Visigoth

Visigoth returned with their sophomore release, “Conqueror’s Oath”, almost 3 years after their debut. Grande Rock grabbed the chance to talk with the vocalist Jake Rogers about the new album, the band’s future plans and heavy metal music in general…
Visigoth band pic

Hi Jake, I’m glad we’re given the chance to talk about your new studio album “Conqueror’s Oath”. It is a remarkable heavy metal release indeed.
 
J: Thank you, I’m happy to hear you think so!
 
 
What are the new elements that you introduce with “Conqueror’s Oath” and which were those things that inspired you to write the music and the lyrics for the new album?
 
J: I don’t really think there are any new elements; “Conqueror’s Oath” is, if anything, us expanding on the sound we already established and (hopefully) tightening up the songwriting. The inspirations for the music and lyrics this time around are also not too different from the first – fantasy books, movies, and games are generally the primary source, but sometimes I’ll convey a more ‘real-life’ or personal message through a fantasy lens.
 
 
Did you feel any kind of pressure while working & writing on the new album, since your debut was pretty acclaimed by the fans of the genre?
 
J: There’s always some pressure when it comes to recording a new album, but honestly I think we were just happy to have new songs to play and record that we really just kept an attitude of having fun and making an album that we felt good about! We personally feel like this album turned out better than “The Revenant King”, but of course there are those who think otherwise and that’s fine too!
 
 
What does the album title “Conqueror’s Oath” declare?
 
J: It is a promise you must swear to yourself to stay true to your convictions and to push ever onward; it is the inner strength to keep going even when life’s obstacles stand between you and your goals.
 
 
How do you think that the band’s sound has evolved over the years? Did you always have in mind to sound the way you sound today?
 
J: I think we’ve started becoming a little more comfortable with what we want our “sound” to be and we’re developing a better grasp on how to combine and utilize our influences. I think we sound like what we had in mind when we started the band – the plan was always to play heavy metal this way!
 
 
Do give us a hint about each track…
 
J: “Steel and Silver”: This song is directly inspired by the world of the Polish book and game series “The Witcher”, and is told from the perspective of Geralt of Rivia.
 
“Warrior Queen”: This is a song that ties into the theme of the title track as well; it’s about picking yourself up and staying the course when the going gets rough!
 
“Outlive Them All”: This song is about the film “Highlander”, a favourite of mine since Childhood! There can be only one!
 
“Hammerforged”: “Hammerforged” is about finding your source of inner strength and casting off the shackles of doubt in order to rise above the odds.
 
“Traitor’s Gate”: “Traitor’s Gate” is a tale about betrayal and vengeance; it’s about realizing that when the situation calls for it, you must stand up for yourself.
 
“Salt City”: “Salt City” is just a fun rock‘n’roll tribute to our hometown of Salt Lake City.
 
“Blades in the Night”: I was inspired for these lyrics while reading about the Shinobi of Sengoku-era Japan; the lyrics to “Blades in the Night”, however, aren’t a direct reference to any actual historical figure.
 
“The Conqueror’s Oath”: As mentioned earlier in this interview, this song is about an oath we must make to ourselves to make every effort to live a life we can be proud of.
 
 
Once again you’ve worked with Andy Patterson (Eagle Twin, Bible Black Tyrant, Dissension, etc.) for the album’s engineering & mixing. But this time the mastering was done by Dave Otero (Allegaeon, Cattle Decapitation, Nightbringer, etc.). What do you think about the new album’s production in general?
 
J: I think the production was a step in the right direction; there’s more clarity and bite overall and the vocal production turned out a lot “bigger” and more powerful sounding. One of the best things about working with Andy Patterson is that he is just as dedicated as we are to using as little “studio magic” as possible; no drum triggers, no vocal pitch-correction, no amp modeling, etc. Everything you hear on both of our albums is 100% real. Andy and Dave both did a fantastic job of bringing the record to life. I think next time I would want the bass guitar to be more audible and go for a warmer overall sound.
 
 
How was the European Tour experience and are there any plans to give any other shows in the Summer?
 
J: The European tour we recently finished was probably the best tour we have ever done; audiences were enthusiastic and we didn’t have any really disastrous problems happen! It was really an amazing experience and we can’t wait to come back for another round. I can’t say anything specific just yet but we should be back in Europe sometime in July.
 
 
Since you’re a band that has been around for only 8 years how do you feel about all that credit that you have received from the fans and the press in the last years?
 
J: I’m blown away by the response we’ve received; I honestly never thought it would reach the point where we’d have the opportunity to tour overseas. We also of course have our fair share of detractors as well, as any band will have, but we’re really just happy that we can do this at all. It couldn’t happen without the support we’ve received from fans and metal publications and we truly are indebted. It means the world because heavy metal and rock‘n’roll music is truly our passion in life.
 
 
What are your expectations from “Conqueror’s Oath” and what do you wish to achieve with Visigoth over the next years?
 
J: I think this album is really going to help build a bit more momentum for us, which hopefully means more touring and festivals! As far as what I wish to achieve, I really would like to have a shorter gap between “Conqueror’s Oath” and our next album. It was 3 years between “The Revenant King” and “Conqueror’s Oath”, which in many ways was probably a good thing because that meant 3 years of additional singing experience for me, since I’ve never taken singing lessons or had any kind of formal training, but for me, putting together new songs with my bandmates is probably the part of being in a band that I enjoy the most. I think that we also have a better idea of how we like to write and record now that we have two albums behind us, so I think that will mean the next album will come about a little quicker.
 
 
Which are those bands that have influenced you the most since the beginning?
 
J: This list would be a little bit different depending on which member of the band you ask! I tend to get very long-winded with questions like this but I’ll try to keep it concise. Besides obvious answers like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Manowar, etc., I think that bands such as Omen, Manilla Road, Twisted Tower Dire, Running Wild, Solstice (UK), and epic-era Bathory were bands that we were definitely inspired by when we first started Visigoth.
 
 
What do you think about all this “NWOTHM” (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) movement that has grown over the last years?
 
J: I personally don’t like the term “NWOTHM”, especially since I don’t feel like this type of metal ever really went away. Certainly it has seen a resurgence in popularity recently, but even in 90s/2000s when it was in a state of lull, there were still bands carrying the torch high and proud. It’s great to see so many awesome bands releasing new records every year though, and it also means there are plenty of killer bands that we get to see play and share the stage with!
 
 
Time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Visigoth initially?
 
J: We wanted a concise, one-word name that would be memorable and invoke the warrior spirit of heavy metal – picking a barbarian tribe who sacked Rome achieves both of those goals!
 
 
What do you think of the “free downloading & the free streaming issue” of our time? Will that help music generally or not?
 
J: I personally spend so much of my personal income on records that I don’t know how anybody can be satisfied just streaming and downloading music! Of course as with any issue such as this there are pros and cons; it’s good because it provides bands with an immense array of self-promotion tools and makes it easier for bands to get their music in to the hands of listeners who might otherwise not hear it, but it’s bad because I think it has decreased the intrinsic value of music in the minds of the general listening population. So much has been said on this topic that I’m not sure I can really add anything of impact to the discussion, but I can certainly say that music is one of the few things I know I will never, ever regret spending money on. Somebody put blood, sweat, tears, and countless hours of hard work into every single record, CD, and cassette sitting on my shelves, so even albums I end up not listening to often were worth spending money on, in my view.
 
 
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
 
J: Pitch-corrected vocals! Sure, it works in electronic music, but in rock music it always sounds so jarring and synthetic to me. That or click-click typewriter fake drums!
 
 
Are “social media” a “compulsory part” of music biz these days or bands, artists & labels can do without them as well?
 
J: It depends what level of visibility you’re aiming for, I suppose. In my personal life I am notorious for not attending my own social media and online messaging services often, but when it comes to the band, of course it helps fans know when we have upcoming shows or releases and makes it easier for people to contact us. Tending to a presence on such services really can make or break it for bands who are trying to get established and start touring these days, so in that sense, yes, it’s compulsory.
 
 
Top 3 epic movies of any era?
 
J: “Conan the Barbarian” (the 1982 original, not the recent remake!), “The Lord of the Rings” film adaptations, and “The 13th Warrior” are some favourites of mine.
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
 
J: I was agonizing over which trusted old metal classic I would answer this with, and then it dawned on me – I should pick something that was released recently, because that would mean I’d be around to tour on it too, haha! So, using that rule, I wish I had written “The White Goddess” by Atlantean Kodex, because as far as recent releases by newer bands go, it’s about as good as it gets! I hold it up to be one of the absolute paragon albums of post-80s heavy metal music, and I can only imagine what it would be like to have the opportunity to perform those songs live every time I play a gig.
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “Heavy Metal wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
J: Heavy metal wouldn’t have evolved the way it did if it hadn’t been for Tom G. Warrior standardizing the “OUGH” grunt that indicates when a cool riff is starting!
 
 
Which are the top 3 Heavy Metal albums of all time according to you?
 
J: I can’t possibly pick just three! There’s just no possible way to do that. Maybe off the top of my head in terms of “importance” (not necessarily my “favourite”), I might say Judas Priest – “Sad Wings of Destiny”, Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast”, and Celtic Frost – “Morbid Tales”. I feel like my answer for my favorite three metal albums of all time would probably be different every day depending on when you asked, haha!
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in metal history?
 
J: This is another very ‘mood at the moment’ sort of question; right now I think my favourite female metal vocalist would be Azucena Martín-Dorado Calvo of Santa, and favourite male metal vocalist would probably be Ronnie James Dio.
 
 
If you had the opportunity to invite any famous person, living or dead, over for supper whom would you choose and why?
 
J: I think this time I’d pick J.R.R. Tolkien, so that I could discuss philology and history with him. That would have to be one of the most fascinating conversations of my life!
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
J: Despite my interest in history, I think I’d actually rather travel into the future. I’m curious about were our technological and socio-political developments will take us over the next 2000 years. Thinking about how much has changed simply over the past 3 centuries is staggering – I can’t even imagine what our world will look like in 20 centuries!
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
J: Now that’s an interesting question… I suppose I’d probably pick something like Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor”, because it would showcase many aspects of composition, dynamic, arrangement, and also includes human voices of course!
 
 
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
 
J: Realistically? Probably one of the nameless soldiers getting run through by spears on the field of battle, haha…
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife/life partner is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
J: I would hire a crack team of expert drivers, drive a truck through the wall directly into the room where the illicit transaction was taking place, hijack my records back, and calmly inform said girlfriend that our relationship had been terminated effective immediately. I don’t have time for that kind of negativity in my life.
 
 
That’s all for now Jake! Thank you very much for talking to Grande Rock. Say anything you feel like saying before we close… take care!
 
J: Thanks so much for the support; it truly means the world to us! Keep the flame burning!

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