„The black light bacchanalia“ is the new album of heavy barbarians Virgin Steele, and we have hosted one legend here. Their singer David „Young Zeus“ Defeis is guest of our pages in order to give us all the needed info about this cult troop, the news and some trivia from their rich history.
Greetings all the way from Serbia, David! How are you these days?
Cheers & Greetings to you! I am OK thanks for asking…
OK, so “The black light bacchanalia” is in front of us journalists, obvious first question is how are you satisfied with it, do you think that it can stand proud next to other Steele classics?
Yes I am very happy with the compositions. I think that they are among the finest Works that I have written and can stand well alongside other tracks from the past. I like the rawness of this album and the whole band is really excited about it.
I want to know do you write the entire musical content in Virgin Steele, and especially for this album? How much influence do mr Pursino and other guys have?
I have always written the lion’s share of the material in VIRGIN STEELE. Songs like A SYMPHONY OF STEELE, EMALAITH, CROWN OF GLORY, I WILL COME FOR YOU, NOBLE SAVAGE, KINGDOM OF THE FEARLESS, INVICTUS…the entire VISIONS OF EDEN album, etc., etc…all came from my pen…I wrote all the songs on this new album by myself. The others had no input in the songwriting process. They are not involved in that. They are content to perform the songs that I write. They enjoy what I come up with and are satisfied being part of the recordings as performers. It is a nice relationship that has worked very well for many, many years now…
There was a lot of critics about the sound of the last album, guitars were quiter, drums sounded a bit off… The sound is a bit improved now, but I’d say it’s still below the power of Atreus albums, and also the albums before, what’s your opinion about that one?
As regards the last album. I don’t have any problems with the sound of it, and neither do any of the others in the Group. Yes the guitars are quieter, but so what…the songs are very strong, the performances solid, and the atmosphere works well. As regards this album not sounding as powerful as the Atreus albums…well I never compared them. But the Atreus albums were largely recorded on analog tape. This album has a different sound due to the digital format that both the new album and the last album were recorded on. Perhaps this is what you are responding to. Tape certainly has a different character. Again…what is the power ratio one is supposed to have on an album? The album kicks off hard, heavy & raw…and there it is…
Josh Block has recorded some part on seven string guitar for this album, how does this idea came up?
We have done it before. We used the 7 string on parts of THE BOOK OF BURNING, VISIONS OF EDEN and a bit on THE VOICE AS WEAPON from THE HOUSE OF ATREUS ACT 2. I like the sound, and this is the kind of guitar that Josh likes to play. It has a nice thickness to it.
You always have intricate lyrical content for Virgin Steele, and by your own words it is the case this time. Can you explain a bit further the lyric to our readers? And how are they tied to the actual music in your opinion? For example, how did you manage to put Zeus and Thor in the same song? Or at least the name of a song…
Yes. First off the title: THE BLACK LIGHT BACCHANALIA, is my way of saying something like “This insane Life”. It should be thought of in the same spirit the way Dante called his Work “The Divine Comedy”. With that phrase, he was discussing Life in all its multifaceted craziness, and I mean something similar with the phrase, “The Black Light Bacchanalia”. I too am speaking about Life & all its attendant drama, pathos, joys & sorrows. By that phrase I also mean “The Great Reversal”. Where when one culture conquers another, the deities of the conquered people become the demons of the conquerors religion. Everything is turned upside down…topsy turvey. The Work is somewhat of a concept album. It does continue the tale I began on the “Visions Of Eden” album, and brings those elements to their conclusion, with God finally lamenting all the damage he has done and the havoc he has wrought. I discuss the death of Paganism and the eradication of the Female Goddess Principle due to the rise of the Father God, but I go further with discussing the rise of “organized” religion and its mark upon Paganism, and the subsequent coming of the Dark Ages. However, that being said, I am really discussing today’s Dark Ages, and the rise of fundamentalism in all walks of Life, not only in religion, but also in politics, and everywhere else. It permeates our existence these days. And ultimately the album is about Rebellion. Rebellion against authority, God, government, whatever…. etc…. I can put Zeus & Thor in the same song, because I am discussing the “Father God” idea, and these are all names for this concept. They are all essentially one & the same being. Odin, Zeus, Marduk, Jehova…all of them are pieces of the same Story…
After all the years with the band, do you find it hard to keep your voice in such shape, do you have some own practices or such? And how are you satified with its condition?
I exercise it. I work with it, and it responds accordingly. Yes I do have specific things that I do to warm it up and keep it going. I am as satisfied as one can be in this Life. I have good days and bad days just like you or anyone else.
Couple of years ago you did a show live without your drummer, playing 9-10 songs (I think it was in Spain), how did that work out, what was the feel playing an electric set without a drummer and how did the auidence respond?
It was fantastic. We have done many acoustic shows with just one acoustic guitar and my voice, and these gigs go over incredibly well. The power is enormous and the shows are really intimate done this way. So at that gig in Spain it was a kind of half acoustic, half electric feeling, as we played the acoustic versions with electric guitar and bass, and no drums. The audience went crazy. It was wonderful.
There is a five year gap between “Age Of Consent” and “Life Among The Ruins” and then you returned with the most unusual VS album, especially from this point in time. How did that album come out the way it did, and what is your opinion today of it? Was the song “Life Among The Ruins” written originally for that album or later during the “Marriage” sessions?
The gap was due to having to sort out managerial problems, and record company issues…namely we had to find a new label. That album came about because we were just jamming and exploring our Bluesy Led Zeppelinesque roots, and not worrying about making an album that followed up our last one. Therefore when it came time to actually do a new album we simply finished recording the songs we had at the time. I knew it wasn’t Epic Metal like NOBLE SAVAGE or THE BURNING OF ROME, but I knew that it was good strong material and kind of “Epic Blues”! So we put it out. Today, I still love the album. It sounds great, and is highly personal to me. The song “Life Among The Ruins’ was begun during the tale end of that time. I also had begun writing Blood & Gasoline and Forever Will I Roam around then too.
As an old fan, I need to ask yoo are you still in touch with your old member Jack Starr?
Are you maybe going to use any old Exorcist song again, like you did with “Fire God” and “Fire Of Ecstasy” back on Atreus albums? That two definitely came out fantastic in the new versions.
Thanks very much. It certainly is possible….
Do you feel more connected to heavy metal or to power metal or are you somewhere in between? I’m not just talking about VS music, but also your affinities.
I don’t think that we have all that much in common with the bands that are labeled Power Metal and that are supposed to be our peers. VIRGIN STEELE has always been something different and harder to pin down and label. We go our own way and that confounds, confuses and sometimes infuriates people, and that is how we like it. Personally yes I do like a lot of Heavy Metal bands and some Power Metal bands, but I am more interested in the Gothic & Black sides of Metal. My definition of what is Metal is probably quite different than most people’s definition…
How do you remember your Avantasia guest appereance, did Tobias maybe contact you for the new albums? Did you do any guest vocals since then?
Yes I remember it. No he did not contact me. Yes I have done a track for the Italian band SKYLARK, a track with former BLIND GUARDIAN drummer Thomen Stauch, and also a track (one of my songs actually…Blood & Gasoline), with CRYSTAL VIPER.
What is the best tour you ever had? The best band you toured with?
My favorite headlining tour was probably the one for THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL albums. That was really nice. The best time we ever had supporting a band was on the URIAH HEEP tour. Those guys were incredible to us! Amazing!
Do you remember that you were supposed to play in my homeland Serbia together with Riot back in 1998 (I think)? Can you recall the details about that?
I remember that we were supposed to play Belgrade and it was cancelled. I believe it was cancelled due to the political climate of the time. I would have liked to have gone… 16. The new album will appear in various different versions, it seems to me like you really wanted to give the fans value for money. Give us details about that…
Yes we hope to always provide that. There will be 3 forms of the album. There will be a “normal” CD version, a limited edition DigiPak CD version that will contain a bonus disc with 2 songs and a 30 minute kind of Bio/manifesto that I speak with music in the background. And…there will be a triple Lp vinyl Box Set, which also will contain the “normal” CD version, and the written Bio printed.
What are the plans for Virgin Steele after the release of the new album, are some tours in plans?
Yes we are discussing that now and sorting out dates.
OK David that would be all for now, I wish you all the best! Your last words…
Cheers & Thanks to you and all your readers for your kind & Noble Belief & Support! See you ALL soon! BY THE GODS & GODDESSES, David DeFeis
- Answers by David DeFeis
Interview was done by Fake Healer and Slobodan Trifunovic