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De Poolse death metal band Vader heeft eigenlijk geen introductie meer nodig, al drie decennia lang timmert frontman Peter Wiwczarek met zijn band succesvol aan de weg en ook met het eind vorig jaar verschenen dertiende album 'The Empire' bewijst de band er nog een schepje bovenop te kunnen doen en nog genoeg inspiratie te hebben om nog vele jaren door te kunnen gaan. Kort voor het optreden in Doornroosje onlangs op 5 april sprak ik kort met drummer James Stewart.

Door: Elisabeth | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

To get started, how has this tour been so far, are you all getting along well?
Oh yeah, Vader and Immolation go way back. This is day four, well, show four actually, because we had one day off already. So, we are only a very short way into the tour, but everything is great, Good turnouts, good crowds, very nice people, good support bands, a good vibe. So everybody is happy I think.

The new record 'The Empire' is your thirteenth studio album. How is this one different from the other twelve records?
Well, musically it is big step up, but it still has got that classic Vader sound, it has its own feel. The song writing is a bit different. There’s a mix of older thrashier Vader and a more of death metal approach as well. There something in there for everybody, plus the musicianship has improved quite a lot. Talking about myself the drumming is way higher. Spider’s playing is way higher, Pete’s vocals have still got it. The album is not too long either, it clocks in at around 35 minutes which is a good time for a death metal album, because it doesn’t get boring. It’s very hard and aggressive and if you want to listen to it again you can, without getting bored. I think there is a lot of cool stuff on the new record.

It is 25 years ago that Vader released 'The Ultimate Incantation' debut album. Are you going to do something special to that occasion?
Yeah, in the regular set at the moment we have got a couple of extra ones from that album, and when we have plans to playing the album in full later in the year. The people are already excited and I’m sure that it will go well. We did a similar thing with the demo’s a couple of years ago, when we did the tour with Venom Inc and it was a success , and another thing we will do maybe, because there a so many claims all the time, but hopefully we will have the time to finish some special shows doing the first album.

For me, as a fan since the first album, you are like 'the new drummer' of Vader and you have a big legacy to fill. How do you deal with that?
You know, I just do my thing. If you try to play like someone else, like copying the drummer that came before, you are going to fail, because you are not him. You don’t have his personality. You might share some things and have some similar things, but also a lot of differences. I think where Daray and Pawel felt down a bit in their earlier years in Vader was in replicating Doc too much. Maybe you play the parts, but the personality is not there. And so they learned to play their own way and that had much more personality, and ironically it started sounding more like Doc, because they just started playing like themselves and there was a more organic feeling in the band. So I just started from the beginning to play like me and take parts that I like from all the drummers that came before me, and pick and choose the best things and try to play it in my style as well you know? The cynics and sceptics will always tell you that you just don’t do it. All you have to do is open the drumcam videos on YouTube and read the comments, some of them are really, really clumpy all the time.

So those are big shoes to fill.
Oh yeah, but there is not much I can do about it. I just try to enjoy the challenge to play as well as I can every day and improving to play as myself. But people still come to our shows, so it can’t be that bad. So I’m ok with that.

Which other drummers have influenced your playing style?
I’m trying to be influenced by drummers I get in contact with by coming with us on tour. Last year we had Hannes Grossmann with Hate Eternal and he’s an excellent drummer, and also Steve from Immolation is really cool. And we are talking about metal drummers I guess. Dave Lombardo, or Eloy from Sepultura. Also Krimh, he is now playing in Scepticflesh, is an decent drummer. Fuckin’ great. Those guys are always killing. Those are the metal drummers I look up to. And I always try, whenever I have time to check out some stuff by other drummers like Gavin Harrison or Benny Greb and try to incorporate something way more interesting into my playing, even when I’m playing in Vader. It’s really fast playing and sometimes it can get a bit boring and so it’s nice to have something else. Some kind of funk fill or even a Latin fill to give it a little spice. It makes all a little bit more exciting

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What do you like the most about touring?
All of it. Tour is just like… You can play every day. Now I’ve been on the circuit for quite a while it’s a lot about friends. On most shows friends show up, probably we got one or two today and another one is coming tomorrow. That’s always really nice. Meeting bands we have toured with. And we’ve got to play every day and that’s fantastic for a musician. That’s the perfect thing! We should be playing every day. That’s the point of this I think. Making music, having fun! There is no one thing I can say that’s the best thing, it’s all great. Some venues are really terrible, but today it’s pretty good. There are a few stinky shows, but it’s all part of the fun. It’s all good.

Has touring for you personally changed in the last six years? Has it become better, or?
It’s hard to say. I’m quiet better in touring right know then when I started. When I started it was a struggle every day, because the music is so extreme. So it’s a physical challenge. And when we were on tour with a lot of friends and a lot of parties and sometimes you have a little hangover then the next show is a little struggle or whatever. And when you are touring you are having periods without much sleep. Now that kind of stuff gets more normal, but your will never get 100% used to that kind of lifestyle. But now it’s becoming a lot easier. We can go from a show to the airport when we have to and play another gig.

How did you get the job in Vader?
We came in contact when I was supporting Vader with my band. Pawel left and they just asked me if I want to try out and take over . So I tried out and got the gig. That kind of simple really. Yeah, that was six years ago this month.

Do you go to Poland to practice or how does it work?
No, I live in Poland now. Since Brexit is being in Europe and it’s so important to what I do, a departure from the European union is not helpful. So I’m doing everything I can to reintegrate myself, before there are bigger issues in two years.

And how do you like it in Poland?
It’s really nice. People are friendly. I’m making a really bad one, but really attempt on learning the Polish language and I think people really appreciate it, because it’s not an easy language. I’m really enjoying it.

Is there anything you want to share with our readers, that we should have asked but we didn’t?
The thing I can’t really stress enough wherever I’m doing interviews, is just the amount of people need to go out and support their local metal scene. It’s the only way to get new bands. We can go to towns and play shows when there is a good metal scene. And you know, I think it’s really important that people spend the time investing in the local town, going out to the bars to watch young local bands. The bands get better, and bigger bands get through. Especially in the UK, when kids are playing metal shows the places are almost empty. It’s hard to get about 50 people to see a local band. It’s a shame that people don’t even invest time. People go to the big shows, but the point is that you have to support the small ones too, because there are so many complaints about what is going these days and which bands are getting big and which aren’t. And one of the reasons is that people are not spending enough time to guide bands in the right direction through going to their shows.

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