With their new album coming out on High Roller Records in mid-September, it was time to hook up with bass player Ryan Waste for the full story on a band that with “On The Edge” shows a lot of improvement on the EP “Shocking Its Prey”, released through Heavy Artillery back in January 2011. Let’s go back to the early days of Volture. The band was formed by yourself and Nick back in 2008. Did the increased interest in traditional metal, especially here in Europe, with some of the bigger labels again signing bands with a sound influenced by the NWOBHM, play its part, or was it formed from your own needs only?
– I never pay attention to the current state of music when it comes to my bands, I don’t like to be influenced by it. It’s always a personal need and Volture is by far a labor of love. There still isn’t a huge audience for the style of heavy metal we play, but will never compromise and continue to keep it heavy and true.
Let’s go even further back in time, and talk a little about the link between Volture and your former band Immortal Avenger. Why did so many of your former band mates in Immortal Avenger end up in Volture?
– There aren’t many people in our hometown of Richmond VA who understand real heavy metal, so I went with guys that I knew would get it.
I really loved the two Immortal Avenger-EP’s. What happened with this band? I think they even existed for a while with no original members. How many copies were made of the two EPs? I am asking since they seem to be on many people’s want list these days.
– I started Immortal Avenger with drummer Barry Cover and singer Brent Hubbard and one by one we eventually all left the band. I should have left earlier when I caught our guitarist Tommy stealing band money out of my bedroom when I was letting him live at my house. It was a bad sign of a doomed future for that band. It was the money we had earned to record our first EP, “Valor and Justice”. I called him out on it and we managed to still get the album recorded. There was another whole situation in the studio where some of the tracks were lost and we failed to put all the material on the record. That’s why it was only an EP. We still have copies of it, so maybe we’ll bring them out on the merch table on future Volture-tours.
Your first mini album, “Shocking It’s Prey” was released on Heavy Artillery. Why did you go for an EP and not a full length release back then? You have described this album as a “low budget recording”. Tell us a little about the circumstances around the recording of this EP.
– Doing an EP was always the plan with “Shocking Its Prey.” We didn’t have enough material for a full length and we were anxious to get our sound out to the world. A lot of the material was written right up until we entered the studio. Actually we even wrote and abridged some parts on the spot during the recording. It was low budget because we had no budget, plus we wanted it raw. I’m so sick of hearing these clean, pristine metal albums with triggered drums these days. We wanted a natural sound and we basically played it live in the studio. Some of the tracks came out rough, but we left it that way and I think it adds to the intensity and integrity of the record.
How did you end up on Heavy Artillery? I’ve spoken to quite a few bands that were on the label, and everyone has been satisfied. Were you also happy with the work they did for you? Was it a surprise for you when the label folded?
– Heavy Artillery seemed like an ideal label at the time. They were independent and they put out decent underground bands with a good vibe around them. Dave, the label manager, approached me and it was ironic because we had been considering contacting him. We self financed “Shocking Its Prey” and worked out a licensing deal, so we never actually signed to Heavy Artillery. Luckily we went that route because when the label went under, he sold the entire catalog to Earache whether the bands liked it or not. I had just left Earache with my other band, Municipal Waste, so it was kind of a shock and a slap in the face to me. I thought he could at least given the bands some notice and an option to go where they pleased, but instead he wouldn’t return any emails and just sold the rights to all the music. Our licensing contract is up soon and we’ll finally have our record back.
After the release of “Shocking It’s Prey”, the band added Twisted Tower Dire-guitarist Dave Boyd to its lineup. According to Ryan, the band was meant to have two guitarists.
– I think we were destined for a dual axe attack. He adds to the dynamic and helps fill out the leads and harmonies. It’s a classic heavy metal setup. Dave has recently started singing backups and doing vocal harmonies, so he brings even more to the Volture assault!
Late in 2011 you released a single where an own composition, “Rulebreaker” was backed with your version of Gotham City’s “Killer Angels”, which was also the B-side of Gotham Citys self titled single. What is your relationship to Gotham City and Swedish eighties metal in general? Why did you choose this particular song, as Gotham City have lots of great tunes? What was the purpose of this single?
– We thought “Rulebreaker” was a strong enough song to stand on its own as a single. We wrote it right after we recorded “Shocking Its Prey” and liked the tune so much we wanted to release it before our full-length came out. Nick and I are huge fans of Swedish heavy metal and we would always play covers for fun at practice. “Killer Angels” seemed to fit really well as a B-side dynamically and we thought we could really do it justice. The original song was more monotone vocally, which I really like, but Hubbard wanted to add his vocal style to it. I like how it turned out and we even secretly recorded a version of heand I singing it the traditional broken “Swedlish” style. There’s one for the vaults if we ever release some demos and outtakes.
You also made a video clip for “Rulebreaker”. Were you satisfied with the end result and how it helped promote the band? Would you be interested in making more clips in the future, or is it too much work compared to what it gives you back as a band?
– We had a lot of fun making that video if you couldn’t tell! We made for next to nothing financially and filmed it mostly on old school VHS camcorders. I really enjoy making music video, so it doesn’t seem like “work” to me. If you can find some young and hungry film students, or steal a couple cameras, anyone can make a video. We plan on making more vids and taking it over the top!
You apparently lost money on your “Shockin Europe Tour” during April 2012. Are we talking about a massive loss here? What was the problem, people not turning up, or logistics? What did you learn from this experience?
– Most bands lose money on their first several tours, especially going overseas, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. We can’t complain because we had such a good time. Let’s just say if playing heavy metal was our only income, we’d be homeless.
Was the fact that your singer Brent Hubbard quit the band, connected to this experience? I am asking since I think I have read somewhere that he quit because he didn’t want to tour…
– We had to convince Brent to go over to Europe and even paid his way. Bottom line is that he doesn’t want to tour or be in a band that tours. He’ll tell you that himself. He’s more concerned with his health, diet and workout routine. That’s what makes him happy and that’s usually unattainable to maintain on the road. We are still good friends and maybe we’ll do an AOR band in our old age.
Brent also did some additional vocals on “On The Edge”. How did Ryan and the rest of the guys approach the task of finding a replacement for the departed singer?
– I found Jack (Bauer) singing in a local speed metal band called Humungus. We got them to open for Municipal Waste and I was immediately blown away by his performance and stage presence. He really brought the energy live, he could hit the high notes and had a cool mid-range. We tried him out, he nailed our old material and just fit right in personality-wise. He’s has a real positive and confident attitude that goes a long way for a singer.
“On The Edge” is released by High Roller. Ryan says that everything went quite smooth, as soon as the contact was established.
– High Roller in my opinion has the best rooster and puts out records that I actually want to own. That’s saying a lot for me because I’m guilty of being stuck in the past when it comes to my musical taste. Their reissues alone satisfy my heavy metal needs. I met the High Roller-guys at Keep it True (Volture performed there in 2012) and we hit it off. They liked the band, I dug the label. It was a no brainer. We are honored to be working together.
Most of the band members have quite diverse musicals backgrounds, but the music of Volture is seemingly free from other influences than pure heavy metal. Do you have to put some kinds of restrictions on yourself not to explore other sides of your creativity in Volture?
– Heavy metal is my number one love and this band will always stay in that realm. We can all play other styles in other bands and still keep Volture pure heavy metal without other influence. That’s the plan and we’re sticking to it. It’s important to branch out and expand but not go too far from the original direction for us.
High Roller also set the band up with a small budget for the recording of “On The Edge”.
– High Roller was nice enough to fund this recording and we got to spend a little more time on this one. We still had the same mentality going in on this record and always want to keep that raw intensity. I think the quality is a little better but still not too polished. We wanted the listener to feel every part and keep it high energy. We are very proud of the outcome.
You have said that you feel the songwriting is a bit more complex now. Can you give some examples of songs where you feel this can be heard? Does this spring from a wish of adding a bit more depth to the material, or did you simply want to do something different?
– A lot of the songs we had been sitting on for three years, so the music just got seasoned and perfected over time. We had been playing and expanding on them, so that’s where any complexity came in. We never say, “let’s make this more technical”, we’re not about that.
As we mentioned earlier, the style you play has grown more popular the last years, resulting in lots of new bands popping up. What do you see as your own strength compared to other bands in the scene?
– Our music is honest, we aren’t trying to prove anything. Nothing is forced and playing heavy metal is natural to us. I like seeing more bands do this style and I encourage it over the horrible trends happening in “metal” over last 20 years. Hopefully people are wising up to what real metal is and understanding the roots of it. I welcome more people to support and start their own bands.
I enjoy the new album a lot, but to be a bit critical, I could have wished for a bit more diversity and also a bit more of your own identity. Are these aspects important to you, and do you feel you have achieved them with “On The Edge”?
– I respect your honesty. The only thing I can say in our defense is that this album was a huge transitional period for us. We changed singers in the middle of writing and recording “On the Edge” and I think we prevailed. The band had been on a huge hiatus and for a while we didn’t know what the future held for Volture. We stuck to our guns, kept writing and pulled together concepts and lyrics even without a vocalist for some time. The identity had to be shared through all of us as we changed and adapted with that situation at hand. I think the true identity comes through in our live performance now as we are much stronger and each individual is equally as driven.
At first I thought the guys on the cover art were supposed to illustrate the band members, but then I discovered that they were six, not five. Who are these guys?
– The cover is not the depicting the band members. It’s up to your imagination to decide if they are even on the same side as the Volture. Regardless, they are some bad motherfuckers.
Is it possible to sum up the lyrics in one or a couple of main themes, or does all of them stand on their own feet? How do the lyrics link with the cover art?
– Songs like “On the Edge” “Ride the Nite” and “Desert Pursuit” definitely fall into the cover art concept. All you have to do is read the lyrics and you’ll see. Each song is a different story. There are two water themed songs, “Brethren of the Coast” dealing with pirates and treachery and “Deep Dweller” telling a real life event of deep-sea diving in the tragic case of the rapture of the deep. Other cuts involve scandalous streetwalking killers and general rocking….Get the album!
You’ll have a record release show in September, playing alongside Raven and Mpire Of Evil. What is your relationship to the different eras of Raven and also the three Venom-albums with Tony Dolan on vocals?
– I’ve become good friends with John from Raven and we are happy to be sharing the stage for our record release. I’m a long time fan of the old stuff and I even dabble into the “Stay Hard” years. They are true legends and they still bring the high powered energy live to this day. Sadly Mpire of Evil can’t make it over with some visa issues and had to cancel the tour. I’m a huge Venom-fan, but I have to stick with the early stuff. I’m currently working on another band under the moniker Bat that is heavily influenced by Venom for all you wild maniacs out there. Stay tuned!