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  • Vehemence Realized

interviewed by Black Magazine


Black: Please introduce us to the members of Vehemence Realized. Who are the current members? How long have they been playing together? What are their musical backgrounds as far as musical training and involvement with other musical projects?

Nathan: Hello. I am Nathan Roane. I've sung and played trumpet, flugelbone, guitar, clarinet,djembe, and pump organ for Vehemence Realized.

Michael: I play bass, sing, sequence most of our songs, and have been playing guitar a lot recently.

Nathan: We've been musically involved since May of '97, that's about two years now.

Michael: Nathan is the one with the musical background. I'm mostly self-taught. I do music because I love it, and I want to express myself. I grew up listening to music on the radio. There were always certain songs that touched me. I want to make these songs for someone else. I learned to play instruments when I couldn't find the right people to help or the right way to express myself.

Nathan: My training has been mostly with voice and composition, with only a few years of piano and private trumpet lessons. Everything else I figured out on my own. Composition has been my love, especially a cappella choral music. I've been the music director for a local Episcopal church since October of '98, arranging music each week to fit our ensembles and writing my own piece about once a month. With this job, I can control what each piece of mine sounds like from birth to performance. I also get to bring in and fool around with each new instrument I get.

Black: To me, the music of Vehemence Realized is quite a unique blend of styles and genres.... I sense that there must be several influences which inspire the music of Vehemence Realized. Could you explain your influences, who you listen to now and who affected you as you developed your creativity?

Michael: The biggest influences are the things that happen to us. A lot of events and struggles from our past come to play in the music of Vehemence Realized. A lot of it is just learning how the events shape us, or things that seem important. The music is just one way of expressing all the ideas. Like a painter paints a moment, so do we. I hope the music comes off this way more than asa series of influences. Of course different music that I have heard over the years have taught me alot about how to express myself. I remember Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence" had quite an effect on me. I loved its movement and its nostalgia. I learned to sing by memorizing Depeche Mode and EMF songs. Nine Inch Nails really opened a lot of doors for me, actually one of the first songs I ever performed live was a version of "Something I Can Never Have" with Danny Ingersonon piano and me singing. After that This Mortal Coil's filigree and shadow completely changed me. It really opened my mind to the possibilities. It was so beautiful; it still is. Since then I've listened to a lot of different things that I've liked a lot. I've picked up ideas here and there but nothing that changed me the way This Mortal Coil did.

Nathan: Before joining VR, the only music I had heard that was remotely similar to what we've come up with was Dead Can Dance. I've been involved with many musical projects of varying genres, but this is my first time creating anything like this. My writing has always leaned more towards the more dynamic and introspective. In each stage of my life, what I've listened to hasconcentrated on one or two bands or composers. I've passed through spells of The Jesus Lizard, Black Sabbath, Chopin, Eye Hate God, Mozart, Motorhead, John Tavener, and Fugazi. My most recent spell has been with Neil Young's music, which I've had a steady diet of for a few years now. I think I'm about ready for something new, but I have no clue what that could be.

Black: For those who are unfamiliar with your music, could you please describe the sound, or the style, of the band? What is your goal with each new track you create?

Nathan: "Intensely brooding" is the general description I use. We've been accepted as darkwave, the softer branch of gothic. That works well enough for me. We've been more accepted andappreciated by those with a few years behind them, either adults with maturity or troubled kids with deeper issues than most. Our music isn't for people who like to just dance and not think about toomuch.

Michael: We are dark and beautiful. I never know what else to say. As far as goals for songs go, I just try to get another idea across with each new piece. I like it when a song writes itself. Those feel the best.

Nathan: I try to make each piece sound "right." It's a feeling of completeness, a self judging perfection that makes everything glow with life. We've performed songs that I've felt weren't yet complete, hoping that just showing it to someone new would wake up whatever it is inside of me that tells me how it should change.

Michael: Some of those songs just never make it. We've lost a couple that just never matured correctly. We're not here pumping out tunes, but making music we feel good about.

Nathan: I never quite give up on the ones that haven't matured, thinking about them periodically to try and figure out what needs changing.

Michael: I prefer to leave them behind.

Black: "Severe" is your first full-length label release, correct? Have you released any other tracks, perhaps on compilations or self-releases? Are there any new projects that Vehemence Realized will be working on in the near future?

Nathan: Yes, Severe is our first fully released album. Just prior to her, we contributed a track to the i.D. Records compilation, "of passion and remembrance."

Michael: We're working on a song called "Temperance" for the next Palace Of Worms compilation.

Nathan: So far, that's been Michael's project. When he's ready, I'm expecting he'll invite me to join him so we can finish it together. We're likely to contribute to a few compilations once the dust from Severe settles down, getting back into the studio and producing more for others to hear. We've been working on new material that's mostly guitar based and should have an even stronger intimacy. Though I hate recording, the studio has been the best place for me to polish a song. For Severe, I did a lot of experimenting with overdubbing different instruments that I just can't do livewith this two-handed, one-mouth handicap.

Michael: I really liked the studio setting. It was nice to be able to focus on one part of a song at a time, especially when recording vocals. Our friend and engineer Matt Wenninger got to know oursongs really well and it was nice to get his ideas in there too.

Nathan: Matt and I have been friends since all men's choir back in eighth grade. We ended up going to the same university and eventually became roommates. He's one of the best friends I've ever had, and I sincerely enjoyed working with him. He was building his studio when we firststarted working with him, so whenever we needed something special for recording he'd go buy it and figure out how to use it. If you read Severe's liner notes you'll see just how much he has done for us. Without Matt, we could never have afforded the studio time to make her as close to perfection as she is.

Black: What is the meaning or reason behind the name "Vehemence Realized"?

Nathan: "Vehemence" is an intense and furious emotion similar to passion. It usually has an angry connotation to it, but not always. Lately, our music has been drifting further from anger,representing something closer to despair.

Michael: The name felt right when I thought of it.

Nathan: I couldn't think of a better description of what we intended to create. Dance music and worthless pop music has always made me nauseous. Lately, I've taken to despising the whole concept of music being "entertainment," and less than art. None of projects I was involved withbefore ever came close to the consistently intense emotional release I've received from Vehemence Realized.

Black: As a writer, I am very interested in the lyrical side of music. Could you please share with us some of the topics and influences that guide your titles and lyrics? I suspect that some may be more private than others, since no lyric sheet is provided with "Severe".

Michael: The titles of our songs usually just come to one of us. It might tell you a little about it, but at the same time it's a name for the song. Just as the name Michael is nice for me I hope thenames that we give our songs are appropriate for them. Lyrics are usually guided by the music itself. It might be an event from my life or something I felt that is being portrayed, but it first goes through the music and then into part of the song. Some of them are more personal than others, but I don't have a problem with sharing them. It just seems unnecessary to print the lyrics. I'd rather not have people reading along as they listen to the CD, that seems like more of a distraction. Generally I don't like to see lyrics printed in the albums I buy.

Nathan: I'm usually more concerned with the music than the text of a song. Once the text is established, assuming there are lyrics, they'll tell me how they want to be set. From there, all of my attention is directed to what I'd like to hear. The lyrics have a more direct way of describing why the song was written, but I don't pay as much attention to that. We discussed the no lyrics concept at length before deciding to print, and have not yet regretted it. It's somewhat of a nuisance for people to ask for the lyrics, but I just send them on to Michael and he takes care of them. He's better at that kind of thing and wrote nearly all of the words anyway.

Michael: A couple people have asked me for the lyrics. I don't have most of them, just in my head,and I can't always recall them until I hear the music. I don't like the idea of sitting down with the CD and writing out everything we sing. I'd rather just leave it. I did talk at length the other evening with my friend Devon about "Severin" and where the lyrics came from. It's about a girl I had fallen in love whom had moved across the country to San Francisco ending our romantic relationship. In the song I ride a train there to visit her. On the trip I remember when she had given her cat Severin away so that she could move. I knew how much she loved Severin, and it was quite logical to me that if she could give Severin away, she could certainly give me away also. The lyrics are not a detailed story, but they made sense within the context of what happened. I think the overall emotion is expressed well whether someone knows the story or not. Other times I've showedfriends my lyrics when we were just around the house, but that was more on a whim.

Black: How did you discover the label "Palace of Worms"? Or, perhaps the question should read "How did Palace of Worms discover you?". Had you searched a long time to find a label suited to your music, or was it a quick and easy process for you?

Michael: In late 1997, I sent Palace Of Worms Records an old demo of Vehemence Realized from before Nathan had joined. I heard about Palace Of Worms from Conrad of Stay Frightened. We'd been communicating for some time. I really liked Conrad's music and was excited when he found a label to release his first CD. He suggested I send Guido Borghetti, owner of Palace Of Worms Records, the demo. So I did. Guido became interested in us and we were quite happy to release our CD with him. So I guess it turned out an easy search.

Nathan: Thankfully, Michael took care of all of that. Other than 4AD, I would have been clueless to try and find someone willing to help promote her. Once it was established that Severe was to be released by P.O.W, I took over most of our communication with them. It's fortunate for us that Guido has such a firm grasp of the English language. I hope to meet him some day, or at least know what he looks like. He has been great to us, patient while we struggled to finish the album and
leaving our musical integrity intact. His only suggestion was that we add one more piece, which ended up making her over a full hour long. That extra track turned out to be "Revere," a true asset to the album.

Black: What do you hope the listener interprets from your music? What feelings or emotions do you wish to share with the listener?

Nathan: I'd like for whoever listens to Severe reevaluates what in their life is truly important. I hope someone will listen to her and know they are not alone.

Michael: I don't know Nathan, I think Severe is a lonely album.

Nathan: Now that I think about it, I'm not too concerned what other people get out of her. I think there's something in her for just about everyone, especially near the end. I'd rather people feel ways they had forgotten about, remembering experiences that strongly affected their lives. Everyone in the world should hear "Source" at least once. I still can't believe how well that cameout. It's the most intense recording I've ever heard.

Michael: Our engineer Matt recorded one of our shows in 1998. Performing "Source" that evening was an amazing experience. We played over an hour set and it was our last song. Nathan just let go completely and took me with him. To have it captured the way it is on the CD still blows meaway.

Nathan: It creeps me out.

Black: What are your hopes and dreams for Vehemence Realized? Please explain your long term goals as far as the level of success you'd like to achieve with the band. Some artists reach for the stars while others are content in the simple sharing of emotions with their listeners.

Nathan: Michael and I have been good friends for nearly five years now. We've now only seen the beginnings of what we can accomplish as collaborating musicians.

Michael: Nathan has been great to work with. I'm looking forward to our next album. It will be a lot of hard work. I'm not sure exactly what success for a band means, but I'd like for as many people to hear our music as possible.

Nathan: We're both fairly complex people and that shows in our music. This is a detriment in trying to market us broadly, but I hope we can find some appreciation for what we're doing and continue to meet new people and make new friends. I'm also hoping to use this project as an excuse to travel more

Michael: When people show appreciation for what we're doing I feel successful. When people come to shows and thank us for the experience it makes me feel great. I love going out of town to play shows and am really looking forward to playing in Europe some day. Nathan and I have been talking a lot about that lately.

Black: Any other thoughts you'd like to share with the readers of "Black"?

Michael: I love my cat Stripe. She has an orange stripe down the middle of her face. Someone else named her. She's very loving except with other animals. She's not the cat on the album cover,but I love her none the less. It's really important to me to have loving relationships in my life. I take my relationships with my cat, friends, and music very seriously.

Nathan: After about a week of serious depression I come to realize that things just aren't getting better. If I can gather the will, I'll change something in my life that would otherwise be meaningless, like shifting furniture around in my bedroom. A little change like my bed being against a differentwall freshens my life by forcing a state of transition. I'm at my best during times of change. I'm more alert, happy, and get things accomplished.

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