LORD VICAR – Interview
In the field of doom metal,band LORD VICAR certainly does not need any introduction.Gareth Millsted,drummer of the band,was kind enough to answer my questions about his band activity.I hope you enjoy his answers as much as i enjoyed them.
Thank you for accepting to do this interview and I want you to begin by making a brief history of the band.
Lord Vicar was formed in 2007. After the demise of Reverend Bizzare, Kimi wanted to carry on playing Doom so he decided to form a new band. He hooked up with Chritus Linderson through mutual friends and they spent an evening drinking together and so Chritus became the singer. I got to know Kimi when Centurions Ghost and Reverend Bizarre toured together in 2006. When I heard he needed a drummer for his new band I emailed him and said “I’m your man”! Kimi originally asked a friend of his Daniel Nyman to play bass but that didn’t work out so Kimi then asked Jim Hunter from Revelation (Yet So Far lineup) to play bass on our first EP. Jim is a great bassist and would have been ideal but unfortunately he lives on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean so we needed to find someone a little more local for rehearsing and touring. Jussi Myllykoski had done some driving and roadying for Reverend Bizarre and had starting playing bass about the time Lord Vicar formed. He expressed an interest in joining so we thought “why the hell not”? It worked out pretty well thus the circle was complete.
What did unite you under the name LORD VICAR and what thoughts you started the band with?
As I said, Kimi wanted to keep on playing Doom after Reverend Bizarre and wanted to get involved with the people who had a similar vision of what that could be.
You are a highly respected name in doom scene, what do you think are your strong points?
In my completely unbiased opinion we have one of the greatest vocalists in Doom metal history, that gives us an unfair advantage ha ha!!! Also we have great songwriting, there is definitely more to our songs than just a bunch of riffs thrown together. Finally I think the way we deliver the songs is a little more rock n roll than your average doom band. It comes together to make quite an entertaining package.
You’ve released last album in 2011.How was it received and when will you enter in studio again to enjoy us with another material?
I haven’t seen that many reviews of the last album, but pretty much all of those I did were positive. Much more important however are the opinions of the fans and again I think they dig it. We just finished touring and the majority of the set was made up of songs from that album and we could tell from the reaction of the people at the gig that they were into it. That is the acid test.
The third album, which will be called The Gates of Flesh, will be recorded in 2014. I can’t be any more specific than that right now, but both our label manager and we are keen to tour in the summer so hopefully it will be ready before then.
Regarding the split album REVELATION, how have you decided to record this material with them?Did you know each other before?
As I mentioned earlier, Jim Hunter actually played on the first Lord Vicar EP. Kimi knew the “Yet So Far” lineup of Revelation because Reverend Bizarre toured with them, I think he also knew John Brenner and Bert Hall. I briefly met John and Bert in Baltimore a few years ago when my former band Centurions Ghost played there so we have a connection to the Revelation guys going back a few years. Lord Vicar and Revelation then toured together in 2008 and I think it was around that time that the split release was suggested.
Regarding the “Signs of Osiris”, do you think is possible to do a brief description of each song for us? What are the subjects that inspire your lyrics?
Good question! Before I answer I just need to state that I only wrote one of the songs so the descriptions of the other songs are my own interpretations (with a certain amount of artistic license), although I have talked about the lyrical content with the other guys a lot so I have a pretty good idea.
Sign of Osiris Slain
We come out all guns blazing with this one. An in your face rocker to kick things off. Lyrically it is basically saying that the world is a violent place, it has been going on since the dawn of history and even today it carries on. So much so that we as a species has become desensitised to it. I also wonder if to some degree it is saying that modern life has turned us all into “faceless soldiers marching in despair”, to quote a line from the last verse?
Jussi wrote this one and the lyrics are very personal to him because he has had some rough times in recent years. Basically life is a struggle, a war. The toll it takes on you can be dehumanising and I suppose it can turn you into something horrible, that you would not even recognise. The important thing is to remember exactly who you are and hold onto that.
Whilst on tour a while back we watched a Japanese Samurai film called Lone Wolf and Cub. I was in Japanese with German subtitles, so we were kinda fucked, but it was clear what was going on!!! Anyway Kimi asked me to write a song loosely based on the film. So the lyrics to some degree describe the film, which seemed to be an endless barrage of violence! Also there was the thing that pretty much as soon as any female character was introduced it was like “oh no, she is going to get raped”, and sure enough she did. The point being that the child was the witness to all of these horrors and it got me thinking of all the innocent children around the world who have witnessed atrocities, and that is it. They are scarred. They had no chance. And the cycle continues itself. The final point is that it seems that humanity can’t shake off this crude notion of “honour” and it seems to manifest itself in great cruelty and violence. Even today in the 21st Century it still goes on. Mankind cannot truly call himself civilised until these things are wiped off the face of the planet.
Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower
Lyrically this deals with the more esoteric aspects of the Third Reich. Kimi has some kind of morbid fascination with this subject, although he assures me that it is purely from an academic and scholarly point of view!!! The Blue Temple refers to the site in Nurnberg where Hitler and his buddies used to have their rallies. Along with the rousing speeches they also put on an impressive light show using aircraft search lights, which effectively created this temple of blue light. This must have been an overwhelming experience for the “disciples”, as it were. Actually we visited this site on the last tour and I have to say I find it an underwhelming and ugly place. As far as historical ruins go it is very disappointing and I find it architecturally quite boring and uninspiring.
The North Tower however is a whole lot more interesting. This is part of Wewelsburg, a castle in Western Germany. Heinrich Himmler used it as a base for the SS. He had plans to expand it into a huge complex, however the third reich fell before it was completed. We visited the site on our tour with Revelation and I have to say that it was fascinating. In the basement of the tower was a circular room where no doubt various rituals were performed. There were spaces for bodies of the leaders to be entombed, there are certain parallels to the Roman Caesars. This was all part of the weird SS death cult that Himmler was part of, giving reverence to the dead leaders.
This is one of my favourites to play, it has a nice groove to it. Lyrically it is tribute to the City of Venice. Not very Rock ‘n’ Roll eh? But we are Lord Vicar and we make it Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!
This is a gentle acoustic piece with a few ethereal electric guitar and melotron parts. I love this song, it is one of my favourites. I believe the lyrics are about alcoholism and the damage it can do to both the addict and their loved ones. The lyrical content loosely fits in with the general theme of violence running through the album, in this case the emphasis is perhaps more on the violence to the mind, body and soul that is caused by the condition rather than actual physical violence.
The Sign of Osiris Risen
This is an EPIC! My favourite Lord Vicar song. The vocals are majestic on this one, just beautiful. The lyrics are about Osiris, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife. Here’s the quick version: Osiris was killed by his brother and his body was divided. His wife, Isis, collects the parts and reassembles him however she could not find his penis so she made one of gold and resurrected Osiris with a spell. In the short time he was alive, Isis and Osiris conceived their son Horus. So on one hand the song deals with themes of death and resurrection which is a universal theme with parallels in many different cultures and religions throughout the world. In fact there are many theologians and scholars who believe that the legend of Jesus Christ was essentially derived from Osiris, Isis and Horus. But about the song, I think there may be another deeper meaning running behind the main theme. What drove Isis to resurrect Osiris? Surely it was love? And for me this is a love song.
What is the meaning of the “Signs of Osiris”’cover and who made it?
The cover painting is called “There Was a Great Cry in Egypt” by Arthur Hacker and depicts the Angel of Death.
In what mood do you have to be for writing a song?
I can only speak for myself, but I don’t have a specific mood. Most songs just come from noodling about on the guitar and occasionally you come up with a little lick or phrase that sounds cool and you just go from there.
What do we have to expect on your future album? Will it gonna be in your classic style or do you want to experience something a little bit new?
We have already played a new song called “Accidents” live and if you do a little digging around on the internet you will find a video of it. It is a little rough around the edges but gives a good impression of how the song sounds. I think when you listen to that you can recognise it as a Lord Vicar song, I really like it. There are several other new demo’s for album number three and again I think they are all pretty recognisable as Lord Vicar songs so I don’t think there will be any massive surprises. However, we have yet to jam much of this material together as a band and personally I think that is the real test of how things will sound. Sometimes when you are playing things together you realise that something that was OK in demo form maybe need to be chopped and changed a little.I suppose I am hoping that this album can be a little more organic than the previous two. Hopefully with a more in your face sound that is more like how we sounds as a live band, we came close to capturing that on the last one, but I still think we can do better.
Do you think the public is more interested in doom metal now than was it in the past? How do you perceive the current metal scene in general and the doom scene in particular?
Maybe the general public is more aware of Doom than say 5 years ago, but I am speculating a little. It certainly isn’t what you would call “mainstream” and think it will probably continue to be more of an underground thing.
As to the current metal scene, I do not pay very much attention to it. Much of the mainstream metal scene just leaves me feeling cold.
The Doom scene is what it is. There are many bands out there some good, some bad. The good ones tend to have their own unique identity or sound that sets them apart.
What is your opinion about the revival of retro-doom lately? Do you think it would last, or is just another trend that will disappear at some point?
By “Retro-Doom” do you mean the glut of female fronted “occult rock” bands that seem to be prevalent? For some reason they do seem to get lumped into the Doom scene, although I am not quite sure why.
Personally I think it is all very contrived and formulaic – “Hey kids, go ahead and form a band, wear retro clothes and make sure you’ve got a pretty girl singing, then you are guaranteed your slot at next years Roadburn”!!!! OK, I know I am being a bit cynical, but I think I put it quite politely, some of my bandmates have far stronger opinions on the matter ha ha!!! Occasionally some of these bands have one or two good songs that I don’t mind, but to make it through a whole album??? Well that is something else entirely.
I often wonder, do they truly believe what they are singing about? Do they practice this stuff? Are they for real? If so, then most of them a failing miserably to communicate that through their music.
What have been the bands that most influenced you over time? Have you heard anything lately that you are excited about?
As a direct influence to what we do with Lord Vicar I would say bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, The Who, Thin Lizzy, Pentagram, The Oobsessed, Sleep, Vitus, Revelation and a bunch of other Doom bands (the usual ones!). However my and Kimi’s musical tastes and endeavours stretch beyond the Doom genre so there are many other influences. There are too many bands to list here. Generally if I think an artist or musician has something interesting to say then my ears are open, regardless of the genre. Best to keep an open mind, contrary to what the True Metal Gestapo might tell you.
As for bands that I have heard lately, whilst on tour Oli (Church Within label manager) played us the new album by Blackfinger, which I believe he will be releasing at some point in the near future. That was fucking great. Clearly those guys have put some serious work into creating that album, it has great dynamics, heavy riffs, beautiful mellow songs and of course Eric Wagner’s vocals are incredible. I also recently picked an album by Corsair, that was pretty cool. Some nice Thin Lizzy inspired guitar work and good tunes on that one. A while back John Brenner let me hear some demo’s he had recorded for a Band called Black Cowgirl, that was some good hard rock with a slightly 70’s vibe to it. Some great songwriting and playing there, definitely worth checking out. I love Sigiriya, they are also on our label Church Within and we toured with them last year. This band used to be Acrimony in another life, but they reformed under the name Sigiriya. It’s a familiar sound to anyone who knows Acrimony, but I think Sigiriya seems like the next step Acrimony could have taken. Sigiriya are one of those bands who totally have their own sound, they don’t sound like anyone else and nobody sounds like them. Seriously heavy shit.
Outside the world of Metal I have been listening to a band called These New Puritans. Hard to describe their stuff, but I would say in it minimalist orchestral music with some electronic elements thrown in. There are some beautiful dark atmospheres on their album “Field of Reeds”.
Kimi Karki, your guitarist, was in legendary doom band REVEREND BIZARRE. How did you got to know him and what do you think of his previous band?
I met Kimi when Reverend Bizarre and Centurions Ghost toured together. We got on quite well and we realised that we shared some common ground when it came to musical tastes. Kimi is a great guy and an excellent songwriter with a very clear vision of what Lord Vicar should be so it is awesome to work with him making this band happen.
In regards to your question, I did like Reverend Bizarre a lot. A very influential band within the Doom genre.
How about Chritus (ex.COUNT RAVEN, ex.SAINT Vitus ex.TERRA FIRM), how did you meet him and how did he come to play with LORD VICAR? Weren’t you afraid to take a familiar voice in doom scene, and weren’t you afraid of comparisons with bands that he played before, considering that are legendary names in doom metal scene?
I mentioned earlier how Chritus came to be part of Lord Vicar, he was there before me. I met him through joining Lord Vicar, although I was obviously aware of his work in his other bands before that. Actually I can remember the first time we spoke, I was doing some tiling in my bathroom, I was covered in adhesive and my mobile rang – it was Chritus!!! He just called me for a chat about the new band we were going to be doing together, that was pretty funny.
There was no doubt whatsoever about taking a familiar voice from the Doom scene. Kimi was clear that he wanted to work with someone with a proven track record and when you look at what Chritus has done over the years it is pretty impressive.
His association with those other great bands is actually an advantage because it does generate some initial interest in Lord Vicar. The challenge of course is to maintain that interest and that then is down to us and our music. We don’t worry about comparison to those bands because it is clear that Lord Vicar’s music is very different.
We now have a strict policy that Lord Vicar DOES NOT cover the music of the members previous bands. We believe the music of Lord Vicar can stand based on it’s own merits and we do not need to rely past glories.
Regarding live activity, can you tell me if you’ve played much lately? What do you like most: playing live or the studio atmosphere? Where do you feel best, at festivals or at smaller concerts?
We have just finished a short European tour, taking in Germany, Italy, Austria and Hungary. We were on the road with our labelmates Purple Hill Witch, who incidentally are really great guys and excellent musicians so you should all check them out. The tour was great fun, nice relaxed atmosphere, no real dramas, good friends, good music, good food and a little good wine. We even made a couple of spectacular crossings of the Alps. Tours like that are a pleasure.
I think I prefer playing live to working in the studio, I guess my bandmates agree on that (I’ll have to ask them one day). Playing live is less pressure, you can feel free to let loose a little bit and if you fuck up it doesn’t matter, because it is gone in a second, not recorded for eternity! You also get the energy from the audience when playing live which helps spur you on to play harder and heavier, so you get that two way kind of interaction.
As for small gig or festival question, well that is tough. Someone asked me that recently and it is very hard to say. We have had magical experiences in both environments, but they are so different it is like comparing apples to oranges.
In which country do you like to play most and where do you think is the most welcoming public? Does the audience in your opinion differ from one country to another? What would be the reason?
Germany is the country we have played live in more than any other and it is where our Record Label Church Within is based, so it will always be very special for Lord Vicar. Personally I love Germany, I think it has a bit of everything, great cities like Berlin and Hamburg, some beautiful scenery, great culture, great music scene, there is a lot of appreciation for Doom and of course most importantly some great beers!
But so far every country we have played in a been special in some way, I can’t think of any particularly bad experiences. There are subtle differences for sure, I remember Poland being totally fucking crazy. Italy was awesome, we went there for the first time on our recent tour. Real, devoted fans, I remember one guy called Fabio drove 5 hours from Rome to see us then drove back!!! Also for me personally, being English, I always love to play in England, although it is rare. London in particular has always been good for Lord Vicar, hopefully we will return soon. It’s all great really, give us a stage and we’ll play it!
What concert did you find most successful of your entire career and what band would you like most to share the stage with?
I can’t think of one specific gig which I would say is the most successful. There have been several particular highlights that have stuck in our minds, Roadburn, Hammer of Doom, Muscle Rock in Sweden, Stoned from the Underground, The Gaff in London, when we played Poland the first time……………there are so many great gigs it really is hard to say which one is the most important.
Which band would Lord Vicar most like to share a stage with? I am sure the quick answer all the guys would say is Black Sabbath.
What do you do in your spare time and how do you entertain yourselves? Do you have a hobby?
When I am not rocking I love to get into the great outdoors. Getting back to nature and away from other human beings is good for the soul! I ride my mountain bike, go walking in the hills or in the winter I will go snowboarding. I also go SCUBA diving which is awesome, it is like entering a whole new world.
I think Jussi is similar to me, he likes getting out into the wilderness. He has often talked about his trips to remote areas of Finland where he does a bit of fishing. He is also a keen gardener.
As for the other two guys, I don’t really know too much about their spare time, although given that they both have children I imagine a lot of their time is spent with them!
What are your future plans regarding LORD VICAR?
We hope to play a few weekenders in Europe, maybe England and we are also considering a trip to Ireland, hopefully that will happen because we had a blast last time we were there.
Then there is the small matter of album number three, so there will be rehearsal sessions and we hope to hit the studio in the first half of 2014. There is talk of touring Europe in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately I can’t be more specific at this time because nothing is confirmed, but rest assured as soon as we know something for sure we will put the word out.
Beyond that, well hopefully we will just keep on rocking together until we are as old as The Rolling Stones. Then we will carry on for a few more years!!!
Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview and if you want to add something in the end, please do it.
Thanks for taking an interest in Lord Vicar and for taking the time to prepare these questions, I have enjoyed answering them. Also I would like to say a sincere thanks on behalf of all of Lord Vicar to all our fans, you support means so much to us.