2012. január 10., kedd

Viking interview with drummer Matt Jordan - part 2.

The three songs of the demo made up on the debut record titled Do Or Die, at which point did you write the other tunes? How about the song composing, the song composing-process of Viking?
We wrote the songs together as we rehearsed every week. I remember playing drums on my chest as Brett wrote the riffs. We could be walking through a store, driving, hanging out, it seemed like we were always trying to come up with cool riffs. Ron wrote most of the lyrics. I did write some early stuff but it was mostly Ron who had the gift of writing the lyrics.
The album was recorded 9/87-10/87 at the Adamo’s Recording, produced by the band itself and Brian Slagel, how about the recording sessions? Were you prepared to record the material?
I have mixed emotions about the album Do or Die. We're we prepared? Yes we were. We were polished, fast, we practiced rigorously, and we had very high expectations for ourselves. Looking back almost 25 years later, I regret not having more discipline in how I played. The first song we recorded was Valhalla. I remember the engineer commenting how cool and fast the song was. I was very excited and wanted the drums to be brutal.. kick you in the chin fast. Unfortunately, the recording came across a little out of control and even too fast at times. The recording was high paced and had a since of urgency for some reason. I'm not sure what it was other than pure excitement. The album could have been so much better if we had someone in the studio with more production experience and could've reeled me in a little bit.
Most of the tracks are viciously fast with some incredible thrash breaks, correct?
The songs we wrote for Do or Die was classic speed metal. I have made it no secret over the years, that the recording is disappointing to me. I'm very thankful Viking fans over the years have embraced it as a classic thrash metal album. I have received a lot of positive feedback and appreciated all that has been said over the years. But those songs were so much better than that recording. I played those songs so fast they lost some of the detailed intricacies and cool riffs we worked so hard to perfect. I have recordings of Viking practices that blow that album away. I love the songs, I liked the album.
What do you think about, that the inevitable influences came directly from bands like Dark Angel and Slayer and this album develops its fury through 30 minutes of hyper fast and destructive brutal thrash metal the aggression is really present?
There is no doubt our influences were Slayer and Dark Angel. They were our heroes. We were so thankful Dark Angel embraced us as brothers. They were very supportive of Viking and I consider them friends. Gene Hoglan was my idol and hero. I learned a lot from just watching him. I still consider him my mentor and an old friend.
Do you agree with, that the nine songs are mostly played in a supersonic velocity, but the songs are catchy enough to turn not out to useless noise, fast pace, some slower moments, loads of riffs, catchiness and energetic vocals?
I like the speed of Do or Die on some of the songs. If I could do it again, I would like to see the speeds vary a bit. For the most part, the record is the same out of control speed which takes away from the catchy riffs and slower parts. I love all those songs and they are very special to me because they were written with passion and a love for music. I would have liked them to be more controlled and a little slower in the studio.
Do Or Die wasn't about song writing, it was about relentless speed and extreme intensity…
Do or Die reflected our mentality and view on life. We didn't care what people thought about us and wanted to produce an in your face bone crushing thrash metal record. The production sound could have been better, the tempo could have been slower.. we were young and excited to be recording. In those days, not every band had that chance to record their music. Now a days, with technology and the internet, music is more accessible and its easier for bands to record and distribute their material.
Are the guitar solos screeching in best Slayer tradition, Ron Erikssen sounds like a combination of Tom Araya and Don Doty and the whole sound is rough and unpolished?
No doubt Slayer and Dark Angel was a big influence. Bret and Ron were very fast when it came to their guitar solos. They worked hard and wanted to make eardrums bleed. I think the overall production of the album didn't give justice to how talented Ron is. Ron is a very accomplished and talented vocalist. Yes it sounds unpolished and rough, which people liked, but I think he was ripped off a little due to the fast pace and poor overall sound.
The song Warlord was featured on the The Best of Metal Blade, Volume 3, along with tracks from Slayer, Lizzy Borden, Trouble, how much did this record help the band getting newer fans?
We are very thankful for the Metal Blade compilation series. Viking has had a consistent fan base for 25 years. Metal Blade and the Metal Massacre series really helped us form that fan base.
The world-famous Dark Angel invited Ron into the studio to sing a duet with vocalist Ron Rinehart on The Promise of Agony (Leave Scars record), did it symbolize the friendship between the bands or…? How did that happen?
We were very good friends with Dark Angel. Ron Rinehart and Ron Ericksen had similar singing styles. I was not surprised when Ron participated in Live Scars. Ron Rinehart also helped us in the studio when we recorded Man of Straw.
How about the shows and touring after the release of Do Or Die? Did you give a lot of shows? Did you have the opportunity touring in Europe?
There were local clubs in the southern California area that were very supportive of Viking. We played a lot of local shows but really never made it outside the area.
The Promise Of Agony was Ron’s last recorded vocal work before becoming a Christian just three months later, correct?
I'm not sure of the time frame. I know Ron has had several studio recordings since his work in Viking. He is a very gifted and versatile musician.
At which point did you start working on the second album titled Man Of Straw?
We started writing Man of Straw right away. We had tons of songs that never even made into the studio. We were very excited to begin the recording process. Although Do or Die was somewhat successful, we knew it wasn't our best work and we were eager to get Man of Straw recorded.
Is it true, that before completing the second album, Ron became a Born-Again Christian, and thus Ron rewrote some of the lyrics on Man of Straw to be more Christian-friendly (though with the exception of The Trial, that is generally not overtly religious)?
I don't think that's true. I remember Ron rewrote some lyrics because the older style of writing was more juvenile in nature... the blood and guts and satanic lyric style didn't capture the attitude of Man of Straw. He wrote about things he liked and what challenged him in life. Great White sharks, movie set tragedies, bad relationships, and creepy TV shows... Ron had a lot freedom to write what he wanted and wasn't locked into the worn out death, blood and guts lyrics style.
Do you consider Man of Straw an interesting album with some clear changes and concessions from the blitz of debut Do or Die?
Man of Straw was a great album. Looking back, I think it was a time of redemption from the sloppy recording of Do or Die. We used metronomes and had a concise plan when recording. Every song was planned out and rehearsed relentlessly. A lot of work was put into that album.
Was Man of Straw a step forward for this band, shows how much the band had matured since their debut?
Man of Straw was definitely a step forward. We matured as musicians and friends. We knew Do or Die wasn't our best work and were eager to redeem ourselves. We took our time and recorded in a better studio and really tried not to make the same mistakes we made when recording Do or Die.
The songs are more complex and still well structured, and the musicianship in general has improved immensely, correct?
We worked hard on the tunes for Man of Straw. I know Ron and Brett really worked hard when writing their guitar solos. Ron worked hard on keeping his gallop picking techniques tight.... I wrote the music for an entire song. Brett really helped me in construction the song Raped the Land and I was really happy with how it turned out. We rehearsed a lot and really came together as a band to make sure it was a tight controlled recording. All of us had input and I think it turned out well.
Did Man of Straw vary the tempos from song to song with some fast and furious riffing, as well as some more mid-tempo grooves?
I loved how our songs varied in tempo on Man of Straw. That is how we wrote the tunes and it reflected in the recording. Do or Die would have turned out better if we would have stuck with what we knew. Fast and furious with tempo changes and slower mosh riffs. When songs have slower breaks, the fast parts are more exaggerated and sound better.
Whose idea was covering the Pat Benatar song Hell Is For Children? Did it fit to your originals, to your own songs?
I think the motive behind the cover tune was to get radio air play. I'm not sure it worked. The song turned out good and fit the album. We actually recorded Roundabout by YES also. I remember that turned out really good although it didn't make the final cut. I would love to get my hands on that recording now. We had a lot of fun recording it.
In your opinion, is another big improvement over the debut the production, because this album was produced by Gordon Shumway pesudo name for Bill Metoyer and the production is far superior, with a great clear guitar tone, the sound is clear and sharp?
I know Bill was in the studio and contributed a lot to the project. Most of the improvement came from not wanting to make the same mistake twice. We knew we let one go when we recorded Do or Die. Those were really good songs that got away from us We knew we were better than that and wanted to live up to our potential.
In 1990, Metal Blade Records released a compilation Metallic Overdrive, an album of bands such as Viking, Heretic, Lizzy Borden, and Anvil, the Viking track featured was Man of Straw, what was the goal of this compilation? Did you find it as a good idea?
I always appreciated Metal Blade Records and their compilation series. It kept bands like Viking alive and helped the fan base increase.
Compared to the mid ’80s, thrash metal started going out of fashion, a lot of thrash bands changed their sound and songwriting, such as Slayer,Megadeth, Metallica, Dark Angel and at this point started popping up the so called funky thrash outfits, such as Mordred, Ignorance etc. how do you view it?
I never got into the newer metal bands and sounds. It was either too fashionable.. too movie prop.. and some of it was over the top fast to where you could even understand the music. As I got older, I actually started listening to older thrash bands I grew up with. Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, and Dark Angel will always be special to me because I grew up idolizing these guys. I also got involved in the local scene and supported many local bands. Bands who weren't interested in how ugly they looked, or how evil they were, but had a lot of passion and love for the music.
Although Viking had a six-album contract with Metal Blade Records and an upcoming U.S. tour, Ron knew that his young Christianity would not withstand the temptations of the road, so he quit the band in 1990 along with you who had also recently become a Christian, would you say that this led to the band’s split? Did with only two members remaining, Viking immediately disband?
I think it was a combination of a lot of things. Brett had joined Dark Angel on a tour and left Southern California for a while. Jim is a very gifted artist and wanted to express himself there. I was engaged to be married and my priorities changed. I needed to find a full time job that could support me and my new family. Ron and I felt there was something else bigger than music and we needed to figure it out in our own way. We were very young at the time and felt the need to move out of state and melt into the working world. Viking never really officially disbanded, our priorities changed very quickly in a short period of time and we went our separate ways. Viking was, and is, very special to me. Brett, Jim, Ron and I were very close friends and I still consider them my brothers to this day.
Brett Erikssen, having replaced Dark Angel’s Jim Durkin on a world tour, joined the band full time, and released Time Does Not Heal, but what about James Lareau? Did he remain in the music business and started searching for new bands or…?
Brett had a great time and was very successful with Dark Angel. Those guys were great friends and he had a wonderful life experience. I'm not sure if Jim joined any other bands. I know he works in the art industry and is doing very well for himself.
Did your life radically change, that you became Born-Again Christian? Would you tell us more about it?
A number of years ago I came to some personal conclusions that did change my life for the better. I realized there was something bigger in this world than just me. I don't call myself religious... and I'm not dogmatic... I don't do drugs, I don't drink, I love life and love interacting with people for who they are, no matter who they are.
Ron and you had moved to Oregon, correct?
Ron and I did move to Oregon and worked for large t-shirt company. We stayed close friends and played music together off and on.
Have you watched the development of Metal after leaving the scene? Do you care at least a little bit about modern Metal?
I have followed some of the metal scene over the years. There are some bands that are extremely talented and have a passion for the music. I got interested in the local scene rather than the exposed popular bands. There are some really good loacl bands out there that will never get the recognition they deserve. I will always love and care for the industry. It is, and always will be a huge part of my life.
In 2011, Ron Daniel Eriksen and you reunited for the purpose of creating new tunes, with Brett Eriksen completely out of the music business, Viking stage manager Glenn Rogers (founding member of Deliverance, and longtime member of Hirax) joined as the second lead guitar player, what were your reasons to reform the band?
Since Viking disbanded years ago, both Ron and I have continued to play music in lots of different settings. But thrash - specifically Viking's brand of thrash - has always been our true love. It just seems to be the way our brains are wired. We love the speed, the aggression, the brutality, and the simplicity of it. As far as the reforming, we've always had a steady trickle of fan mail and requests to reunite, but they really have intensified a lot in the last couple years. Maybe it's because of the internet, but I think we may have more fans now than we did in the 80s. And one day Ron and I were talking on the phone and throwing around the "wouldn't it be cool if we got Viking back together." It just seemed to click this time around. We couldn't think of any reason NOT to do it this time.
Your bassplayer is Tyler Von Moll, did you ask James Leareau joining again at all? Is he out of the music business too?
Our first choice was certainly to have Brett and James do this. For us it was always the perfect balance of push and pull to make the best tunes we could that wouldn't be possible individually. We really wanted them to be a part of it - and still do - but for the time being, they don't seem to be interested. To his credit, James has become a very accomplished artist. If you Google "James Lareau Sculptor", you'll see some of the amazing stuff he's made. We're hoping they decide to come out of retirement one day. And Glenn and Tyler have already told us they'd be totally cool with that, because they're fans of the original Viking too.
What about the brandnew tracks compared to Do Or Die and Man Of Straw? When do you plan to record the new tracks and to release the album?
The new tracks are phenomenal. They are exactly what I always hoped the third Viking album would sound like. It's not going to be as fast from start to finish as Do or Die was, but we had already decided to notch things back to a level where people could actually hear what was going on in the music back before we recorded Man of Straw. It will be fast, and the lyrics are brutal, the riffs are heavy, and the tunes kick. As for recording, we're having some scheduling issues. The logistics of us all being adults with families and jobs and all living in opposite corners of the country has been challenging. Getting everybody scheduled together in the studio at once is proving to be difficult, but we'll do whatever we need to to get this record done as soon as possible. And when it's done, we're pretty sure everyone will say it was definitely worth waiting for.
Do you know, that Man Of Straw was re-released by Lost And Found Records several years ago? Only 1000 copies was re-released…
I was very excited to see and hear the Lost and Found Records release. I have had a lot positive feedback and I think it was an intricate part in the recent reforming of the band. Over the last few years there seems be a renewed love for classic thrash metal and an interest in Viking. We are doing our best to give what the fans loved so much in the 80's. Raw in your face thrash metal. At this point in time, it just seems right to reunite and create what we grew up with.
Do you think that both Viking records are classics and had a great influence on today’s scene?
I know people from all the world have shown a lot of respect and love for Viking. I've been told Viking albums are classics. I really don't know, I'll let other people determine that. We were 4 guys in southern California who loved speed metal and wanted nothing more than to express ourselves through music.
How would/could you sum up Viking’s short career? What were the highlights and the lowpoints?
Viking did have a short career which I think adds to the mystic to the band. I could second guess myself and wish things had happened differently. But instead I cherish the memories and loved the experience. We were all great friends who are bonded together for the rest of our lives. We created fast, brutal, ear piercing tunes that I'm very proud of. I don't think there were low points in the bands short career because we loved what we did. We had some hard times and struggled through them as friends. But our successes out weighed any difficulties we went through. We started as kids who wanted to conquer the world with relentless bone crushing thrash metal and ended as musicians who loved the experience and what we accomplished together as friends. We had the opportunity to play with outstanding bands, famous venues, made outstanding friends, and had a blast doing it.
Can you perhaps write me about the recording sessions of the new album, about the songs how are they compared to the first two Viking records etc.?
Unfortunately my hectic schedule this summer prevented me from recording the new Viking tunes. I am very thankful my friend and mentor Gene Hoglan offered to help with the recording. I have heard some rough cuts and will say it is brutal, raw, and hardcore. It won't be over produced and is as old school as it gets. If you like fast, smash mouth, hardcore thrash metal, you're going to love this recording. Ron has worked very hard on this project and it shows. It is very consistent with the other Viking tunes... the guitar riffs are thick and loud, the drums are fast and in your face, the vocals are raw and vicious. Fans will love this!
Thanks a lot for your answers, anything to add that I forgot to cover?
Leslie, thank you so much for your continued interest in Viking. It means a lot to us. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you.

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