David DeFeis, frontman for the power metal band Virgin Steele, spoke with me recently about the band’s latest offering, The Black Light Bacchanalia. Since their inception in 1981, Virgin Steel has been releasing solid relevant metal records and has played in shows and festivals around the globe. Here is how the conversation with DeFeis went.
Now that your brand new CD, The Black Light Bacchanalia, is complete how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
David: Well it was a crazy, crazy record to make, it was a whirlwind and a lot of things happened. I would have preferred to actually have had a bit time to mix the records at the end of the day, but yeah I am happy with the record and I think the songs are great and if I had anything to do over again I would spend another couple of weeks mixing the record. But I say that about every record.
What is the writing process for this record? Did you guys all write together?
David: No, I write the songs.
How long did it take to write?
David: It is hard to say because I am writing all of the time so I don’t always remember where the song began. Sometimes you finish a song straight away, other times you kind of get a song up to a certain point and then you put it on the back burner because you are writing other things and then you come back to it. So it is hard to pinpoint everything, but whatever was done prior within the past few weeks of the Summer that is when everything pretty much came together between August and September.
Can you give me some insight into the meaning behind the title Black Light Bacchanalia?
David: Absolutely. The title is my way of saying something like, “this insane life.” I am basically talking about life. Kind of like the way Dante calls his work, ‘The Divine Comedy.’ He is discussing life and all of its multifaceted craziness and I mean something similar with that phrase. I also mean the great reversal with that phrase. When one culture conquers another, throughout history, the deities of the conquered people become the demons of the conquerors religion. Everything is turned upside down; the whole world is turned upside down. This is essentially what happened with Paganism and Gnosticism and The Pagans were killed off in the worship of Bacchus or Dionysus. Things that are white are illuminated and the other colors fade into the shadows. The Pagans were underground and that is what the album is about this kind of world of people.
Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
David: I love them all, but I guess I am really fond of the big epic “To Crown Them With Halos.” The opening track “Have Mercy” is a favorite of mine as well. I like them all, they are all fun to play and I am excited to get the live show together.
Speaking of live shows. What kind of touring plans do you guys have in support of the disc?
David: We are in the midst of discussing this with our booking agent and we are hoping to go back to Europe in April or May and do the festivals for the Summer and then hopefully turn it around and bring it back here at some point.
Did you ever imagine you would still be releasing albums in 2010?
David: You mean when we first began?
David: I didn’t really think about it. It was just kind of like being happy to get through just one and see where it went from there. I always knew that I wanted to be in music for the rest of my life although what form that would take I was never quite sure. This is a way of life not a career and that is what it is and that’s why we have remained and people in the band are comfortable because they can do other things in other walks of life with themselves and it is not a burden to be in the band. It is kind of a way of life rather than a career.
Do you find the rigors of touring taking more of a toll on you as you get older?
David: No, it is all the same. I like traveling and being in strange environments with people that I have never met before. That is all kind of fun for me. I am probably more fit now than when we actually started the band. I actually work out and keep myself in quite good shape. So no it is not really a big deal at all.
In a hundred years from now what will the music history books say about Virgin Steele?
David: We came, we saw, we conquered! They will probably say that we were true to our vision and didn’t give a shit what anybody thought. We just did our own thing.
Any closing words David?
David: I would like to thank everyone for listening, believing and supporting what we do here and we hope to see you all again very soon.