Varga – Sean Williamson
Written by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
It feels great seeing bands getting back to action, especially if they have something to offer just like as it happened with Canada’s VARGA that has already released the full length “Enter The Metal” breaking the seventeen years of music-creation silence. METAL KAOZ wanted to find more, so the following group of questions was submitted to the band’s guitarist Sean Williamson. Check below how Sean replied.
Welcome Sean to METAL KAOZ and many congrats on VARGA’s return.
Yeah, it’s great to be back.
“Prototype” was very well received but with “Oxygen” things changed for VARGA. So, what did happen with the band and went “silent” after 1996? Was this a hiatus period or the band had actually split up?
Well, we never intended to actually split up, we just needed to take a break and clear our heads for a while. We totally lost our focus with “Oxygen”. Between the label pressuring us to sound a certain way, and the fact that we were writing individually and not as a band, that album ending up being a disaster in my opinion. I think there were just too many people involved, pushing and pulling in so many directions that it resulted in something that nobody was happy with. We wrote probably 30 songs for that album and the demos are so much better than what ended up becoming “Oxygen”. That’s what makes this new record so satisfying. It’s just a flat-out honest Metal album.
And this brings us to 2013, seeing VARGA getting new music out in “Enter The Metal”; how was VARGA reactivated?
For all those early years the band was our entire life – all day, every day. During the time apart, we started building separate lives, so I never thought we would ever get back together. Around 2003, Dan Fila and I joined up with our friend Juice Butty (who produced the new record), for what started out as a studio project called HYPODUST. That led to playing live shows, doing some touring, shit like that. It was great playing with Fila again. We’ve always clicked as musicians. That led to bringing Joe Varga onboard for a classic-Metal cover band called SUPERBLASTER and that was pretty awesome having the three of us on stage again. We were just jamming out for fun, playing all the old Metal tunes that inspired us in the first place. Then one day Joe goes, “hey man, we should get Adam over here.”
Was it difficult to get everyone onboard and return in the studio playing VARGA music?
Not at all. Right from the first time Adam came back, we new we had to keep it going. There’s a certain chemistry the four of us have when we play together, I don’t know how to describe it.
During the time period when VARGA was not active, what was the thing that you missed the most?
Just living the life, man.
I’ve read that the songs in “Enter The Metal” come from an album that was never released; can you give us more info on this? When were these songs composed? And did you just re-record them or you also did some changes?
Yeah, these songs were originally written between 1989 and 1991, before the BMG deal. We had signed to a label called Maze Records out of New York. We recorded an album for them, but just when it was finished, the label went under and stuck us with the bill. BMG wasn’t interested in those songs, so they never saw the light of day. We had worked so hard as a band back then, and to have those songs never get out there kinda sucked. So we brought them back, re-worked them, and made some changes to most of them. There’s a couple that are basically the same, note-for-note.
Is it correct that you have already another one album ready to be released? Will this be just like “Enter The Metal” with older songs re-recorded?
Yeah, it’s a continuation of “Enter The Metal”. We tracked both albums at the same time. We didn’t originally plan to have two releases, but there was so much material that we decided to split it into two, rather than cutting any songs.
What is the title of the new album and how many songs will be in it? What will the time duration be?
The sequel is called “Return Of The Metal”; 6 more epic songs, 40 more minutes.
Is VARGA different after the reactivation? I mean, do you see differences in the way you perceive and compose music?
There’s a big difference this time. We don’t have a major label breathing down our neck, trying to force us to write marketable songs. It’s back to how it was in the very beginning; four guys playing what they want to play, how they want to play it. No compromises.
As a follow-up to the previous question, what a fan who already knew VARGA can expect from the reactivation edition of the band?
Well, we’ve always been a live band, first and foremost. In 1992 we were signed out of a bar; the classic story of an A&R guy randomly walking into a club with no intention of signing a band and being blown away. That’s the only reason we ever got into this in the first place; to play live.
I think the “Enter The Metal” is listed as an independent release; so what is the situation with a record deal?
We never even considered shopping “Enter The Metal” to any labels. These days you can do so much on your own, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re open to any options that might come along. But we really just wanted to see how far we could take this on our own.
How long did you work on the songs on “Enter The Metal”? Did you have in mind the sound you would like to create in the studio?
We worked on “Enter The Metal” on and off for about a year and a half. But the actual time spent in the studio was probably about six weeks. We new going in that we weren’t going to spend a lot of time editing the tracks in the computer. It’s real easy to sample a drum beat, and copy/paste it, replace the real sounds, make it perfect. But we didn’t want that. The goal was to make a straight-up honest recording of the band. Sure, we made a few minor corrections here and there, but what you’re hearing is the four of us playing our parts all the way through.
Is there any chance to see “Enter The Metal” being released on vinyl?
Yes, we plan on releasing “Enter” and “Return Of The Metal” as a double vinyl. Album-tokes anybody?
How is the current Metal scene in Canada that is still considered as most reliable source of great bands?
Man, there is so much great metal here in Canada. And every band has their own unique style. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s because the country is so big and spread out that bands in Canada spend more time at home developing their sound, writing and rehearsing? Or maybe its the combination of British and American influences? Whatever it is, there’s a realness to the bands in Canada.
What is the situation with VARGA and Europe? I think the European Metalheads have a deeper knowledge of Metal as compared to the US ones?
European response has been great. We’re working on getting over there. It’s still early days for the new album, so we’ll see what happens. But honestly, I think North American metalheads are just as smart and devoted as anybody. There’s just a lot more of them in Europe.
What about the band’s touring plans; do you have any proposals on your table? If you were to choose where, would you choose to tour first Canada, Europe or the US?
Getting on the European festival circuit is the ultimate goal. An opening slot on a US tour with an established band would be a great start. Touring Canada’s a real bitch, but we’ll play wherever they want us.
Are there any thoughts of re-releasing any of the previous albums? Or maybe do a special release with all the singles?
Sony/BMG owns the master recordings of the old material, so it’s up to them what they want to do with it. Last year we contacted them about making them available on iTunes, and they agreed to that, so “Prototype” and “Oxygen” are out there again, at least digitally. But we still own the actual songs themselves, so re-recording them is always a possibility. We’ve actually just started experimenting with a couple songs from “Prototype”, bringing them more into the style of “Enter The Metal”. Possibly to use in the live show, we’ll see.
What is your future plan regarding VARGA? I mean, do you plan to get a steady release album rate and tour as much as possible? I am asking this because nowadays making a living out of making music has become a rather impossible task.
Yeah, we’re gonna keep putting out records and play as much as we can, totally on our own terms. We’re not motivated by money, there’s no corporation pushing us to sell our product. If people don’t want to pay for the music and pirate it, that’s fine, you can’t fight it. But mp3s sound like shit. You need to buy the real thing, throw away those stupid ear-buds, and to quote MANOWAR “blow your speakers!”
Well Sean, it was pleasure having VARGA inside the virtual pages of METAL KAOZ. I hope we will see you guys live in Chicago!
Thanks man, anytime.
See the interview at MetalKaoz.com