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Sacred and ancient her images of what he was enshrined upon her wall
A picture of beauty and perfection
Halo vividly backing a man of such flawlessness
Lusting eyes easily attracting the whore. . .

Laying in her bed, mind drifting to her own self-consumed fantasy
What has he done to deserve her, not even daddy can take her here
Glassy slitted eyes wander across the fading wallpaper
Absorbing visions of a large wooden crucifix and the picture of her lord
She loves the picture of her lord. . .

"This cross took his life," she thinks in perverted passion her fingers
caress the swollen pink lips that were made for her Jesus. . .

- from the song "Made For Her Jesus"

METAL UPDATE: Could you explain to me what's going on with the lyrics on 'God Was Created' for someone who hasn't had the privilege of reading them? You guys seem to have one hell of a beef with Jesus.

JOHN CHAVEZ: Who doesn't? I don't know! (laughs) You can build your own kingdom without the crap in the bible. You don't have to abide by those type of rules to make your own successful lifestyle. Have control of your life, that's basically the whole moral of the story. It's a horror story. It's a ten song horror story spun off the first song, "Made For Her Jesus". Nathan later on will be releasing an mp3 and web interview. I'll have that on the website and email it out. The story is really long, he'll explain it more clearly.

MU: Nathan, your vocalist, wrote all the lyrics, right?

JC: Yeah, he wrote all the lyrics.

MU: Was it based on anything?

JC: It was based off of the first song. He just spawned off a bunch of characters. He just wrote a horror story, I guess like any writer would. He listens to King Diamond, and all this weird other stuff, and reads books like Aleister Crowley and Stephen King. So, he writes some weird stuff.

MU: Well I enjoyed it because I'm into theme albums.

JC: I'll probably make a DVD out of it. I have my heart set on video production, so we'll see where that will take me. I realize it will be costly, so give me two years.

MU: Who's Evil Dave and what's your connection with him.

JC: Evil Dave is from Austin, TX. He had a parlor - doing tattoos and paintings and stuff. He drew three pieces of artwork for the CD. Underneath the CD - that piece is called "The Lord's Work" and it has kind of Ed Gein influences. If you pick up the Ed Gein DVD it's the exact same scenario as that picture. Behind the front cover - that painting deals with "She Never Noticed Me" and "I Must Not Live". The back of the front cover was supposed to be on the front, but someone screwed up the cell or whatever. Our album is banned by SPV in Germany, but most of our fans are from Sweden and Germany, so they figured out how to get the album anyway. We're just trying to get Evil Dave recognized. He's a very new artist.


MU: So your album is selling well in Europe?

JC: Yeah, I heard we're selling 200 CD's a week. That's pretty decent compared to some other albums selling a million CD's a day or something like that. (laughter) My goal is to sell over 15,000, so I'm not going to rest until then.

MU: Could you give me a little band history.

JC: Nathan created the name in 1995. He and Scott Wiegand, the ex guitarist, both started in high school years. They wanted to start an atmospheric death metal band in the vein of early Pyogenesis and Cathedral. They gained Bjorn Dannov, the other guitarist, with his influences like Carcass and Gorefest. The thing about Bjorn is that he used to write songs when he was fifteen just as good as he does now, but the problem is that you don't really have any guidance at age fifteen. But anyway, they gained Mark and Andy from a punk band called Mistaken Identity. They went to a party [where the band was playing] and realized the drums were all double bass and they figured that would be a good addition to the band. So the basic five members recorded a demo in 1998, and they played their first national show with Suffocation. That's where I saw them and I became friends with Bjorn. Later on, Scott Wiegand quit shortly after 'The Thoughts From Which I Hide' recording in November '99. I joined right in January 2000 - I figured I could help them with web design and promotion. I was already in a band called Brides of Christ. We had a Nuclear Blast connection, but that fell through because they didn't want to get signed and the band was on hiatus. They wanted to be independent, and I didn't want to go that way.

MU: So did you stop playing with them immediately?

JC: I just went astray and didn't really tell them what happened. I didn't really call them anymore. It's pretty gay because some of the material was some of the best stuff I ever heard. Shortly after all of that, I was with them in the studio during the 'The Thoughts From Which I Hide' sessions before I joined. Then I hopped on the computer and started making graphics for them, and started to become more of a band member - involved - learning about business. Then we just kept on writing songs for a new album. "Made for her Jesus" was created around November '99, that's the first song off of 'God Was Created'. The lyrics spawned a whole concept off of that starting from back then. So, it was two years in the process of making 'God Was Created'. Then we had to do that little fifteen date west coast tour to get the experience of touring. We went through Texas, Seattle, California, the whole triangle thing. That helped us with good word of mouth, and for Metal Blade - that was shortly after Metal Blade discovered us in summer 2001, so we got our asses out and toured and spread good word of mouth, and here we are today I guess.

MU: You guys just did a tour, right?

JC: Yeah, we just did a tour with Incantation, Decapitated, Impaled and Dead to Fall.

MU: Cool, how'd that go?

JC: Oh, that went pretty good. We had very good vibes with Decapitated and Incantation. Kyle Severn the drummer, he was the tour manager for the whole thing, and he helped us out in our experience. Nathan Gearhart did "Mandatory Suicide" with Decapitated every night, and that was pretty cool for us because that got us a little more fan base and more recognition. So, we thank them for letting us do that. Impaled - they taught us how to blow fire. Dead to Fall had that At the Gates type sound, they are a metal band that is on Victory Records, same situation as with Darkest Hour. That tour went pretty smoothly considering it was booked three weeks before it started.

MU: Cool, was that the first time you've been out to the East Coast?

JC: Yeah, it was the first time.

MU: Did you find it to be any different than the West Coast?

JC: No, not really. I guess there was more excitement for us over there [East Coast] - more fans. I would think that the middle of the United States is way different than both sides.

MU: Do you have any good tour stories?

JC: Incantation dropped off the tour around Laredo, TX because they couldn't afford to go any longer after their breakdown for the extra two shows in California. For a going away present we pulled a little prank on them. We took this blow up doll - it had an old denim 80's jacket that we made for it with old Metallica and SOD patches on it. We ended up tying it underneath the van with some duct tape, and they drove with it all the way to the border. The border patrol stopped them and searched them because they saw that and they thought it was a body or something. It was a good sick joke.

MU: So you're from Phoenix?

JC: Phoenix, AZ.

MU: How old are you guys?

JC: I'm 20. I just turned 20. The rest of them are 22 to 24.

MU: So you're the youngest guy in the band then?

JC: Yeah.

MU: How do you think the band has changed since you joined?

JC: I guess that it was a little bit more basic. It was low budgeted, so we couldn't layer as many guitars as we do now. 'God Was Created' was more of my influences versus Bjorn's influences, and we taught the rest of the band our songs. Bjorn and I are the songwriters. Nathan wrote all the lyrics. I guess our sound is changing more due to the influences. Bjorn's starting to get more skillful. I'm starting to get more skillful. I guess we're adding influence from some of these new bands like like Symbiosis, Embraced, Mutant, Ill-Disposed, A Canorous Quintet - all these unheard of bands that we listen to. It just makes a lot of unheard of music. We just try to write stuff that flows. Basically, I used to be in the brutal death metal scene with my other band Divaricated. That was something I wanted to do - to have my brutal death metal side. That fell through and I guess I have influences from that which I throw into Vehemence, and I throw some Brides of Christ influences in there from my other band.

MU: Sounds interesting.

JC: There are different types of music we are influenced by in metal and in non-metal bands. Bjorn listens to Testament, Gorefest and Carcass but he also listens to And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Sunny Day Real Estate - emo bands. He still writes the same, and I can see the song structures in those type of bands and I guess that's what makes it flow too. It's funny - like I hear good and bad words about that, but it's people that are speaking the truth though when they describe us. What's up with Vehemence? There's a skater in the band, which is Andy. There's Nate, a long haired dude who says funny stuff in between songs. There's a long hair dude that head bangs, does windmills. And there's some emo guy, and then there's just Jason the keyboardist.

MU: Yeah, it definitely looks like you have a diverse group of people in the band.

JC: It's not going to look like we're Dimmu Borgir or nothing like that. I would like to be a part of something like that later on though. Bands that put effort in their stage act is what I personally like the most.

MU: But whatever you look like, the product is definitely metal. Tell me your thoughts on American metal vs. European metal, and tell me where Vehemence fits in.

JC: I think we fit in the Swedish metal or Danish metal scene and we have to be moved there immeditaly. (laughs) Americans respect brutal death metal, black metal is very common here but nobody really knows the majority of bands that come from Europe here. So you get a little more praise for your typical Cannibal Corpse fan. There's only a good barrier, Cradle, Gwar, Dimmu. . . those are the ones who have the gimmicks, the ones that are hyped here. I I guess Europeans are a little more advanced in what they see over there. They have different types of bands - more tours and fests going around every year. Americans are just now starting to see that stuff coming around and I think they're starting to appreciate more melodic death metal type bands.

MU: So you definitely feel you fit in Euro style bands?

JC: Yeah. Around the Denmark area - the Ill-Disposed area - where they're used to that. Brutal death metal on top of melodic death metal.

MU: Right, because even though you are melodic, you are definitely brutal. I've seen you compared to Opeth, and frankly from my point of view that's the only band I can really come up with to compare you to. Is that just a coincidence? Or are they an influence on you guys?

JC: I had just gotten into Opeth when Metal Judgment said something about it. . I picked up some of their CD's and said, "Woah, there you go, there's another band that sounds like us." I mean, of course we say that because we just got into it, and there's several other bands where it's like, "Oh crap, that riff's already made." I see some similarities with the song structures and they use the same drumbeats sometimes. But lucky us that we have that same type of vibe. I understand when people say Opeth, not the soft songs, but the heavier parts in their songs. I think they sound like Gorguts to me - Gorguts with Cynic. That's the way Opeth sounds to me, cause Gorguts have the deep vocals that sound like him, and the Cynic stuff, maybe the old Cynic, not the new Cynic, the 1993 shit.

MU: Your new album is getting a lot of good press. How are you guys taking it? Getting big egos or anything? Taking it in stride?

JC: I'm just trying to comprehend it all and to keep up with the media. I'll just go through all the search engines. I'll call the label up. I'll try to get every single person who's ever listened Vehemence in my fan database. So, most of my time goes to that. I take hours and days just sitting on the computer trying to find that type of stuff. That's the whole key. It's a business and you have to appease everybody who likes your music - just got to make sure they're not forgotten fans with interest or anything.

MU: Right on. So how did Metal Blade find you guys?


JC: Through word of mouth. There's this one guy who works at Chilis that knows Ray Alder from Fates Warning. Those two were the good word of mouth. Then Mark's father gave our first album 'The Thoughts From Which I Hide' CD to him, and that's basically how it happened. Then they just wanted to see how we do on tour and we hopped on a little tour that fell apart. We were the headlining band after that and went successful anyways. We decided not to go down and to just get it over with.

MU: How long is your contract for?

JC: I think we'll be around for another four years on that label. That's fine though because most of the bands out - Immolation, Nile - it took them five years to get where they are.

MU: Is it overwhelming to be on Metal Blade with their storied history, and all those great bands?

JC: Yeah, I totally didn't believe that we were professional enough in the beginning to be on this label. I feel they took a chance on us. I knew that being on a much smaller label wouldn't be good enough, and I'd be trying to push for a bigger label. We didn't have any connections to any other labels before this one, it just happened. You start small and get bigger and bigger as you trek along and become more professional.

MU: It sure seems like you lucked out. So you recorded at Saltmine Studios. I was wondering where that is, and why you recorded there.

JC: Saltmine is in Mesa, AZ. Soulfy, Megadeth, Marty Friedman have done albums there. They bring their own producers. We didn't bring our own producer for the album. Therefore, that's why I could say our album could always be better, because we didn't' have a producer for the recording part. We had Juan Urteaga. Juan is from Trident Studios in Pacheco, CA. So with the producer's guidance, they know what to do, they know how to fix it up. Metal Blade knows a lot of producers and they always try to hit us up with different names. I think this time we'll listen to them. We brushed Metal Blade's connections aside at first. We didn't want to work with those people yet because we had some friendly favors we needed to accomplish. We're happy with the album, with what it sounds like. There wasn't like a time where it was like, "Oh, maybe we could have done this and it could have sounded better because of that." That option wasn't even there. The people working on it were the people working on it. Plus we did make our own personal layout's of the songs at a home computer before going to the studio.

MU: How do you think it sounds compared to your previous recordings?

JC: Well now that we have the budget to do more in the studio like layering guitars and vocals, our music will sound more explosive. It takes a lot of time to think of new studio tricks and test them out. I realize this. . . think of the Metallica Black album or something. We've all seen in that video they released "A Year and a Half in the life of. . ." - the Black album was a million dollar record. Aside from snare breakings and joking around and stuff, I could see how it could cost a million dollars. When you produce an album with 6 members talking about their opinions all at once then you see there's too many cooks in the kitchen.

MU: Do you have plans to hit the road again?

JC: We've been offered several tours - the key is to get a van for these tours - big tours, like this year we have been offered the Opeth, Nile, Strapping Young Lad, Napalm Death tour "but The Berzerker got that one". . . all these different types of tours and we can't do them until we get a van. We might have something in December 2002 with Testament, we will wait and see.

MU: Is the label going to help you get a van?

JC: Yeah, they're helping us get the van.

MU: It would be good so you can get out and be mobile, you know?

JC: Yeah, at least four times a year.


review of Vehemence 'God Was Created'

"God Was Created" from 'God Was Created'






Interview: Jeffrey Schaefer [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]

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