Peter Wiwczarek (Vader) interviewed

** As a longtime Vader devotees, Decibel had no clue (OK, I didn’t) debut album, The Ultimate Incantation, was recorded with the legendary Tomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios first. The sessions were scrapped and Vader landed at Rhythm Studios with Paul Johnston (Benediction, Cerebral Fix). The rest is history, so it goes. We tracked down Vader lead dude Peter Wiwczarek in August and have now just emerged with the details. Enjoy old-school death heads!
I don’t think too many people knew you recorded The Ultimate Incantation at Sunlight. Was that more pressure from the label or part of the opportunity to record a full-length for a Western European label?
Peter Wiwczarek: There was never any pressure from Earache. It was rather an opportunity to record our debut album at the famous Sunlight. We knew many fabulous LPs [had been] recorded in this studio, so the whole of Vader was more than happy. Besides, it was in Sweden, outside of Poland, and this boosted the whole story even more. We were ready to record for several months. Vader had never worked in a professional studio before, so we were kinda virgins. Two demos—which we made in Olsztyn between 1989-90—were made in a typical radio show studio. We came, we played, and all was done in 1-2 days. It was not a ‘whole day’ session because the radio station needed the studio for their own work. This time, with the Sunlight sessions, we had two weeks just for recordings and then some more days for the mix. We had no idea about the coming problems when we were leaving Poland by ferry in winter. Our hearts were beating fast and minds were hot from expectations.

Do you remember much about your time at Sunlight? Or what Tomas Skogsberg thought of Vader? You were pretty different from the Swedish bands recording at Sunlight.
Peter Wiwczarek: Hard to say. Thomas was a great man and an extraordinary creator in his studio. He was far from being a fan of death metal though. He was totally able to record a good sounding metal album… if Vader was a band that played like Entombed or Dismember. We were slightly different and problems appeared, apparently. There was no real acoustic drum kit in the studio. Not one of us was expecting or had worked before on such equipment. We had nothing to say, but had to keep recording on what we had available. We owned no professional equipment yet. That came few years later. We had to use rented stuff and what was provided to play in the studio. My guitar was maybe good enough for live performances, but far from being studio-ready. Doc brought some cymbals and pedals and that was it. We had no money for pro instruments. All we had in-studio were electronic drum pads and a combo amp for guitar. Vader was all about blastbeats… and that electronic drum kit was not made for that. Nobody was crying though. I read some stories years after that: “Vader were drinking all the time and that was the main problem,” which is not true. We were drinking in Stockholm, of course. A lot, I can even say, but never in the studio! Every morning we were fresh and ready for work. Every night was for Satan. We were still young and surrounded with old and new friends, so it had to happen, right? We were pretty much prepared and ready with the whole album and what we really needed was to record the tracks well. There was additional problem: nobody mentioned ‘judging’ us before. We had no open budget for that session. The whole team (me and Doc and his girlfriend, who came with us after China broke his leg and Mariusz) was living in our friend’s apartment. We slept on the floor and ate mostly canned and instant soup, which we brought with us from Poland. If we drank alcohol it was bought mostly by the Swedish dudes. It was definitely not an easy time. But we were so happy and had much fun, too.

What was it like for a few Poles to venture outside of Poland to record? Pretty different times compared to today.
Peter Wiwczarek: Pretty much indeed. It was not a first time for me though. I was in West Berlin and in Moscow three times before. However, it was in Sweden when we touched ‘The West’ for the first time. Poland was pretty much grey in those years and here we saw so many colors—if you know what I mean. Record stores with LPs and t-shirts, pro guitars available in music stores… just like that! Even for myself, it’s hard to imagine those feelings today. We were feeling like gods!

So a few tracks from the Sunlight sessions ended up on Youtube. “The Final Massacre” and “Breath of Centuries.” What do you make of people hearing something they probably never should’ve?
Peter Wiwczarek: I kept the whole session and still have it. Years ago, a couple of friends of mine asked me to copy the stuff “just for private use.” They promised to keep it far from the public. As you see… promises are only promises. It is hard to trust even friends today. However, some fans like this version better than the official one after a few Sunlight tracks became public. What can I say? I did not like that sound at all and was so happy when Earache had pretty much the same feeling. We sounded too ‘plastic’ with no power, no bottom.

By the way, how’d you end up at Rhythm Studio with Paul Johnston? I gather there was a sense of dissatisfaction with the Sunlight result.
Peter Wiwczarek: Sure. It was good decision though. It cost the company twice as much money. It was still far from a good sound—in my opinion—but we were not ready for any better. If we had our own backline, for example, a better one of course… but we did not. However, [what] we all experienced in Sunlight before helped a lot in England. And Doc had a regular drum kit—finally! The studio was in a village area, so no more drunk nights. We made a few trips out to see the area. It was the summer season, too. All work went smoothly.

Was your experience at Rhythm Studio different from Sunlight? Again, times were different and Eastern Europe was almost like another world in the early ‘90s.
Peter Wiwczarek: I just mentioned that above. We were already ‘experienced’ after the session in Stockholm and were ready for real studio recordings. Equipment in Rhythm was far better for us: real acoustic drums, Marshall heads. Though I still had my hand-made guitar. Besides, we were living in a Bed & Breakfast hotel five minutes walking distance from studio. Good sleep, good food… it was more like visiting family. All songs were tested in Sunlight before. It was way easier to work. And my son Oscar was about to come into this world. He was finally born on 22nd October, which is my birthday, too. I did not know about this in Sweden yet. Poland was still grey in 1992, but changes were about to begin.

Do you think the full Sunlight sessions will ever see light of day? I ask because Earache reissued The Ultimate Incantation in 1999. Would be cool to see and hear both versions.
Peter Wiwczarek: I know that this session will see the light of the sun sooner or later, more for the fans than for the music itself. I really want to release this album on an exclusive DLP (with additional Sunlight tracks) in the way that we could not do in 1992. I’m sure the contract should let us do it soon. I have plenty of nice material from those days which would be perfect supplement for such a release. By the way, the huge biography of Vader is about to be out soon, too. Jarek Szubrycht (the writer) and me were collecting materials and interviews for many years. The book is named This is Total War and should be out (first in Polish) in Spring 2014. It is 10 chapters long and about 500-600 pages. The bigger part of this book focuses on the early days. The Ultimate Incantation re-release would be perfect.

What’s Vader up to now? Besides considering re-issuing The Ultimate Incantation with the Sunlight sessions, of course.
Peter Wiwczarek: Re-issuing is nothing but fun and additional stuff. We are working in the studio on the new album. This is the real priority at the moment. The whole thing is named Tibi Et Igni (For You And Fire translated from Latin) and will be ready in late February 2014. Parallel to that, we’ll re-issue other Vader works, which were never released on vinyl before. We did Sothis and Black to the Blind two years ago as beautiful, exclusive, limited to 500 copies special editions through Night of the Vinyl Dead records from Italy. Now we are working on Live in Japan and De Profundis. As you can see: there is never enough of Vader.

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