Interview: Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek of VADER
Interview/Words by Brady Irwin
Neither time nor pandemics can keep down the relentless, spirited passion of one of longstanding progenitors of the death metal scene in Vader. Partaking in brutal speed and technicality with their trademark thrash-inflected savagery, upcoming opus Solitude in Madness is a non-stop exercise in veteran barbarianism and cleverness in equal, eager measure. See opening bruiser ‘Shock and Awe’ for a track that does what it says on the tin. Seeing the vanguard live may be off-table for the short-term, but prepare yourself for the 1st May release of the new record.
Longtime member, vocalist, guitarist and alleged history buff Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek spoke candidly around the new album, the band and how both interfaced with the present situation, now almost unavoidable in any conversation at present.
Noting that the current situation ‘absolutely sucks’, the frontman is easy to draw positives, too. ‘It’s been a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with family and take a step back from overworking’.
Glad to hear you’re able to reconcile some positives in what are uncertain times, Piotr! Tell me, how’s the band coping as a whole at present?
You know, after we were forced to cancel the European tour, we’d just done a small run of shows and were forced to return home. We’re lucky we were able to on the same continent.
Staying in our houses like everyone in the world, doing our part and cooperating to stop the spread. It’s been an act of staying disciplined for many people, but it’s necessary.
You know, it’s funny – the tools we call internet were somewhat my enemy, back when life was regular, so now I’m ironically in the opposite situation and forcing a new mindset. So now, I totally agree that the internet has allowed us to stay in touch whilst isolated, which is important.
It’s quite a bad feeling that we can’t go on tour, but we have to stay sectioned. That time will come. We’re hoping to hit the road in September. We hope to see what the situation holds in a few months; hopefully this pandemic will be just about cleared up. So yeah, I’ve just been using the situation, we all have, to practice and reconnect with old hobbies.
You know, since my life has slowed down a bit, maybe I can have a look and have a think about some new songs… (gives a few seconds for thoughtful pause). Yeah. Definitely.
You mentioned hobbies? What other things have you been using lately aside from music, to keep yourself occupied?
I’m quite a historical guy, so I’ve been reading a lot of history books that I now have a chance to. I’m also a big collector, I like to collect a lot of World War memorabilia, symbols, stuff like that. So I just follow that up, as well as the cleaning. (There is an extended sigh here, potentially at the thought of said chores).
Sounds like you may have some material there for future lyrics, which is something that’s noticeable across the Vader discography, i.e. war and its’ impacts.
Yes, sure, it absolutely has an impact. They’re not directly impacted by historical events, however – we’re not, say, Sabaton. We’re generally speaking to war and chaos and the effect of those in our lyrics. I generally prefer to write in a way that creates stories, uses symbols and that’s generally how Vader has kept, lyrically.
But especially more recently, I can focus on my emotions, what I like; this has been how I’ve preferred to speak to fans and songs for years. Decades ago, as a teenager, it was a lot more straightforward, more direct. Then, today, things have taken on a much more symbolic meaning you know? I’m more focused on a deeper meaning than just trying to show off aggression in the lyrics.
That’s a trend quite a few have noted as a change over time, and to good effect. I’ve personally enjoyed the thematic change.
I definitely have, too. I am speaking more from the heart and not just the mind than before.
Speaking of lyrics, it’s a little ironic that the album coincided with COVID-19 with the title ‘Solitude in Madness’, I must say.
And I must agree with what you say! Surprisingly, we’ve only had one or two people accuse me of trying to profit off that title (laughs). Honestly, it was a line I used from ‘Bones’, the final track on the album. It was more a case of personal feelings and came to me long before Coronavirus began to take hold over humanity.
You guys had already finished production and were wrapping up things late 2019, I saw?
Actually, yeah. We had started back in late 2018. Well, we were ready to enter the studio anyway. Some situations arose, things happened, so we had to delay the sessions and later on, the release date. Another reason this title is coincidental. We started collecting songs here and there and used it like recordings for the final master, which led to the final situation of our release date in May, 2020.
I’ve had a few listens – okay, not going to lie, I’ve had a lot of listens of ‘Solitude in Madness’ already. Off the back of ‘Dark Age’, its’ clear you guys aren’t slowing down or in fact are getting even more brutal, at a length of time that sees most bands quitting or slowing down. What keeps you and your bands’ longevity and stamina for the music going?
Exactly right. Same with touring. We still do it and we still love it. There are two main factors – the first is the fans, the second being we just absolutely love music. That’s why play metal music, because it’s what we do best and it’s how we can best express ourselves. Another factor is it’s a job, and a job we’re lucky to have, to be able to focus on making music and creativity.
So for example, now we’re not touring, we’ve got extra time for practice and creativity, both of which we don’t slow down on. I can also spend time sharing information to the media, promotion, exactly like we’re doing right now. We chose this path many years ago, in the 80s, and it’s just ongoing development of what we’ve always been doing. Vader is just it, Vader, and we have huge respect for the next generation of fans, so it’s not like we’re not going to be active. We’re not guys who will take a huge break and make a big fuss about a comeback. This situation is very grounding, for ourselves as a band, and people in general. It’s very easy to get caught in an unreal online world, so it’s been grounding for me, definitely.
Sounds like, with the amount you guys are busy and touring, you’d both have a bit of itchy feet but also seem content to be at home. Seems like you’ve been able to take a step back and change gears.
Well, we have to, you know? There’s only one way for the music industry and the world to get back on track, and that’s to follow directives and kill this pandemic. Stay isolated for a while and let this thing just fucking die. If you avoid it and you avoid contact, it’ll naturally start to disappear.
It’s hard for me, as an artist and person that loves to go outside, go for walks, meet with fans. I love to meet with people in flesh. The bad news and the simple fact is, if we want to kill it, we have to keep in touch online for now.
Great attitude to have. It sounds like you have a lot of resolve in general. Something that would be needed for such a long run in the death metal scene. How do you feel about where the band sits in a death metal scene in 2020, with a resurgence of new and progressive-leaning bands?
The scene is very healthy! It is great to see so many progressive and traditional new death metal bands. Compared to the 80s and 90s, the overall variety is enormous. For me, death metal is a style, and we’re happy to have our own nice in that style, you know? If you’re challenging changing that style completely, that’s great, but that’s not really what Vader is about. Other people might hate that, but you know what? You can’t satisfy 100% of people all the time.
A good explanation for what I mean for you in Australia, is AC/DC. They have a style they began, kept doing and while yes, they kept developing and evolving, they were happy to keep within their own unique sound instead of trying to reinvent everything. I mean, if they suddenly tried to do stoner metal out of nowhere, sure, but they wouldn’t be at their absolute best I’d say. I don’t know. For us, we do what we do – the world is changing so fast around us all the time, but we stick true to ourselves and what works for us.
Vader, for fans that joined us in the last two decades, is just this fast, brutal, old school death metal band, and I think they and the older fans both appreciate that. We just wanted to develop naturally and enjoy ourselves. It wouldn’t please us to suddenly try to be progressive or the latest thing that’s trending. There are enough bands doing that and carrying that flag. We carry our own flag, the flag of Vader. One we hope to carry for a long, long time.
'Solitude In Madness', the 16th album by polish death metal legends Vader is out May 1st via Nuclear Blast! Pre-order on iTunes HERE.