Virgin Steele

Interview ...

by David DeFeis given to Clara Ramas

7 March 2003

Had I ever imagined this could happen?? The obvious answer is no. Having the chance to interview David DeFeis, mastermind behind the Epic Metal band Virgin Steele, can only be described as a dream come true. I was right when I expected some interesting answers ... Besides a tremendous vocalist and a classical trained pianist, David is also an eager Spirit willing to learn about the Mysteries of the Universe, with an unquenchable thirst for Knowledge and strong desire to reach, as he says, 'that Magickal place, where the Lifestream touches Eternity'. He sure is on the right way.



1. Could you comment on your classical influences? We know the names (Chopin, Debussy, Liszt, Bach, Mozart, Hayden ...), but what did you get from each of them? How have they helped you to develop your own style?

What did I get from each of them? Well ... Eternal Enjoyment!!! From Chopin & Debussy, I learned a great deal about how advanced Harmony works. The use of the extensions of Harmony, how chords of the 9th, 11th & 13th work, and how you can break the boundaries of tonality, and combine Chromatic Harmony with "traditional" Harmony. In addition, the use of dissonance, tonalities that don't resolve, & free-ranging chords that sometimes defy classification, plus also the development of thematic & motivic content. The same goes for Liszt.

The composers Bach, Hayden & Mozart, each gave me a grounding in "traditional" harmony and structure/form, plus the understanding of contrapuntal movement. Especially Bach. In actuality, Bach's harmonies are just as, or sometimes even more advanced than the works of Debussy or Chopin, or anybody you care to mention, only usually in a contrapuntal or linear/horizontal way, as opposed to a vertical/up & down approach. Many Jazz musicians turn to Bach, to seek out changes to solo/improvise over.

2. Can you play any other instruments besides the piano/keyboards? I know you're doing all the orchestrations basically with just keyboards, but as all the violin, trumpets etc parts sound so good I thought that you might have some basic notions of some of those instruments?

Yes I played violin & cello at school. And yes, you are correct. I have a working knowledge of the Orchestral instruments, their ranges & various other properties/aspects about them, which I put to use in my own Orchestrations. I am aware of what they can & cannot do, and sometimes I adhere to what they can do, and other times I turn the ideology upside down, the way, say ... Stravinsky did, when he wrote "THE RITE OF SPRING" for the Orchestra. Sometimes it is the antithesis of what the instruments are supposed to be doing. This is something I really enjoy, the building process in the Studio of becoming the Orchestra. It lets me be the Conductor! Ha!!! I get the chance to attempt to perform the Music exactly as I hear it in my head. Sometimes it turns out as I wish, which is immensely gratifying and other times it doesn't, which makes me ...... want to smash all the equipment!

3. Which figures have been the most influential on your ideas/beliefs? Here I'm talking about any kind of person: writers, philosophers, politicians, religious figures ... I guess this affects directly to your lyrics, as some of the basic concepts appearing in them may be a reflection of your own ideas.

Many people along the way have ... 'interested me', ideologically or philosophically speaking, but I firmly believe that a persons individual Life concepts/thoughts & true Nature is really only clearly established through one's own personal experiences. Other people/writers, painters, artists, friends or whatever, sometimes point the way to an area or concept that one should pursue further, but in the end, ... I think they simply affirm, or antagonize one's own already deeply ingrained perspective/beliefs, which are partly genetic, part environmental and of course also learned or discovered. I think that my particular lyrics are largely based upon my own Life's experiences, observations, Triumph's & Tragedies, etc. and my reactions/evaluations or assimilations of all that which I go/have gone through.

4. Could you explain a bit more the concept behind Love and Death? In the Noble Savage booklet it says that it deals with Death tempting Love... what inspired you to write about that? Those two apparently opposite terms appear together very often in your songs (like in Emalaith for example).

Yes, I suppose I could! Yes it is true that was my concept, ... a temptation of some sort. The inspiration behind it was probably again ... my love of bringing things together, that are "normally" supposed or considered to be opposite or antagonistic. I liked the idea of Death & Love finding themselves with a mutual attraction, and combining in a very sensual physical & spiritual manner. I am a firm believer in bringing together opposites or any manner of antithesis, in any way, shape or form, to re-organize/combine & form or give birth to a ... "New Third Element", that was perhaps previously ... not in existence, or was missing from the World!!! Maybe it's my concept of Rebellion, or my way of defying the Forces Of The Universe! In this song, Death is really testing Love, and Love's patience, as regards all of Love's Eternal/Immortal Concepts. The Song is largely concerned with Seduction on many levels, not just the physical.

5. Not only Love and Death, but in general the union of all the opposing concepts is a recurring theme in your music, the Barbaric Romanticism definition being a perfect example of this. What are your views on the subject?

Yes indeed it is, as we were just discussing in the previous question! Again, I believe that you have to attempt to defy or change the pre-ordained order of the Universe now and again, in order to find "The New", to find Truth or simply to ... progress or affirm! One must tear down walls, barriers, limitations, and any and all edicts or obstacles, in order to know where one is at, and where one is going. Shake things up a bit!!! We should not live like sheep, or lambs ready to be lead to the slaughter. For myself, I wish to discover, or to attain Gnosis, to grow, to come face to face with the Infinite, or the Eternal Consciousness' of the Universe. It is an attempt to reach that Magickal place, ... where the Lifestream touches Eternity!

6. Do your songs have some kind of autobiographical element?

Of course!!! I really can only write about what I know or think or observe in some fashion.

How often do you write about personal experiences?

All the time, but I like to twist them around and make the experience Universal, so that the Listener can feel that they too are inside that song, and can totally identify with the situation at hand. It is not so important to me that the Listener gets exactly what my concept is in the song. It's more important to me that they see themselves reflected in the songs. The songs should give the Listener strength, courage, heart ... power, motivation!!!

And are the characters which appear in your songs, in a way, a reflection of yourself?

Yes I'm sure they are! But I think it is probably the same with most writers. We create characters that are based on what we know about ourselves, or are still ... trying to find out about ourselves! Composing can be a form of therapy, psychic hygiene and a Spiritual Path!!!

7. This question is about Blood of the Saints lyrics. The general theme is the abuse of power, but were you thinking about someone/something specific when you wrote them? Apparently they could refer to the current state of the world ... Was this your intention?

I was interested in portraying several things at once. One is certainly about the elements of power, the Lust for Power, its uses & abuses, and also, the ability that Power has to always gather more Power to itself. Yes this song - and every other song in the VIRGIN STEELE Catalogue - can be seen as a reflection of the current state of the World. But the other thing I was thinking about in BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, was actually Vampires. I wanted a track that combined this Lust for Power with an Immortal Lust, that was largely sensual & sexual. I rather like Vampires!

8. Why did you express such a negative view of the world, life etc. with "The Lesson" lyrics?

Never mind "The Lesson", try digging deep into INVICTUS or "THE MARRIAGE" Works, and that will give you a better understanding of my thoughts on that subject. I don't have a necessarily negative view of the World, so much as a negative view of Humanity's failure to learn from our mistakes. We rarely learn enough from our experiences in the long term, to overcome our deficiencies in regards to our Inhumanity to each other, our desecration of the planet, and our craven lust for Power & our penchant for extreme violence. In this aspect, we have not progressed one iota from the Dawn of Time, from when we first crawled out of the Caves, or the Primeval Slime!!! Perhaps ... we are even worse now, than we were in those early days! But many of us are trying!!!

9. Where do the names of Emalaith and Endyamon come from? Are them your own creation?

Yes they are my own Creation. I wanted a name that conjured up images of Forests, Pagans, Beauty, Ruins & Desolation, along with a yearning for a "Love beyond the Grave", and this ... result was EMALAITH. As regards the male counterpart Endyamon, I wanted another name that began with "E", and had the same amount of letters and "ring to it". Something that would be a proper mate for her! To be completely truthful, I was also thinking about the Word "Daimon" or "Daemon", meaning a Demon or Spirit, and in addition, I was thinking of my brother who died. His name was Damon, so this is also kind of a Tribute to his memory.

10. I'd like to know something about the Emalaith lyrics and especially about the part "... Let Heaven grant what Love does seek ...". This sentence, and the story as a whole suggests that it is impossible to reach the final stage of their love while they are alive on Earth, given that Love does seek something which cannot be found until they are in Heaven, and therefore dead ... Unless the idea of Heaven is understood in a metaphorical way, meaning that it's possible for Heaven to exist on Earth, a Heaven on Earth created by Love. Could you elaborate on this?

Actually what I am saying here concerns the "Will", a "Life-Force" & a Powerful Love that exists beyond Death. I'm also discussing the Power of Vengeance. These two people are persecuted not only on the Earthly Plane, but on the Spiritual Plane as well. This idea comes across in greater detail in the songs on INVICTUS. For example "DUST FROM THE BURNING" discusses this idea. Theirs, (EMALAITH'S & ENDYAMON'S), is an existence that has been fraught with disaster in each one of their (7) "Seven Incarnations". However, they will find their Love beyond Death, and not necessarily in any kind of ... pie in the sky ... "Heaven", but wherever their Spirits/Bodies & or Minds, may connect, collide or find each other in either Life, Death or in any of the Worlds in between. And yes of course a Heaven or ... a Hell can and does exist on our Earth. This is determined by what we make out of our existence & of our time on the planet, despite what good or what evils befall each of us.

11. As seen in the song Mind, Body, Spirit you have established a difference between Mind and Spirit, and therefore divided the Human Being in three parts (Mind, Body and Spirit), instead of the usual two (Mind and Body). Why did you separate the Soul into two parts?

This concept concerns reason/thought and active planning as regards "The Will", as it exists in its most reasoning aspect, which I call Mind, which can be something separate from the Spirit or "Will of the Spirit", which is non-physical in theory,(yet all encompassing/connecting), and the Body which is of the physical (the here & now aspect). But remember how I concluded the Chorus of this song ....... "MIND, BODY, SPIRIT ... ALL ARE ONE". I believe that though they can be discussed as separate ... "Entities" if you will, however ... they all do overlap in their ...hmmm... qualities, attributes, powers, abilities, whatever, and are in essence One & the Same thing. It is a 3 in one concept, not unlike how some people consider or view the holy or unholy trinities! There is something about "3", that is fundamental to our thinking. It has a ... circular appeal!

12. I've noticed that the number Seven appears very often on your compositions, especially on the INVICTUS album ("... Seven are now waiting in the sky ..." ("MIND, BODY, SPIRIT"), "... From Seven points of Darkness ..." ("DUST FROM THE BURNING"), "... Seven meanings of our love ..." ("A WHISPER OF DEATH"), "... Seven years the siege of this town ..." ("DOMINION DAY"), "... Seven rings of knowledge I exist ..." ("VENI, VIDI, VICI"). Why?

Yes you are correct, it certainly does! Seven is a number of Power & Magick, as are several other numbers, such as 9, 3, 11, etc. ... From the Dawn of History, Seven has been associated with Elements of extreme Power, Mystery, Change, etc. ... There are many "7" references in Ancient Beliefs: the Seven sacraments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Seven Virtues, the 7 gifts of the spirit', etc. This number is related to the Moon and is considered to be a number of, or for reflection, because the Moon reflects the Light of the Sun. When I use Seven in the songs you listed, I have both a specific meaning for each song, as well as an overall affinity for the number/cycles of this number's own particular energy. For example in "I WILL COME FOR YOU" I am referring to some of the well known Religions of the World, as "Seven Points Of Darkness", rather than ... points of illumination. In Sumerian Mythology there are 7 steps on the ladder of lights. In Dante's Inferno you find 7 layers or circles of Hell. In some Christian doctrines you have ... 7 Heavens. Again, it is a denomination of Power, Magick & Mystery.

13. Who is the Red Queen on the Invictus album? She is mentioned a few times ("VENI, VIDI, VICI" and "MIND, BODY, SPIRIT"), but it's not very clear who she is and her role in the story ...

The RED QUEEN is my idea of the personification of Violence, Bloodlust, War, Cruelty, etc. Perhaps like ... the battlefield, bloodstained aspect of Ares, the God of War, as he rages and roars through his hours of slaughter. The Red Queen, along with The Sword Of The Gods, and several others, must be vanquished by Endyamon/Emalaith/Humanity, in order for Humanity to continue or live in any kind of non-subservient manner. In order to be free, these creatures/ideologies must be fought.

14. Judging from some of your lyrics you don't have a very positive feeling towards organized religion, although you do seem to be a very spiritual person. What are your main feeling/beliefs regarding religious/spiritual matters?

You're correct I don't have a terribly positive feeling about it. And yes you are right, I do care deeply about Spiritual matters. I don't like organized Religion, as I believe that it has done far more harm to the world than good. History bears this out. And ...need I mention where we are at today?

Religion itself and its concepts are often quite good, beautiful, peaceful, and helpful to the individual person. But ... when one takes Religious concepts/dogma, etc., and aligns this with government, control and all types of political ideologies, then the problems begin.

I prefer a ... disorganized Religion. A personal Spirituality, that works for the individual and does not force itself on anyone else. A Spirituality that respects and allows for Freedom for all. If I had to name what it is I am/believe in then ...hmmm... I suppose I have more of an affinity for the "Pagan" Philosophies, and the Gnostic ideas. In the Ancient World there were many "pre-organized religion" cultures, that were intensely Spiritual and positive for their communities, and ... they flourished beautifully and independently of their governing bodies!

I've enclosed a horrible photo of myself (where the hell are good photos when I need them??)

It's quite nice actually!!! I like it!!!

By the way, I've seen the photos form Barcelona on the Site, they look really cool!! You look really happy on the ones below, completely surrounded by girls ;)

I was quite happy indeed!!! It was a Wonderful Evening!

Thanks, and all the best to you always!!!

Thanks, Cheers & All The Best To You!!! Stay well!"

~ ~ ~

Photos by: Michelle Francis

Here are some nice drawings sent in by Clara. If you think that you also have done any Artwork portraying VIRGIN STEELE that's worth being shown here, feel free to send it in via e-mail to and we'll put it on the GALLERY page.