Photo by Kurt Christensen Photography
Interview by Matt Dalberth
Long Island hardcore/metal legends Vision Of Disorder have just returned to the spotlight with the best record of their career, the brutally and beautifully complex Razed To The Ground. Raised is the sound of Vision Of Disorder firing on all cylinders, (and riding high atop a sound they pioneered in the early 90’s, but unjustly never got due credit for.) The songcraft here is the perfect blend of melodic and ferocious, without ever staying in one territory too long to feel dull or forced. Not a small feat, when you consider V.O.D. is on album number seven and have never sounded as genuinely pissed off, or more full of fire than they do here. I caught up with frontman Tim Williams last week to dig deep into the new record and discuss future plans for the band:
You guys have be proud of the fantastic reviews and overwhelmingly positive responses for Raised To The Ground, from both critics and fans alike. I was at Nova Studios myself recording with my own band ‘Revival’ this past summer, and the studio set up of being right on the water like that is unreal. We loved recording there, and had a blast. How was the experience there for you guys?
“Yeah we’re definitely pretty excited. the album seems to be well received, and it’s good to be done with the record. It was a good experience, we really enjoyed recording it as you already know because you’ve been to the same place we tracked it at. Frank Nasso and Jerry Farley there are awesome. It’s just real good to be back out on the other side, and the album seems to be doing alright with fans.”
Even when you put up those teaser videos this past summer of the recording process, I got goosebumps because it had all the classic elements of V.O.D. that I love: The busy riffing, the chaotic time changes, the heavy grooves. One thing that really stood out right away (when I finally got to hear the finished product), is Zeuss’ production. (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed, Soulfly, etc.) Was Zeuss pushing you guys hard as a producer, or did you guys write most of the songs before hitting the studio?
“Zeuss didn’t really push us to change anything too much in the times that we were working with him. The whole process spanned about a year when you figure in pre production, email, back and forth conversations, and then the actual recording. Zeuss said, “You guys are veterans, I don’t have to teach you how to write songs or record, I’m just expecting you to come in and and do your shit, and I know its gonna be great,” and that’s what it was like. Sure we did some editing here and there, but most of all what Zeuss did was get amazing sounds. He knew what the band was supposed to sound like, he had a vision for what he wanted the album to sound like, and he got great performances… And most importantly; he didn’t over do it.”
It always seemed like “right place, wrong time” was the curse for V.O.D. back in the day; like it always took a while for people to catch up to what you guys were doing at that time. I remember when your second full length album ‘Imprint’ came out in 1998, there were people who thought it was “too metal,” or “too different.” Fast forward to 2015, and it has become an album many people revere as your best work. How is that for you guys actually being in the band to see things change like that?
“I remember when V.O.D. was doing its thing initially, we were always a band that seemed to catch a lot of shit especially in the beginning, because we were doing stuff a little differently than a lot of other contemporary bands at the time. So we caught a lot of shit, specifically from the naysayers, but we just kept doing it. I remember when V.O.D took its big break in the early 2000’s, and me and Mike Kennedy (Guitar) went off to do Bloodsimple, V.O.D. kind of just went off to the back burner. When we were starting Bloodsimple, it took a couple of years to get that band off the ground. Then when we got out there on these big tours with Bloodsimple, and kids are coming up to me talking about V.O.D. Guys from other bands are talking to me about V.O.D. “Oh, you guys gotta get back together!” I would just look at them and be like, “What? Where the hell were you guys back then? You’re coming to me now? Here I am halfway across the world doing Bloodsimple and everybody’s asking about V.O.D.” So it was a little weird, its just funny how things work out. Now people put Imprint up on some strange pedestal and say thats our pinnacle moment, and thats all good, we’re honored and humble by any positive remarks and reviews about our stuff, but we just keep going. We put our head down and do our thing and hope for the best.”
Whats up next for Vision Of Disorder? The reason I like being in the band I’m in now, is because we can do our band when we feel it works for us, without being gone for too long at a time or having it overwhelm our entire lives. It seems like you guys are doing the same thing as well…
“Which is almost never, because it never works perfectly for every single member! (laughs) We do have certain obligations as we are on a record label and they expect certain things from us, but we were very clear from the get go what we are willing to do and what we can do. We have an excellent booking agent here in the states at Artery Global, so we want to maximize the opportunities that are presented to us, and really get out there and do some great stuff. We just kicked it off with a hometown record release party in Long Island. The show was sold out, we destroyed it, and it was great. We just announced a string of West Coast dates in late January. Some Northeast dates are in the works. A proper Manhattan show is the works. We’ve been confirmed for various festivals in Europe this summer. We are going up to Canada with Sick Of It All in May, so that will be interesting. I got a couple of emails today talking about China. South America keeps coming up. I know that it is happening, just not when yet. We have a certain amount of time allotted so we really have to pick and choose our battles. We got offered a killer short run with Killswitch Engage, but one of us is going to be on vacation for the holidays, so we couldn’t do it. We were trying to get together a Madball run, and it just didn’t work out this time around. There were a couple of emails going back and forth, for a short five day run, but it wasn’t going to work.”
I can definitely relate to that 100%, its not like we are all still 18 years old and can just quit our crappy day jobs to go out on tour for 6 weeks, then figure everything out when we get home. In the day of families, kids, and adult responsibilities, it’s safe to say a 6 to 8 week V.O.D tour across America isn’t happening again any time soon.
“No no, definitely not. If any of the kids that are coming out to see us play and traveling from enormous mileage however, just send us a message through our Facebook and we’ll put you on the list. We don’t care, its all about playing the music, that’s where it’s at. Come see us though, come check us out, hopefully we will see some old faces out on the West Coast next month.”
It seems like you guys are very busy, but it’s cool that you still make as much time as you can for V.O.D. related endeavors. Any plans to bring back that Dead Bloated Morrison podcast that you and bassist Michael Fleischmann were doing for a while, or just not enough hours in the day?
“It’s funny because that question is coming up now again and again, which is great. Mike and I just kind of did that because we had some extra spare time. It came out of an idea I had one afternoon. I just thought with the way I am, and the way Mike is, and his jokes, it could be great. Then we just started getting great guests, and people really seemed to like it. We just got really busy with V.O.D. Like you said, we all have very busy lives just like everybody else out there. We can really only manage like one or two creative outlets at a time, that’s it. You have the band, writing songs, and maybe spending time with your wife. Everything else is just life. Vision Of Disorder gets really really busy, everything else just suffers, and unfortunately one of those things was the Dead Bloated Morrison Podcast. I do think we are going to try to get some more episodes going though. I really wish we kept it going because it seemed like it had some great momentum behind it. It was a lot of fun, mellow, no pressure. A lot of people seem like they want to hear it again, so we are going to do our best to bring it back.”
Finally, from one heavy vocal singer to another, one question that I always get asked is how do I keep my voice in shape and continue to scream, and still have a voice left after all these years? Nine out of ten mentions of V.O.D. in the press or in reviews use adjectives like, “the throat shredding vocals of Tim Williams”, so I extend the same question to you; what is your regimen to keep your voice intact?
“I don’t know man, I don’t do too much. I know that’s a weird answer. I don’t really drink anymore, I don’t really smoke. I don’t do coke. Those things over the years take their toll on peoples voices and bodies. For me, I gotta rehearse a good amount of times before a show, and rehearse before going into a record. It’s just like your bicep, you really have to keep it tuned up. If you don’t work it out for a while, things are really scratchy and rough. Water is really important too, and I would say the number one thing is rest. If you don’t have a good amount rest, you’re not going to sing good. You’ll be able to pull it off and do alright, but you wont be at your best. I have noticed a significant difference in my singing voice since I stopped using drugs and stuff too. When we tracked this record, the band didn’t hear too much of the vocals until we were recording them. When they started hearing the rough mixes, they were like, “The singing is insane!,” and they are my hardest critics in the world. They thought the screaming was awesome, but said this is the best singing they’d ever heard me do. I love doing the screaming stuff, but I really like doing the singing stuff as well because its different. It’s a little more out of the box and more challenging for me, and it really keeps my interest. My voice really felt good and strong as I was tracking, and even to me it sounded better, and I really think that stopping using had a very heavy hand in that.”
Vision Of Disorder’s new album, “Razed To The Ground” is out now on Candlelight Records.
Check VOD On Tour:
1/22/16 – Brick by Brick – San Diego, CA
1/23/16 – Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ
1/24/16 – Whiskey a Go Go – Los Angeles, CA
3/12/16 – The Headliner – Neptune City, NJ
3/13/16 – Fish Head Cantina – Halethorpe, MD