Tuesday 23 August 2011

VISIONS OF WAR - Interview 2009

Hellgium's crust boozers VISIONS OF WAR need no introduction. After fifteen years of "Booze Noise and Misery" with numerous split releases with OKOTTA, OLHIO DE GATO, MASS GENOCIDE PROCESS and COP ON FIRE plus a new album called "Shit Parade" Belgium's finest crust band show no signs of sobering up. I'd been wanting to interview VISIONS OF WAR for sometime and it wasn't until I met Stiv when they played the 1in12 Club in 2009 that an interview was finally put into action. The following interview was conducted with Stiv (vocals), Lola (vocals), Stef (guitar), Boris (bass) and Bis (guitar) via email in 2009 and was originally published in Agitate #11.
Can you introduce yourselves? What you do in the band? Ages? Favourite drink?
Bis, Bo, Stef: ...Boris who plays bass since 2001... Stef who is fonder member on lead guitar... Bis last new comer on guitar Dec 2007... Yvan also new comer on drums since March/April 2008. Our favourite drinks?! Jupiler (our local beer master) Jack Daniel, Jagermeister and Cokkka Cola for hangover... and whiskey...
Lola: Singer - 41 - morning piss.
Stiv: ...Well I'm Stiv. I joined in before the first gig of VOW years ago. I already knew Stef for a while from his former band CORPUS CHRISTI and love drove him to my hometown, so I was there when VOW all started in a lil apartment with just one guitar and about 40 riffs, but I was in 3 other bands at that time so it was a bit weird to get into another one, (cannot remember exactly cause of too much black outs at that time). I'm one of the shouters, drinks can vary from coffee (all time favourite) Jupiler, stronger beers like Westmalle, Grimbergen, Leffe, Lachouffe, Gulden Draak and lately (cheers Stef) whiskey and coke (the drink) and of course water with bubbles for the morning afters...
Why do you think VISIONS OF WAR have lasted so long? After nearly thiteen years of "Booze, Noise and Misery" what is it that keeps you playing in VISIONS OF WAR?
Bis, Bo, Steff: Free booze... the misery and the load noise...
Lola: Because we're sexy as hell, friendly as fuck and probably dumb 'til death.
Stiv: ...Hm don't really know what the trigger is to keep it going. I guess similiar respect for each other, the noise, the friendship we all made with people on the road during all these years... the lack of inspiration to do something else :-)
What bands inspired you to start VISIONS OF WAR? What were some of your influences at that time and are your influences still the same now?
Bis, Bo, Stef: Some bands had influences our music like DISCHARGE (early stuff) DOOM, EXCREMENT OF WAR, E.N.T., HIATUS and early Swedish HC... and don't change so far...
Lola: I'm still into D-beat bands, self managed places where we've the chance to play sometimes. Many bands inspired us at the beginning I guess, and I'm personally still playing the same bands when I'm home. A list would be boring.
Stiv: ...Well I guess the above and some Japanese noise core off course!!!!
How long has the current line up been together and how does it compare with previous line ups?
Bis, Bo, Stef: So as we did already said... this new line up is about 1 and half year more or less... not easy to compare with the previous line ups... it changed already a couple of times... but we are happy with this new one...
Stiv: ...Well we hope this one will stand longer then the previous ones, but in the end I beleive it will still renovate itself, should one or more decide to quit VOW.
What does each member bring to VISIONS OF WAR? Do you all share the same expectations and aspirations of what you want the band to be?
Lola: Some of us bring lazyness, some of us fresh booze. I don't think we always share the same aspirations, but I guess it's the way for community, no? I would maybe like playing less at "big" venues, doing more benefit gigs, hell I can't really explain!
Stiv: ...Ha tough one, hm I guess we'll stay DIY til we die, we did a few bigger gigs lately but hell after 13 years it's not always fun to play before 5-10 people :-) As for aspirations we'll I'm pretty sure we want to do as much gigs, but Belgium is a small country and if you play 4 gigs in a few months everybody saw you and then there's not to much interest in yer band for a while, although the last few years we play again more gigs in Belgium, it used to be totally different years ago, like it seemed there was an unwritten boycott over us, anyway this ain't true but it felt like that, now with all these amazin' new bands who are our friends now we play more in Belgium (check out these nutters, SILENCE MEANS DEATH, LINK, LAST LEGION ALIVE, NATURE'S FAILURE and long standing Swedish HC rockers NAHENDE VERNICHTUNG).
What about the politics of the band? Do you all see VISIONS OF WAR as a political punk band and do you all have similar political beliefs?
Lola: I don't think we've similar political views (if we have some!!). It's useless for me to consider its own band like political or not, some political bands have some members who have nothing to do with politics, some less political bands have really political members, a band is a combination of individuals, let's keeping it like this. I just mean a band is like a family, you can't say "all this family is like this or that", people are different even if the same blood pour in their vein, it's mostly the same for a band: we've not like twins even if we're from the same scene, we've different sensibilities. I regret sometimes when people talk about a band they never include the people who are doing the band, we've sometimes "summaried" as "members from", nothing else.
Stiv: ...Hell yeah we all come out of the DIY squatter scene, not all of us squatted, at the moment just Yvan, and in big lines we still do have our beliefs who really tightly fit in with the DIY scene, but I must admit the older you get some crumble or you don't get that militant anymore and as for some the ideals are almost totally gone :-). I guess you get a lot more repectful in ways cause you see good folks droppin' out but hey I don't think in boxes so I still got a lot of friends who don't share my convictions all the way but there's still that punk attitude in them :-) since it's not always easy to be an older punk especially with kids :-)
What aspects of playing in VISIONS OF WAR do you prefer the most? Recording and releasing records or touring and playing live?
Bis, Bo, Stef: Recording is quite boring job to do, but at the end you have a product in your hands, touring can be boring spending hours in the van to get to the venues... but at least you can get instant satisfaction so definitely it's the best part of being in a band.
Lola: There's time for touring, there's time for recording. I personally don't like recording but I know it's necessary for the whole of us, and when it's done, I'm generally glad about the result (and feel liberated of a strong weight!). Touring is getting more and more exhausting for me. I guess because of the age, it's more and more difficult for me to recover after a hard party on tour, so I'm fine with the fact we never tour more than a week.
Stiv: ...Well personally I hate recordin' I guess I always want to achieve something that I cannot do voice wise, so I'd rather rehearse or play live, yip nothing beats live I guess, the reactions good or bad get you further in the end, it's not because we're a bit older we don't wanna listen to constructive reactions, for those who cannot explain their criticism... piss off :-) As for the touring part yip that's bleedin' great meetin' up with new friends and old friends, it's nice to see not a lot of people dropped out in the end, but yip these days smaller tours are the best for us considerin' the step over to the real world ain't that hard as after 2 weeks of not gettin' enough sleep and molestin' yer brain and intestines :-)
How much of an influence does alcohol play in the band? Do you all drink? What about the criticism of there's too much glorification of alcohol in punk?
Lola: Alcohol has been to present in my life in general for years, so I think at a period it was also a big part of my position in the band. today I can do a gig without boozing (it would have been impossible before). Yeah for sure there's too much glorification of alcohol in punk, like competitions, stories about being drunk as fuck, but I have also my small part of responsability, I used to talk so much about alcohol when I was an alcoholics myself, so it would be pretentious of me to deny people who do the same today.
Stiv: ...hm musically it's not really an influence, but yip in Belgium we just have a drinkin' tradition, basically everywhere we go :-) Hm, it's not like glorification, cause I believe it's a drug and the most dangerous one since you get it everywhere and it's socially approved, and yip unfortunately for some a must, and yes we all like a drink especially on tour just to kill long hours in the van or loosen up and don't fall in the trap of gettin' frustrated for one or other small detail, cause sittin' in a small fishtank on wheels for hours with 7 people is ideal to get frustrated and disappointed :-) But lately I cannot take it very well anymore it's like bein' a part time addict on tour and a normal one at home. I feel at the end I missed out on funny, cool things and also the fact I don't always recongnise people when I see them the next time, but for me it's hard to slow down, I guess I have to leave it for a while, hm, the spirit of all or nothing is quite in grown in my families dna :-)
Can you tell us about your forthcoming split EP with WARVICTIMS? What are the songs about? Will you be doing the sleeve art Stiv?
Lola: Is it going to be done?
Stiv: ...Well this one takes like years to come out, first we had some bad luck, with recording our 9 new songs with a really interesting, honest guy Mr Patrick senior, but in the end we couldn't get the sound we liked, so then we went on to record in a professional studio near Liege (Jackstudio) and I personally think Ben knew what we wanted as a sound, then Lolo got hospitalized and we had to prospone the vokills session, now it's hard to reach all the labels cause there's so much interest in helpin' out, but honestly hell I'm to busy with fartwork, my family and other stuff I feel like totally stressed out to get in touch with all the labels and do the financial side of things... AAAArgghh. As for the cover nope it's Mikkhel (singer from LAZARUS BLACKSTAR ex AFTER THE MASSACRE) who took the honours for the cover together with Dunja (R.A.F.I.), who did the layout for us and the cover. For those who don't know Mikkel's work it's totally brilliant and I personally luv his beerbottle embryo's :-)
I also heard about a forthcoming split EP with CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR and a four way split LP with NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR, GUIDED CRADLE and INSTANT OF SURVIVAL? Can you tell us more about these?
Bis, Bo, Stef: Yip, we'll do one with our mates from C.S.O.T. but that will take a bit of time they still have to record after puttin' out there own 3rd 7" (it's a rager :-)), about the 4 way split, well N.D.T. pulled out of the project together with the most important labels who were involved. I totally understand it's been going on and on and almost no-one cared in the end, to bad, but we're lookin' to get something done instead, we'll see in the future about that.
Lola: Are they going to be done?
So far your releases have all been split releases with other bands. What made you decide to release your songs as split releases as opposed to releasing your own full length EP, LP? What do you look for in a band when it comes to sharing a split record?
Lola: As I always say, it would be a violent pain to ear a complete record of VISION OF WAR, and we've a particular notion of friendship. We share the troubles so we share the records...
Stiv: ...Well most of the time we know the people or know what they stand for, also it helps if we really like the music of course, sometimes we ask a band or we're gettin' asked, so far we've been really lucky to get it together with good bands, so people buy it for the other band and get us on it too ;-)
Stiv, tell us about your artwork? Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from? What bands have you worked with and do bands approach you for your art or do you approach them?
Stiv: ...Well I started doodlin' and drawing on a young age, I was the lil' silent kid in the corner drawin' away, and since a few years I do some artwork for friends and bands I like, the inspiration goes from classic paintings, sculptures, even pictures, but I don't photoshop my drawings, it's all been done by hand, something I'm quite proud of, but frustrates a lot since when I fuck up or the band wants in the end something else it's back to the drawing board however lately I have a close friend Arne Killbo who helps me with puttin' my drawings into one big drawing photoshop wise, but this is mearly lay-out wise. Well I started out with local bands demo covers and logo's, later on for the releases of bands I was in and still am and thanx to the OLHO DE GATO/VISIONS OF WAR split LP it all started, especially with Dan P.E. giving me the opportunity in P.E. mag nr.48 it helped a lot too, more international, and from there I did stuff for INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, GUIDED CRADLE, WOLFBRIGADE, SKITSYSTEM, KATASTROPHOBIA, BOYCOTT, MASS GENOCIDE PROCESS, WARVICTIMS, RAKKAUS, RIISTETYT, PROJECT HOPELESS, NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR, KONTATTO hm and a lot more I cannot really recall right now :-) Well I guess I'm doing not top bad since a few bands always come back for more so I'm honoured that I can do more releases then one, it creates a bond and you know where they wanna go for the next layout or drawing, cheers you guys.
You played some dates in Italy earlier this year? How did that go? What were some of your highlights of the "Shitaly Tour 09"?
Bis, Bo, Stef: Italy was great time... nice places, nice people, of course nice food and wine... and it was also cool to play this tour with Stick (DOOM) 'cos our drummer wasn't able to go with us anymore... and for sure we should thanx again Koppa (ABUSO SONORO/Agipunk/KONTATTO) for booking, driving us and taking care of everything for us.. Mila (Agipunk/GUIDA) for booking help... and the D-beat queen Marziona (KONTATTO) for her simpathy and Stick for his presents on drums!
Lola: For me it was awesome, I was suffering as hell in a French hospital. So I haven't seen Italy. But I heard it was a massacre, haha!!
Stiv: ...Hell yeah Pengiuno dio!! It was amazing too bad Lolo couldn't make it cause of his operation, and it came to me then that if Lolo would quit it won't be the same power then we have now. But Italy was really nice, although next time I won't be on stage anymore at La Scintilla, it's a bit high to fall off every now and then, for the rest cheers to all the squats and places and the good care of  the Agipunk team and of course our not so secret anymore 7th member, Mr Sticky Chap for helpin' us out the 23rd time on tour back then :-)
You also recently toured the UK with CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR and returned again for Scumfest. How many times have you played the UK now? What do you like most about touring and playing in the UK?
Bis, Bo, Stef: We already went to the UK 5 times... but it's the first time with this new line up... it was nice to tour again UK and especially with our mates C.S.O.T. and for sure we are glad to be part of Scumfest 09 but the fact that most of the time bands get no free booze disappoint us...
Lola: If my memory still works. I think we made 2 dates 2 times, then a 4 dates tour, then the 5 dates tour with CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR, and we come back that 6 June of 09 for the 5th time to play the 14th date on this island. Is it enough precise??
Stiv: ...Well I really want to thank everyone who put us up, fed us and let us pay for booze :-) Nope it was a bit of a downer since everywhere we played before in the UK we got at least some drinkin' tickets or whatever and now that wasn't everywhere the case, but I understand if you just have 10 payin' people or less there's no way you can pay that out of yer pocket, anyway I hope in the future we can come back and personally I'd luv to go to Scotland and Ireland on the next one :-) Who knows hopefully back with our mates CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR??
Any last comments? Anything else you want to discuss?
Bis, Bo, Stef: Thanks for interest in our band.. and see you in the pit mate...!!!
Lola: I would have liked to discuss about Columbo but you feel very tired... thanx for your interest.
Stiv: ...Chris mate thanx for askin' us to participate on this one, I've been a huge fan of Aversion (cheers Stef for introducin' me to that one years ago :-)) before and it's pretty damn cool you still do a zine, RESPECT mate and keep it up and next time buy us a cider please :-)

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