January 7, 2015 Interview – Orion of Behemoth & Vesania
The underground Polish Extreme Metal scene has been led by a handful of bands, and perhaps one of the most prolific over the past two decades has been Behemoth. Defined by an epic wall of Death Metal fury with booming vocals of Nergal, battering drums of Inferno, and bombastic bass by none other than Orion, Behemoth are a name which has broken into mainstream Metal in a big way. Tomasz Wróblewski, aka Orion, always had the dream of being part of a Metal band and tearing up stages since his early beginnings as a teenager playing guitar. Joining up with Behemoth in 2003, Orion has kept himself exceptional busy through the years and kept his own band Vesania alive in the scene. While Behemoth continues to be a worldwide dominant force year after year touring, Orion returns with Vesania in 2014 with the band’s first full-length studio album in seven years titled Deus Ex Machina. Recently we sat down with with the accomplished multi-instrumental Orion for a look into his time with Behemoth, keeping Vesania going strong, the state of the Metal scene, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in Metal/Rock for nearly two decades. Tell us a little bit about what the journey has been like for you thus far as a part of the Extreme Metal scene.
Orion – As you said, it has been almost fifteen, twenty years. I started with Vesania, that was my very first band that I still continue to contribute to today. Then I joined Behemoth and that is how the story started for me, with me being a professional musician. I always wanted to do it when I was a kid, but that was only a dream for me and somehow I made it true. I am very happy about the position I have now and I truly appreciate everything that has happened. At the same time, I feel that I have earned it because it took me, actually, a lifetime to make it to where I am now. It has been a great journey, a great time, and a good life. I plan to continue on for as long as I can.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear and it certainly is special to live out of your dreams. Being a part of numerous projects, you joined up with Behemoth over a decade ago, and during that time the band really has gone on to great international success. How did it come about that you were asked to join Behemoth?
Orion – We knew each other before I joined the band. Their former Bass player, a guy called Novy (Marcin “Novy” Nowak), had planned on leaving because he got a better offer, at least that is what it was to him back in the days from Vader. So he just told the guys that he was going to be leaving. They told me, and I just jumped in. That was when Behemoth was still touring for the Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) (2002) album and then right after a few shows I had done with them, we started writing for Demigod (2004). Actually Havoc ( former Behemoth guitarist) felt burnt out with what he was doing in Behemoth and his plan was to leave as well. During the writing of Demigod, I was actually playing guitar with Behemoth, but then we found another guitarist. Patryk “Seth” Sztyber started playing guitar and I took over the bass guitar. That was a long time ago, but it still feels like it was yesterday (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – It is amazing how fast time flies by! Having recorded four full-length albums now as a member of Behemoth, including the latest album The Satanist (2014), how would you describe the progression of the band over the years?
Orion – When I joined them back in 2003, Behemoth started to be recognized worldwide, still the tours that we were doing were not the best tours ever, but they were very meaningful for the overall history of the band. I remember my first US tours, because the US is a very different market from what we have in Europe. We had to struggle a lot to make it to a certain level. During all our first US tours with Behemoth the conditions were not very good. We were traveling in a van for a month, a month and a half, come back home, and then come back to the US again to do the same thing over and over again, just to establish a position. The first years were rough, but still we had this thing in mind, that it was going somewhere, and leading to something good. We really believed in that.
Like you said, we have done several albums, and today’s Satanist album is still getting the best reviews ever. It seems like we have made some good choices in life. Back then we were a little younger than we are today, so making decisions was a little easier for us. I am not sure, if I had the same road to go through today, if I would take the risk of it. I do not know, but, after all, we are here and it is good.
CrypticRock.com – Yes sometimes when you look back in hindsight you wonder if it was all worth it and when you say yes it was, then that is the redeeming quality. You started in this when you were very young? About seventeen years old, right?
Orion – That was when we started Vesania, yes. Most of the bands that I have played with were started when their leaders were very young. I think Nergal started Behemoth when he was around thirteen or fourteen years old.
CrypticRock.com – It is clear you have been very busy with Behemoth over the years touring and recording new material, but in that time you have also found time for your band Vesania. Considering with how busy things have been with Behemoth over the past decade, has it been difficult to find time for Vesania?
Orion – Yes, to be honest, it is super difficult. Behemoth is taking up most of my time and I have almost no time for myself. When I do finally find a break from Behemoth, I am doing Vesania stuff. This year, I had a month off from Behemoth so I decided to do an almost month long Vesania tour. I am either doing this or that. It has been really hard over the last decade. I remember I had some more time with Vesania in 2006, so we played several tours and I think about a hundred and twenty shows in that one year. After that, Vesania released the third album, Distractive Killusions in 2007. We actually had to put the band aside for some time because we were so busy with other things. So yes, it is definitely hard, but if you really want something to happen, you find a way.
CrypticRock.com – Most definitely true. Now you released your fourth album with Vesania, titled Deus ex Machina, on October 25th. This was actually the first Vesania album in almost seven years. What was it like writing and recording new material for this album?
Orion – We are not one of these bands that just take their guitars, plug them into the amps, and record. Vesania’s new music is multi-layered and complex. It takes some time to write, record, and then mix it. We have been writing, recording, and mixing this album for almost two years now. Each one of us gathers the ideas. Anytime, anywhere, we would just write stuff down and record it. Then when Daray (Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski) and I decided that we have enough stuff to work with, we took all of the ideas and creating song structures. That usually takes a month or two and then we record a demo to show to the guys. Then it is all arranging: samples, keyboards and all of the other tracks. This is the most important part for the band. In this spirit, we change a lot and do the most work with the music. Recording it takes a long time, because we have breaks in recording sessions so we get some distance from what we have just done. Plus, we have to take care of other commitments that we have. From when we started with this album until the day it was released, it has been two years; a long time.
CrypticRock.com – That is a long process. The record certainly has an intense sound, and multi-layered, like you said. Was it a different experience creating this album opposed to previous Vesania albums because of the long lay-off?
Orion – Back in 2007 when we released Distractive Killusions we tried some touring for the album and we had some bad experiences. We had done three tours for that album and all of them went wrong. It was not anyone’s fault, just bad coincidences and the people that we chose to work with. When we came back home from the European tour we had to cancel half of it and we had decided to just put the band aside for some time. We quit releasing albums every two years and decided that this was not for us. There were too many other things happening in our lives at the time. I would start to really feel this pressure that we had to do something, that it had to be done according to some sort of schedule. We did not want to feel pressure like that anymore so we decided that we would do it when it was time to do it. Yes, it took us a long time.
It was definitely a different experience working on Deus ex Machina than the previous albums. We went pretty far from the conventions of the Symphonic Black Metal genre with this record. We do not really feel that we have to do something that will be going according to genre or anyone’s needs. This band is not really professional, meaning we are not living off the music. We decided to do the music that satisfies us first and that we continue to do when it is possible for us, not when someone tells us to do it. We have changed everything since then, including the record label that we were working with. The Metal Blade deal allows us to do an album when we want to do an album. We do not have to do it every year or every two years. I do not really understand that, because we have the same thing with Behemoth going on now. Making music is not like working in a factory. When you are doing something that is supposed to be some sort of art, some sort of creation, that you are giving all of yourself yourself, working with a super tight time schedule simply does not make any sense to me. I think life is too short to do things this way.
CrypticRock.com – Very true. How can you put a timetable on a piece of art? There is too much pressure, and if you are putting too much pressure on yourself, you are not going to get the best possible music out of it.
Orion – I am listening to a lot of music. I work with music, I even work in the recording studio when I have time. to do music production as well. I listen to most of the albums that are coming out now and most of them are by bands who are producing music every year or two. I listen to these albums and there is nothing in them. It goes in one ear and out the other and I do not remember a single note. There is no personality in it, there is no heart in the music if you are doing it with a timetable. That is just not us and I do not want to do it that way.
CrypticRock.com – Very understandable, it makes perfect sense. As you have mentioned, you work in music, you hear the records. You have heard the music of others coming out. It seems like, even in the Extreme Metal scene, especially in the Symphonic Metal scene, there seems to be a lot of watering down lately. What do you think about that?
Orion – I agree with you. Speaking of the Symphonic Metal genre, it is going down. I feel like it is the genre itself is a little burned out. I am not sure if there is anything new to find in it. I agree that this genre is coming down, but at the same time, there is a lot of great bands. Surprisingly, most of them are coming from Sweden (laughs). I do not know what is so amazing about this country, but any newcomer I hear from Sweden ends up being a great band. This does not seem to happen so regularly in any other country. I am not sure if Metal as a whole is doing badly now a days, but there certainly a lot of very good newcomers in the market.
CrypticRock.com – With the touring schedule pretty packed with Behemoth over the next few months, will there be time for Vesania to perform some live dates again?
Orion – Yes. We just came back from a tour in Poland that we did with Vader. That was the best tour we have ever done. We are currently working on a European tour for early spring of 2015, and also are booking some European festivals. I truly hope we can tour the US at some point. That is a long road to go through for us though.
CrypticRock.com – Many hope Vesania eventually come to North America. Obviously, everyone in the Metal scene knows Behemoth’s name, although Vesania may be a little more underground here in the US, they certainly have a following.
Orion – Hopefully. I truly believe that there are quite a few Vesania fans there in North America. Whenever we have a chance, we want to plan a tour.
CrypticRock.com – That would be very exciting to see. What are some of your musical influences?
Orion – Who do I started with, what made me who am today, is the Norwegian Black Metal scene. The first Emperor record, In the Nightside Eclipse (2004) just opened my eyes for Metal music. I soaked into the scene and I started discovering bands, one by one. That is what made me do what I am doing today. That was sometime in the middle of the ‘90s. Since then, I have listened to all kinds of different music, not only Metal music. It is actually really hard for me to pick. The way I see it, today I am influenced by whatever makes me think and act. Whether it be music, some art, or whatever. In the times that we are living in, we are just being attacked by everything. Between the internet and all of the social media bullshit, we are experiencing a lot of tunes, a lot of images, and a lot of everything every day. To pick the specific ones, it is very hard.
CrypticRock.com –That is understandable. It is good not to pigeonhole yourself in the type of music that you listen to. It seems like a lot of people who love Metal will only listen to Metal, and that is close-minded sometimes since there is so much other great music out there.
Orion – Certainly, there are lots of things to discover in the world, not only Metal.
CrypticRock.com – My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Orion – Before we spoke I was checking out CrypticRock and I saw some Horror movie reviews. I am very sorry to say that, honestly, I am not a Horror movie fan. I have seen some of the classics, but today’s Horror movies make me smile rather than make me scared. I am not a good person to talk to about Horror movies. If you consider Alien (1979) a Horror film, then I am a fan. I love H.R. Giger in general, and if Twin Peaks is a Horror TV series, then I am a Horror fan as well.
CrypticRock.com – Those are definitely of the Horror genre for sure. Do you have a favorite type of film?
Orion – I used to be a fan of David Lynch’s movies until the period of Lost Highway (1997) and then he lost me. I do not really have a favorite movie director. I actually do not really have time to watch movies. What suits my lifestyle for the little time that I have is TV series. There are a lot of good TV series that I have seen which are nice, short, and they do not take much time to watch.
CrypticRock.com – There are a lot of really great TV series out there right now. It seems as if quality has gone into TV series as opposed to full length films nowadays.
Orion – The thing is, a movie is limited as to how much they can show in their time frame. A TV series is unlimited in the amount of time for developing characters. There is a lot of time to show the complete stories and it gives you the time to analyze the characters much more than in the movies.