Vektor is somewhat of an unlikely band on a recording and may take a few listens to really get into them but live they shred with all the fury of German thrash combined with the technical proficiency of classical music. This Philadelphia, by way of Arizona, quartet have been cutting their chops touring the west coast for years and now it's finally paying off.
They're at the peak of their game as musicians and only stand to get better. In many ways, I feel the same can be said of their opening acts Portland, Oregon's own high-pitched doomsters Witch Mountain and the Star Trek obsessed melodic death metalers, self-proclaimed Klingons in Stovokor. In many ways, the show on 8/30/12 at Mississippi Studios in Portland was one of those shows "you just had to be there" for; each band displayed the best of their ability and drew high response from the mixed crowd that night. There actually wasn't a lot of the familiar PDX heshers I'm use to seeing by now in attendance, they were probably all at the Eyehategod gig across town. However, by the end of the show Vektor's lead vocalist and guitarist David DiSanto proclaimed that it was one of their best shows ever and that Portland is now officially the band's "home away from home."
Before the show I had a chance to talk with the guys in Vektor about their recent cross country move, the influence they pull from science fiction films and the story behind their latest album Outer Isolation.
ThrashHead: Hey everyone! How's the tour going?
ThrashHead: Great, are people responding more to the Outer Isolation material than the Black Future stuff or vice versa?
[Drummer] Blake: It doesn't seem heavily weighted one way or the other.
[Bassist] Frank: But when we play "Black Future" and those earlier songs people go nuts!
ThrashHead: Sweet. You guys use to be called Locrian but then changed your name to Vektor. What prompted the change?
[Vocalist and guitarist] David: Well there was another band called Locrian and they were some like pop/college rock shit then later on I discovered a more underground, grindy Locrian so there was just too many Locrians.
I was taking a biology class at the time and we were learning about vectors. I viewed our music as being very different, "out there" and kind of like a disease to most people that it would be a fitting name for the band.
ThrashHead: Right on. I think I read somewhere that that's how Anthrax got their name as well. Science class is metal... So there weren't any other bands with a similar tech/thrash approach playing around the Arizona scene when you guys started jamming?
David: Definitely not. It was mostly a lot of emo and hardcore.
[Guitarist] Erik: Arizona also has a pretty thriving death metal scene which we kind of mesh with but not so well, amazingly.
David: The death metal bands themselves really liked us in Arizona but there wasn't a lot of death metal fans who liked us. The only other big things were hardcore and emo but obviously we're not going to attract many of those fans either.
It's been a very slow growth for us and by now, since we've moved to Philadelphia, things have been pretty good.
ThrashHead: So what brought you guys to Philly?
Blake: Just needed a good change of scenery really. Half of us were born and raised in Arizona so it's been a long time of seeing all the same stuff and being around all the same people.
Erik: Yeah, we each felt this way personally and as a band.
David: Totally, in Arizona you're just like stuck in the middle of the desert and it's hard to accomplish any small, regional touring. It was a big deal for us to drive anywhere and usually we'd go to LA but even that's like a 6 or 7 hour drive. We'd go do that in a weekend and barely make enough gas money to come back!
Erik: We're not trying to say that Philly is so much better than Arizona. They're very different. It's just that Philly has been really cool and we've met a lot of great people.
David: I'd say it's way better actually. Which is why we picked Philly because we already toured through there, met a bunch of people in the area and, as a band, it just serves as a good central point to tour up and down the east coast and into the midwest as well.
ThrashHead: What bands would you say have made the biggest impact for each of you personally?
David: Destruction, Kreator, Slayer... Immortal, Emperor, Absu... Old Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd a little bit.
Frank: Hawkwind for me.
Blake: Frank Zappa.
Erik: Iron Maiden... Neil Young?
ThrashHead: How do you feel your playing as a band has improved on the new album Outer Isolation compared to 2009's Black Future?
Blake: Immensely. We're much tighter and much stronger players now. After recording Black Future and touring on it we were just kind of getting use to playing up to fifteen shows in a row. So, we just naturally became more solid as we got ourselves into the groove where it's second nature.
Erik: Yeah, across the board we're all a lot tighter and faster and we play a lot better together, I'm sure, than we did a back few years ago. We all pretty much know each other's styles inside and out pretty well now since we're so use to touring these days.
ThrashHead: What is the meaning behind the title Outer Isolation?
David: Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. The story of the album is about a guy who gets sick of all the shit that's going on on his home planet and he just decides to spend the last years of his life going into the depths of space and on his own mental journey when he eventually loses his mind from being so isolated.
ThrashHead: I can relate to that as I'm sure you do. Is the story loosely based on your own life experiences or someone around you?
David: Yeah, actually there was a time in my life when I felt like an isolationist and just sort of worked through it, I guess.
ThrashHead: I think any metalhead can relate to that, which is why I think it's such a cool title. It's an attitude that is somewhat unique to heavy metal and hard rock culture that sort of loner that's in the spotlight saying, "Hey! Look at me! I'm an outsider!"
ThrashHead: What did you look for in the recording process of Outer Isolation?
David: Basically we just wanted to step it up. We wanted everything on this album to be much tighter and have a much bigger sound than what we did on Black Future. Luckily our studio engineer Byron [Filson of Villian Recordings in Arizona who also produced Black Future] really encouraged us to step it up this time around.
The first day we walked into the studio we ended up placing three amplifiers together for each guitar rig and played through a click track so all the songs are a lot tighter this time. Basically everything was done a lot more professionally.
ThrashHead: Who did the cover art?
David: Andrei Bouzikov.
Erik: We have an alternate cover that we plan to use for the vinyl version, should it ever come out, hopefully it will soon. That art was done with some different artists we've been working with so hopefully we'll get to unveil that in the near future.
ThrashHead: Your lyrics are notable for being steeped in science-fiction lore and I was just curious what some of your favorite sci-fi books and movies are?
David: I'm a fan of like all the old 80's stuff, especially the cheese post-apocalyptic films.
ThrashHead: Ever see A Boy & His Dog ?
David: That's an awesome movie! Some more popular titles would be like THX-1138 and Blade Runner.
Erik: Carl Sagan too, for sure.
David: Carl Sagan's The Cosmos! Yes!
Frank: We're Saganic Metal.
David: Neil deGrasse Tyson.
ThrashHead: Bill Nye?
Everyone: Yeah! Haha!
ThrashHead: Favorite tracks off the new record?
David: I've gotta say "Cosmic Cortex" and "Outer Isolation, Cortex I like because it's just fuckin' rocking all the way through, there's a lot of great energy to that song. Outer Isolation I like because there's a lot of diversity between the riffs, a lot of ups and downs and different changes to it as well as the personal meaning to that song.
ThrashHead: What do you hope fans get out of the record?
David: Hopefully to open people's minds to different possibilities. The song "Dark Creations, Dead Creators" is basically like our big middle finger to religion and it's all about being an Atheist and thinking for yourself, especially in these modern times where we have so many things to back up the truth, we just don't need religion anymore it's ridiculous. So yeah, we just want to open up people's minds and have them think about concepts and topics that they normally wouldn't think about.
ThrashHead: I hear you're planning a tour with Napalm Death! What else is in store for Vektor for the rest the year and beyond?
Blake: Yeah! Nate [Carson] from Witch Mountain is our agent so he got an offer plus we kind of know the Municipal Waste guys from playing with them in the past so this time everything is lined up for us to tour with them again plus Napalm and Exhumed so it's gonna be rad!
David: We're gonna try to make it to Europe, we're gonna try to make it to Japan...
ThrashHead: Oh cool! I bet you guys would do really well in Japan. I would love to see you guys play MDF next year...
David: Yes! That would be awesome! As far as recording the new album we will begin hopefully in the spring of 2013 and it's gonna be a full concept album that will take off from where the song "Outer Isolation" leaves the listener.
ThrashHead: Awesome, thanks guys!
Frank: Let's get a beer!