August 16, 2018 Interview – Lex Vlad of Vlad in Tears
When thinking of the long Mediterranean coastline of Italy, what are some of the first things that come to mind? The birthplace of Western civilization and a once cultural superpower? Yes. Delightful cuisine and fine art? Most probably. How about a place rich with a Rock-n-Roll and Metal scene? Unlikely. While this may be true, in truth, for many years Italy has been the breeding ground for a handful of successful bands including Lacuna Coil, Dope Stars Inc., as well as Vlad in Tears.
A name recognized primarily in the European region as a respected Dark Rock act, Vlad in Tears’ story dates back 10 years, and the best part of all, it continues to be written. Initially making the mark on the European scene back in 2007 with their debut LP, Seed of an Ancient Pain, the band has since released an abundant collection of music through the years, including their most recent work, 2017’s Souls on Sale.
Continuing to move forward and create music they love, could the time finally be right for the band to at least break into the North American market? While uncertain, in the meantime Vlad in Tears Guitarist Lex took the time to chat about the wild history of the band, their will to keep going, creating something unique, inspiration, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – Established over a decade now, Vlad in Tears has released 6 studio albums, toured throughout Europe, and built a strong following with their unique brand of Dark Rock music. First, tell us, how would you describe the journey of the band?
Lex Vlad – Well, to fully understand our journey, you first need to know that me, Chris, and Dario, we are brothers. This basically means we’ve started playing music together since we were really young, and I really mean it. My little brother Chris has always wished to set up a band in order to fulfill his artistic hunger, so we started the first version of the band when he was 16 years old. We started with writing and composing music in Italian, guess it was a logic approach.
After a few years, we decided to make a u-turn, change drastically our style, and practically in one night Vlad in Tears was born, when Chris wrote our first song ever (ie. “Woods of Madness”). From that moment on, we practically never stopped. As you said, 6 studio albums, plus several EPs digitally released, and a couple of albums never released. How’s been the journey so far? Hard and awesome.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, so it has been a long ride for the band, but certainly an interesting one. Vlad in Tears has their own unique, beautiful, dark sound. How did the style of the music take shape?
Lex Vlad – It’s not a secret that ViT are Chris’ mind birth, I mean he gives the “taste” to our music, the uniqueness of our style depends on his beautiful and yet cryptic mind. The best part, by the way, is that we all land to the same color when it comes to work on new songs. It happens also that me or Dario could create the incipit for new songs, then it all passes through Chris’ hands, and he (like a sculptor) gives shape to everything. It’s a team activity anyway, we all work together on the songs, even if nowadays we don’t live in the same house any longer.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like you have a great chemistry together as musicians. You initially came together in Italy, but you have since called Berlin home. How did the band find themselves relocated in Germany, and was it a challenge to sustain the changes?
Lex Vlad – Yeah, as I said before, we are brothers and Italians, so obviously we came together in Italy. Berlin is Chris’ and Dario’s home base since 5 years I guess, while I do live in Bucharest, Romania. It is always hard when you leave your hometown, saying goodbye to old friends, old streets that saw you grow, but so far I can tell you it was almost necessary to keep the band up and running.
The scene in Italy is really thin and small, maybe because there is too much sun! By the way, we first talked about moving in 2008, after our first European tour. We had many concerts in the UK, and the feedback we got over there was quite good to be honest, we also had a deal with a UK based label, so we talked about moving over there. Then, we got in touch with a German manager, who soon after brought us to meet our first German label that released Underskin in the same year in 2010. So practically we started to fly over Germany very often, so often to the point of talking about moving there once and for all. Then it came the time of Welcome to Vladyland (2011), and with it another deal with another German label. Again tours in Germany mainly, and the feeling of having found a new home was seriously growing inside us all.
In 2011, for some personal issues, I did quit the band and my brothers decided to relocate themselves in Berlin. For them it’s been fucking hard. You know, Germany is a very amazing nation, but yet so hard to deal with when you first arrive there. We talked a lot during those early months, so I can say it’s been a hell of a challenge for them. In the same period I moved to Bucharest, but we kept on being in touch practically every day. Now, after so many years, if you check our social media you can see that we state “Germany” as ViT home country… guess this clears it all.
CrypticRock.com – Through all the relocating, Vlad in Tears continues to go on! The band’s 2007 debut album, Seed of An Ancient Pain, attained a good deal of international attention. You have since grown, releasing five more albums. Your latest was Souls on Sale. What was the writing and recording process like for that album?
Lex Vlad – If you talk about Seed of An Ancient Pain, I still remember recording that album inside our dad’s garage, where we did set up our own home-recording studio. It was summer, so damn hot either. We had all the songs ready since months before, but somehow we felt we were not yet ready to record them. By all means that album was our first attempt in the Dark/Goth scene, so far it is also the closest album to Metal we’ve realized. We were angry, we were scared, we were excited.
The full recording process took not more than 4 days, then Chris left for summer vacation while I went in Rome for the mix and mastering processes. When we got our first copies from the label, it was like day-dreaming you know… I personally slept for nights and nights with my own copy of that album on my pillow! (Laughs) Instead, if you talk about Souls on Sale, the story is quite different. As I said before, I did not join the band yet. One day, I got a phone call from my brother Dario, telling me he and Chris wanted to record a new album, but they wanted me to record guitars. You can imagine how I felt… after so many years… Anyhow, I asked them to send me the demo tapes, in order to let me understand how the new album should have sounded. So I started to rehearse at my place in Bucharest, recording videos with my phone in order to show them my ideas on those songs etc.
Then, I booked a recording studio in Romania, and I went there with my gear to record. Honestly speaking, entering a studio after years, seriously scared the shit out of me! But you know, music is something that, once inside of you, it will never leave… I did record the guitars for Souls on Sale in two days! Then, Dario came to Bucharest too, in order to record the bass and so on. While Chris decided to go back in Italy, at our own studio at our parent’s house, to record the vocals on his own. The result is the album released past December.
CrypticRock.com – The end result with Souls of Sale is quite good. You most recently released an acoustic edition of the song “How Do You Know.” A beautiful piano rendition, what inspired this version, and can we expect some more acoustic material?
Lex Vlad – Actually, all ViT’s songs are written in acoustic. It comes on the piano if Chris writes the song, it comes on the acoustic guitar if I write the song and so on. We are really in love with the “unplugged” approach, we did several times and for sure we will do it again. More acoustic material? Who knows… for sure our fans are requesting an unplugged album since a long time, so maybe we will fulfill their request one day!
CrypticRock.com – Well, it would be cool to hear more of it. Since the music is initially composed acoustically, it makes complete sense why it sounds good in that format now. Much like many bands from the European market, Vlad in Tears’ lyrics are in English. Would you say that English is the universal language of Rock-n-Roll?
Lex Vlad – I would not say that English is the universal language for Rock-n-Roll, but undoubtedly is the language that connects everybody in the world, from different countries. Moreover, English is one of the most beautiful sounding language, so it works perfectly on music. By the way, for sure an English lyric helps to reach as many people as possible if compared with other languages that are not so widespread.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and writing in English has helped connect Vlad in Tears to many different places. That in mind, has Vlad in Tears ever had a desire to break into the North American market?
Lex Vlad – Oh wow… I would not lie to you about this… we were actually almost close to tour North America in this 2018. We got several offers from different promoters and agencies, we also got the tour schedule with cities and venues etc. Unfortunately, as already happened in the same year to other two bands (one from Germany, one from Italy) we weren’t able to get access permission in the USA because of new immigration laws, or something like this.
As astonishing as it sounds, I was receiving emails from the venues’ owners across the USA, telling me how sorry they were, how ashamed they were feeling, and so on. I don’t have any comment about this, so far. But to strictly answer your question, to break into the North American market is our secret dream since we were very young! I’ve been so many times in N.A., and I love your country… but so far, it is a hard way to get there.
CrypticRock.com – Understood, hopefully one day we will see you breakthrough and tour here. The band is currently performing select shows in Europe through 2018. With these announced shows, what can we expect next from the band?
Lex Vlad – After releasing Souls on Sale, and after all the concerts we had so far, we have decided to take a little rest after this long season. We’ve been on the road for months, and we are not done yet with concerts and festivals in 2018. The idea is to get some time for recovering, then we will surely start working on the next album. As always in ViT history, we want to do something different from the previous ones, so we will really need time to work on it avoiding pressure and stress.
Next season we will concentrate mainly on festivals across EU and East EU, plus some selected shows across Germany and eastern countries (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece etc). Moreover, there will be some very cool and nice news regarding our live activity, so really stay tuned! As you also may know, in the last period several things are changing for ViT. We decided to split with our last drummer for personal reasons for instance, so even the lineup will be brand new. What can I say? ViT are always moving and changing! (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here. You seem like a pretty diverse individual. As a musician, what are some of your personal musical influences?
Lex Vlad – God, this is a hell of a question! If I just have to name a few, I would say HIM, Placebo, Muse, 69 Eyes, My Chemical Romance, Three Days of Grace, and Korn. Believe me when I say that the list would fill an entire volume!
CrypticRock.com – Those are all very good, and predictive, diverse selections. Last question. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites and why?
Lex Vlad – I was not expecting this kind of question, but I am glad you asked it! I will share a secret with you then… One of the main reason why ViT exists, is that Chris is a huge fan of Horror movies. His main dream has always been to compose soundtracks for Horror movies. We are all into Horror, even my son,and he’s just 5 years old, asks me to watch zombies when his mom is not home! When we released Welcome to Vladyland, we also produced a short Horror movie to promote one of our singles at the time. We shared this movie just three years ago. Still, we were not so brave to promote it, so practically just a few people know that we made it, you can find the link here.
So yeah, obviously we are Horror fans, as well as Sci-Fi! But please, don’t ask me to pick a few, this would be even harder than the question about musical influences! (Laughs)