WALPYRGUS

Interview witth Scott Waldrop


Are you ready for the Hexennacht? In time of the Hexennacht we present a Interview with Scott Waldrop of the great Americans WALPYRGUS. First you can read the review of their Debut (look here), than enjoy the interview:

Hi Scott, let's start directly at the very beginning: How and when did the beautiful witch named WALPYRGUS emerge from the womb initially? Who had the idea to form the band and when was it clear, that it would be heading in the musical direction we hear on this first full length album?

Hi Less, I had been thinking about naming a band WALPURGIS for some time. This was inspired primarily by three things: First - the holiday is referenced by H.P. Lovecraft as part of his general literary ethos. Second - we are referencing FATES WARNINGs 'Night On Bröcken' which - I think I can safely say - is one of my, Jims and Toms favorite bands. Third - there has never been a particularly prolific band that has ever emerged under this ultra-metal name, so we thought we should grab it before anyone else does. It was Jims idea to spell it differently, I think. It was my idea to form the band. Back around 2012 or so I wasn't doing much with my music, so on a drunken whim at the beach I called each member of my 'dream band' up and asked if they'd do it. Everyone agreed immediately - and so it was. It was clear from the beginning what we were going to do stylistically. Obviously if the band is called WALPYRGUS, all the songs were to be lyrically centered around the occult. As for the sound I wanted us to be a hybrid of LIZZY / MAIDEN / old SLAYER meets THE RAMONES / MISFITS. I never had much of a chance to let some of my punk roots out so they sort of creep out here and there in WALPYRGUS.

I can tell you: You're not alone with your love for FATES WARNING, especially the Jon Arch era. The 'Night On Bröcken' artwork (the one with 'witch-wizard-woods-victim-cats') is kind of a weird cult cover that would absolutely fit your lyrical concept as a kind of updated 'memorial' version. Anyway, I also think the misspelling was a great idea to find you directly in the 'Metal Archives' and...it looks and sounds damn cool. Do you want to tell us more about your fellow witch hunters? As far as I know it's the original band you formed except for the drummer and of course three out of five from the last known TWISTED TOWER DIRE lineup, a band that has a lot of fans here too.

Yeah - the first three FATES WARNINGs are mainly where I'm coming from. Back in the day they were one of those bands that not everyone quite understood. It was kind of rare when you met another kid who was really into them, so I was surprised to meet Tom (Phillips - WHILE HEAVEN WEPT) when we were teenagers and find that he was that into them too. All my other friends thought they were too wimpy with all the thrash going on at the time or they just thought they sounded like MAIDEN clones. I thought 'Night On Bröcken' was just totally fucking brilliant when I first heard it back in '91. I bought the cassette with the 'pilgrim-witch-hunter-guy' and the witch in spandex, ha ha. I think the childrens watercolor art made me like it even more because it was so weird. 

As far as the other guys - in the beginning the band started with me, Jonny Aune (vocals), Jim Hunter (bass) - all of us from TWISTED TOWER DIRE - Peter Lemieux (drums) - who grew up with Aune, played with him in VIPER and was also the longtime drummer for WIDOW - and Charley Shackelford on guitar with me (HELLRAZOR / DAYLIGHT DIES). I've known Charley since the late 90's and have wanted to do a band with him for a long time - he's just an incredible guitar player. The only reason so many TWISTED TOWER DIRE guys started a new band is just because we live close together and we wanted to write original material with Peter and Charley anyway. As for Tom Phillips - I needed keyboards recorded (very) well. I started to do them myself, but decided to give Tom a call instead to see if he was interested. Things just really took off from there. I've known Tom forever, met him in high school (now we're in our 40's) - so yeah, he's one of my oldest friends (no pun intended there Phillips!). Peter wound up moving to Los Angeles a couple years ago so Carlos Denogean (the mastermind behind SALVACION) came on to play drums.

FATES WARNING again, haha - well, we could go on philosophing about these three first albums probably forever but just let's end here reassuring you that we (now end-forties) stumbled over 'Orphan Gypsy' on a metal radio show (!) and it caught us right away until the day we die - not to mention what happened to our minds experiencing the full album and then 'Awaken The Guardian' when it was released.

Yes, I had the impression of a 'dream band' immediately when I listened to the rough versions of 'Walpyrgus Nights' at the end of 2015 in Toms car. It was powerful, ultra-melodic with those twin guitars and this great voice - altogether such a natural flow , already perfect in my opinion. So it grabbed my brain and haunted me until - finally - now. I am very happy that the long mixing process didn't take away the original feeling. So why in all witches names took it so long to finish it? I am sure you guys were even more nervous than me knowing that you've created a killer just waiting to be set free.

I didn't (and don't know) how people will react to the music so I wasn't terribly nervous to get it out quickly. There was no momentum we had to keep up with, as WALPYRGUS is still a relatively unknown band. It took so long because this was Toms first attempt at fine editing and he's a consummate perfectionist, so I knew I just had to give him space. He's always been that way and that's why I was glad to have him come on board. My mind is always on fire with new songs, artwork, running adventures, etc - all the various stuff that I do. Tom is very grounded and focused on completing a project as perfectly and professionally as possible. I need that sort of fine tuning to make sure things are done right as I loose patience and focus very easily. So I'm grateful - he and Jim pretty much keep me in check, ha ha. That's what took so long though, just us tinkering with it until we felt like it was done.

I think it's quite interesting that you don't just chase witches musically, moreover you contributed with word and art to the fantastic 'Swords Of Steel II' short stories collection and already did some artwork for your band like the cover of the 7inch/3 track CD appetizer from 2014 (still available?) that was released via No Remorse Records. Are you still with them, does the album come as vinyl too and what can you tell us about the new artwork?

Yeah, actually I wrote for "Swords of Steel I" as well, ha ha - just be clear! My mother was an English teacher and I became very interested in 19th century / English literature in my early teens when I went to a very liberal prep school called Edmund Burke in Washington DC. I Ioved the English classes where we would dissect material like Poe, Chaucer, transcendentalism, etc. I also was a big student of Lovecraft of course (it's only obligatory metal etiquette to verse oneself in 'The Mighty HPL') though he was a bit later. That school encouraged a lot of creative writing as well as networked me with some famous fine / modern artists in the city - some of whom mentored me like Judy Byron. She analyzed my artwork, took me to the art store and said: "Look you need be drawing with these micron pens", then let me hang out in her studio and encouraged me to draw pictures of corpses and witches - meanwhile across the room she's working on these uber social-conscious pieces being prepped for a Corcoran exhibit, ha ha. Alas, I was a degenerate who was hell bent on living the 'band' lifestyle - so instead of focusing my studies and or capitalizing on incredible opportunity (I did go to and graduate from George Mason University with a BA in Studio Art) I focused on my then death metal band GOLGOTHA. I was obsessed with music. During college I was playing in TWISTED TOWER DIRE and OCTOBER 31 and all I really cared about was drinking, doing drugs and being noisy. Loved being on the road. That said - I wouldn't change it for the world, because I'm in such a great place now! 

Yes! The deluxe 7"/ CD combo put out on No Remorse Records is still available - check out the 'merch' section at www.walpyrgus.com and check out all of our other life-changing products such as baseball jerseys depicting demon women and magical symbols! For the album we went with Cruz Del Sur Records for a few reasons but mainly because his distro is a little greater and he was able to help with the financial things. Remorse and Cruz Del Sur are close friends so really - all of our bands and labels are a fairly tight knit family unit. We'll always be 'with them' (No Remorse) in a sense. The vinyl - I'm guessing this interview will surface after next week so I can tell you top secret info :) - is coming out in 750 copies (500 black and 250 in clear blood red). As for the artwork - Gustavo Sazes created his rendition of our 'tombstone'. I had to take a bunch of photos of our stage prop tombstones in my kitchen for him to reference, ha ha. Hopefully you won't see all of my dirty dishes in the cover.

That means be quick or be dead! I am looking forward to see if this tombstone will be able to compete with my favourite one by METAL CHURCH, haha.

Lyrics. Music. Art. Maybe that would do for a good shirt besides the 'Sex. Murder. Art.' one - jokes aside: What are your plans except playing live a lot what you surely do over there in the US? Does the fire burn completely for WALPYRGUS right now or is there a little spark left for TWISTED TOWER DIRE? I just HAVE to ask this question for a lot of droogs here…including me.

I might have to steal that shirt idea and make a custom one for myself, ha ha. The other shirt I want to make would say: 'Bloody corpse makes me feel great...' - Exodus. As if it were a bible quote, ha ha. Anyway - digressing, I forgot to mention that the vinyl version of 'Walpyrgus Nights' comes with a graphic novel / comic book with all original artwork by myself depicting my lyrics. It was a massive endeavor and I am glad it's gone to press so I can regain my sanity. Shows - yes, WALPYRGUS is playing the 'Legions of Metal' Festival in Chicago this May and also at the 'Frost And Fire' Fest in Ventura California (Los Angeles area) this coming October. Those dates are also on our site www.walpyrgus.com(sorry got to get them PLUGS in, ha ha) The 'shows' tab is right next to the 'merch' tab, ha ha.

So ... TWISTED TOWER DIRE ... actually this band is 110% completely alive - we've just been hiding. Dave Boyd - my guitar partner in crime for some twenty years - set out to complete the 6th TWISTED TOWER DIRE record about three years ago. He has been working very hard on it with Marc Stauffer and all the songs are 75% done and demoed. 10 songs in all is what we're going with. We basically decided, that while I was concentrating on WALPYRGUS, Dave would concentrate on TWISTED TOWER DIRE. So he's done an incredible job. That motherfucker has been tenacious as a wolverine to making sure we keep our noses to the grindstone and put the work in. A lot of the songs were totally written by him. I'd say it's somewhat of a return to the 'Hydra' sound. I have written lyrics for four of the songs and helped edit a small amount of the structures. It's 'very TWISTED TOWER DIRE' and a lot of Dave's personality comes out - it's extremely metal! I'd say that were TWISTED TOWER DIRE left on 'Make it Dark' - with songs like 'Snow Leopard' - which are very THIN LIZZY sort-of 'rock' songs, this new album is 'more metal' and 'violent and triumphant' harkening back to tunes like 'Isle Of Hydra' and 'Infinitum' which were songs Dave wrote the main riffs for. I'm excited to announce this as it's going to be a great record. I've been listening to the new TWISTED TOWER DIRE come together as 'a fan' for the first time because I've been in large on the outside of the process. I think that people who think my influence on the band is too silly will like the new TWISTED TOWER DIRE as all of the 'rock & roll' and tongue-in-cheek aspects of our music has shined through in WALPYRGUS. So that said, lots of exciting stuff going on in this camp and with my friends! Life is good.

... and life seems to get even better with those news! Let's hope that Tom and Jim will give another WHILE HEAVEN WEPT to the world but until that happens, we have this fantastic piece of metal we're talking about right now. I am lookin' forward to listening to 'Wapyrgus Nights' with some friends actually on Hexennacht - what it's called where we live - before we go into the woods to celebrate with beer and fire (no joke! german tradition)! Ok Scott, we gotta stop here to make sure that we can share all of this information with the metal world on a certain night - this year directly at the time of KEEP IT TRUE-Festival, where I really would love to see you guys next year! Is there anything you or one of the others would like to mention or a last message for your future army of witch lovers?

I'm not sure, what Tom and Jim are cooking up for WHILE HEAVEN WEPT so I won't get people excited over my assumptions, but they're old friends and are always collaborating in some capacity or another (such as this). Hexennacht???? That name's even cooler than WALPYRGUS! Shit, I might have to start a third band now, ha ha. I think I've been in Germany during this holiday, lots of bonfires and drinking in the woods right? Story of my life! I might as well have a band named after it - also serious (no joke) - that I've done a lot of drinking in the woods in my past, ha ha. That said - we hope to make it back to Germany soon! Hopefully this album may take us there. Who knows what the future holds? That's what makes life interesting, right? We shall see! Thanks so much for the interview! Please connect with us on facebook and twitter (we're the only WALPYRGUS on the planet) and buy or download (some for free) our tunes on bandcamp. All our social media is connected at www.walpyrgus.com.

ALSO IMPORTANT: I'm running a rather infamous and grueling 100 mile foot race here in America this August called 'Leadville Trail 100' to raise money and awareness around addiction and mental illness. I'm doing this with an organization I'm with called 'The Herren Project.' Please connect with me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/scott.waldrop to donate or get involved. You can also reach me at www.ultrarunvegan.com which is the 'running coach / wellness' site my wife and I are putting together which I'm hoping to have launched by the time this interview comes out. Regardless - whether it's alcoholism, opiates, depression, eating disorders, etc - these issues touch us all in some shape or form and they're something I've struggled with a lot myself since I was 13 (most of them). Thanks so much for the interview!!! Much gratitude going out to you and anyone who connects with our music!!! 'Til next time...

Thank you for these words and the music. Again I am very touched by people in our scene who try to help with projects like you mentioned or this one: https://nightdemon.net/metal-cares.

So my fellow swordbrothers and sisters - you know what you gotta do: Burn them false prophets and priests and save the witches - especially when they take you in the night - wearing spandex ... and look out for 'Walpyrgus Nights'!

www.walpyrgus.com
https://walpyrgus.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Walpyrgus
https://www.facebook.com/scott.waldrop




26.04.17
By: Less Leßmeister
Search magazine

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