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Interview With Virgin Steele...

Virgin Steele is an heavy metal band from New York, originally formed in 1981.
The band released a few career highlights albums (Noble Savage, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II and Invictus).
In recent years, they have enriched their sound with elements of musical theatre, progressive and symphonic metal.

Here is an interview with David DeFeis (he is the main composer and leader of the band).

Hi, whats up and how is it hanging?

Cheers & hello to you…What’s up is the new album comes out this week and all is hanging pretty nicely at the moment.

Thatś sound great, looking forward to that album.
And for those who don´t know about you and your band, please do a short presentation.

We came together via the musical trade papers of the day.
I was going to college with a guy named Joe, who eventually became the bass player on the first few albums. What happened was I answered an advert in the local paper called “GOOD TIMES”.
The ad said something like… musicians seek singer for an upcoming tour planned…. (there WASN'T!) – but anyway…naturally, I was very intrigued.
Upon phoning the number in the ad, I spoke with a guitarist named, Jack.
We arranged to meet at a nearby rehearsal studio the next day.
I arrived on time, but there was nothing scheduled for us, as Jack had forgotten to book the time!
It was the typical musician first meeting chaos.
I suggested that he and the drummer, Joey Ayvazian come back to my place where I had all my gear set up, to afford them the opportunity to hear my singing and keyboard playing.
I played three songs for them, 'NO QUARTER', by LED ZEPPELIN, 'CHILD IN TIME', by DEEP PURPLE and 'CATCH THE RAINBOW', by RAINBOW.
They liked what they heard and asked me to join the band on the spot.
While I was interested, I had yet to hear them play.
I suggested that we jam together first, which we did a day or so later.
I thought that Jack and Joey were great, the same could not be said of their bass player, (in all fairness he had only been playing about 8 months at the time)…and therefore, I suggested my friend, Joe O.
They agreed that Joe was better than the guy that they were working with, ergo, he was in - their guy was out. And it is from these small beginnings that VIRGIN STEELE was born.
After rehearsing for about three weeks, we entered the studio to record what we thought would be only a demo - It was, in actuality, VIRGIN STEELE ONE.
The album was recorded mostly live in the studio, with very few overdubs.
The entire thing cost about $ 1,000 dollars and took about a week to record and mix.
As I mentioned earlier, we thought we were recording demos, but...We began sending our 'demo' out to all the various metal/rock magazines and fanzines.
They all liked it, and interest began to build.
The Fan mail started pouring in, and then, SHRAPNEL RECORDS president, Mike Varney called us.
That call was to inform us of his wish to include us in his US METAL, VOLUME II COMPILATION album.
The featured track was 'CHILDREN OF THE STORM', from VS “1”.
After the release of 'US METAL-II', the floodgates opened.
More people knew about us, more fans were writing, so we felt that we should press up the demo/album ourselves to see what would happen.
The first pressing of 5,000 copies sold out in a matter of weeks.
I sold many from the trunk of my car.
I drove boxes of VS “1” records to distributors all over the East Coast of the States (This was a great way to learn how the music business actually works!!!).
Before the second pressing of 5,000 sold out, we had several label offers.
Things looked great, we were sparking interest in record companies, and our fan mail was becoming more interesting.
Two letters in particular stand out, one from a young band who were from Seattle.
Their name was – QUEENSRYCHE, the other, from California, also a band, who went by the name of METALLICA.
The best offer from a record company came from an English label called, MUSIC FOR NATIONS.
We signed with them and were their very first release, MFN 1. METALLICA, WASP, MANOWAR and MERCYFUL FATE later joined us on this label.
It was a very exciting time, it was the New Wave of American and British Heavy Metal, and magazines like KERRANG and METAL FORCES in England were giving us great reviews.
In the USA, we began supporting many great bands like MOTORHEAD, KROKUS, and MANOWAR, with whom we later did a very enjoyable German tour in 1987.
And so it went for a couple of years…in 1984 we changed the guitar player.
We brought in my long time friend Edward Pursino, and he has been performing and recording with me ever since. In 1994 we brought in drummer Frank Gilchriest, and he remained with us until 2014, and in 2000 after a few other bass player changes we brought in Josh Block who has also remained in the band up to now. 

What a ride and story, glad that you shared it.
What do you think is the difference in the music from your early releases to your more present?
From the early days to now our music has grown and developed along several different lines.
We became more symphonic and orchestral on some records, and the dynamic range Increased to encompass everything from over the top bombast, to more gentle moments and darker somber tracks, as well as fast and aggressive songs.
And now we are giving free reign to the Bluesier side of what we do, what I call the “GOTHIC BLUES” sound….

Quite a change over the years then. And you have had some line-up changes through the years, how have that affected and inspire the band?
The old cliché’ holds true….”when one door closes…another door opens”.
Changes like that push you forward to develop more strings to your bow…another cliché’ but it is nevertheless true.

I see, and I can only agree to some of it from my perspective.
Can you tell us some more about the came back in 1993 and the 20th years anniversary in 2002.

1993 was the period of LIFE AMONG THE RUINS. (The album name that was released that year)
We had just fired our manager and we were building the band back up again, and that was the first release to put us back in the game.
We put the record out, toured Germany/Europe, and then went right back into the studio and made two of the classic albums in our Catalogue…1994’s THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL PART 1, and 1995 saw the release of THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL PART 2. 2001, saw the completion of THE HOUSE OF ATREUS ACT 2, and featured a very long tour of Europe.
Then in 2002, I completed what became the second METAL-OPERA that premiered in Germany, on the Theatrical Stage, and began writing what would be the third METAL-OPERA.
We also issued THE BOOK OF BURNING that year, and HYMNS TO VICTORY…and we also re-issued the very first two albums.
I for one think itś great that you did a comeback and still going stong.
Tell us a little of the new album “Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation” and tour plans.
Lyrically the album is related to my world…the madness of how I live and the people who I have relationships with…the wine…the Women… “NOCTURNES”, isn’t a concept album with a linear plot that you have to follow from point A to point B, C and on to Z..., like THE HOUSE OF ATREUS was, it is more a collection of songs that came together nicely & work well together, and have a thread or a through line which connect most of the songs.
The album mainly is about relationship issues and what happens when one person’s energy or sphere comes into contact with another person’s orbit, chemistry, sphere...and the resultant sparks that fly…It largely deals with the negative aspects of what I just mentioned.
It’s also about our connection with ourselves…our loves and hates…passions, obsessions…and the things that drive us on.
But it is not only about connections between people, but also places, and again ideas, desires…and all our complexities.
In addition the album is also about the connections between entities.... as in all sorts of beings, not necessarily human beings…but also Gods & Goddesses, Spirits, Elements, or whatever.
But to be brief the album is essentially about connections between people.
People and their belief systems, people and their "Gods"…people and their philosophies and also the various substances both chemical, medical and otherwise, that we inject into our daily or nightly rituals and our entire worldview, and all the madness of what drives us forwards & backwards, makes us who we are and takes us where we may…or quite possibly may not be going.
To sum it up this album is about.... the three o'clock in the morning sweats, and the dark night of the soul and all the various ways in which humans can entangle themselves, or destroy themselves…so the album's title explains what the attitude of the Work is all about.
Musically speaking the album features a nice combination of the various elements that some of our other albums had, from the aggressive to the dark, and moody…to the epic, the romantic, and the straight-ahead, plus it also contains as I mentioned above, this new element that has been creeping into my writing….what I call “GOTHIC BLUES” .
So we are still moving forward and developing.
I think itś sounds great and looking forward toward itś release.
Maybe you allso can explain what do you mean with that you play what you call "barbaric romanticism"?
I mean that we are inspired and in touch with the dark side and the aggressive side of music…what I call the “bones of the mountain” sound…A primitive, heavy quality, combined with some of the “mood” from 19th century “Classical” music…people like Chopin, Verdi & Wagner.
And we run the gamut from bombastic and barbaric to the more romantic and calmer…

I see, and you have many fantasy/mythological lyrics, what is so fascinating and inspiring about it in your opinion?
The Gods & Goddesses are all so very human, as they were made by humans in the same image…this is always interesting.
You have entities like Zeus running around lusting after every woman he sees…this can make for some very crazy situations.
I was brought up in a kind of Theatrical house where my Father was putting on Plays…Greek Tragedy, Shakespeare…etc. plus my other siblings were either involved with Classical music, Opera or Rock & Metal…I was inspired by it all.

Now I think the picture is clear and I for one understand your music, lyrics and band a little more. Before we end, please say some last words to my readers.
Greetings Readers…I wish you all the very best and I thank you most kindly for all your support, belief and enthusiasm….
David DeFeis
June 22, 2015



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