Barrelling out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil like an out-of-control, PBR-fuelled warhead with the posthumous collective membership of Motorhead riding shotgun whilst pulling a trailer filled with Venom’s Black Metal-era amps and stage props, comes Whipstriker.
(Okay, now breathe out. Phew!)
Originally singularly headed up by life-long metal maniac Victor Whipstriker as an outlet for the neandarthalic thrash ideas he couldn’t express in any other of the bands he plays and has played in, Whipstriker has evolved into a shared duty project. Bassist/guitarist/vocalist Victor is still the principle figure, but on the fourth full-length, Merciless Artillery, Hugo Golon has assumed six-string and drum kit duties as the material has made a leap towards the maniacal sounds of ‘80s Germany. In light of the album coming out on a new label (Hells Headbangers) and the band having recently completed a US tour, we decided it was high time to catch up with Victor for a Q&A about his thrashing, gnashing baby, during which he recalled what is quite possibly the greatest album recording story ever.
Can you give a brief history of the band? Essentially, you started as a one-man band/project. What were your initial goals for Whipstriker and how have these changed over time and with experience?
Victor Whipstriker: I started as a one-man band project. Back in 2008 I had like twenty songs ready to be recorded. Then, I invited some friends to record the first stuff. Nothing has changed. I still compose all the songs by myself and invite friends to record and play shows and do tours. I don’t play drums or do the guitar solos.
Your bio mentions that Merciless Artillery is the first time you didn’t play guitar on a Whipstriker release and that Hugo Golon did the drums and guitars. Are you finding it easier with time to relinquish that “control freak” part of you in Whipstriker?
Victor: Hugo is a great musician and friend. If you check out our previous stuff you will realize the songs are easier to play because they are more influenced by Venom, Motorhead, and Warfare. The new album has different influences. We are more speed and thrash metal, and less punk. Since I composed all the songs, I could record the rhythm guitars as I always did, but I asked Hugo to record because he plays better than me. I also asked him to record the guitar solos and drums. He composed the solos himself. We have worked together in our other projects, too (Atomic Roar, Diabolic Force, and Virgin’s Vomit). I don’t wanna change this team.
Check out Whipstriker playing in Brazil in 2017.
Your history with Hugo goes back a long way. How many records have you played on and how many bands have you been in together?
Victor: I met Hugo for the first time in 2002 when Destruction and Kreator were playing in São Paulo, where he lives. But our partnership started when we were invited to play bass and drums for Toxic Holocaust in 2006. After that, we played many shows and did many tours together. As I said before, we recently recorded albums with Atomic Roar, Diabolic Force, and Virgin’s Vomit. Hugo plays in many bands. Check his main band, Cemiterio, and other bands like Flagelador and Heritage.
How long did it take to write the new album? Was the material written exclusively for appearance on Merciless Artillery or have some of these songs appeared in other forms on past EP/7” releases?
Victor: About five or six months. I never release a song twice. All the songs are new and fresh. We’ve released many 7”s, EPs and splits – seventeen or eighteen in the last eight years – but I always compose new songs.
Knowing that you were handing guitar duties over to Hugo, did you still write all the material yourself?
Victor: I always write by myself. But there is a split 7” we did with Hell Bomber from Croatia with two of Hugo’s songs on it. Indeed, I beg him for collaborations! I always ask Hugo to compose something new, but, when we meet to create something together, we immediately get drunk and say, “Fuck the new songs!” He lives six hours away so I always miss him. When we meet, we have to drink and celebrate.
How happy and surprised were you to have the Hells Headbangers label work with you on this album? Did they approach you or did you bother them until they gave in?
Victor: I like a lot of their work and their bands. I’ve followed the label since the early days. I first sent them the new Diabolic Force album. Some months after this first deal, I just sent them the new Whipstriker album. I hate being boring. If they did not respond, I would not send the stuff again. Now, they’re releasing both bands, Whipstriker and Diabolic Force, on LP, CD, cassette, and doing t-shirts.
Whipstriker’s 2017 album, Merciless Artillery, released via Hells Headbangers.
Tell us about having your logo re-designed. Was that something that happened for a reason, like a significant changing event for you and the band?
Victor: No, no. When I received the album’s artwork from [Sadistik Exekution vocalist] ROK, I asked him to re-design the logo because I like his vibe and wanted the full artwork to have the ROK vibe. You know, I love Voivod, and Voivod has a thousand killer logos. So, why not? Maybe I will change it again for the next album.
Was there anything done differently in the recording of the new album?
Victor: Well…We recorded this album in three hours. We had two days to record the rhythm guitars and drums – six hours on Saturday and four on hours Sunday. The original plan was: “Hugo arrives on Friday and we can practice the songs. We record all the drums on Saturday and the guitars on Sunday.” Easy! But what happened? We got drunk on Friday and didn’t sleep. We went to the studio staggering, acting like retards. In six hours we could not record any tracks. Fucking shame. [Producer] Leon [Manssur] from Apokalyptic Raids was there trying to keep us standing. Didn’t work. We canceled the recording session and went to a party near the studio. I think it was some friend’s birthday. After a few beers we finally fell asleep in the friend’s apartment. You cannot imagine how we felt on Sunday morning. What a shame! We had only four more hours to record. We did it in three! So, yes, it was different.
How far back does your history with Joel Grind go and how much did his mastering job help the final version of Merciless Artillery?
Victor: My first contact with Joel was in 2001 or 2002 when he sent me the Toxic Holocaust demo. We kept in touch and we did some trades. In 2006, he invited me and Hugo to play with him on Toxic Holocaust’s Brazilian tour. After that, he did some mastering jobs for Whipstriker. First, he did the mixing and mastering of our 10” split with Bastardizer from Australia. I liked the final result and I asked him to master our third album, [2016’s] Only Filth Will Prevail. Recently, he did the master of the new album again. Joel has the background I need. He understands what I mean when I say, “early Sodom”, “early Bathory”, or “early Kreator.”
Check out Whipstriker’s cover of Gehennah’s “We Love Alcohol”.
Is there a particular story or significance to the album’s title? Your lyrics and song titles are cut from a certain ‘80s speed/war/black metal cloth, but do the songs have a broader application to other topics beyond what you’re actually saying?
Victor: Songs and lyrics are about war. I like this theme because here we live the war. It is part of our lives. I walk in the streets and I see dead children and mutilated corpses. In [the music], you can see, feel, and hear the merciless artillery. It’s the sound of death.
By the time you sit down to answer these, you’ll have just finished your US tour. How did it go? Had you played live or toured very extensively before this and has playing live impacted what you do when you subsequently write and record new material?
Victor: Yeah, USA was great. We played thirteen killer shows. Indeed, this was our shortest tour as we usually play longer tours. About the impact, I always go back home with new ideas. We see many local bands and talk to a lot of people and I always come back home excited to compose new material. In 2019, I want to play more shows in South America or maybe Asia. We have already done three European tours and two American tours. Now it’s time to destroy our neighbours!
Being a veteran of the metal scene, what keeps your motivation alive? Does metal still fire you up in the same ways it did when you were discovering it at an early age? Do you ever find that fire waning when you have to deal with the business, money, and logistical side of things?
Victor: This is the only thing I really like to do. I am exactly the same guy from 1998 when we started our first thrash band (Farscape – still alive and recording a new album!). Playing tours and recording new songs is what I want. I don’t play for money. Of course, the money is important to keep the band alive, to pay the tour costs, studio costs etc. But I have a regular job. I don’t wanna get rich with metal. Stay Hungry! Cheers!
You can order Merciless Artillery right here and enjoy those sweet sounds of death and mutilation all to yourself!