Virgin Steele


Visions of Eden, August 2006
Questions by Claudia Ehrhardt

Your last releases were based on Greek mythology. What was the inspiration to write Visions Of Eden? To turn to another part of history / mythology?

David DeFeis: No not really. The inspiration was to raise questions and get people discussing Life, Spirituality and the true origins of the World’s „organized“ religions. I was thinking about why the World is in such terrible shape. I began thinking that if you want to understand a Culture, you must include having a look at that Culture’s creation myths. For even if you do not believe in a certain religion, the concepts and attitudes of the said religion do filter down through all the various layers of Society, and you are more often than not still affected by the concepts in that religion. I took a longer look at the myth of Adam & Eve and further realized what an unfortunate story it is. It makes Women out to be these vile, evil beings that must be punished for all Eternity. I knew from my research into Paganism, that this was not always the case. I knew that in certain Pagan Societies in various parts of the World, a Goddess was revered, and Women were afforded great status. I then began to explore how the Great Goddess once worshipped in so many places, was turned into the Terrible Mother. I found that the myth of Adam and Eve, is just another piece of propaganda in a long series of ancient slanders against the idea of the Feminine Divine.

The sub-title - A Barbaric Romantic Movie Of The Mind - indicates that the story is one to visualize. Do you plan to bring it to stage like The House Of Atreus? Did you had this in mind from the very beginning? Or did it just turned out like this?

David DeFeis: Yes that is correct! I have already done that. It was presented onstage in a Theatrical production, in Southern Germany. There were already over 50 performances of it. I would like to see the Work as a film one day. I have a massive amount of music that all relates to the concept, so a film could be quite Epic! I also called it a „Barbaric-Movie Of The Mind“, because everything that happens in the Work takes place in the mind of a certain 21st Century modern day woman, as she is going through a rape ordeal.

The story is complex and based on Gilgamesh, but there are parallels to other ancient religions resp. Goddess figures. How long did you work on the story? I guess you first had the story, so how much time do you spend on writing lyrics and music?

David DeFeis: Yes it is complex, it might have some parallels, but it is not based on Gilgamesh. It is based on all Goddess figures. They may have gone by different names, but the primordial idea is always essentially the same. The story, the lyrics, and the music were all written over about a three year period. I did not only work on those 11 songs found on the new album! I was writing a massive box set of music. I composed well over 60 songs for this album. I originally wanted it to be a double or a triple CD! I actually composed the majority of the music first. I did have various „scenes“ that I wanted to describe, and I described them more in musical terms first, and then finalized more of the lyrics as I came to understand more & more of what each scene might be able to emphasize.

The story is based on the beginning of mankind, but you say it reflects today's world. Was there any particular situation that made you decide to reflect today's society?

David DeFeis: Everything! The entire situation in the Middle East, the events of September 11th... All that is occurring in the newspapers of the world today, and more specifically, what I have direct relationships to in my Life.

Was it different to work on the music this time, coz this is an ancient story which somehow is reflecting today's world? To build a musical bridge between the past and today?

David DeFeis: No it was not anymore difficult than other albums have been. I find it sometimes difficult to begin a project. But once I do begin and I am starting to come up with more & more ideas, concepts, etc., I then have the complete opposite problem. I do not know how to stop! I find it very difficult to turn off the flow of ideas. That is why I now have 60 pieces of music to find a home for.

Partly it seems to me that it’s less ‚metal‘, but still heavy and powerful. Some parts sound progressive and seems to be based on classical compositions - as far as I can say... Is this development based on your experience with the theater productions where you worked with an orchestra?

David DeFeis: That all depends on what your definition of Metal is. But yes it is powerful and heavy. To me Metal/heaviness is an attitude and is about the „weight“ of the music in question. For me it is not about how loud the guitar is, or how pounding the drums are. Some music is full of "sound & fury, signifying nothing". The Metal is in the phrasing, the chords, the melodies, the tonal shifts of the music. And of course the passion... the intent.
Yes we have always been „progressive“ in the true sense of the meaning of the word... forward thinking. And yes again there is a classical music quality to many of the songs, but no this is not due to my working with an orchestra in the theatrical productions, as I did not work with an orchestra for those productions. I had orchestrated everything myself. It would have been nice to work with an orchestra, but no... I have not yet had that experience. The classical side of things comes from my upbringing, my exposure to such kinds of music growing up, and from my training.

The focus is always on you and sometimes it looks like a one-man-show... So how much influence did the other band members have on the songs?

David DeFeis: If someone comes to a VIRGIN STEELE concert they will see a "band" of brothers in action. Every member is equally important on that stage.
No, they did not contribute to the songwriting process on this album. On previous albums I also have composed the majority of the music, so this is nothing new to the VIRGIN STEELE way of working. I do enjoy writing songs with Edward, and we have done some really nice work together on other releases, but he and I never managed to get together to finish anything for this album. I can assure you that we will write together in the future, and I can honestly tell you that he is extremely happy with the songs on the new album. He has said to me, "Dave these are the finest songs that you have ever composed“. He has also expressed to me that he thinks this album is more focused than any of the previous ones, because I did all the composing/arranging, etc. myself.
Frank Gilchriest our drummer also shares those same sentiments. They know that the door is always open to them. If they want to write a song with me I am available to them. I am sure it will happen from time to time. It is all a matter of arranging our schedules amidst the chaos of our individual lives.

It seems that these days more people think that the Bible left out things and that the organized religions formed their version of the past to fit to their dogma. Partly due to the popularity of Dan Brown‘s The DaVinci Code... Visions Of Eden are also showing a different story... What do you think makes it so interesting?

David DeFeis: It is good that some people are becoming aware of the „agenda“ of many religions, and are thinking more about the elements that were discarded from the whole. If one comes to understand the real origins of the world’s religions, I believe there would be more unity today than division. People would see that we are all seeking the same divine spark; each in our own way. It is appealing because it is like a great detective story, a „Whodunit“! We all want to know the „truths“ about our existence, and by having a look at the real origins of these stories we can get closer to our fundamental sameness, while celebrating our wonderful individual uniqueness. All these stories, the dogma we are lead to believe today, have long and deep roots in the earlier Pagan & Gnostic Cultures. The Vatican itself remember... was built on top of an older Pagan temple.

Religion, the spreaded dogma and fanatism caused a lot of harm lately. Well, it always did, but today we see it on TV and not just read about it in some history book. Why don‘t we learn from our past? Is the lack of education partly responsible for religious fanatism?

David DeFeis: Yes I believe so. Also because so many concepts in these religions are made to seem so true, but they are not. These groups fight to preserve the outer trappings of an idea of which the inner meaning encoded in the original tale is lost. What is left is an echo of an idea, a form without meaning blindly followed for a forgotten purpose, or never fully understood to begin with. If the myths, legends, stories were revealed for what they are... allegories for spiritual development, there would be greater understanding of all the various religious ideologies.

Different topic: 2006 is the bands 25th anniversary. Are their any plans for a special anniversary release? A DVD? Or something else to celebrate this?

David DeFeis: Not yet... we shall see. I do want to issue a live album as soon as possible, and a DVD. I would like to do a DVD from the historical perspective. I wish to compile a huge Work that would encompass many sides of the Group.

The theater productions surely would have interested many more fans of Virgin Steele, but not everybody could see the theater production. Have you recorded some shows? Will there be a DVD one day of this productions?

David DeFeis: Yes I have some of those shows recorded and I would include a segment about them, so that those who were not there could understand what went on.

I guess it‘s too early to talk about touring, but I think you sooner or later will hit the stages of the world. After 25 years you have tons of material, beside promoting the new album, how will you choose the songs for the set?

David DeFeis: Yes we are in the planning stages as we speak. We will choose songs for the Set based on how we have always chosen them. We try everything in rehearsals, and play what sounds & feels the best at a given time. We also prepare many more songs than we can actually play in one night, so that we can change the Set List a bit from night to night.

A few years ago Iced Earth toured alone - Horrorshow tour - and presented a long set split up into different eras of the band. They also used some visual effects to support the music. Have you thought about something similar? That would give you more stage time.... And would be perfect to do a live album and DVD....

David DeFeis
: I had not heard about what they did. But that is a good idea. We too would prefer to tour alone so that we could present as much of the catalogue as possible. We do intend to make each performance as special as it can be.

The music business changed through the years and more bands are now trying to catch the fans attention. One tool these days is MySpace where VS have an official space, too. What do you think about MySpace?

David DeFeis: It is nice to have it. It reaches a different set of people, and can be helpful.

Internet and communities like MySpace become more important for a band every day. Is it easier these days? Or even harder, coz the competition is huge? And have the new media effected your way of working?

David DeFeis: It is perhaps more difficult because there are so many bands all vying for attention. I am involved in all the different methods of communication, from e-mail, to blogs, to Official web site postings, to doing telephone interviews, video interviews, CD/audio interview, and even normal postal mail, so my list of things to do each day gets a bit longer.

Thanks a lot for taking time to answer my questions! I hope to see you on tour soon and all the best for the album!

Thanks very much. Cheers, and thank you for your Belief & Support!!!
By The Black Sun & Moon

David DeFeis, Claudia Ehrhardt

Photos: Matthias Handreck