Colin Davis (Vile) interviewed

** The original Decibel interview appeared in issue #88 (HERE), but it seems as if the death metal community blew right past one of the better efforts of late 2011 to focus exclusively on Pestilence’s super-lauded Doctrine long-player (just kidding). Seriously, dudes, go back and give Metamorphosis a spin. It might end up on your 2011 Best Of list. Revised, of course.
What separates Vile now from previous incarnations of the band?
Colin Davis: Well, mainly it’s the fact that this album is more of a studio project than past releases. Because we have had audio engineers in the band since the beginning, we have relied on the studio a lot and composed music in the studio some as well, but this album was completely composed and recorded by myself at the Imperial Mastering Studio. But I definitely should say that without the individual creativity and styles of the musicians, it would not have come out so well. Our new singer Mike Hrubovcak brought a lot to enhance the sound and our drummer Tyson Jupin always delivers the Vile style in his playing.

There’s six years between The New Age of Chaos and Metamorphosis. What took so long to follow-up The New Age of Chaos?
Colin Davis: Well, I guess life just happened! Mainly it was me who made the process so slow. I did a lot of experimenting with stylistic changes between 2006 and 2008 and I had to learn to compose lyrics and design the entire concept for the album. The album is very influenced by my reading and personal explorations and I didn’t want to rush anything. I also learned to play bass competently and that took a while and then the recording and mixing took two years. Basically, I just took my sweet time and didn’t rush anything. I allowed a lot of time in between the writing of each song so they would all sound different as well. Honestly, I made this album entirely for self-gratification. The music, art and lyrics are what I personally want to hear as a listener myself.

Would you describe Vile as progressive death metal? Death metal’s changed a bit since your first full-length in 1999.
Colin Davis: True. That was the term we used to use and it applied back then but now, so many bands are so much more technical than Vile that I cant use that term anymore. I just call it extreme metal with groove and attention to solid songwriting.

What is does it mean for a band to be progressive?
Colin Davis: I guess it meant using time signatures other than 4/4 and classical or jazz influenced riffing. I guess it still means that but I just don’t even bother with classifications anymore. It’s so easy to get on the internet and hear a song or two from a band so you can just decide if you like them or not. Categories or descriptions are not as useful anymore, it seems.

The atmospheric parts in Vile make the more violent brutal parts more, well, brutal. How important is contrast?
Colin Davis: That was a big part of my objective with Metamorphosis. I wanted to have a lot of different tempos, different style influences and contrasting parts. But I wanted to have them sound appropriate, not overdone and not used for the sake of trying to be progressive or anything. Most of the songs have a semi standard song structure to make them fairly easy to comprehend and the contrasting parts are there to make the songs interesting and fun to listen to.

The bass is very predominant on Metamorphosis. Most death metal bands seem to ignore the bass, but in Vile it’s almost a lead guitar.
Colin Davis: This was something I struggled with a bit. Part of the reason the bass is louder than past albums is honestly, because I played bass myself and every time I put it lower in the mix I didn’t like the way I couldn’t hear the parts! I spent a lot of time perfecting the playing style, getting the right tone and getting the parts tight so I wanted them to be heard in the mix. Now, I know how bass players feel when the engineer turns them down! Also I felt that having the bass slightly louder than past albums made the music more exciting or fun to listen to and gave the band a sound that was more ‘organic’ sounding. It’s a change from the past, but then again everything about the album is a bit new and fresh.

Did you record the album? I think the recording is a bit unique. It’s not bright and loud. More subtle and subdued.
Colin Davis: Interesting you should say that. I did record it the album and I run a CD mastering studio so I had the chance to compare it with many other bands and recording styles. I think that you may have heard it that way because so many new albums are extremely bright and compressed. This album is actually quite loud on average but its not overly bright and the dynamics have been retained. It’s about as loud and bright as our last album but since the bass guitar is louder it gives it a warmer sound. If listeners want to make it louder or brighter there are always controls for that on every stereo! I wanted the album to be competitive sounding but also not fatigue your ears so you can listen to the whole album without wanting to turn it off or turn it down. I feel it’s my best recording work to date.

Lyrically, what are you guys aiming for? Do they tie into the Ouroboros cover art?
Colin Davis: Yes, for sure. The lyrics are based on what I was studying between 2005 and 2009. Metamorphosis is a concept album which has to do with the shifting of a natural cycle that involves human evolution and astrological and Earth changes. The lyrics deal with Jungian psychology, mythology, history, archeology, ancient civilizations, astronomy, many subjects which tie together. The Orobouros on the cover represents cycles and infinite change. The unborn child represents humanity on the verge of an evolutionary shift. The Earth is our vehicle and our source of sustenance. Remnants of the Mayan calendar hint at prophesy, and there are also elements on the cover which represent the explosion of the old patriarchal system which is now blowing itself up. I was careful to make sure that all the artwork, lyrics and musical compositions work together to develop the entire album concept.

You’re now part of the Willowtip roster. Do you find commonality in the label’s roster?
Colin Davis: It was probably Willowtip’s owner Jason Tipton who helped me to decide on them. He really liked the album and that was important to me. I really want to work with people who enjoy the music and who add a personal and down-home approach to their business. I am really into personal honesty and integrity. I am always looking for quality relationships and I felt Willowtip was a good fit for my tastes at this time.

Are labels relevant in today’s underground music?
Colin Davis: Yes, they are actually because they bring experience and skills to the business that bands usually don’t have themselves or have the time to learn and develop. What has changed though is how labels do business and how promotions and marketing are accomplished. Its true that many small labels don’t do a lot of work more than what a dedicated and hard working band can do, but underground labels that are more established, even if they are relatively small, do help bands with exposure and also cover some costs which are sometimes hard to meet without the help. I should say though that there are a lot of very small labels which may not offer anything more than what a band can do themselves, so bands considering those tiny labels should consider if its right for them or not. If they are run by honest people, they can still be helpful if there are few strings attached.

Are you planning on increasing Vile’s profile—touring, promotion—with the release of Metamorphosis?
Colin Davis: Yes. I am planning a European tour now, no details yet. And I hope to visit South America and other territories as well as do a U.S. tour. But all of this depends on what is possible because touring these days can be difficult and very expensive if it’s not done very skillfully. When the right opportunities arise, we will definitely take them, but we will probably take our time as usual!

What’s the current Vile lineup? I see a few different interpretations of it.
Colin Davis: Right now, the studio lineup is me and guitars and bass, Mike Hrubovack on vocals and Tyson Jupin on drums. But the live lineup will include other musicians for sure. We have worked with so many great musicians over the years that I would not be surprised if we work with some of them again but I am also sure there will be some new blood. I have a number of talents folks who I have been taking to recently. Each tour is its own challenge. Ill make sure to keep you all updated on the progress on the new website, Thanks for the great questions!