything remarkable that happened? Or anything funny/absurd/outstanding you want to share with us?
The New Dead festival in Adelaide was really cool , it was a great lineup of many bands and everyone gets along really well , it was fun :D
In terms of the New Zealand tour, it was more of less our first headlining tour there and while the crowds were ok , we are working it in small steps and just wanting to further our name there as they are only over the water so to speak heheh.
It was a good tour and of course there are many disgusting tour stories in general when it comes to VP, but honestly they would either make a person piss themselves laughing or not believe that five guys sometimes on a tour bus can smell like hell heheheh ;D
We like touring a lot yet at the same time we understand that sometimes you have to make a pair of socks go that extra mile and a can of deodorant can be your best friend :D
Are you planning a tour, maybe also coming to Europe (and in case yes, please include Finland!)?
Actually nothing as yet, as we don’t have much money at the moment, but we would like to do something there for 2015 if possible .
I´m hoping that one day when we get back to Europe for a tour that we can get back to Finland, I remember the place well and we really felt embraced by the Finnish metal crowd there, so it would be really nice to come back , hopefully this is something that can come to fruition one day soon .
If you know anyone who can make it happen, please tell them to contact us , we’d love to come over again :D
In recent years I discovered more Australian acts that simply blew me away – Knightmare, Ne Obliviscaris – you know those guys? Did something happen in the Australian scene, or was it simply the word wide web that granted more exposure for bands from down under to the rest of the world?
I don’t know heheh I think it´s just that the way things are now with music being accessible from anywhere in the world that Australian bands are getting more attention maybe because of the distance/ novelty factor heheh who knows.
All I can say is that I´m really happy to see many Australian bands getting some really good feedback out there and I think that with the talent that we have here at the moment and into the future I can see it going from strength to strength , we have some good talent here like anywhere in the world , it´s nice to see people talking about Australian bands :D
We’ve known the guys in Ne Obliviscaris , Knightmare and many other for years, they are all good guys,we bump into each other quite often at gigs :D
You can hardly avoid being part of the social media nowadays, and they also play a much bigger role in band promo now, it seems everybody is glued to their smart phones nowadays – so is “being available anywhere in the world 24/7” a blessing for you or more of a curse (as you ought to be up-do-date all the time with new gear, choose a hotel according to wifi-availability over anything else etc)?
That’s an awesome question and I tell you why, social media to me is like a technologically designed drug which pulls you in and all of a sudden you cant help but be curious as to what is happening in the world , its like a huge gossip circle that everyone “just has to know whats going on without knowing what is actually going on “ hehehe .
I’m happy to admit that I’m happy to interact with people from all around the world , for me it’s a cool way to engage with people from all walks of life who have similar interests like mine and sometimes with people who have interests or opinions that differ significantly from mine heheh, it always makes for interesting conversation heheh :D
In terms of being in a hotel that doesn’t have Wi-fi, that doesn’t really bother me all too much, because normally when I get to the hotel I want to make myself a cup of tea and go to sleep for a few hours , so wi-fi is just another hindrance at times to actually doing things that I should be doing instead of sitting there and reading news headlines created by some news company with an agenda or reading some of the dribble on social media or various forums.
In terms of band promo there is no denying that social media does play a pivotal part in presenting a band and their music to the people out there , unfortunately or fortunately depending on how ones view on it can be , there is no doubt that there are certain advantages to promoting your band on social media as long as you aren’t promoting it non stop to the point where people start to actually dislike the band before they even have a chance to hear the music sometimes.
It is with everything, there´s a fine line between getting your music out there and “totally saturating” everyone with insignificant news posts like “ how many likes can we get for our guitarist’s broken guitar strap “ kinda shit hehehe.
As we chatted about Finnish bands and one of my faves Before the Dawn last time – you heard that they no longer exist? Do you know Tuomas´ new project Wolfheart?
I remember somewhere reading that Before the Dawn are no longer around and I do remember watching something on youtube a while ago in regards to Wolfheart , I will definitely have to check it out, he is a great artist in my opinion, he always creates really good quality music that for me is timeless.
Interestingly enough I was just listening to another really cool Finnish band/ project yesterday in which I’ve had the cd for over 12 or so years , a band called Legenda , their first album “Autumnal” is so so good , really atmospheric and symphonic in parts and yet really raw as well.
I still like the heavier side of metal music a lot , maybe even more so as I get older heheh :D
Thank you, Chris, for this interview and hope to CU soon in person (on a VP tour)!