Play to All Who Want to Listen


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The 2023 festival season is on the horizon, but for Russian metalheads getting involved has become much more difficult than last year (let alone before COVID or the “special military operation”): most of our European neighbors have simply shut down their borders for us. It’s hard to imagine now that less than 12 months ago we traveled to Finland’s wonderful Tuska festival, but to bring back some of that feeling, we are publishing the last of our materials covering the festival that got stuck in the archive for various reasons. While staying on the festival ground, we were lucky to interview Vola, a young but very talented Danish-Swedish band. In less than 15 minutes of our conversation with Nicolai Mogensen (bass) and Adam Janzi (drums) we managed to cover the key points of their biography and discography. Hopefully it will be not just a reminder, but also a forerunner, and we will be able to make it to some European festival again this year.

It’s really nice to meet you here at Tuska festival! Since the Russian audience is not very familiar with you and your band could you please briefly introduce it to your potential listeners in Russia.

Nicolai: Yeah, will do. We haven’t been to Russia and haven’t played there so I can understand why people don’t know us yet. Our music is very much inspired by Meshuggah and more melodic stuff like Porcupine Tree, we’re like in between - we use low guitar tuning and heavy riffs and mix them with songwriting of Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. That’s what we have been trying to do at least. That’s how I would describe our sound, in between those things if you can imagine it.

Yeah, it’s kind of polar.

Yeah, we play a lot with that - having something very heavy and having something very light. We like to play with that in our music.
Adam: I think, some people have mentioned Meshuggah and Depeche Mode. (everybody laughs)

It’s really cool! Let’s talk a bit about your latest album called “Witness” (2021). Could you also please introduce it to our audience and tell us what the main difference is between this album and those you did before?

Nicolai: Yeah, “Witness” is our third album. Our first album was “Inmazes” (2015) which happened in the “djent period” of myself, where everything was very djenty including our album, I guess. The next one was called “Applause of a Distant Crowd” (2018) which was more rock-oriented. I think it wasn’t something we thought too much about but I think the newest one is probably about taking the best of both worlds and just making everything better as much as we can - make the sound better, make the song better. That’s the main difference, we got a little wiser hopefully.
Adam: And we went for a more produced sound on this third album to really bring out the best of everything.

Yeah, as far as I know, your latest album received very good reviews and achieved high positions in European charts so what do you feel about it?

Nicolai: It’s just a perfect thing for us. You know, when you make the third album it’s… I think, with some bands it happens on the first album and with some bands it never happens. So I’m just happy that it happened right now, I’m very grateful for that because the more albums you put out the less likely it is that it would happen in a way. Yeah, I’m very happy that we are in this position, that we can play for people who like our music and we can play nice festivals like this one, Tuska, tonight. I feel really lucky and privileged, because I know there are some great bands that are not playing these festivals. It’s just that there are so many great bands out there and it takes some luck to get to the right position at the right time. It’s timing that you cannot control.

Have you arrived here today or have you managed to see some bands?

I arrived today because I’m from Sweden and the other guys in the band are from Denmark. They arrived last night.
Nicolai: And we lost all of our gear. None of the gear made it for the flight. So no guitar, no bass, no keyboards, no anything. So today has been pretty hectic, we have managed to borrow everything, we think, for tonight so we are ready to play, but it’s not gonna be our own instruments or gear.

Well, it’s a really tough situation!

Nicolai: Yes. So no time to watch any band yet. But we are very excited for tonight, it’s gonna be a really fun challenge. I’m looking even more forward to it because it will be different, I don’t even know what instrument I’ll be playing. As long is it’s a bass, I’m happy. (laughs) Not a saxophone!

I’ve managed to watch a few live videos of yours, and let me ask you, whose idea it was to make a show in a former swimming pool and how it was to play there?

Nicolai: Well, actually it was our sound guy, he does our live sound, Vince, who had read about this area like an hour away from Copenhagen. I think, it was an abandoned swimming pool…
Adam: An abandoned military base.
Nicolai: Yeah, a military base where everything is basically overgrown and has not been in use for ten of fifteen years. We had just thought that it really fits: because of the pandemic, we wanted to do some online show, but this would make it even more special - instead of just doing it in a music studio, it would be more fun to do something in a very special weird place. So we are very happy we did it like that. It was totally unexpected how cool this place was and we got some great people doing lights to make it a very special thing.
Adam: Yeah, it was super, super cool like this location was used in the Netflix TV series, “The Rain”, and the whole thing is like you can go to the gym locker, see broken abandoned showers, there’s a gymnastic hall. And everything is just not in use.
Nicolai: In Denmark everything is so clean and in control. It’s very cool to see something where nothing has been happening for such a long time.

I would like to see such a place! The legendary Royal Albert Hall is quite an opposite place where you also played. Сould you please tell about how you got there and how it felt playing such a legendary venue?

Adam: That was pretty amazing, like a surreal experience. For me the impact was the strongest when I was on stage and had played a few songs and I really looked around, and I realized, “Hey, we’re actually here”. Up until then it was just stress and normal thinking, like, about setting everything up and not really realizing that we’re actually going to play there. Being there on stage, seeing the whole venue, and seeing the crowd there, it was really impactful for me. That was definitely a lifetime experience.
Nicolai: Yeah. Of course, I hope we can get to the point when we can… We were supporting Devin Townsend, which was also a dream for us ‘cause he’s a musician we’ve been listening to a lot. So that was very special too. And now the next goal is trying to get there on our own. That’s the next dream because that’s just something else when it’s your fans that are there.

Are you staying for Devin’s show tomorrow?

Nicolai: No, we have a flight very early tomorrow, sadly. So no Devin for us this time around.

So sad. I will say hello to him from you if I can. Ok, let’s talk about your future plans.

Adam: Yeah, we have some other festivals coming up, the next ones are also in Finland, Ilosaarirock and Saarihelvetti, which is also in Finland. Then we have Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic which is gonna be really cool, and Summer Breeze in Germany, and Alcatraz (in Belgium – ed.). That’s our summer festivals. And then we have a European tour in September and the U.S. tour in November, and a Denmark tour in December. And then it’s time to write a new album. That’s the plan.

Quite impressive!

Adam: Yeah, it’s gonna be a lot of shows to look forward to.

OK, I think we’re running out of time because we only have fifteen minutes. My last question is actually not a question, what I ask musicians to do is to say something inspiring for your Russian fans, for your Russian audience, for the people who may hear you for the first time in Russia and to our webzine, headbanger.ru.

Yeah. I actually played in Russia with another band called Agent Fresco in 2016 with Leprous, I don’t know if you know them, from Norway.

Yeah, we know Leprous.

And it was a really…we played in St. Petersburg and Moscow…

We’re from St. Petersburg.

Awesome. So I had a really great time, that was the beginning of this tour with Agent Fresco so I have really nice memories so it would be fun to go back there once this whole situation is hopefully going back to normal one day, when we can once again go and play, and you can have easier time getting around Europe. It must be a terrible situation not being fond of your leader and thinking like, ‘everyone hates me now’ or something.

Yeah, it’s really tough.

It must be an awful feeling and there’s nothing you can do about it. I really feel for all the good people that are there in every country, and I hope we just can play music to all who want to listen some time.

Vola on the Internet: https://www.volaband.com/

Special thanks to Lulu Davis for arranging this interview

Interview by Pavel Vlasov
Photos by Margarita Stefankova
July 2, 2022
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