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David Defeis – Vocals, keyboards and composer for Virgin Steele



Date: 7/7/06
Interviewed By: Rich Catino

 

 

1. Virgin Steele has been around since 1982 when the debut was released. Since then you have been the driving force of the band. Can you tell us about some of the evolutionary changes Virgin Steele has gone through over the years?

DAVID: We have grown in a very natural manner. We have matured as performers and I have matured as a composer. I am better able to express myself both musically and lyrically than ever before. We have become more focused, more finely tuned. We have been able to incorporate a more diverse palate, without losing our Metal edge or obscuring or diluting what VIRGIN STEELE is.

2. What do you think are the strongest moments in Virgin Steele's musical history?

DAVID: Album wise, I think we really blossomed with the release of the MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL albums. I am quite proud of those, and also INVICTUS and the HOUSE OF ATREUS albums. I think they contain the finest moments in songwriting for VIRGIN STEELE . I love the tracks on the new forthcoming VISIONS OF EDEN album, and we may be entering our finest hour yet.

3. Virgin Steele is from New York yet the band rarely tours the States. Can you tell why this is?

DAVID: We have always had a better infrastructure in Europe . Our label is there, and our booking agency, so it was natural that we would work more over there. We would like to do more here in the States, and we hope to do more with the release of this new album.

4. Tell us about the forthcoming album “Visions of Eden”. Why that title?

DAVID: The Work is based on the destruction of Paganism, and Gnosticism and the desecration & eradication of the Goddess Principle that once dwelled so freely within Divinity. A massive blow was struck against these early beliefs, by first, the rise of the "Father-God" principle, and second by the development of the "organized" religions”. The album concerns LILITH, first wife of Adam, (he of Biblical fame, as in Adam & Eve and the apple, the snake and all that fig leaf and rib propaganda), plus Ancient Sumerian Myths concerning Lilith's relationship with Adam, Eve and God. However, that being said, in actuality, it is really about today…modern times and how we might have arrived here at this very strange place we are now in…The title and the cover reflect the idea of...where are those Visions of Eden??? When will we have them? It is a longing for the Divine & the Eternal in Beauty, Grace, Nobility, etc....

5. What have you done musically with this album that you maybe had not achieved in the past?

DAVID: It is perhaps even darker than the darkest VS moments. It is more Nocturnal, Autumnal, Celestial, Vampiric , Paganistic , Lunar, Underground and in general more extreme. The brutality is if possible even more brutal, (especially mentally speaking), and the tender moments are incredibly Melancholy, Tortured, Forlorn and Torn. It is a Music full of eternal longing, suffering and regret. Long smoldering passions, lust and despair ignite, consume and die... In the end... a type of hope arises. Not always the "All Conquering Triumph Ideology", but a sense of merging with the perennial consciousness of the Universe, where one day.... a rebirth of sorts might follow... a Beauty born of Grief. I am using more piano or acoustic guitar combined with very deeply tuned heavy guitars. Vocally it is very, very melodic, and I can be tender, aggressive, and bluesy. At times the vocal style is like the bluesy singing on the “Life Among The Ruins” album, only the music and melodies here are very, very different.

VISIONS OF EDEN, is very atmospheric. There are big Epic Anthemic pieces, with always sing-able, & memorable "hooks", but there is also a Dark, Brooding, Moody, Impressionistic, quality that manifests itself throughout. There is over the top orchestration, yet simplicity. Nothing is done for the sake of overindulgence, or complexity for complexities sake. Everything is in proportion, balance and effective for the feelings/sentiments in question. It is a new development I think. A further progression of my compositional style.

These Works are Epic, Bombastic and totally full on Metal, sort of like Conan the Barbarian meets Wagner in a Dark, Black Cave ! Perhaps it sounds like.... “Cold Moonlight on a Haunted Cathedral”. It screams out like a frightening Apparition, a Banshee, or it moans tragically like the Wailing of the Wind through Accursed Ruins... Images of stark bare trees, clutching at a Dark, Pregnant, Grey /Black Cloud covered Sky while fog stalks the streets are conjured. Several tracks contain a very eerie, haunting quality that would be very much at home in a Horror Movie such as "The Omen", "The Ninth Gate" or "The Exorcist"! All are extremely heavy, moody and melodic. It is music to accompany either the Ending of the World, the Birthing of a New World or both!!!

6. Who is playing on “Visions of Eden” and will they be part of your touring band?

DAVID: The same guys who have been in the group for years now, me, Edward Pursino , Josh Block & Frank Gilchriest . Yes absolutely...same as always. We have the most stable line up in the history of the band, and everyone is very respectful of each other, and is also an admirer and Fan if you will of the next guy. We have spent many days and nights together rehearsing and performing, so we have an understanding of each others habits, likes and dislikes, etc., and we have achieved a fine and Noble chemistry over the years, that really works . Onstage the Group is extremely focused, ferocious, fearless and wild. It is a law unto itself, and quite unlike anything else that I have experienced out there. It is very special. The band is very, very strong. Edward is an amazing guitarist, who keeps his Great Spirit alive and is always ready to go forth and spread the Sound Of Steele! Frank is a master drummer, who is very much at home onstage and in the studio. He is a real drummers drummer, and a very gracious human being. Josh, is a very talented guy, with a great ear, and a very positive outlook on Life. He is always up for a run over to Europe for concerts and is a great fan of traveling. The live show today is over the top, Barbaric, Symphonic, Romantic, brutal and beautiful! We have been performing a Set that runs over 3 hours now, where we try to incorporate tracks from a wide selection of the History. We perform the songs as people will remember them of course, but we also have spontaneity and improvisation in the concert experience. We are not slaves to the recorded Work. We will change things around here and there, and leave in room for the mood of the Night and the moment. In addition we all get to stretch out a bit. There are guitar and vocal solo moments; also Frank always does a drum solo, which is always unbelievable. Josh will do a solo turn it is all structured quite nicely.

7. Virgin Steele has a strong dedicated following in Europe . So why in recent years have you not been making some appearances at the annual summer Heavy Metal festivals?

DAVID: On the contrary we have. We do some of them every year. We have been going back and forth to Europe for quite some time now, doing Summer Festivals and also Winter Festivals, spring flings and Autumnal feasts!

8. Have you ever been offered to play the festival ProgPower USA and is that something you would like to do?

DAVID: We have not been offered that one. Sure we would be happy to do it if anyone would like to invite us.

9. What are the tentative touring plans for the new album?

DAVID: We wish to be on the road in late October/November, most likely in Europe first. We are planning all that now.

10. In recent years, bands similar to Virgin Steele with the European style have finally started doing some shows in the States. Bands have been buddying up like Hammerfall and Edguy , Iced Earth/ Evergrey and Children of Bodom , Blind Guardian and Symphony X in 2002, Kamelot and Seven Witches , while Stratovarius , Gamma Ray, and Nightwish all did headlining tours which support by the fans was more than positive. Are you aware of this recent emergence of this music in America , what are your thoughts on it, and do you see Virgin Steele getting in on the action?

DAVID: Yes I am aware of it. And yes we do hope to do a bit more in the USA than we have been doing. I think it is all very positive. We need the USA part of the label's cooperation to make this happen. Hopefully they will get behind it.

11. What type of package tour would you like to do?

DAVID: I am not that keen on packages. I prefer to go out there and do our own gigs, as our show is quite long and there isn't that much room in the ears after that.

12. Any plans to release a concert DVD? If so what other type of material would it include? Any classic concert footage or videos?

DAVID: I would like to do an historical perspective first, that would feature a good amount of performance material, plus at home stuff, behind the scenes things, and various TV shows that we were on, etc. Yes I have many moments of classic footage to draw from. It will be an amazing journey for me personally to put all that together. I am really looking forward to it.

13. Anything you'd like to add to get the fans caught up on your activities?

DAVID: Yes. The new album called VISIONS OF EDEN, will be out on September 8th, and we will be back in action doing concerts shortly after that. In addition...I am already working on what will be the next album after this one.

Official website: www.virgin-steele.com

 
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