Rock & Metal in my Blood has interviewed Morgan Rider from the powerful viking Canadian band Vesperia, who has recently released the debut album "An Olden Tale".

R&MimB: Guys, welcome to Rock & Metal in My Blood webzine! Could you introduce the band to our readers?
Vesperia: Hey! We are Vesperia from Toronto, Canada! We play a hearty mix of symphonic, celtic and epic black/ death metal!

R&MimB: Where does your moniker, Vesperia, come from?
Vesperia: The word 'vesperia' means 'land of the evening star'. When we were searching for a new name for this project we found out that this was actually one of the proposed names for our country before they decided on CANADA. We are all fiercely proud of being Canadian and felt that this name both perfectly encompassed our music and our patriotism.

R&MimB: Let's talk about your debut album " An Olden Tale". Can you describe the work behind it?
Vesperia: An Olden Tale we feel is a culmination of our best works from the last several years of our tenure. I wrote all the music on the album for the most part, leaving the fine-tuning of the guitar parts to Frankie and Casey in the space of time leading up to recording the drum tracks. Besides that, our workload was immense in the creating of this album. Cory recorded his drum parts at Thomas Ireland of Battlesoul's Icehouse Studios in Goderich, Ontario. Casey and Frankie recorded all of the guitars both electric and acoustic at Frankie's home studio and I recorded all of the bass, vocals and orchestrations at my own home studio. We affectionately refer to the resulting music as 'epic Canadian symphonic celtic black/ death metal'.

R&MimB: How about telling us how a Vesperia song is born? Is there an "elected" member for the composition or do you work all together?
Vesperia: Up until the addition of our new guitarist Frankie, I was the main songwriter. For the songs on An Olden Tale, I wrote everything over the last 2 years as the main song structures and keyboard parts. When Frankie joined the band prior to us entering the studio to record, he and our other guitarist Casey sat and worked their asses off on all of the guitar parts to make them more befitting of the music and a more intelligent in their execution. Since completing An Olden Tale, we have already written a mass of new material including 3 complete new songs by getting together frequently and spilling the riffs and ideas we have to each other.

R&MimB: How did you work on the orchestration? Are there any special guests on the album?
Vesperia: I spent most of January 2013 working on the orchestrations for the album. I would basically sit down 2-3 times a week for up to 8-11 hours at a time working away at them. A lot of the inspirations for the orchestrations would come on the fly and that's where you would hear the inclusion of exotic instruments like the cymbalum, koto and uilleann pipes. I took a massive amount of time taking the basic keyboard parts i originally wrote and breaking them down to work as individual parts in a string and brass section. Another random section I introduced to our music at the time was the use of orchestral percussion like bass drum, timpani, and taiko drum. For the actual sounds of the instruments, I use Eastwest instruments and a couple of MOTU instruments such as MSI and Ethno 2.

R&MimB: Can you tell us something about the lyrics? Is there any concept behind them?
Vesperia: For this album we did not pursue any sort of concept, but as the shaping of the lyrics and recording progressed, we saw that there was a general theme of kinsmanship, triumph in battle (cliche, I know!), and man's relation to nature. The title track's lyrics are generally about the band's conception and travels over time, but overly fantasized to suite the rest of the lyric from the album.

R&MimB: In your opinion what are the "olden tales" people need to listen to?
Vesperia: History is what people need to listen to and use to their advantage. To know so much about the past, about our triumphs and failures, is to know the courses of action we must take in the future. We don't talk about this on the album much, but it is important to learn from our races deeds and misdeeds in the past to better ourselves, our lives and the world.

R&MimB: How does the audience usually react to the new songs live?
Vesperia: It varies depending on where we play really. We usually get a very nice response wherever we play and to however many people are in the crowd each particular night. When we toured Canada this past summer there were a lot of places people would be hanging out just listening for the first couple songs, but by the end of our set people are head banging very hard and moshing with one another. It's usually a very fun and exciting time for us to be playing.

R&MimB: In recent times - let's say the last 15 years - the metal scene has been literally flooded by the style of Viking metal. This was a quite narrow and underground niche many years ago, but now it is achieving the status of mainstream metal. Do you have any idea about the reasons behind this phenomenon?
Vesperia: I feel like this is happening because, looking past the theme of Viking metal, most of the music is actually very accessible for your average metal fan. Taking elements from metal sub genres like death metal, black metal, power metal, etc - I think these undertones (and primary ones in many cases) lend to drawing the eyes and ears of fans of similar bands within said sub genre(s).

R&MimB: Canada is not exactly known for its Viking metal scene. This kind of group usually comes from Nordic countries: what gave you the inspiration to create Vesperia? Is there any particular band or style which has strongly influenced you?
Vesperia: Of course as you said that Viking metal is beginning to achieve mainstream status, we as Canadian get to enjoy a lot of the European bands now as we previously did not. The market for this music is growing over here and with the inclusion of the internet, a lot of bands we would never have even heard of are now a few clicks away. There is a strong Viking metal/ folk metal scene growing in Canada now and there are bands from coast to coast adopting this style. I might suggest that a lot of these bands in Canada are drawing influence from the European bands. In Vesperia's case, we are definitely inspired by the Scandinavian viking metal bands musically, using a lot of the orchestral and epic elements that make our sound. Lyrically, we are a little more Canadian.

R&MimB: Tell us about your "Western Crusade Tour" across Canada. Any highlights, anecdotes or simply cool and fun memories you'd like to share?
Vesperia: Our recent tour was the first of it's kind for us. Being on the road definitely taught us a fair bit about ourselves and our limits too. Apparently we CAN drink a lot? every night. And we did. It was such a fun time though, and being able to have seen almost all of our massive country definitely was important for us. Driving through the Rocky Mountains was amazing and I would highly recommend any one to make that trip sometime. One of the nice memories is unfortunately we had to cancel our date in Lethbridge, Alberta due to us running out of money. We literally had just enough to make it home (this is over 3000 km or 32 hours of driving without stops). While we were on our way through Saskatchewan, a friend of ours in Winnipeg contacted us about playing this outdoor party/ festival in the Prairies outside of Winnipeg. We of course didn't have the show anymore so we gladly jumped onboard, played a very fun, long set at night with the prairie winds and dust smashing us in the face and partied pretty hard with all the other bands. Definitely a good end to a fun tour.

R&MimB: How important are folk and popular culture for your sound?
Vesperia: In the past these were a very important and integral part of our sound, but now our sound has become more natural to us and we don't need to draw to heavily from sources like this to create it.

R&MimB: Which bands or artists mostly inspire you? Do you have other influences than heavy metal music?
Vesperia: Absolutely! We love all sorts of music. We are all huge Rush fans, we love Canadian folk bands like Spirit of the West (we actually covered and recorded one of their songs recently). For inspirations sake, we all of course listen to bands like Moonsorrow, Finsterforst, Bathory, Blind Guardian, Finntroll, etc.

R&MimB: What do you know about Italian heavy metal? Is there an Italian artist you'd like to collaborate with for a recording or maybe tour with?
Vesperia: I know that Italian heavy metal is probably as diverse and cultured as our Canadian metal is seeming to be. You have bands like we enjoy very much like Derdian, Rhapsody of Fire, Stormlord, Doomsword, etc. If there were any one I'd feel I'd like to collaborate with for a recording or tour in the future, it would have to be Stormlord.

R&MimB: Have you got a particular project in mind for the future?
Vesperia: We actually hit the ground running after we finished recording AN OLDEN TALE. We now have a bunch of songs we are working on for the next album, so definitely another album. We have quite a bit planned for next summer, but we'll have to wait to see how that pans out!

R&MimB: Speaking of projects, both you and the drummer of the band, Cory Hofing, are members of another Canadian band, Crimson Shadows. How do you manage playing and touring in both bands?
Vesperia: To play in both bands takes a bit of planning of course, but we plan things carefully around both bands' schedules. Both bands do a lot of touring together while Cory and I get to do back to back sets most nights!

R&MimB: Are you already planning your next album? Do you see any changes coming ahead in the music of Vesperia?
Vesperia: We are definitely planning and already working on our next album! Our sounds are still early in their development, so I would imagine we are going to try and push things a little harder on the next release and make an even more monstrous album than An Olden Tale!

R&MimB: Is there any chance we can see Vesperia live here in Italy in the near future?
Vesperia: Actually, there is a very high chance we'll be seeing or even playing in your beautiful country very soon! I can't say much than that right now!

R&MimB: Ok Morgan, thanks for your availability and patience! We'll send you the link when the interview is on our website?take care and keep on rockin'!!
Vesperia: Interview by:

Michele Alluigi
Lucia Rossi
Paolo Ribaldini