IMMOLATION INTERVIEW!!! Bob Vigna part 2 (by Joseph Curwen)
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 16:18

bob21- JC: Hi Bob!! Well, first of all I must express all the complimentary words that correspond in an interview with a Death Metal Beast of this caliber: Welcome to "Compilation of Death" it is an honor for us! You should know that this interview is within the context of a special edition as a tribute to IMMOLATION.
We have reviewed old and new material especially, to have available again the history of the band, for some fans will be good memories, but I assure you that for a vast majority the information is unknown. Well less formality and let’s open the inquisition session. Tell us where IMMOLATION is at this very moment? How’s the promotion of Majesty and Decay going? How was the feedback from the fanatics?


Bob Vigna: Hey Joseph, thanks a lot for your cool comments. We definitely appreciate your strong support and that of the fans over all these years!!!  Right now we are doing pretty well, just did some heavy touring at the end of last year. We had a US tour with Vader in September / October and then we were in Europe with NAPALM DEATH in November / December. Both went really well, especially Europe, was a phenomenal tour!  We have a fest in California coming up with MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY and others…and we are working on other stuff for the summer, etc.  So we’ve been pretty busy. Nuclear Blast has been doing a great job promoting the record and the fans as well as the media seem to really love ‘Majesty and Decay’! 
The feedback has been amazing!  After making this music for over 20 years it’s a great feeling to release one of our strongest and best produced albums yet!!  We are very happy with ‘Majesty and Decay’ and we look forward to more touring to push it!
 

 

 

 

 USA
 
2- JC: Let's go in geographical and chronological order... IMMOLATION has always been a band proud of their geographical origin: "New York" ... to test your memory, do you remember how was the old metal scene from "New York"? How about local clubs or shows? I suppose that the beginnings were with more desire than professionalism? What were some common bands that shared the stage and which were seen as friends?


Bob Vigna: The scene was pretty cool back then. It was a different time though for sure…before the internet and email and myspace etc. We made demo tapes on cassette and shipped them through the mail around the world. But although it was a bit tougher back then, it was the beginning of something really cool and unique in the scene. This style of music was just starting up and it was really an exciting time! Well before IMMOLATION it was RIGOR MORTIS. We played a local club called “Streets” in New Rochelle NY a few times...so that was the first time I ever played live. It was cool though, as back then there was always something going on. For instance that particular club would have 3 nights a weekend dedicated to music… Fri, Sat and Sun... Heavy Metal, Hardcore, and Rock/Glam. So it had a great following, it was like the local place to go for shows. Once we became IMMOLATION is when we actually started playing shows outside of our immediate local area. Our first show was at a place called “Blondies” in Nyack, NY. About a half hour away from Yonkers. That when we first got to hook up with other cool bands from the scene, like REVENANT (pre-INCANTATION)… RIPPING CORPSE and DERANGED (NJ). Other bands we got to know well in those early years were PRIME EVIL, DERKETA, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MALEVOLENT CREATION and the list goes on! I think it was all about the desire and passion back then…much like it is now, ha ha. But we have learned over the years how to add some professionalism into the mix. We work hard to do the best we can on the music and the live performances as we can. But I think we still have that desire and passion now, even more so, and that’s what keeps us going!

 mexico

3- JC: Within the same context, do you remember any shows with very little public or limited technical resources? Any anecdotes?

Bob Vigna: Of course we remember…we play those all the time! Ha ha ha. Well, we are actually very fortunate these days to be part of some nice sized tours and great shows. We have played big fests in Europe and have really had some great shows! But there is always a show here and there every once in a while where you are no playing to hundreds of people, ha ha. And often those can be even better than the big shows believe it or not.  It’s the crowds that make the shows.  So if you have an intense crowd, even if it is small in number, it can really make for an awesome gig! One of the more interesting “technical” shows were a couple we played back in the early days. One was in Mexico. It was an awesome show, with a great crowd…but the equipment we were playing on was from the local school or something...so it was all small little amps and a drums kit made up of like 2 or 3 different kits. Another was in Lima, Peru. I think our guitar stuff was good, but I just remember something strange with the drums…like one of the bass drums was a bit odd, but it didn’t matter, it was a great show anyhow!! But overall we haven’t had it too bad.  I’m sure there were a few other strange set ups along the way, but I can’t recall them exactly.

 

4- JC: The American Death Metal has always had its own identity, from the old sound of Morrisound Tampa Florida, through the dense and obscure style led especially by IMMOLATION and INCANTATION to the current wave Brutal Death Metal DEEDS OF FLESH and Unique Leader Recs. bands What can you rescue as the main element that differentiates the American Death Metal scene from the European or South American? With so many shows and tours behind can you feel the difference also in the fans from different continents?


Bob Vigna: Well as far as sound goes, that’s just up to the artist. I think our sound was very European/South American-like when “Dawn of Possession” came out. A lot of kids though we were from Germany! We were inspired by a lot of international acts, so it definitely sunk into our style of writing, especially in the beginning. We always wanted to get a more unique sound. As far as when we play shows, yes you definitely see a difference in many crowds. South America we have only played once…but the crowd was extremely intense and wild!!!! We have heard a lot of great stories from friends who have played in South America too, so there is definitely a great strong following down there! We hope to make it down there sometime soon and play some shows for the awesome fans down there!!!
Europe is also very cool!  Metal is really alive and well in Europe. It is always cool for us to tour over there. The crowds really get into the music and really take it to heart. There is a cool vibe at most of the European shows…taking you back to the early days! In the US it has been getting much better. We have really had some good tours and shows here...but recently, like on the tour we did with NILE and KRISIUN, we really noticed a lot of the younger kids coming out and the real excitement and energy like we haven’t seen in a long time in the US. So I would say this music is definitely on an upswing and it’s really been getting better and better all over!
 immolation_flyer
5- JC: After all these years working the “hard way” that is, doing demos, albums, touring the world, and positioning IMMOLATION as one of the most important beasts of Death Metal still alive ... Do you think that somehow, after all this time IMMOLATION represents the American Dream for you?
 

Bob Vigna: It’s definitely a dream that we have worked hard to accomplish. I wouldn’t considerate it the “American” dream, but more of a personal thing, that no matter where you are from in the world many people try to achieve. We are just lucky in that with a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice we are still able to do what we love and continue doing it. We by no means live primarily off the band. We all work full time jobs and do what we need to in order to make a living. But that being said, we are doing better now than ever before in our over 20 year existence, so that in itself is a great accomplishment for us. We just wanted to make some music when we started out and never thought we would end up being able to tour around the world. So for us it really is very cool and we don’t take it for granted. It’s a tough business and luckily after all we have been through we still focus on the most important thing…the music and the fans!

 

6-JC: I have it clear that it is "Politically Incorrect" that a metal band makes political statements or anything like it, but hey, you know you always have an opinion about contingent facts in this case, for example What do you think of military support of your government (specially BUSH) to ISRAEL?

Bob Vigna: We do touch on politics a bit in our music…mainly because it plays such a large role in the world and where it’s headed. I’m not going to get into specifics now though about one particular situation though. I think all throughout the world, both politics and religion cause a lot of problems, and that’s why we address it in our music.

 

LYRICS
 
7- JC: My assessment is that on "Dawn of Possession" the lyrics were rather demonic, morbid, the same applies to the art of the early cover art, and finally with the passage of time, I feel that the lyrics are definitely anti-religion and anti Christian, in a much more "social” way and leaving all the “demonic imagery." a little behind. Somehow, you think it is a normal process of "maturation" of the band or you as people?

Bob Vigna: I think it’s both. We obviously have matured on both levels, as people and as song writers.  For me I like to say things pretty straight forward without mixing in too many fancy words so that those who are listening can pretty much grasp what is being said…kind of in a no non-sense way.  But we do like to use a lot of double meanings, so people can look at things from different views. I think for the first few albums we really touched on just about every aspect of the religion thing.  And although we do continue with some of that today, it is much more subtle.  A lot of what we write about now is on a much more real level, more relevant to what is going on in the world today and what we see around us. The war, the chaos, the personal struggles, they are all more of an everyday thing, so that is the direction we have went. We have always touched on such things, but now instead of using the avenue of ‘religion’ to get the message across, we go straight for the throat and express things in a more straight forward way, but keeping it in a dark tone at the same time.  Of course like I mentioned before, religion …as well as politics, both play such a major role in everything around us that we work that in there as well, just a bit differently than before. We were never one of those bands who just bashed the church and religion in a violent way lyrically; it was always more about the facts of its dark side.  Showing just how vulnerable both its followers, as well as those who run its establishment, are.    
bob3      

8- JC: In relation to the previous question, I feel that the lyrics are targeted to make people think, reflect or "Open the eyes" of the person receiving the message, in this context, do you think that might be a contradiction "Lyrics with good intentions" in the Metal of Death?
      

Bob Vigna: That’s actually a great question, and I’m glad you pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as our message goes. It is indeed intended to open people’s eyes, to make them think and really give some thought to the world around us, what’s wrong with it, what is truly important, and what is just bullshit. 
As for the lyrics having a positive intention…Yes!  I actually think it’s a great idea!!  We’ve been doing it for over 20 years now and I think we are getting better at it as we go. Our music is heavy, and it’s dark, but if you really look into it, it is very much positive in its messages and we often want to vent the wrongs we see in the world and show them for what they really are. Like in “Father, You’re Not a Father”.  That was a direct shot at the priests in the Catholic Church who use their position of trust to lure in young kids and sexually abuse them. This is a reality and we are just bringing that fact into the light.  Funny thing is that right after “Close To a World Below” was released there was a huge upset in the church here in the U.S. where dozens of priests were exposed for their crimes.  A song like this, although pretty straight forward, can also relate to a parent’s abuse of their child too. So here is a song that can be interpreted in two different ways, depending on the listener. One of my personal favorites is “World Agony”. Now this is a very dark song, and a very real song. We look at where we are heading with the wars, which are caused by religion, which are destroying our lands, causing the anger and frustration that leads to more confrontation.  It’s this constant plague and cycle of mankind that brings the erosion of both our soil and our souls. It basically shows that the world is heading in a bad direction and if we don’t change our ways we will be the cause of its early destruction. Now that’s a dark subject, with a real meaning, with a powerful yet positive ‘open your eyes’ message. That is what death metal is to me!

      

9- JC: In the context of anti-Christianity, do you feel that you are waging an "Atheist" struggle against a specific false Totalitarian Judeo-Christian doctrine or rather the message could be applied to any Monotheistic religion. What about polytheistic religions of the oldest and largest civilization? What do you think of them?

Bob Vigna: I just don’t believe in supernatural beings that control our every move. I don’t believe that we are here to live and cause destruction for any god. I don’t believe that for the history of our world that mankind cannot just come to conclusion that reality is here on earth and we need to focus on that and not kill each other in the name of things that do not exist. With all the education and information at our hands these days in 2011, why is it so hard for people to see that religion is just a man-made thing?
Centuries ago people believed the world was flat. If someone really believed this today you would think he was insane. Well this applies to religion as well. I just can’t for the life of me understand why throughout the years, where mankind learns and educates himself over the centuries through science and proven fact, that our civilization can’t shake this idea of god. It boggles my mind. We can send men into space, but we can’t seem to see that god (any god) is only in our imagination.
  

 

10-  JC:  "Hope and Horror", "Shadows in the Light", "Majesty and Decay", the message is clear: good and bad, black and white, angel and devil, ying and yang ...IMMOLATION "has some degree of obsession with the “balance” theme"?

Bob Vigna: Yes I guess we do…as the world around us seems to thrive off of that balance. It often takes one side of the spectrum to get to the other. You have horrible things that happen over the course of history that eventually bring out the best in mankind. Then you have those figures and institutions in our society that are projected as all good and sacred, but who are quite the opposite in reality. As a band personally we are all pretty much regular everyday guys who are fairly calm and keep to ourselves;  however our music is dark, heavy, loud and violent, and looks into the darker sides of our society and world and is undoubtedly  a blasphemous force against the blood of Jesus Christ. So you see...the ying and the yang!!! Ha ha ha Seriously though…the opposites effect each other for sure, and I guess that is something that intrigues us. I often liked to try some different stuff though, like on “Shadows…” we had songs about assassins, sleeper cell terrorists, addictions, personal inner struggles, etc. As I said before we just write things in a certain way where there are some double meanings and the listener may look at the lyrics in a different way. Although I am active in a lot of the lyrical writing and concepts of the past few records, this time on “Majesty and Decay”, Ross really came up with some good ideas for the concepts and subjects. Even Steve came up with some really great stuff. So we try to work together to make the lyrics as meaningful and interesting as possible.  

 

THE BAND
 
11-  JC: The effort, passion and desire that IMMOLATION had  from the start, considering all the work that represents the band at this point. You still have the same "ambition" to get as far as possible, as you guys said on more than one interview?

Bob Vigna: Yes absolutely. It is that passion, that drive and desire to create new music, to see where we  can take it , that keeps us going. We are probably more ambitious with every new album! Ha ha ha. We feel like “Majesty and Decay” is like our first record and now we want to take things further with the next. We always look forward to new material. We feel that this style of music has much more areas to expand to and we try and incorporate some new elements each time

 
12-  JC: For many of our readers (myself included) is easy to imagine a band writing and preparing a new album, but for a lot of us is a little foreign the work of a band with a producer could you give us some details? For example, how far can a producer go being useful with the output and not becoming an "invasion" on the concept of a band? How about Paul Orofino’s experience?
 

Bob Vigna: Well it all depends on your relationship with the producer and their overall roll. Some producers actually have a large hand in the writing process, but in our situation Paul was more of a guide. We obviously wrote all the songs as any band would. However, when we were in the studio, Paul would point out when certain things were just musically “wrong”. For instance, I tend to write a lot of dissonant parts that are not typical…but sometimes it becomes too dissonant where certain notes I thought were working together when written actually were not once you could really hear how they sounded together in the studio. So I would just keep the same idea and maybe change a note or two to make it work.  Paul would also make suggestions about some parts here and there or ideas for effects, and just generally lend us his ear and his experience. Over the course of our recording with Paul there were times where he would not even be tracking with us, and would just come in once in a while to listen to the almost finished song, …and if he heard something strange he would let us know. Paul makes it very easy to record and makes for a comfortable session.  So for us it was always a good experience. 

alex          
13- JC: Get strictly musical! Rhythmically, IMMOLATION is a very special band, from "Dawn of Possession"or "Here in After", the drums have never been common to the typical death metal, they are always very complex, custom almost like "drawing" the riffs, much setback and special arrangements. That was the responsibility of Tom Wilkinson at first. Then I think it's the best drumming era (at least for me), I mean the albums recorded with our fellow Chilean Alex Hernandez, I feel that in these albums, although he still kept that style of drumming, very complex and according to the riffs, Alex gave a much faster style with elements such as blast beats, rolls and arrangements incredibly fast, for me, the band became something from another planet!! Then from "Harnessing Ruin" to "Majesty and Decay" with the arrival of Steve Shalaty is a totally different stage rhythmically, much more marked rhythms and accents, speed went down a bit, I even feel the guitars hooked up with many more  rhythmic features ... Considering this brief rhythmic explanation of the band and also not forgetting that I saw the "making of Majestic and decay" on youtube were you have the  Midi tracks with samples pre-programmed for the drums, you make me wonder: Have you always been , the head of the creations of the drums in all records? "Steve brings any ideas or is he tightly regulated to what you write?  do you know anything new about Alex Henandez. or Tom Wilkinson? ...

Bob Vigna: Ok! First off Tom Wilkinson played guitar not drums… (JC: All my life I talked to my friends about Craig Smilowski as a very creative drummer, and I put in thie fucking interview Wilkinson Toom!! Hahaha. well  Sorry Bob!  Let me do a typo!) Craig Smilowski is the one who played drums on both “Dawn of Possession” and “Here in After”. We recruited Craig from our friends GOREAPHOBIA. On the first record “Dawn of Possession”, Craig jumped in shortly before the recording of the album (our original drummer Neal Boback quit the band not long before we were to go into the studio).  By that time, all the drums for most of the album were already written by the band together with Neal. However Craig did add a certain interesting flavor to the drumming when he arrived that was not there before. Craig was influenced greatly by MERCYFUL FATE, and that type of drumming, where there are a lot of nice accents and much more feeling in the playing. This definitely helped expand what we were doing with the drums a lot, and really gave the songs so much more life. It was also at this time that I really started to get a grasp on how drums were played. When it came to drums Craig was more of a natural, he just had it in him. So watching him play gave me a better understanding of the mechanics of it all. So by the time “Here in After” came up, I was writing all the drum beats on a drum machine trying to convince Craig that they were physically possible to play! I just felt that the drums really needed to be well thought out and more in motion with the guitar riffs. I became really fascinated with the drums and felt that they had the power to make or break any given riff or musical section. If you think about it, drums really do determine the overall feel of a part. That being said, I really wanted to try some interesting untypical stuff, so I spent just as much time writing the drums parts as I did with the riffs. (Something I still do to this day). 
Now don’t get me wrong…once Craig got the parts down he would add some of his own stuff here and there, but he would also keep a lot of it the same as I wrote it. It all depends on the song, the part, the drummer, and how it all comes together. In the end, we always go with what sounds the best. Craig Smilowski recently did some work with INCANTATION and GOREAPHOBIA…but now I believe he is working on two projects, Rellik & Masada. You can see what Craig is up to at myspace.com/craigsmilowski.
Now with Alex Hernandez we had a great drummer who was very powerful and well played, but was very straight forward. Alex played in FALLEN CHRIST originally. His playing was very intense, but we really had to school him on our approach to drumming in order for it to work with IMMOLATION. At that time we rehearsed at my house, and I would sit down with Alex day after day, hour after hour, going over different beats… like the triplets and some off timing stuff. I would play along with him for hours on end with the drum machine and metronome, trying to help him get all those beats down, understand all the nuances in our songs whether it was a timing issue, or certain off beat cymbal hits, etc. Just so he could learn the songs we had, and also in the creating of the new material. I tell you, at that point I could probably play all our songs on drums I went over it so much! Ha ha  But after all that hard work it was definitely worth it as Alex became one of the best drummers in the scene.
In writing “Failures For Gods”, “Close to A World Below” and “Unholy Cult”. I would come up with the beats and Alex would add his stuff to it. It often worked the same way as it does now. I would get basic ideas down on a 4 track recorder and then we would all work on it together and make sure everything was the way it needed to be. I think as I am writing the riffs and getting the ideas of the music in my mind, I kind of always have a good idea as to how the beats/rhythmic feel should be. So the more I can elaborate that to the rest of the band, they can all get the best idea of what I am trying to do and that’s why I end up writing so much of the music. Whether by way of drum machine or just when we are sitting there working on the stuff in rehearsal, we would all try and work out the best ideas we could. Often (and to this day) I will even air drum while humming the riff and beat while we are in rehearsal to try and illustrate what I’m thinking about. It’s pretty fuckin’ funny, but it gets the job done! Ha ha
Alex did some really great work on his three records with us, but after a while his heart just wasn’t into it anymore, and in this music you really need to be into it 110% or nothing. As far as I know Alex did some recordings with another band as a session drummer…after that I don’t believe he’s been doing much musically. Alex actually came out to one of our shows at the beginning of the year which was very cool.  So we do see him from time to time on occasion.
So once Alex decided to leave, we found Steve with the help of our friend Brian Woody. Now unfortunately Alex’s departure wasn’t exactly timed very well. He left between two back to back tours which gave us about 6 days to find a replacement for him!  So in comes Steve Shalaty! The funny thing is that we knew nothing of Steve other than what our friend Brian Woody had told us. We went through countless drummers, making calls, etc... Just to find someone to do the tour, but no one was able to. So we took the gamble and basically hit the jackpot!!! We asked Steve one question when we got him on the phone, “Do you think you can do this, we really need to know as we haven’t got much time here”. He said “Yes I can”, and in 1 day he was on a plane for NY. The first thing that impressed me about Steve was his ability to learn stuff on his own. He came here with some of the songs already learned. And the ones that were not, he got down in record time.
I couldn’t believe it!  I would sit down with our previous drummers for hours to get stuff down and Steve came in and knocked stuff out in no time!  He learned our whole set in 3 days and at the first show he pretty much nailed it!  It was amazing!
As we got to know Steve and tour with him it became quickly evident that he was the man. He became a permanent member almost immediately and we have been very lucky to have him ever since. He approaches his playing with so much passion and determination. He picks everything up very quickly and plays with a lot of style and flavor, and holds great time while doing it. He makes the older songs sound heavy again and brings some great new life to all the stuff he writes with us. Steve has a very unique style that mixes his intense and jazz-like influences together with the IMMOLATION approach, so he really brings that much more to the drumming. He really pays attention and has a lot of concern for what he is playing. Now with the writing it often works the same way, I will come up with the basics and then we all work it out together. The first couple of records we did with Steve, “Harnessing Ruin” and “Shadows in the Light”, were a little rougher in the sense that we would travel to Steve’s house in Ohio (8 hours away), then work on songs…then come back the next week and make changes, etc…it was a tough situation for Steve. But he did an amazing job on both of those albums. I don’t think anyone else would have been able to pull it off in the time we had and the different changes we made to make it all come together. 
Now with “Majesty and Decay” we really took a whole different approach in the writing by getting the computer involved.  Now instead of me rambling on to Steve about parts and making air drum motions with my arms (even though I still do this)...or having the band listen to a horrible sounding 4 track, where you cannot hear anything very well... this time we went digital!  I learned a multi-track recording program and for the first time ever was really able to write songs, from beginning to end, with complete drum lines, rolls & fills, breaks , solos etc…it was to me an awesome thing! And for Steve, he could for the first time, hear the riffs very well that the guitars were doing and hear the drum ideas very clearly. So it made things so much easier for him. I would just create a song, then email it to the guys and they would listen to it and get it down. Once we got together to start working on the new material for the first time, we all played the songs like we had known them for years... it was great!! So this made things so much easier for Steve, as he was able to rehearse to the actual song and work on the parts himself too. I would send him versions of the song without the drum parts too, so he could just take the basic ideas and now work on his own stuff too. Overall it was probably the easiest writing process of our career. Now these days when it comes to writing I am becoming much more open to suggestions. Not that I never was, but I see more and more now that no matter how much I feel a song is finished the way I wrote it, in the end its always much better when you give other ideas a chance. For instance not only did Steve make a lot the pre-written drum parts better and more interesting, but he also came up with some great ideas in re-arranging one of the tracks on the new record. “The Comfort of Cowards” musically was a bit longer and more epic in its first draft, but once Steve was so adamant about making some changes we looked at what his ideas were. And thanks to the computer program we could make those changes immediately and see how it sounds.  I had to add a couple of other riffs to make it all work, but he really helped to make that song so much better than it originally was. So Steve does try and get involved as much as he can.  He even wrote most of the lyrics for that song as well as the title.  So the more we work together the better the material becomes. So to answer your question…Yes I do write a lot of the material both musically/drums, and lyrics as well. But it is the whole band that all works together to build on that, that makes the songs what they are. 

 

14-  JC: How was Steve recruited?, do you know  him from the past or it was a process  of "formal election?

Bob Vigna: Well like I mentioned…we found out about Steve from our friend Brian Woody. Brian is from Ohio too, so he knew of Steve from his band ODIOUS SANCTION. And like I said, once Steve came up to NY to get us through that US tour in 2003…we knew right away that he was here to stay!!  We did not need to look any further. We had a highly skilled drummer, with a lot of ability and interest. He was very hungry too, very ambitious, like we are, so that was also a plus. And one of the most important things was his personality. Steve is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. He is always quick to help out with stuff, whether it’s with us or the bands we tour with. He just loves being a part of it and loves being out there and playing…he lives and breathes drums, and you can see it. I think Steve is one of the best drummers out there. He is able to take on anything we throw at him and make it work. A lot of the newer stuff I know is especially difficult where not many drummers would ever attempt some of those parts, and Steve nails them and plays them effortlessly. Again I will say it; Steve brings a really cool vibe to IMMOLATION, 
a lot of style and flavor in his drumming and is into it 110%, so we could not ask for anything better!
 

bob4 

15-  JC: Well, we already saw the rhythmic aspect; we now have the melodic (if "melodic" applies to Immolation! Hahaha!). You are responsible for the strange, magical, hypnotic, sinister riffs of Immolation and wonderful, for me, "Dawn of Possession" or "Here & After" have some of the classic style of Death Metal riff, one string riffs and several arrangements, but since "Failures for Gods" and on for my taste many more resources on guitar, dissonant chords, tri-tones, arrangements between the two guitars, well ... What there is a progression or evolution as an instrumentalist these years? Are you a self-taught on guitar or have a formal study of music or guitar?

Bob Vigna: I took guitar lessons for about a year maybe, just to learn the basics, but everything else is self taught. I would just try and learn songs from IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST…then of course METALLICA and SLAYER, etc... Then we soon started getting into death metal.  With our first band RIGOR MORTIS we did covers from POSSESSED and EXODUS, DESTRUCTION & KREATOR. So it was all that learning other bands music by ear that really gave me the best idea about playing. Trying to learn solos and figure out parts, that’s really how I learned. By the time I learned the basics I was already writing our own material…so it was just an ongoing process of not only learning how to play, but learning how to write at the same time. The more I wrote, the more interested I got into the writing and how I could make rhythms and melodies work together, but in a dark way.  It’s just really that experience of writing and creating that you develop over time. As far as training etc... I never took any more lessons, or was taught anything formally... it just all came naturally and out of need to be more creative.   

16-  JC: This might be a simple question that you often get. But I want to hear it, at the time of inspiration, "do you make the riffs little by little? Something like" mathematically calculated "" or the ideas "appear" and all of a sudden you have something ready? (Understanding that "Harnessing Ruin" was composed in just one month for example)


Bob Vigna: Well I often will write parts first…then try and put them together as I come up with them. 
Of course there are parts you put to the side that may not work with your current song project, and you come back to those later on. I would say that a majority of the writing was done that way…kind of little by little, with the aim of each song, until that song was complete. There were times like with the songs “Close To a World Below” and “The Struggle of Hope and Horror”, where although these are longer, more involved tracks… I would write them in a day or so. It’s usually like, “OK, we need one more track to complete the record”, and then I just get an inspiration and go with it. It comes that way sometimes, you just get a feel, a vision of where you want to go with something and then it just keeps taking shape and you build on it until it’s done. Now on the last record, with having the computer program...I ended up writing just continually writing part after part, with drums and overlays, and numbering them. I did that for a few months on and off, as I still work a full time job. I would come home at night and write riffs and parts until all hours of the night. 
After a few months I had like 80 or more parts. Then I a couple of months or so before we have to record,
I started putting it all together. It was a little rough at first as there were so many parts to choose from, but as I got going it became easier and then I would come up with more stuff as I went. So it was a really cool process. So, it can really go either way. Sometimes I just go through a bunch of parts to create something…other times I get a certain feel or inspiration where I write a song from beginning to end in one shot
.

 Bob_and_Ross_demo_2_1989_session

17-  JC: This question will be good for me, kind of like getting a tip or ask for advice. Ha ha. You use Jackson guitars, Boogie head table and Marschall, boxes giving the characteristic sound of IMMOLATION on guitar, strictly speaking guitar sound for a Death Metal  band , what is the item that you give more importance to achieve heavy and distinct sound? Good "capsules, a good effect, a good guitar, strings etc ...?

Bob Vigna: I think the best advice is to just know what kind of sound you want. Know your sound! You can give me a dozen guitars, amps, and strings, and as long as it is all typical equipment used for high gain playing…I will get the sound I need out of it. Whether it’s a Peavey, or a Marshall, a Mesa Boogie etc.  I’ve used active pick ups, non active pick ups…different strings…but I know what I want the sound to be like…so I adjust it until I get what I’m looking for. In the studio of course I am going to go with what I know and have…but even in that situation you can try a different amp and it will sound better than yours for recording. On our last record I ended up mixing my head, a Peavey TripleXXX and Bill’s Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. It got a really good sound, as each amp highlights a different frequency…however I think next time I will incorporate my POD as well, because I think it will bring out more definition in the riffs that I feel could have been better. So it’s always a learning process. You have to just work with different things and see what works best...there is really no right answer or magic amp. It’s all a matter of preference and what sounds the best in the studio in the recording, not necessarily what sounds good on stage. Studio and Live are two different animals completely!

 

LIVE

flyer
18-  JC: It will be a challenge for your mind to remember this... during the promotion of "Dawn of Possession", IMMOLATION was announced here in Chile. Alongside local South American bands, like INNER SACTUM, KOBALT (see poster attached), which as you know, never happened. How true was that you will play in Chile? "Was it a problem with a Rip Off? I bought my ticket for 5000 Chilean pesos (about $ 10 USD) and got the money after almost a month. Good deal for the bank huh?

Bob Vigna: Well in 1994 we did have some shows scheduled in Chile, Peru and possibly one other area, I forget…but unfortunately the Chilean promoter cancelled on us. We thought we would have to cancel the trip, but the promoter from Peru said he still wanted us to come and play, so we did! And it was really a great time. We had a lot of fun and the crowd was amazing! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Chile though... but we hope to someday soon! And maybe, just maybe, your ticket will still be good after all these years! Ha ha. We are actually long overdue for shows in South America, as well as a few other places around the world. We intend to make this happen soon though. We already have plans to go to Asia and Australia in the works... so let’s keep our fingers crossed for South America!!

 

19-  JC: I remember some old IMMOLATION videos, where the image of you was that of a typical death metal band of the era: Long hair, band shirts, shoes, etc ... Just like the fans in the audience. Currently in the latest videos we see as that aspect has changed, (hair, which I can understand! Hahaha!) But now the band wears shirts, they look very "formal", does the image of the band live matters, or is secondary?
 

Bob Vigna: Well what can I say…hair today, gone tomorrow! Ha ha Ross has enough hair for the whole band and then some... so he is picking up the slack for me! Haha Seriously though... For us I think image matters. Our take on it is that we want to come across professional. We want to get up there and mean business. Now, we don’t have all that much going on with our wears, it’s actually very simplistic, but it does make a statement. When we do get “geared up”, it kind of puts you in that vibe, in that zone…we get up there and metal takes place!!! Now, it would take place regardless…but I think it’s just that we become more focused, more with the music for us when we are all in our metal “uniform” so to speak. Once the ‘super team action suites’ are on... it’s go time!  It’s time to get up there and destroy!!! Haha 

 

UNDERGROUND
 
20-  JC: I remember the photos of your records, always wearing T-shirts from bands like INCANTATION, AUTOPSY, MORTICIAN, DESTROYER 666, BEHERIT, etc. Do you stay active listening new material of the current underground or rather "stuck" in the past?

Bob Vigna: We try to keep up, but it’s not always so easy. I would say that Steve and Bill are probably more knowledgeable when it comes to the most new music and bands. But overall we do listen to more than just the old stuff. Me personally, I like hearing new music, no matter what kind it is. I like to hear what’s going on out there, not necessarily even with just death metal, but in general. I get inspired by a lot of different stuff, so I like to hear new things. So we try...we try...ha ha 
We do obviously prefer a lot of the older bands and find it harder to really find something that really jumps out at us in the underground these days…but I would not say we are completely stuck in the past though, not at all
.

 

MISELANEUOS

 

cell21-  JC: Ok Bob! This question is something I have to ask he, he... I hope your imagination runs wild! Tell us, why on the cover of "HERE IN AFTER" on lower right corner, in the foreground. There is a demon on a cellphone? I guess he is saying something like: Don’t come over fool ... it’s fucking crazy here I’ll call you back ... or something similar! Ha ha ha…
 

Bob Vigna: Ha ha ha Yeah... I think that’s it actually! I saw that someplace too...it was pretty funny.   Actually that particular figure was “inspired” greatly from some very famous artwork from the Sistine Chapel if I’m not mistaken. So they had the foresight of cell phones even back then! Amazing!

 

22-  JC: Do you like soccer? Have you been watching this whole social upheaval at the World cup in South Africa? ... Maybe in USA is not the same as in South America or Europe ... I still remember some pictures of Immolation in which Alex Hernandez wore the shirt of the Chilean soccer team for the 1998 World Cup in France.

Bob Vigna: Yeah...We are not big soccer fans. I can appreciate the sport of course...but I am not a big sports guy to begin with. Alex obviously was, but he was from Chile!! Ha ha  I can probably go to any sport event and enjoy it…but I just don’t follow it. I can tell you that the KRISIUN guys kick ass at soccer though...those boys know how to throw down!!! We would kick around the ball with some warm up games with those guys on tour and it is really a lot of fun. Alex from KRISIUN can keep that ball going forever...he’s really good! Haha

 

23-  JC: It is normal for bands, when they become bigger as IMMOLATION to begin to explore other means, I mean the video clip, what was the experience of making video clip?, To be honest, I think the video clips are "out of the format "extreme metal (except for live shows of course), I personally think that the only place where an extreme metal video you could see was MTV's Headbanger's Ball, which is always considered a big shit ... anyway, in your case are you willing to keep repeating that experience? Does a video clip have a promotional value to you?
 

Bob Vigna: Yes video clips are great. They kind of let you expand on the music and put a bit of your visual feel into it too. When we shot our first video for “Harnessing Ruin”, it was just one camera in our rehearsal space.  I got some lights and backdrops from my job and together with some smoke and lighting, with the old war footage, it came out really great. As for our last video…that was more of a ‘production’ in the sense that we had a whole crew and press there etc. We shot it in Paris, underground in the old quarries beneath the city.  It was very cool actually and being what the song “World Agony” dealt with, it kind of fit that ‘erosion of the world’ vibe. So although it was strictly a performance video, it still created a nice look and feel for the song. It was an interesting experience. There were times where we would do single shots on our own.  So I am sitting there playing my guitar unplugged of course, in front of a camera guy, a lighting guy, a guy holding a boom box little radio playing our song through 3 inch speakers, and a bunch of other people involved and hanging out. It’s a little strange and hard to get into the vibe for sure! Ha ha…
 But luckily the end result looks cool! Ha ha… So yes a fun and interesting experience and we look forward to doing it again. We really wanted to get something done for “Majesty and Decay” and hopefully it is not too late…we have some cool ideas! Ha ha
I think video clips are still very relevant.  We were lucky enough to have both of these videos played on MTV Headbangers Ball, which was great! But even if it does not make its way on there, the fact that everyone is on the internet now...it will get viewed one way or the other, and it just adds to the promotion of the band
.

 

24-  JC: Did you ever imagine at some point that records like" Dawn of Possession "could be worth three times their original value, as in E-Bay now?

Bob Vigna: No, not at all! Ha ha… The worst is the kids that keep paying over $100 for certain shirts etc...That’s crazy! We will eventually make up more of our older designs…it crazy to think kids would pay so much money for stuff like that. I guess if anything it is flattering to know someone would think so much of that stuff to go to that extreme.
 
PRESENT

25-  JC: By now all the fans have already seen the Making Off "Majestic and Decay" "on the Internet. Do you also have the video recording of the pre and post production of the previous albums? How was the idea of this making Off? Was there a specific reason for wanting to record this material on video?
 

Bob Vigna: Nuclear Blast asked us to put something together to promote the record. I think they were thinking of something more simplistic, just us talking about the record quick, what was involved in it, the whole process etc… just to add some promotion for it. Of course, I couldn’t just create something simple, if we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right. So we had some video from the studio and me and Ross went over some stuff and eventually we ended up with 3 full trailers of material, showing really how we did it and what was involved. The writing, the creating process, the recording, etc. I even have a 4th trailer regarding the artwork that I never finished yet, but I’m sure I will at one point. It was actually cool to put it together and we are really glad that the fans liked it so much and we got some really good reactions. 
I think the trailers actually helped some of the younger bands out there to get a more detailed inside look into something they may have personally not done yet. We were pretty happy with the way they came out
.

 

26-  JC: Immolation’s theme has always been quite fatalistic, somber, but for me, definitely, "Majestic and Decay" is the sound track of an apocalyptic movie, but rather of the Apocalypse!, Put in simple terms something that should be relatively complex, agreeing and recording solidly dense material deeply pessimistic, gloomy, apocalyptic "Does this produce a wear personally and in your minds? How is your energy?

Bob Vigna: I think when it comes to life in general we are all pretty optimistic, regular people just doing our thing. We work hard, we actually have a lot of fun and are often more happy than gloomy. Almost child-like at times! Ha ha But when it comes to the music...that’s when we get more serious and philosophic. We kind of step back and look at things in the world that we think need to be addressed or revisited to show how far we have come, or haven’t as a society. For us death metal is meant to be very dark and ominous, very meaningful and have more of a serious tone. It’s just the way we see it, so in making the music, those are the elements we bring out of ourselves. 

 

27-  JC: Have you ever thought what would be your life without IMMOLATION in the future? Do you see yourself away from the band or having it only as a memory?

Bob Vigna: I never really think about it too much. IMMOLATION is what we are...it is our life, or an extremely big part of it. We still have many years left in us...but we will cross that bridge when we get there. We still much ground to cover!!!

 

28-  JC: By the age that you have and since the beginning of the band until today, IMMOLATION has been right in the middle of the communications revolution: INTERNET in your eyes, do you see a big change in the underground scene on the old fan very "dedicated" and unconditional versus current and new fans much more comfortable, lazy in the security of their home, downloading with a click?, or on the contrary, do you think that this "democratization" of information has made your music, its message and the name of the band promote itself in a better way and get more directly to the fans?
 

Bob Vigna: It’s a little of both.  I think there was a bit more personal aspect to things back in the day.
You couldn’t really see bands on the internet, so you made sure you got out to that concert or show when the band came through. You had to really be into it to search for the music and be very dedicated, yes, without a doubt.  Everything is so easy today, that someone can be into it one minute and just move onto something else the next. But, at the same time, it is that access to the world that does get your music out there and promote the band. The fact that kids can see you on youtube etc, it enables them to see what you are about and then maybe get more into your music and all. There are pros and cons to it all, but I like to move forward so I don’t have a problem with the way things are now. Overall I like technology a lot and I like where we are as a band now, so for me these days are always the best

1992

 

29-  JC: Well Bob, we've reached the end I hope you liked the interview, I reiterate my honor to have you in our pages, write your last words, and of course confirm a couple of things: we have IMMOLATION for several more albums and a show in CHILE sooner than later!

Bob Vigna: Thanks so much for the interview! We appreciate all your endless support and all the work you guys put into this! We hope to be in Chile soon and will continue to do our best and keep the music true always!!! 

 

Interview by Joseph Curwen (JC)