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Interview - David DeFeis (Virgin Steele)

Interview with David DeFeis from Virgin Steele
by Charlotte "Lotty" Whittingham at 18 July 2014, 12:25 AM

Possibly one of the early lions of Epic Heavy Metal, the American VIRGIN STEELE, commanded by the high power of David DeFeis, has be hell and back through the history books and ancient legends. Following their constant re-release of older material till the upcoming new release next year, David talked to Charlotte about the re-releases and new material and more…

It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you for the very first time; how are you today?

I’m very good thanking you Lotty and it’s lovely to speak to you too. Thank you for calling.

You’re about to re-release some of your albums which include ‘Invictus’, ‘The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell Part 1’ and ‘The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell Part 2’; why those particular albums?

To be honest we are re-issuing the entire catalogue bit by bit and that’s what came next in the order of things at this point in time. We did ‘Nobel Savage’ then we did ‘Age Of Consent’ and ‘Life Among the Ruins’ so now it makes sense to do ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ at the same time we said let’s speed up this process as this is going to take a lot of time so let’s release all three which makes sense because they belong together, they are part of the same tribe and concept so to speak. We signed to a new label called SPV to have the catalogue out again; once you leave a label they don’t print the records so they won’t be available any more. If you want to reach a new generation of fans who have lost their copies or thrown them under the bus or something they can now buy the record again. So better than putting them out they’re exactly the same as before; we always go the extra mile, we did the same with ‘Nobel Savage’ where we put extra tracks on the album and we mixed the stuff, trying to make it special and interesting for the audience and for us. We’re creative people so we want to show different sides that we wouldn’t usually show, so it’s a win win situation for everyone I think.

Do you think that the new digital age, i.e. being able to listen or stream on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon had an impact on your decision to re-release the material?

That wasn’t the first thing I thought about; the point is to have them out there in anyway, shape or form. I prefer to have the physical package to hold that includes the booklet full of pictures, lyrics and the whole concept on the record because the record is made to be a record at the end of the day rather than a bunch of singles on MP3. I suppose if you want to download the album and absorb it that way that’s fine; as long as they’re getting it and trying it that’s great. I personally don’t think about that side of it, I think more of the physical record I’m going to hold in my hand, take the disc out and play it in my car which is the most likely place where it will end up playing. It addresses more things when you have the booklet; a lot of the time we’ll get people asking these questions, which are clearly answerable from reading the booklet so obviously they don’t have the booklet \[laughs].

Now after listening to these albums myself, I came across some bonus material. Could tell the readers what those bonus materials are and how you chose those?

The bonus material for ‘Invictus’ was going to be something completely different; in previous interviews I was talking about doing a collection of record releases called ‘Ghost Harvest’ and that was going to be the bonus material but at the eleventh hour I decided it didn’t make sense to put all that material on the ‘Invictus’ record. It had a different sort of character and mood so I wanted to save that for something else. So at the eleventh hour I said ‘What could we do?’ then I said ‘Let’s go the other way’; the ‘Invictus’ album is very aggressive so let’s show what we do aggressively acoustically. Let’s completely strip down those and do some whatever songs and put it all together in a live fashion and put it out there, that I think turned out rather well. After the eleventh hour after completing everything I felt I needed some sort of closure and create a track. I had written that song “Do You Walk With God” a while ago so I thought to myself ‘what can I do with this’ so I started playing it and singing it thinking ‘this actually works’ so it came together really quickly. I kept the production really sparse so I only added a couple of acoustic guitars in there, the guitar solo, piano and the vocals. It seems to work so and it closed the album in a nice way so I’m very happy about that. It’s the kind of song that will reach lots of different people; anyone who has lost somebody in their life whether it’d be a human being or a pet they can really relate to it.

I’m a new listener to VIRGIN STEELE and I have noticed that a lot of the songs are very grand and theatrical. Would you consider writing songs like that for a rock opera to showcase on Broadway?

I’ve done that actually. In Germany I’ve done three Metal operas; the first one was based on “The House Of Atreus”, the triple record set that came after “Invictus”. That premiered in 1999/2000 and that was in Germany. I also did one based on the “Invictus” and “The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell” albums I’ve reissued, it was called “The Rebels” and then we did a third Metal opera named “Lilith” based around the “Visions Of Eden” album. So yes I have done that but I would like to do a whole lot more of it as they were very rewarding experiences. Those shows had more than fifty performances so it was quite good.

Reading your official website it states that VIRGIN STEELE have been around for nearly 35 years now?

Just about yeah; approaching that.

Will there be a tour to accompany the re-releases?

We will be doing a special release in October this year, we’re kind of doing a box set and we’ll be putting out two new albums in there including the “Ghost Harvest” thing I mentioned, with nineteen tracks and there is going to be another record inside that. It’s under the banner of “Ghost Harvest” but they will be different records, there will be about twelve or thirteen tracks we’re in the middle of finishing those. They aren’t concept albums this time it’s just straightforward recording metal and rock songs. Hopefully these will hold until the next concept album comes out which will be in February 2015.

That just answered my next question about if there is any new material in the making for Virgin Steele.

I can elaborate further on that. The next thing we plan to do is re-issue the rest of the catalogue; the remaining albums are “Hymns to Victory” and “The Book of Burning” they are going to come out together and then we’re going to put out “Ghost Harvest” the vintage sessions. There were nineteen tracks that were recorded over last summer that originally was going to be released with “Invictus”. So that’s going to come out with a whole load of other tracks so there is going to be a lot of new material appearing shortly.

Thank you very much David for taking time out to speak with Metal Temple, it was a pleasure.  


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Edited 04 December 2022

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