DATE OF INTERVIEW:
2nd October 2008
GRA + VIL
METAL DISCOVERY: Your history is surrounded in mystery on your EP and MySpace. Is this done to coincide with your alter-ego selves (as Gra & Vil), or because, as a relatively new band, it's a more intriguing selling-point?
VIL: [laughs] As for using the image as a selling point, I speak for the both of us when I say "we DO NOT care at all about the sales figures", maybe it will affect the figures but ultimately we only ever want our music out there, we want to be respected as musicians and as two guys that said "hey, we made the music we wanted to hear and enjoyed every second". This is not a career for GraVil, I wish I could afford to manufacture 2,000,000 albums and give them away for free.
GRA: There were many factors that lead up to the decision to keep our identities hidden. The first and foremost was that too many bands get pigeon holed in genres by how they look, we didn't want to get caught in all of that mumbo jumbo, we wanted our music to be heard and judged by what it was and not how it looked. Secondly, we just love comics; when we came up with the initial idea of being comic book characters I don't think we ever had second thoughts. Finally, we enjoy people not knowing who we are; we've had people guessing at who we are which is cool. Vil's even been told he's actually Alexi Laiho?!
GRA: Besides... it makes us look like super heroes that slay dragons with the power of metal!!
(Gra on eschewing clichéd lyrical themes)
"I don't tend to find time to write about worshipping Satan, I'll happily leave that with Slayer..."
Interview by Steve Cowan
MD: You've stated before that you formed from the ashes of another band in 2005 (although musically things didn't kick off until 2007). Is GraVil a natural progression from this former band, or a creative leap?
GRA: The other band was a metalcore/deathmetal band, so I guess in a way we became more melodic. We seemed to steer more towards melodic Scandinavian death and bizarrely doom, despite neither of us being influenced by doom.
MD: I've read that Vil has his own studio, in which the EP was recorded. Can you tell me more about your general set-up?
MD: Although originally the EP was being distributed by Bitter to the Core, you eventually signed to them fully for the EP. You've stated that this arrangement won't be maintained for the album. Do you have plans for another label or a self-release again?
MD: Sticking with the new album, can you tell us anything about the songs? Have they retained the style of the EP, or has the experience of recording sent you in a different direction?
MD: What inspires you in your writing, both lyrically and musically?
MD: You have announced the addition of Martin Bermheden (of The Berzerker fame) to your recording line-up - at least for select tracks. How did you come to get involved with him? Can you reveal any other guests yet?
MD: What plans do you have to bring your songs to the stage? Do you plan to continue the image of the band into this arena too?
MD: Finally, any plans to bring the band to other media? The artwork so far has been quite stunning, so maybe a GraVil Comic Book?
MD: Thanks for sharing your time and answering my questions.
Official GraVil MySpace:
Bitter To The Core Records Website:
Somthing Worth Chasing (2008)
Anglo-Scandinavian duo GraVil, marketed as conceptual cartoon guises à la virtual death metallers Dethlok, released their debut EP 'Something Worth Chasing' earlier this year to rave reviews. Metal Discovery's Steve Cowan took the opportunity to quiz the two musical brains responsible for this exciting new band, Gra and Vil, in an attempt to discover more about the corporeal alter egos behind their fictional identities...
VIL: In my opinion I really believe that it's a creative leap. Gra and I were always the two main song writers and when the songs were taken to rehearsal the rest of the band pulled and contorted our original ideas. This is the basis, and often the winning formula, for any band. Unfortunately, it never really ended up working. So Gra and I left to form GraVil and concentrate soley on writing and recording.
VIL: At the moment we're recording everything on a mobile ProTools rig consisting of an Apple laptop and an M-Audio interface. All of the recording and mixing is done 'in the box' with a really rudimentary set of plugins. I tend to record most of our guitars through a Line 6 Spider 2 but sometimes I'll mess around with various effect pedals and stomp boxes just to get some different tones in there. The basic idea is that it can't take me more than 5 minutes from the point where I think of a guitar riff or a vocal line to the point where I have it recorded, or else I'll just forget the idea, so I try to maintain my setup accordingly.
VIL: It's like we've always said, if the right label says the right things then we'll be there like a shot. It’s getting the label to give you a good deal to start with that’s the main thing, otherwise we're better off releasing with a smaller independent label that will concentrate on the release, giving it as much care and attention as it deserves.
GRA: Bitter To The Core are a great bunch of guys, they're really on the ball and very pro band. That’s why we eventually signed with them for the EP distribution, it was never a "record deal" so to speak. I'd like to think the offer would be there from them when we come to the next release, but whether we'd self release it I don't know.
GRA: Totally, every band dreams of being signed to Sony, EMI, Roadrunner or Nuclear Blast etc etc but its making sure you're not financially raped in the process and centering on what they can do that you can't do yourself. If any labels are reading this, we're always open to offers. [laughs]
VIL: The new stuff is quite varied. We have stuff from the same time period as SWC as well as newer stuff, but I think it generally stayed in the same vein really. Big, melodic, heavy, drenched in solos, atmospherical and metal.
GRA: I think some of the music has got a tad more thrashier than before, but certainly you can still listen to it and know its GraVil.
VIL: What about "Through The Eyes Of Spartans"?
GRA: Lyrically I tend to write about life and what I see and know. The forthcoming CD has a song about a young girl who one of my friends used to see when he was undergoing radiotherapy. She was there for the same reason as him and he was amazed by the smile and laughter coming from her, despite her condition she still enjoyed every second of her life. In my mind, that is a story that needs to be told, I've seen and heard people complain about things that don't even come close to what she went through. I don't tend to find time to write about worshipping Satan, I'll happily leave that with Slayer [laughs] they do it better than anyone else can!!
VIL: Musically, we both just sit down, either myself or Gra will have an idea and we'll just record our ideas and talk about where we want to take it from there. There's references to many bands when we record, things like "Oh, its gotta do a Children of Bodomish run at the end of that riff" or "That needs a massive As I Lay Dying beatdown in the middle of it". GraVil really is just about writing what we want to hear and what we feel pushes us as musicians, hopefully that comes across to people listening to it on CD.
GRA: [laughs] Ah yeah, sometimes I get drunk and watch 300... and find myself writing songs about Spartan warriors.
VIL: The thing I must stress when it comes to Martin is, we got him on board because the guy is a phenomenal guitarist and a great guy not because of The Berzerker link. He's in another band called Nocturnity where he plays guitar and sings and they're great, if you get a chance have a look at their myspace (www.myspace.com/nocturnityswe).
GRA: We met Martin on MySpace. I think our friendship grew when Martin actually contacted us on MySpace telling us he was playing with "the Berzerker" in London. We both went down there and had a beer with him.
VIL: As for other guests, there are two more confirmed already but we can't announce them yet. We wouldn't wanna jinx the songs. Both great musicians though!!
GRA: He came in to Vil's studio last month and started work on a 8 - 10 minute long song with orchestra, choirs, female vocalists and massive trade off solos. It was something both Vil and I were really looking forward to.
VIL: We're currently teaching the songs to session musicians as we speak, so if the opportunity arises to play a good show we'll be ready.
GRA: There's been ideas of transferring the cartoon image across. I think we'll just make sure, our first gig will be big and a grand unveiling of us.
VIL: [laughs] There is in fact a GraVil comic already in circulation that we use as a glorified band bio.
GRA: You guys at Metal Discovery can be the first to know that next year we will be releasing a full comic book to the public. It'll be quite thick and feature all the guests we work with and people we meet etc.
VIL: Cheers guys, and thanks to all those that have taken the time to check us out and still believe in what we do!!
GRA: No problem guys, thanks for giving us the opportunity to be heard.