VIKING (Eng.)

– First off thank you so much for answering to our questions. How is the band currently doing?
We are doing very well! Just got home from a two-week tour of the Eastern United States. Supporting us was the band Possessor, and we had a great time.

 

– You recently released your new album, entitled «No Child Left Behind». Tell us a little bit what does VIKING talk about in this new period and the meaning and reason behind the album’s title and its artwork.
«No Child Left Behind» is a play on words. It is the name of a controversial law that the US Congress enacted to somehow «fix» our education system, but has made many things worse. But the artwork makes it seem that we are talking about Viking invaders storming a village and leaving no survivors. There are also deeper interpretations for it, including what our prison system does to underage criminals. The artwork was done by a very talented comic artist named Caanan White, who also did the cover of our “Metal Versus Straw” double-CD. Lyrically, we cover a lot of ground. “Blood Eagle” is very much like the words from our album “Do or Die,” talking about Viking invaders and brutality. But we also talk about very personal things that I have experienced, like severe depression, and the horrible plane crash I witnessed as a child. We cover a lot of topics, from murderous stalkers to bear attacks to wicked people having control over our lives.

 

– How did the possibility of getting back together and record again born? How was this process like?
For most of the last 25 years, I did not even think about reforming Viking. I didn’t believe anyone was interested in hearing more from us. But Glenn Rogers (our old stage manager and guitarist from Deliverance, Hirax, and Heretic) had been telling me I should resurrect Viking. But neither Matt Jordan nor I had really thought about it seriously. Then a record company contacted me, asking for any unreleased Viking material that they could make a record out of. I didn’t have anything in the archives that hadn’t been released, but that started me thinking about what new Viking material would sound like, and what the lyrics would be about. That’s when Matt and I started talking about doing this again.

 

– Listening to the album I see you are mostly keeping your style from the late 80’s. Are you happy with the final outcome? Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted to sound?viking 3
I am very happy with the outcome. This kind of music is the only kind of music that I am good at writing – I wouldn’t know how to write anything else. So I will always keep this same style.

 

– Where did you record the album and how were the recording sessions like?
We recorded the drums at one studio over the course of three or four days. Then the rest of it was recorded in my own studio. Recording sessions were great, but we had a lot of technical issues and other roadblocks in between them. It took far too long to get it finished.

 

– Are you a team when it comes to songwriting or is there any main songwriter? What are the current band members?
I wrote all the lyrics and the songs, but Gene Hoglan and I arranged them together. He has songwriting credits on 8 of the 10 songs on the record. The current band members are myself, Mike Gonzalez (also of Dark Angel) on bass, Justin Zych (of Vindicator and Zephaniah) on lead guitar, and one of two drummers. Our original drummer Matt Jordan tours with us when he can, and when he can’t, Cody Johns is our drummer. Cody did the tour we just returned from.

 

– Lately, during the last years, a lot of classic bands are making a comeback. Now thanks to technology everything has an easier access, specially to bands. Have you noticed this in VIKING? Is this part of the reason why you reunited and also, somehow, a reason behind this new album?
The technology helped us do a few things. First, it allowed Gene and I to collaborate from across the country and when he was on the road with the various bands he plays in. Second, it allowed us to not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in a professional recording studio the way we had to in the 1980s. And third, it allowed us to release the album ourselves without feeling obligated to sign it over to a record company. With our web store and electronic downloads, we can get the album to anybody in the world.

 

viking– As I have the chance of interviewing you I would like to review a little bit the history of the band and its two first albums. How did VIKING born?
Matt and James Lareau and I were in a band together called Tracer. When that band broke up, Matt advertised in the Recycler classified ads looking for a band or guys to start a band with. Brett responded, and they planned to meet and have a jam session in my garage. They both asked if I wanted to sit in and play guitar. We jammed on some songs from Slayer’s “Show No Mercy,” and as a joke, I started singing. They both loved the way my voice fit and insisted I be the singer/guitarist. We called up James to play bass, and Viking was born!
– In 1988 you released a great album, nowadays considered a cult album, and one of my favourites into the style, «Do or Die». It was a smash hit. What are your memories from those times and how ere those early years up to the recording of that album?
We wrote a lot of music in those early days, and used the best of it on that first album. Although fans like it today because it is one of the foundational thrash albums of that era, it did not get good reviews at the time because the recording sound was terrible and it was much faster that almost anything else out there. None of us in the band liked it, which made us unhappy because they are such good songs, but recorded very badly.

 

– What did that album mean to you? And how where the tours and whom did you play with back then?
The album meant a lot because it was our first one, but we all regretted how bad it sounded. We did not tour away from Southern California because we didn’t know we were supposed to. And since we didn’t have a manager or booking agent, we wouldn’t have known what do do even if we had tried to do it ourselves. We did play all around So Cal with bands like Megadeth, Dark Angel, Forbidden, Sacred Reich, Dr. Know, Evil Dead, etc.

 

– «Man of Straw» came out in 1989. It seemed like there was going to be a new VIKING album every year, but this was the last one. What happened and what are your memories from that album?
This album was very different. We had the legendary engineer Bill Metoyer who had done Slayer, Flotsam and Jetsam, DRI, Death, etc., and Gene Hoglan was our drum tech. It sounded so much better, and our songwriting and lyrics had gotten stronger. I’ve always been very happy with the “Man of Straw” record.

 

– Why did everything end here? What has the band and its members been up to until these days?
Right before we recorded the album, I became a Christian. I was trying to live a new life as good as I knew how, and we were scheduling a tour with Helstar at the time. I decided that it would not be good for me to go. I went on to became a Bible teacher for many years, and now I manage the Sweetwater.com website. Matt eventually became a police officer, James a professional sculptor, and Brett I believe became a motorcycle mechanic.

 

– How could you compare those two albums with «No Child Left Behind»? Is for you the proper evolution or did you want to get things when you left with «Man of Straw»?
“No Child Left Behind” is definitely the next evolution from “Man of Straw.” The lyrics are great, the riffs are heavy and catchy, and the guitar solos are amazing. For me, it was the direction we would have taken after “Man of Straw.”

 

– And now how is the touring and festivals situation to support the album? Are there any dates booked?
viking 2We just came back from tour, but did not play very much from the new album. I don’t like it when a favorite band plays a bunch of new stuff when I showed up to hear the songs I already like. I believe by the time we tour the West Coast, we will be playing more songs from the new album. We are hoping to be out there in October.

 

– On a view to the future, do you plan doing more albums? A DVD or something?
Other than more touring, I am not sure what we will do next. I could write a new album every year, but I believe the fans would rather have us spending our time playing live than spending it all in the studio.

 

– So that’s all from our side, if you want to add some final words feel free to do it. Lots of thanks for your answers and I would like to see you live in Spain or in Europe someday.
Thank you for your interest in Viking! And we hope to get to Europe in 2016, if we can get any of the big metal festivals interested in bringing us out to play!

 

Paco Gómez
paco@queensofsteel.com

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