Armoury/Mystic Records Artist Votum Interview is up
1. For us new to Votum tell us a bit about the band?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: The band started in 2003 as a strictly heavy metal group. Before “Time must have a stop” the guys decided that it’s time for a change, hehe. They wanted to create something different, more complicated and emotional, but without losing the metal aggressiveness of their previous tracks. We started working on some new compositions classifying them, at that time, as experimental metal (being to atmospheric for metal and at the same time to brutal and not progressive enough for progrock or art rock).
The debut album “Time must have a stop” was released in Poland by Insanity Records in 2007 and after that with slightly changed cover art by Progrock Records world-wide. For the next two years we played lots of gigs (hundreds of places including publicly acclaimed Jarocin Festival, Artus Progrock Festival, Hunterfest and quite recently Inorock – with Anathema and Ozric Tentacles and Metal Hammer Fest with Korn, Opeth, Katatonia, Riverside, Pain of Salvation and Jurojin). We toured with such bands as Black River (featuring members of Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Vesania) or Unsun (ex-members of Vader, Inducti and Rootwater), we had dozens of gigs with plenty well-acknowledged amazing groups (f.e. Motorhead, Sabaton or polish jazz-rock stars VooVoo).
We were trying to promote our music everywhere possible and on the brink of 2010 we released our second album called “Metafiction”. The second piece was slightly more mellow and downbeat than its predecessor - showing a kind of our “softer side”. Right now we are preparing to hit the studio again - with have just started working on some material for the 3rd album.
2. So your working with Armoury Records now looks like Metafiction was original released by Mystic in Poland how did you come to work with Armoury?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: A bit of luck most probably. We were looking for a proper, well-established label having some specific criteria in mind (I don’t want to bore anyone with details, but one of such factors was for example quality of communication). Our experience shows that good contact with our partners and trust is essential to promote music. Sustainability and thinking ahead always benefits both sides.
3. Your music has a very Prog Rock meets Metal sound it sounds very much like a mix of Savatage, Dream Theater and Opeth all in one do these bands influence you at all?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: You can be inspired by almost everything – all it takes is to look around with your eyes open (not that easy though). We prefer to work with concepts and we try to craft emotions into music. I must admit it is hard to point out specific influences to what we do (perhaps too many of them?). We are often said or even accused of having lots of elements on our CDs similar to Opeth, Porcupine Tree or DT, but when Votum started neither I nor most of the guys knew of those bands’ grand achievements. (Well... perhaps not in detail, the general knowledge of their existence and their most popular works was in place). There are some tracks where Maciej’s voice makes our music similar to DT, but we are nothing like them in other aspects of what we play. I understand the need to categorise bands – it allows listeners to skip all the browsing through loads of crap in order to find something to their liking. Having that in mind I have to say: yes, we might be a little bit similar to ‘some-other-metal-meets-prog bands-out-there’. Just with a little twist.
4. What is a live show with Votum like is it hard to perform live what is on the release?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: Not really. We are well prepared to every show we perform. The most difficult part is to capture the feel and the atmosphere of the record, but we tend to manage that just fine. The best part is that the whole subtlety of „Metafiction” gains an immense amount of power when performed live. When taking into consideration our previous record we can mush up a pretty decent set for almost every type of audience - regardless of their music preferences.
5. There are some very mellow moments on Metafiction do you feel your Metallic side is leaving over the years?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: Not at all. We just had some specific concept in mind when working on this album. It most certainly does not mean that we are cutting off our Metal roots. We are beginning preparations for our next album and I assure you “there will be blood”.
6. Having only heard Metafiction . What does the early material sound like is it more aggressive?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: Slightly. Throughout the two albums you can find some strictly rockish ballad tracks (‘train back home’, ‘away’) a ballad-meets doom’ (‘indifferent’) , some ambient tracks (‘faces’), experimental with slight inclinations towards metal (‘hunt is on’, ‘time must have a stop’) or symphonic blend of metal with electronica (‘stranger than fiction’, ‘look at me now’) – the albums differ from each other and they sum up to what we want to be perceived as - “the unique Votum style”.
Overall ‘Time must have a stop’ is slightly more aggressive than ‘Metafiction’ but we haven’t said our last words yet.
7. http://www.votumband.pl/ is a very well done site most bands today live on myspace do you find this a mistake?,
Zbigniew Szatkowski:: Our web-site is rather a way of providing proper information on another channel . Myspace gives an amazing opportunity to promote you music and nowadays there’s no playing without it, but one should not settle for just one website. You should try to be as present in the media as possible. This starts with myspace, but it does not end there.
8. Votum seem to playing many large events do you prefer them over smaller shows?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: The more people the better, hehe. We absolutely love large scale events – the adrenaline is amazing. On the flipside there’s always trouble with managing big gigs: no time to make sure the gear is set up properly, other technical difficulties – these always play the most important part in such concerts, which is a shame, really. Being a musician is a job like every other and it would be fantastic not to have to worry about, say, the length of the soundcheck when you’re warming up before hitting the stage.
9. What is the experimental or prog metal scene in Poland like? Is there a lot of bands there or is it more Black and Death metal now?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: Currently, there are hundreds of band in every genre. It’s impossible to actually count how many bands of each style live somewhere in the underground. One thing is certain: progressive style begins to flourish. When we were starting only a couple of groups tried to play along the experimental lines. The really sad part is that marketing research shows that metal CDs sell even worse than for example classical music. I guess that should not be at all surprising, I personally know a couple of lads who can headbang to Mozart as furiously as to Burzum. And a moshpit during one of Bach’s Brandenburgian concerts must be a view to die for...
10. Where do you See Votum over the next few releases are you moving more into Atmospheres and Progressive element like you seem to be talking about?
Zbigniew Szatkowski::: It’s pretty difficult not to be defined as progressive when you have a 10 minute track every now and then, but we honest don’t know what will happen on the final version of the 3rd release. Every band member has some different inspirations and we will fight like lions to sneakily incorporate them in our music (without anyone knowing). We’ll see.
11. Is there a story or theme on Metafiction as the songs are so amazingly crafted?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: The plot is pretty well thought through. It is a story about a writer, who is on the verge of creating a masterpiece. It’s also a story about a mind being caught between the reality it creates and the reality that surrounds it – and the difficulty of telling them apart. Our main character driven mad by what he writes cannot bear the responsibility for the actions he describes. He decides to take the final step to wipe the blood that stains his hands (‘stranger than fiction’). The main part of the story is what happens after he takes that step. “Glassy Essence” gives an insight on the events that follow.
12. Any closing thoughts place here...
Zbigniew Szatkowski: Dear readers. You are the humanity’s last hope.
Eh... I’ll start again... less pretentious this time... Perhaps not humanity’s as such, but at least the part of humanity who had this persistent dream to create music for you. Support your favourite bands. These fellas spent lots of time to bring you something to listen to and you can return the favour by dropping by every now and then to see them live. That might actually sound like a public service announcement, but the truth is, that you are the reason they started what they do. Do see those guys on the stage. (and while you’re at it – come see Votum live, or at least check out what we do – that’s cool too!)
Thanks a lot!