Being in a band for 20 years is no easy task. Any act that manages to stay together this long will undoubtedly deal with hard times, fucked up situations with the music business, and ultimately question their ability and influence within a drastically flooded marketplace. The key things to remember in these circumstances are the bonds you have with your fellow musicians, and the magic you can make together if you remember why you got involved with music to begin with. Music is a curious art form and a vehicle for self-expression that can change with time, but don’t tell that to one-hit wonder lovers.
Not unfamiliar with the wrath of hardcore purists or label runarounds, Long Island’s Vision Of Disorder has seen the best and worst of this crazy industry. After a legendary EP, a tumultuous ride on the major label rollercoaster, and a few years of outside projects and reunion shows, the quintet has heeded the call of long time fans and attacked a derivative metal scene to unleash one of 2012’s best records to date, The Cursed Remain Cursed that dropped on 9/18, and it’s been WAY too long! Texturally full and still heavy as ever, V.O.D.’s return to their roots with their new musical offering will delight metal and hardcore fans across the world, so make sure to grab a copy or 3 when it hits.
Set to perform at this year’s East Coast Tsunami Fest, hopefully before a long and successful touring cycle, one should expect some massive sing-a-longs, bulldozer pile-ons, and a whole lot of catharsis when they hit the stage. I managed to get in contact with bass player Michael Fleischmann (Thanks, Twitter!) prior to the album release to discuss the band’s long legacy, the new record and inspiration behind the songs, the state of L.I. hardcore, and their new label, Candlelight Records.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! First of all, it’s fucking great to have you guys back and we can’t wait for the shows coming up! You guys are heading to London soon for a quick 2-date run this weekend… Why did you decide to cross the pond for the album debut?
MF- Our label, Candlelight Records, is based out of the UK- so it seemed like the proper way to kick things off since they are responsible for bringing this record into existence. The shows were excellent!
G- Yea I saw footage on Youtube… Looked wild! One of the coolest things about Vision Of Disorder is that it’s still the same 5 guys playing music together. You guys took an extended break in 2002, but so many bands have revolving doors at their practice spaces. You guys are all still making it happen together. How is the bond between you all and how have you managed to make it work all these years?
MF- We are very aware that each member is a vital part of what makes this band work- trying to put out a record with various guys just wouldn’t cut the mustard for us. We have always made sure to put our friendships first and we remained close even throughout our hiatus. We are a family.
G- Right on. Take heed, kids! If you would, please tell us a bit about the new tunes, and what the inspiration was behind the music and lyrics. Is there an intended or implied message in any of the songs, or do they function as a response to anything currently happening?
MF- When we got together and started writing music again, everything fell into place easily. We had no expectations other than to get back to writing some aggressive music. I know Tim really had a lot of personal experiences and growth to inspire him lyrically.
G- The Cursed Remain Cursed has really nice tone and was mixed very well, whereas the Still 7” was, you know, a hardcore record, and the self-titled was sonically off the wall by comparison. How often would you go into the studio to tweak and perfect the songs, and how do you compare the new release with the sound quality on your other recorded output?
MF- Well let’s put things in perspective. The Still 7” was recorded in someone’s living room. The producer of our self-titled album was chosen by Roadrunner records. We were all about 20 years old or less, we grew up listening to their roster, so we put a lot of trust and faith into their choice. We were never happy with the sound of that record. Roadrunner would not spend a penny to get the thing remixed and they owned it- so what could we do?
For this new record, we were lucky enough to work with (Will and Cameron)whom we really could trust, that understood our band, and they really knocked it out of the park.
G- Yes they did… It sounds phenomenal! So, I spoke with Karl from Vehement Serenade/Earth Crisis the other day, and he said that you guys would play the Rocky theme when there was a fight in the crowd, which is hilarious, and an awesome way to mellow people out.
V.O.D has (obviously) had to deal with altercations between fans and security in the past… Do you guys still handle issues with the crowd/security the same way?
MF- We try to ignore fights. We used to stop playing whenever a fight would break out, but why let those jerks ruin the show. As long as there is adequate security to take care of the situation, the show must go on. There are plenty of others there to have a good time and they paid their hard earned money to see us.
G- Right on. Now, I remember with the self titled came out, you toured forever, played your asses off, made a ton of new fans, and came home flat broke. How have your experiences shaped your approach to being in a band, and can you mention some of the pitfalls to avoid?
MF- Keep your eye on your money and stay away from drugs! We never had the right guidance when it counted- we were young and very inexperienced. I don’t know if we ever made one right decision back then and we are lucky we made it home alive.
G- Sound words of advice… Much appreciated, Michael! So, you guys are on Candlelight Records now. Can you tell us a bit about how this partnership came into play, and why it was a good fit for V.O.D at this time?
MF- Darren Toms from Candlelight was a fan of the band. He heard the song “The Enemy” we released last year and it caught his ear. Right away we knew it was right, because Candlelight wanted us to make a “V.O.D.” record… They wanted nothing else but us to be us. That was the only time we have ever experienced that. They put a lot of faith in us after being away for 10 years.
G- Since you are playing a few shows in London prior to E.C.T. in Reading, Pa., how does your international fan base and responses at shows abroad compare with your performances at home?
MF- We are always surprised by the response we get when we go anywhere. The fact that people still remember us and these songs is crazy. Our older material usually does better at home since we have a lot of fans that have been following us since before our first record. Which is crazy to think about, too.
G- Can you describe what is your writing process was like for this album, and how does it compare with the writing and structuring of your previous works? Who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
MF- We all write music for this band- you bring a riff to practice and let Brendon take over. If it sounds good, we keep it and work from there. Tim handles all of his lyrics and vocals- he knows what he is doing so we try to have minimal involvement in his process.
G- Very cool. So, every V.O.D. show that I have seen to date, starting on 11/26/95, has been a war zone, but I’ve only seen you perform in Syracuse, NY… Can you tell us what is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
MF- We played one show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ that stands out. They had these pipes that were above the crowd and Tim ordered everyone to hang from them. Needless to say, they exploded and black mucky liquid starting shooting out all over everyone while we were playing.
G- Yikes. Gross, dude. If you could pick 3 other bands to play a single show or tour with, in addition to V.O.D., what would be the ideal show be for you personally, and are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
MF- We have been lucky enough to get to tour with a lot of the bands we grew up listening to. Black Sabbath, Pantera, Slayer, Anthrax, Sepultura, and now we are heading down to Australia for the Soundwave fest and Metallica is playing. I guess that leaves us with the Beatles and Zeppelin!
G- (laughing) Well, Hot DAMN on the first part, and good luck on the other two!
Lastly, from ups and downs and everything else, you guys have done some brilliant shit in the music world, and you have a lot of young fans out there that want to do exactly what you’re doing. What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere that want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
MF- Enjoy the experience! Have as much fun as you can, and be careful! It’s a jungle out there!