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Interview with James Stewart, Vader, at the O2 Academy in Islington.

Interview by Karan Dutta

Veteran metalheads Vader recently completed a tour ahead of starting work on their upcoming album. Just before their recent show at the O2 Academy in Islington, London, I got a chance to catch up with their drummer, James Stewart, for a short interview. James has been with the band since 2011 and was more than happy to take time out of his pre gig routine to have a chat with MGM about the band and their plans for 2016.

MGM: So what’s the goal with the 2016 tour?

JS: So we’re not supporting any particular album, it’s just that we were asked to play with Overkill.

MGM: Right.

JS: We were just invited on the tour, and we said, “Yeah,” and as its a supporting role obviously and we are playing to people that may necessarily not be our fans. We decided to just play some hits and just introduce Vader to some people and play some hits for people that do know us and do like us and just have a good time really…

MGM: There’s enough of a common fan base with Overkill, where you think you could make some new fans.

JS: A lot. We have seen a lot of people every night that have seen us for the first time and that’s really, really promising. If we’re talking professionally, that was my goal, was to get new people in so we can grow. 

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MGM: Alright. Is another album going to be in the works any time soon?

JS: Certainly is. We hit studio this month. I start laying down the drums in about a week’s time. So, we’re going straight from here, almost straight from the road to the studio.

MGM: And how long do you guys think that will take, the whole process?

JS: The whole recording process will take about six weeks and mixing and mastering will take another month or so, because you know you need to listen to it and then take a break and listen to it again. 

MGM: Right and tweaking…

JS: I mean mixing the master is going to be the longest part of the process because I think because it just takes time because the producers, they just need to take a break.

MGM: Right. So you guys have toured all over the world. You hit Asia in 2014, you hit South America in 2015, what do you still consider frontier markets?

JS: So what do you mean by?

MGM: So I mean a place that you may not know that you may have a fan base but you still need to get out there. So I’ll give you an example, India

JS: Yes, certainly, certainly; and we will be going there this year for Bangalore Open Air. 

MGM: Nice.

JS: We’re really excited about that one. Yeah, India is definitely one of the only places where we haven’t really, really covered.

MGM: Right.

JS: Because until recently we hadn’t been invited. That was the main reason. We did Nepal. We did the Silence Festival that they used to have there. I think that’s it. I don’t know if they’re still doing that or not. I mean there’s been a lot of difficulties in Nepal so, I hope it does come back because it was great. We haven’t done Australia for a very long time. Vader hasn’t done Australia for a very long time and I’ve never done it at all!

MGM: Okay.

JS: And that’s… I don’t give a fuck about a fan base in Australia, I hope there is one. But I don’t care, I just want to go there. 

MGM: Fair enough. 

JS: The States, we haven’t been to for a while, we need to go back there. Honestly, we just want tour everywhere as much as we can because it’s great fun and I think if you’re doing it constantly then people will pick up on it and come to the gigs 

MGM: Favourite gig or venue in the last five years now?

JS: Certainly the biggest gig was Rock al Parque, Colombia a few years ago. That was really, really cool. That was definitely one of my favourites. There’s always a couple. Every time we do Stoda in Warsaw or every time we do; the venue is gone now sadly, but we did Fabryka in Krakow, that was always, always a great show. Those two. Actually every time we do The Underworld, it’s fucking crazy. So, I got a few favourites venues just around, mostly around Europe because we don’t tour so often in Asia or anywhere else you need to know that is really.

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MGM: Fair enough. So tour question. What kind of stuff do you all do to blow off steam on tour? 

JS: Just normal stuff you know, read, watch movies. Normally anything as far away from music as we can get.

JS: People aren’t really listening to any music especially not now on the tours. I mean that’s pretty common I think. It’s just too much, you know. 

MGM: So what’s easy listening?

JS: Easy listening is like electronic stuff like Bonobo or Portico Quartet or , for me at least, something more jazzy or more chilled. Preferably something without too much drumming as well.

MGM: Have you ever found a tough crowd?

JS: Oh yeah, many.

MGM: And what’s the mechanism to deal with that?

JS: Some days you’re just going to have that if you spend your life on the road. Every now and then, you just going to get a crowd that aren’t getting it or you’re on the wrong bill or the wrong festival, you know, whatever. You’re just not connecting for whatever reason and all you do is you just do your best like you do everyday. Just keep playing, keep just trying to push yourself to do better, keep the band together, keep tight. Just keep trying to do everything you can to keep your energy level at maximum. And you know, maybe it won’t translate to everybody but you have to hope that a few people in the audience are picking up on it and enjoying it. And just because people are not moving or they’re not cheery enough, also doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not enjoying it. Because we have this in Holland, that tour particularly. They’ve always seemed to appreciate Vader by standing there and watching the gig and listening.

MGM: Right.

JS: So, They Look. Sometimes the crowd looks so docile. I’ve never seen a mosh pit at a gig in Holland, never. I think that’s just because the way they appreciate the music is they stand there and they just listen. All their venues are amazing, sonically, they’re always amazing. They’re always built so that you can hear everything crystal clear. So I think there’s a sound culture there more than anything, they’re taking it in but that can really be hard! You know, you want someone to move or do something ’cause, even though actually a lot of people are enjoying it, they’re just standing there. But it’s cool, you know. I do that at gigs as well. I’m always watching. I’m never in the pit. I’m also terrified I’m going to break my arm.

MGM: Fair enough. Any parting words to your fans?

JS: Yeah. Drink Vodka and worship Satan.

MGM: Thank you

JS: Cool.

MGM: Thanks for your time.

Our review of the show in London is HERE:

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