Virgin Steele

Interview ...

8 November 2002


I wanted to do an interview with Virgin Steele to give more information to people who like me, already do know and love their music. I also wanted to do this as well, for those people who maybe don't yet know of them, or have not had any real opportunity to listen to this wonderful group. Virgin Steele has struggled- " and in fact has succeeded"- in keeping alive the Flame of good Metal in this world, (and maybe in other worlds as well). Yet ... I think they have not gotten the proper recognition they truly deserve, despite having demonstrated their deep musical capacity, their commitment and their love for what they do, for over two decades. Their great Frontman David DeFeis has put Soul, Heart and Life into this group with an enormous passion for our musical genre.

That's why I now want to invite you to really listen to Virgin Steele. If you once tried, and it didn't fill your veins, maybe you didn't really "listen", you only "heard", and that ... is something that happens to us often. We really don't give ourselves the time to digest something, we just hear it, and later discard it without knowing or realizing, that we are sadly missing out on stupendous emotions.

For people who haven't listened to them I recommend that you do! But ... listen please with your five senses (or more if you can). Listen with attention, and with heart, so you can discover a voyage steeped in a culture of ancient powers, mixed with music, passion, desire, hate and love. Discover stories without endings that are continuing in our times, with the MAGICK that VIRGIN STEELE carries ever onward in it's creations.

Close your eyes so you can see with your heart and listen with your senses - (soul) to what this wonderful Metal can give you: Culture, Passion and Fun in every sense of the word.

Yolanda Molina

First let me say sorry, if some of my questions seem a little indiscreet. I would like to apologize ahead of time. However, I do need to ask some rather pointed questions.

1. What influence did your siblings have on your decision making when you were young?

DAVID: We did not always agree on things. I generally followed my own path / pursuits / interests in Life. However, I was greatly influenced by the music my siblings made. I loved my sister Danae's Rock voice, and my brother Damon's keyboard playing and his vocals, and also my sister Doreen's amazing operatic voice! All were a revelation to me and I wanted to be active in the same type of way. I heard all this wonderful music growing up, Verdi, Bach, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc., and I wanted to be part of it.

2. What influence did they have on you to cause you to take the path you have chosen?

DAVID: I'm sure the fact that the whole Family was involved in Music or Theatre, gave me that zone of comfort, to feel that my choice would be accepted. Being surrounded by that scene and being somewhat musical myself, I couldn't help but get caught up in the Magick of it all! I also had friends who were in bands. One day a drummer I knew said that his band needed a singer, so... I said " I'm going to sing for your band". And ... that is just what I did. That band was called PHOENIX and I was 11 years old at the time.

3. What were some of those influences, events, and people who touched your life and caused you to make the decisions you have made. Have any personal tragedies affected the decisions you have made in your life? Will you tell me about it?

DAVID: Many Events & People!!! An early influence outside of the immediate Family, was my sister's ex-husband Paul Amrod. Paul is a brilliant jazz pianist composer, and all around total genius. Yes genius!!!!!!!! I can say that with complete confidence! He taught me a great deal about piano playing and harmony. Yes, he was an influence on me, even though he was not into the same kinds of music that I was.

After the premiére of "Klytaimnestra - Der Fluch der Atriden" Memmingen, Germany 1999: Paul Amrod, David DeFeis and dizzy VIRGIN STEELE fan (l.t.r.)

The discovery of the World of Myths, was another revelation to me. The realization that Humanity is older than we know, and that we have developed and destroyed ourselves many times over, has influenced my views of the Universe! As regards "Events"... I have lived a Life full of amazing, good, bad, indifferent and tragic events. They have all left their marks or scars on me, but ultimately I firmly believe that all my decisions have been based on my own awareness / knowledge / study, sometimes careful observations of the World and also my sometimes very impulsive actions or reactions to the stimuli in my environment!!! I am both positive and negative and I have made decisions both good & bad for myself, but ... fuck it ... in the end I am quite happy with Where & Who I am now so.... again yes, fuck it. The Past is the Past, and let the future unfold as it will! "Poor the Wine in the Cup of the Future and Raise your Glass for Today"!!!!!!!!!!

The greatest loss in my Life, was the loss of my brother Damon. He died at the age of 19. I was 13 years old at the time. He was playing keyboards & singing in a band. The club / venue that he was performing in was attached to some sort of store. Some guy broke into the store and committed a robbery. To cover his tracks, he set a fire in the store which quickly spread to the nearby club. The exits in the club were mostly blocked, so the patrons had a hard time exiting. In addition to the fire, thick black smoke came in through the air conditioning vents, making it even harder to find the exits that did exist. My brother stayed onstage trying to tell people to keep calm, but because everything happened so fucking fast ... the place became an inferno. Twenty four people died, mainly through smoke inhalation, my brother Damon, and the lead vocalist George Chase were among those who perished. Words cannot express the profound grief contained in that experience ... I do hope that he and George are out there somewhere checking out the VIRGIN STEELE Scene and digging on it!

4. I know you must be tired of telling the same story over and over, but would you be so kind as to tell the readers of Rock Hard Magazine about your beginnings and how the legend of "Fire and Sword" started?

DAVID: I think there are several reasons / responses concerning the "Fire" aspect of VS. One ... I'm sure is the "Event" which I just described above. I understand completely that Fire can kill of course, but ... it can also help / heal / protect. I am intrigued by its dual Nature and its alive Human / Spirit-like qualities, plus I believe in the Internal-Eternal Flame or Soul we all carry inside us. Our Blood, our Desires, our Hope, our Spirit, our Energy, all Burn!!!

I am most often referring to this particular quality or aspect of Fire in my lyrics. The Sword, is another object with dual properties. It too can kill or heal / protect. I think the Name VIRGIN STEELE conjures up the Sword imagery of course. It remains a powerful symbol, to cut through the webs of lies in Life, and all the fucking bullshit one encounters in society. When I set the Sword on Fire onstage, I am invoking the memory of Ancient practices and hopefully unlocking Ancient forces, to heal, help, renew, and baptize us in the Magick of the Ancient & Superior Wisdom of those who came before us.

5. Why did you decide to make some of your music thematically based?

DAVID: It was a natural development / outcome of my writing style, and it is just the way my mind works more and more these days! I compose a musical piece and then I see all the possible variations / connections / places I I can go with it, therefore I need appropriate subject matter to weld the music to. Other times the lyrics take on this thematic quality first, and then ... I must make the music fit that.

6. What is the source of your passion for Mythology?

DAVID: I was introduced to the World of Myth at an early age, via the Dramatic / Theatrical Arts. My Father was and still is involved in the World of Theatre. I don't know if this is the "source" per say, but growing up watching his productions and rehearsals, was an early influence. I believe that encoded within the "Myths" themselves, are elements of our Pre-History / early Knowledge of World Events / happenings / Ways of Life!!! I have always gravitated to those things in Life that are outside the sphere of everyday experiences / existence. I have always needed extraordinary / exotic experiences in my Life, to keep me connected and interested in Living. I hate being bored or stuck in any run of the mill mundane situations. I need escape, especially intellectual / artistic escape. This is why I enjoy all the various forms of Art.

7. Do you have any thoughts about reincarnation? If so, would you share them with our readers?

DAVID: I have several thoughts or theories regarding such things. It would take up far too much time and probably bore everyone, if I were to discuss all of that here. I will just venture to say that I believe there are many possibilities for our expended Energy / Spirits and reincarnation is only one of them.

8. Have you ever entertained the idea that you may be the reincarnation of one of the mythological characters you write about?

DAVID: Hmmm... No and hmmm... Yes!!! Ha, ha! A most interesting & entertaining thought actually! I do have a certain fascination / passion for the character of Dionysus / Osiris / Bacchus ... He of the many Names, you know, the dying & resurrecting God of the vine. Hmmmm... Perhaps I just enjoy the fruits of the grape far too much! Ha, ha, ha!!! Pass me that bottle will ya! Also 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts holds a certain Power & fascination for me. I may have been hung as a witch in a past life ...

9. Have you ever experienced deja vu?

DAVID: Too often for my tastes! Yes I get it all the time, and every time it happens I think ... "Shit, it's the end of the World again"!!!

10. Given the success you have had with The HOUSE OF ATREUS ACTS 1 & 2 Stage Presentation-Production in Germany are you contemplating taking this show to other countries in the near future?

DAVID: I hope that we can do that in the Days ahead. It is a dream I have.

11. You wear many different hats in connection with VIRGIN STEELE. How do you find the time and energy to do all these jobs.

DAVID: The time ... I just make it happen! I stop all my other activities to devote the time necessary to accomplish all that I need to do in the Name of VIRGIN STEELE! I become unavailable to other things / aspects in my Life at various points, in order to complete a project, an idea, a plan ... whatever. The energy ... well, that is usually in abundance, because I do truly enjoy what I do here in VIRGIN STEELE, in all its many facets or the "hats" that I wear. I rather like "hats"!!!

12. Changing a little bit the topic, tell us about your experience with Avantasia and your relationship with Tobias Sammet.

DAVID: Sure! I received a call from Sandra Rudolph the woman who was in charge of promotion at the time at Modern Music Records, regarding Tobias. She asked me if it would be OK if Tobias gave me a call, (she was a friend of his), because he was interested in having me sing on some tracks. I said sure of course and so... Toby called me and explained that he had this project, and ... he thought that I would be good for the character of Jakob, "the Monk from Meintz"! I said OK it sounds great, send over the music and if I think I can do something complimentary with it, and ... if I have the time (I was deep into ATREUS ACT II at this point), ... I'll give it a go. Anyway he sent me over several fragments of music that I rather enjoyed, and I cleared a day for myself to go in and record my vocals. Basically I just went wild and gave him all sorts of vocalizations. I said to him ... "please feel free to use whatever you like or think fits". He wound up using everything that I sent him. I guess he liked what I had done! I've met him several times and I found him to be a Noble Gentleman and all around thoroughly nice guy!!!!

13. Do you have any funny stories about the musicians during the recording sessions for Avantasia?

DAVID: Ahhh... Unfortunately no, because we were not ever together in the same room. I was alone with just the backing tracks and the engineer for company, during my recording of the vocals for that particular project.

14. Do you think there is a possibility we could see Avantasia project live some day, with all the musicians who played on the project?

DAVID: When I was in Germany this past June, I met up with Henjo, the guitarist on that project and he actually asked me if I would participate in a live rendition of the AVANTASIA Work. I told him ... "sure why not"!!! Perhaps you should ask Tobias more about that.

15. Tell us your personal opinion about the space that women have been opening for themselves in the past few years in the Metal scene by playing music more seriously . Do you feel that they have become more passionate about this genre?

DAVID: Absolutely!!! I think women have made great strides in the Metal/Rock Community!!! It is about time! I have always derived great inspiration from Female Artists, as well as Male Artists. Growing up of course there were my sisters as an influence, but after that I was, and still am a big fan of Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson and their band HEART! Ann has an amazing voice, that I love as much as Robert Plant's voice! And today I admire the work of Tori Amos a great deal and also THE GATHERING & THEATRE OF TRAGEDY which are equipped with Female vocalists.

16. Going back to the band, will your next project with VIRGIN STEELE be a conceptual album or do you have something else in mind?

DAVID: It will probably be somewhat conceptual. Perhaps not a full blown narrative, but ... there will most likely be thematic developments astounding and abounding!!!

17. Some days ago you told me VIRGIN STEELE will play in NY again, on December 21. Tell me a little bit more about it. Is it true you will be play for around 3 hours?

DAVID: We are performing December 21st at a place called THE DOWNTOWN in Farmingdale, NY. The show will be rather long (perhaps 3 hours), and ... we intend to record & film this concert for future use.

18. What other projects does the UNCONQUERABLE ("INVICTUS") VIRGIN STEELE have in the future?

DAVID: MANY!!! A LIVE album, a DVD visual anthology of sorts, another studio album (hopefully many more!!!), another Stage Presentation / Metal-Opera type of thing, which is actually set for a Premier in Germany this coming June, and ... of course more touring, etc!!!

19. What about the beautiful song "Don't close your eyes tonight", can you tell me something about it?

DAVID: I wrote that during the early part of the songwriting sessions for what became the NOBLE SAVAGE album. I played it for Edward, and he really enjoyed it. We both felt that it could be a good Radio song for us, but ... that never quite happened. The recording sessions for it went really well, and I think we captured a real raw, honest passionate feeling. We still do perform that one live in an acoustic arrangement, with only Edward & I onstage. And yes, I still do enjoy playing it!



It can be said that you have been working with David almost since the beginning of VIRGIN STEELE, and I know that you have a wonderful relationship with him. Could you tell us something about that?

EDWARD: Working with Dave has always been a wonderful experience. I think we have written a few classics and inspired other musicians along the way. I have known Dave for 18 fucking years so I know what he is thinking before he even says it. And I know if I have a good riff going, then another KILLER ONE IS ALSO ON ITS WAY!


1. What process did you go through to start playing with VIRGIN STEELE, and how has that experience been?

JOSH: It's actually kind of funny how the whole thing got started. I had met Ed in a local music shop when I was 17 years old, so I had some knowledge of this band called VIRGIN STEELE that he played in. I asked him for a couple of CD's since I'm a metal head, so he gave me Invictus, the latest release at that time. He would tell me tour stories and about how he was working on the guitar tracks for the new album "... Atreus - I". I sat and listened to these amazing fantasy rockstar stories. September 2000 had come around and he was speaking of plans for a long winter tour but the band was without a bassist. One day at the store, Ed over heard me playing the Invictus riff, and was actually impressed! So from there he said to learn 6 or 7 other songs and to come down meet the other guys and jam! I must have done something right since I have the honor of still being a part of such a tremendous force. The experience has been amazing for me. I could never ask for anything better, I love these fuckin guys!!!

2. What expectations do you have for the future with VIRGIN STEELE?

JOSH: Hopefully I can continue to play the role that I have been. I want to continue to play on the studio records, live albums, you name it. I love working with Dave and the other guys. As time goes on I want to remain a part of Virgin Steele and contribute as much as I can to the band in as many ways possible.


1. You came to join during he union of Heaven and Hell 2 and since then you have been with VIRGIN along with Edward and David. Tell us a little about your personal experiences in the band, musically as well as personally.

FRANKS: From a personal standpoint, I’ve had some of the best moments of my life in this band.
Everyone I’ve worked with in Virgin Steele has been a pleasure. We're all very different people and yet that is never a problem because we're all confident in each other and in ourselves. Whenever I tour with Virgin Steele, I return home with hilarious stories and a sore stomach from laughing so hard. I think we're one of the few bands that really enjoy each others company.

From a musical standpoint it’s been both a humbling and rewarding experience. When Dave hands me a sketch of his music to put drum parts to I’m like wow, this is intense and sometimes I don’t know exactly what to do. The man is prolific to say the least. The arrangements are usually long and challenging. I feel great when a part I worked on is used on the recording. Then I’m brought back down to earth when I listen back to my part and it’s terrible. I’ve had to learn a lot about creating drum parts that are good for the song and not self indulgent. Dave has given me an education in this regard.

Live is a totally different experience. Everyone in the band just goes for it and our live show is a great release. We all have extensive jamming backgrounds and there is plenty of improvising going on. I appreciate that the band allows me to do a drum solo each night because it allows me to fully explode and express myself.


From the few words you and I have exchanged I can infer that you are a gentleman, but can you tell me why the nickname THE KRAKEN or THE Baron".

Thank you for calling me a gentleman. The Baron and the Kraken represent two sides of my personality. It’s similar to the Noble Savage concept. On the one hand I can be very eloquent and refined, and the next minute, I’m a homicidal maniac. I’m glad you saw the gentle side of me. I have to work very hard to keep the violent side of me in check. Dave always says that anger is a gift if you know how to use it. I’m still trying.

The Baron was born on my very first trip to Europe with the band. The guys came up with the name because I kept hallucinating that I was a descendant of a great noble German family.

The Kraken was born in response to my drum solos. It’s like Dave playing Zeus in the movie,
"Clash Of The Titans" and I’m the Kraken he unleashes on a city. The Kraken was the only Titan the Olympic gods kept alive after they rebelled and took over Olympus. Zeus uses this monster to destroy the cities that dishonor him. All of this nickname business is purely metaphorical, and is just another example of the fun that this band has with each other.

For Everyone in the band:

I know you are fucking tired about the topic that I'm going to ask you about, but this is an optional question with optional answer. It is up to you if you want to say something about it or not.

I'm not trying to know who was the good or bad boy in the group but through all the adversities or bullshit , how do you feel now and what positive or negative aspects can you say you got from it?

DAVID: We have had both good times and bad times with various people who were involved with the group. But I can honestly tell you that this particular collection of people (Edward Pursino, Frank Gilchriest, Joshua Block & Myself), are all quite happy together, and I believe we shall continue to remain so. We give each other space and respect, and we are musically compatible. Plus ... we enjoy the same types of insanity on Tour!!!

EDWARD: I don't really know what you mean.

JOSH: I don't think I was ever part of any "controversy" or anything that had some sort of negative impact. In the past 2 years it's been great for me, and hopefully for the others too! I personally feel that the 4 of us get along great. Musically we are an unstoppable force, and socially we know how to fuckin party and rage with the best of them!

FRANK: I don’t know what this question is refering to.

Did you go to school to learn how to play or did you learn on your own?

DAVID: On the "classical" side, I studied piano, theory and harmony, in private, and I did also go to the University of Stonybrook, NY, where I completed the Bachelor's Program in Theory / Harmony / Composition, and I also started the Master's Program, but... I have not had the time to complete that yet. I need about a year and a half to finish up. Perhaps one day I will complete that. As a vocalist / Rock/Metal musician, I am self taught. I often say that I have one foot in the Opera House & one foot in the gutter!!!

EDWARD: I took guitar lessons for years, and then furthered my studies with classical guitar training, and all the rock and metal material I learned in my cover bands, and jamming with friends and experimenting.

JOSH: I started playing string bass in the orchestra at the age of 10. That's where I had my first experience learning to play music. It had to be maybe 6 months after that I bought my first electric guitar. I had some private instruction on guitar until about 16 years old. I picked up a bass after about 2 years of playing guitar. I would study guitar and bass a lot on my own, still playing string bass in orchestra until the end of high school. I always had a great ear ever since I started which I think is probably a major key to any success that I've had.

FRANK: I sudied privately with various teachers.

What brand and type the musical instrument do you have, and which do you prefer or recommend to some one?

DAVID: I have several pianos / keyboards. I mainly use a Roland JV30 Multi-Synth, a Kerzweill PC88MX, and a Mason & Hamlin studio Grand Piano. They are all good for different applications. Live onstage I usually sing with a Sure sm58 microphone or whatever is in the house that Evening.

EDWARD: For performing I use gibson SG electric models, they sound great and feel fine.

JOSH: I have a collection of about 15 or 16 guitars and basses. It includes four 7-string guitars; 4, 5, and 6 strings basses; and quite a few 6-string guitars. I'll recommend which I like best when one of the brands wants to give me some free stuff ;-) !!!

FRANK: I play whatever drums are around. I like to use Yammaha, Sonor,
Premiere or Pearl Drums.

Is there a musician that plays the same instrument that inspired you and why?

DAVID: Of course there have been several. Freddie Mercury (piano & vocals), also my brother Damon, whom I mentioned earlier. But in terms of my piano & vocal inspirations... it was largely Jimmy Page. I wanted to sing like his guitar solos sounded and play the piano / keyboards like a guitar, with that type of attack. That was and still is my main motivation, to be a Human Guitar! Perhaps strange, but for me ... it works. I want my voice to behave like a guitar with infinite sustain, volume and power. THE VOICE AS WEAPON!!! YEOW!!!

EDWARD: No,it was just a natural progresion.

JOSH: I'm a huge fan of shred players. I love Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Jason Becker, Yngwie, Greg Howe. As well as being the best technical players, they are truly innovators of their instrument.

FRANK: Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, John Bonham because they were all very innovative, explosive and musical. They combined the ultimate in technique with legendary taste.

Which of your albums do you like most and why?

DAVID: I like them all for different reasons. For pure compositional expression I am quite partial to THE HOUSE OF ATREUS ACT II Album.

EDWARD: I like the Invictus and Atreus albums the most because of the attack and power.

JOSH: I really like the Atreus albums. The stories, the music, and the technicality are amazing.

FRANK: My favorite album is Invictus because I feel it is a bookmark in terms of the development of V.S.

Tell me what band from 60's and 70's era do you like most and why?(Just one)

DAVID: Just one!!! Ahhh... QUEEN, because they combined Power, Rage & Over The Top Everything, with complete Beauty, Grace, Honor, Tenderness & Romance!!! Musical sophistication and raw Power!

EDWARD: I like Led Zep, Queen, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull and Grand Funk. The
feeling was very real and emotional.

JOSH: Even though I was not alive yet … I would have to say Queen. I would listen to them when I was 8 or 9 years old. My uncle introduced me to them and I just loved it. Of course he also brought me to the world of Zeppelin, The Who, and some others, but I guess I have to say Queen.

FRANK: The Beatles because they are the greatest rock band ever.

Tell me what band from the 90's you like most (just one).

DAVID: Just one ... again ...ahhh shit!!! GUNS & ROSES (late 80's actually). Great songs and great fucking attitude!!!

EDWARD: Guns & Roses.

JOSH: I'm a huge Nevermore fan. When they first came out in the mid 90's I shit myself! There was just something about Warrell's eerie voice and Jeff's riffs that got to me. And what they have evolved into now is just amazing.

FRANK: Dream Theater because, I’m friends with some of them.

Some times our dreams and fantasies have a way of becoming a reality, which can also bring about happiness. Has there been any dream of fantasy that has brought you happiness and personal satisfaction? Can you tell us about it?

DAVID: The Dream of translating the Music on the albums to the stage! Especially in presenting the Stage Versions of both THE HOUSE OF ATREUS OPERA & THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL / INVICTUS SAGA, which was presented onstage as DIE REBELLEN. To see all these other actors & actresses onstage performing songs I had written was quite amazing, moving and wonderful! It gives me the hope that perhaps ... just perhaps, some day, some way, long after my body has turned to ancient dust ... someone, somewhere will ... Meet my Presence in a song of mine ... and maybe say... "Yea that fucking guy was all right".

EDWARD: It has been wonderful to have the fans nice response to our music and support our efforts. It´s great to see the fans play air guitar during the riffs or solos.

JOSH: I have been blessed to be able to play on a professional level like this since the age of 18. For me personally that brings a huge amount of satisfaction. However, there is still so much more I feel I need to do and learn musically and until I overcome most of that I'll never be fully satisfied.

FRANK: I’ve found that dreams are just what they are, dreams. I don’t spend my life fantasizing. It’s never been my thing. I can’t say all my dreams have come true with respect to any aspect of my life. Happiness is a fleeting sensation for me like a warm breeze or a milk shake. The only time my dreams all come true is when I’m sleeping. However, I’m proud of my music, business and family.

Thanks David, Edward, Frank & Josh for your time. And ... THANK YOU FOR PUTTING OUT THAT BEAUTIFUL MUSIC THAT YOU MAKE.