We had the pleasure to talk with Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek, frontman and founding member of death metal legends VADER during their stopover in Helsinki in the context of their “Message to the North tour”, which started last week in Lithuania. The intense evening program included, in addition to Vader, Polish acts Hate and Thy Disease, plus Grimaze from Bulgaria and The Noctambulant from USA.
Being one of the seminal figures in Polish metal, we asked him about his memories from the early years but also his views on the current Polish extreme metal scene and his dedication to pay tribute to the Metal Gods. Peter also discussed about the future plans of the band, which include a brand-new studio album scheduled for early 2020. Last but not least, he shared his opinion on the Star Wars franchise.
We leave you the full transcript (slightly modified to improve readability) of the interview below as well as the original audio version on YouTube:
David: Hi Peter, how are you doing?
Peter: I’m doing good, thank you. Tour just started three days ago. Everything’s all right, good team, good people, good tour, good shows …
David: It’s a killer line up. Three top-notch Polish bands (Vader, Hate and Thy Disease) plus some guests from Bulgaria and USA. Also, Lilla Veneda from Poland joined you in the beginning. What kind of reception have you gathered from the fans so far?
Peter: It’s good, you know. We’re not for the first time in those cities, including Helsinki today. We already have many friends here and they’re definitely going to show up tonight. We have some new songs from the last record included in the setlist, plus we changed some things, so it might be a pretty interesting show, for Vader and all those bands who play with us. It’s going to be definitely an interesting evening for everybody.
David: I saw you guys playing with Annihilator and Testament last year here in Helsinki. Your set was mind-blowing, very brutal yet so technical. How would you compare the experience of performing now as a main act, in contrast to opening for other bands or playing a big festival?
Peter: That tour with Testament and Annihilator was, first of all, a big one. Big tour, so you may expect many fans showing up every day. But honestly, if you want to see Vader with a full-throttle then it’s better to visit us when we are headlining, because then we get more chances, the set list is bigger, so we can just give 120% of the power. When you play as a supporting act, you never get a hundred percent abilities, because that is how it goes. But anyway, that tour was pretty good, so actually last week I was talking to Jeff (Waters, from Annihilator) about making something together in Canada next year. They are working on a new record, we already have a new record coming up, so 2020 would be definitely a busy year for both bands.
David: Sounds cool! You’re currently promoting your latest EP “Thy Messenger” which was released via Nuclear Blast, just like most of your albums during the last decade. I noticed that you have also released some albums through Witching Hour Productions, which is a Polish independent record label. How does that work, how do you choose how to release these different albums?
Peter: Those are, first of all, historical albums. It’s re-releases or something from the old days. Nuclear Blast is not interested in releasing everything, you know. We started re-releasing the very first works, our demo tapes on vinyl, and some nice boxsets. We were following with the first album, so actually we tried to cooperate with Earache Records, which was our original record company. They released “The Ultimate Incantation” album in 1993 but, unfortunately, we couldn’t do it because Earache didn’t let us release even a limited license version. So, the only way to re-release the first album for its 25th anniversary was to record it again. We named the album a little bit different, but we still had the original painting from Dan Seagrave, who made the original cover. We wanted to do something, Earache didn’t want to cooperate with us, so what could we do? The album “Dark Age” was released two years ago, and we also made some special events where we played the album as a whole, fans like this kind of stuff. We have a new album that’s coming up next year, plus our second album “De Profundis”, which is one of the favorite Vader albums for the fans, is going to be 25 years since it was released. It’s going to be 20 years since “Litany” was released, and that’s another favorite album. So, probably we’re going to re-release both of those albums next year, plus a new album. It’s going to be a very good year for Vader.
David: Sounds quite intense, lots of releases coming up. Vader are pioneers when it comes to Polish metal. You started in the early 80s, but released your first album only in 1992. What kind of memories do you hold from those early years before you released your first album?
Peter: It’s a long story, just to say it in a few lines, you know. You just can’t do that. We have this book called “Total War”, which was already released in Polish language, but we’re working in an English edition as well, also Russian. It’s a pretty thick book about the whole story, specially focused in the early days, because that was the most interesting age for everybody from a new generation. Those were absolutely different times for bands playing extreme metal in Eastern countries in the 80s. The band started in the middle of the 80s, we were absolutely parallel to the music business, I mean, metal business was not existing in those days. Actually, we were one of those who started the underground scene in Poland. One of the bands, not the only one, but probably we were one of the few who survived the time. You know, we’re happy to exist for so many years, and we still have fans from new, younger generations, still having fun and enjoying Vader. That’s, I think, the biggest fortune, that makes me the most happy now. We’re still an active band, we still have fans, you know. We’re not just like a dinosaur band who plays for old pricks only (laughs).
David: And talking about Poland, I wanted to ask you about the current state of the Polish extreme metal scene. In addition to the four bands taking part of this tour, acts like Behemoth, Batushka and Mgła have achieved a lot of recognition internationally. What do you think is the key to this success?
Peter: I have no idea. I don’t really have so much time, compared to the past. I’m not following everything, so what I know is from my friends. Most of those bands you mentioned, they are friends of mine, and I’ve known those guys for years. I can say something about Behemoth, because they were going through this thing for years, for decades. Now they have gained a huge success in the world with their performances. I think they deserve it, you know. They get this mix of black metal and death metal, with this spectacle on the stage, so people like that. But you know, Batushka or Mgła it’s something different, it’s a new, modern kind of success. They gained something they didn’t even expect, that they could be so huge after just a few albums released. And, what can I say, I can wish them luck in the future (laughs).
David: My first contact with Vader was in high school. A friend of mine lend me a copy of “Future of the Past”, and I was immediately surprised by your ability to make kick-ass covers of metal classics. How important it is for you to keep paying tribute to the gods at this point in your career, the last example being “Steeler” by Judas Priest?
Peter: I’m a fan, you know. I’ve been a metal fan for years, and every time if I can give some respect, the best respect is just to play covers, you know. Just to remind the new generation what is a classic in metal. If we have the time and if we have a studio ready for that. We did “Future of the Past” with the milestones of death metal, for me and for Vader, including bands like Kreator, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath. People were asking for maybe something more, like part two. It took me years until I decided to release it, but I totally changed my mind, because I focused on the beginnings of the Polish metal scene. I focused on my friends from the past, you know, for the bands who were so much important in Poland, but they were just absolutely forgotten. I tried to bring back those bands who never released something important, they just disappeared in the meantime, but they were very popular and very important in the metal scene in Poland in the 80s. So, we did “Future of the Past – Part II” which we called “Hell in the East”. Sometimes, I add as a bonus when we release EP’s or something, another legend which is important, some song which I like and that we can perform live. It’s in the same vein, just to keep tradition going on, just to keep some songs. Actually, Judas Priest came back with an absolutely great album. Everybody just though that Judas Priest was going to be ended, they even got a tour called The Epitaph. It made me really happy that they released an absolutely great album, and they’re still going on, they’re still active. I love this band, you know. Actually, I think Judas Priest made me a metalhead. I started with Black Sabbath but Judas Priest is the band who made me a metalhead. I started to listen more extreme metal later on, like Slayer, Morbid Angel, Deicide, etc. So that was like, my own, our own respects for this band, you know. I had the chance to meet them personally, we supported Judas Priest twice in Poland on a festival. Very nice guys, like these metal gods from the past. These guys are different, they are not rock stars, they play such great music, and they are huge icons, but they act like normal people, like metalheads, you know. Even if they are like 60 or 70 years-old, they’re just good guys and still enjoying what they’re doing. That’s very important to me, that’s a motivating thing.
David: Definitely! One last question: Based on the name of the band, I assume you’re a big fan of the original Star Wars trilogy. What do you think about the prequels, sequels, spin-offs and how Disney has handled the franchise?
Peter: Yeah, Disney is a good explanation for everything, I think. Seriously, when we took the name from Star Wars, that was a different movie. We were younger and this cult movie Star Wars was different, you know. Vader was this kind of iconic dark person, on those days nobody had an idea that something like and Anakin Skywalker it’s going to show up in the future. But all in all, I really like the three episodes which we know as the first ones, and then the three following ones. Maybe, I was a little bit disappointed with the first episode “The Phantom Menace”, it was a little bit more made for a younger generation, for kids, so that the whole family can watch it. It’s not as dark as those first three parts, Episodes IV, V and XI, as we know. Only now later this story was smartly made as a whole. So, I liked that. But what was next, after Vader died, that’s different to me. After so many years, Lucas and Disney they’re trying to make absolutely the same that we saw on “A New Hope”, just more Hollywood-style, more effects, you know, bigger. This Death Star thing, just bigger, but I think it’s just too stupid, you know. But we live in different world, and I think the new generations they get something we never had. They get Internet, everybody has mobile phones, the technology gets so high. So, probably the younger generations couldn’t understand what was for us so spectacular about the first Star Wars movies we watched back in the 80s or 70s. Maybe that’s an idea. However, I feel that this is just the same but in Hollywood style, bigger. This is “Star Wars – A New Hope” but made in the 21st century (laughs). That’s just my feelings, of course. But I’m still waiting for the next ones. I really like those little episodes that they’ve made in the meantime. That’s a really good idea, I really like that, I think more than the sequel things.
David: To conclude our interview, would you like to send a message to your fans and invite them to listen to your latest record, or come to see your tour?
Peter: You know I always say we would not exist without our fans. Vader exists for so many years because we have fans, and because fans support us. So, I can’t just say enough good words about how much we love our fans. Actually, what we do, we do for our fans. It’s of course our job, we live from music. But we do it not just for us, when we do music, we do it for the fans. It works both sides, together. What can I promise? We have the EP “Thy Messenger”, but we recorded that just because we knew that the fool album was going to be delayed. At first, we wanted to release the album in December this year, but after a pitch with Nuclear Blast, we thought it’s a little bit better for everybody to release it in the beginning of 2020. The album will be probably released late January or beginning of February. I can’t say the title yet because I’m still thinking, I can’t decide about that. I’m still waiting for the main cover art by Wes Benscoter. But the album was recorded, all the songs and the title of the songs are already done, so probably we’re going to make it public. And what can I say, I’m sure the fans will like it. It’s different than the last album “The Empire”, I think it’s a little more … it’s not the same, because … maybe I shouldn’t say that. Let’s just wait and let the fans decide if they like it or not. It’s going be a very brutal album, it’s probably the most brutal in the whole history of Vader. But that’s Vader, so what can I say?
David: Thank you very much for your time, Peter! Looking forward to seeing your show tonight!
Peter: Thank you!
Here are the tour dates with HATE and THY DISEASE.
05.09.2019 – Vilnus / LEGENDOS
06.09.2019 – Riga / REPUBLIKA
07.09.2019 – Tallinn / TAPPER
08.09.2019 – Helsinki / ON THE ROCKS
09.09.2019 – Tampere / YO-TALO
10.09.2019 – Jyvaskyla / ILOKIVI
11.09.2019 – Oulu / 45 SPECIAL
12.09.2019 – Umea / DROSKAN
13.09.2019 – Trondheim / HJORTEN SCENE
14.09.2019 – Sundsvall / DESTROYER
15.09.2019 – Stockholm / SLAKTKYRKAN
17.09.2019 – Copenhagen / HOTEL CECIL
18.09.2019 – Goteborg / STICKY FINGERS
19.09.2019 – Oslo / RØVERSTADEN
20.09.2019 – Malmo / PLAN B
21.09.2019 – Erfurt / CLUB FROM HELL
22.09.2019 – Cottbus / MUGGEFUG
with THY DISEASE
01.10 – UKR – LVIV / “FestRepublic”
02.10 – UKR – CHORNOMORSK / “Metropolis”
03.10 – MDA – CHISINAU / “Bandabar”
04.10 – ARM – YEREVAN / “Puppet Theater”
05.10 – GEO – TBILISI / “Elektrowerk”
07.10 – KAZ – KARAGANDA / “Fifth Corner”
08.10 – KAZ – ALMATY / “Motor Club”
09.10 – KGZ – BISHKEK / “Retro-Metro”
10.10 – TUR – ISTANBUL / “Kadiköy Sahne”
11.10 – AUT – SALZBURG / “Rockhouse”
12.10 – GER – CHAM / “LA”
13.10 – GER – LEIPZIG / “Bandhaus”
Order the EP now: http://nuclearblast.com/vader-thymessenger
“Thy Messenger” track listing:
01. Grand Deceiver