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 Worlds 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 Cultures 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.
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.
it seems to me that its 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.
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 Browns 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 worlds 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 dont we learn
from our past? Is the lack of education partly responsible for religious
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.
guess its 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
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
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