Brett “Blackout” Scott – Vocals
Zach Vanlade – Guitar/Vocals
Vinnie Lee Camarillo – Guitar/Vocals
Nikky Skorcher – Bass Guitar
Nolan Weber – Drums
Rage of the Gods (2015)
Iron Age (2013)
Odyssey: Hey guys! First off, let me thank you for interviewing with me. Being a big fan of Classic, Power Metal, it is nice to speak with a really good, emerging band like yours. A real pleasure!
Brett Scott: Thank you for having us on board!
Odyssey: Being an emerging band, please give us a brief history of the band and its members as a point of familiarization for those that may not have heard of you yet. What is the goal of Vänlade and its music?
Brett Scott: Well, I guess we could take it back to our high school years. The earliest version of this band started around 2006 by Nick and Zach. The idea from the beginning was pretty simple – Vänlade would be a band that ignored the current trends of music and did our own thing. We wanted to bring heavy metal back to something melodic and energetic as opposed to the angsty chug music that seems to be everywhere. Especially back then, there were incredibly few bands playing a more traditional metal style so we were very much going against the grain, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! Our bottom line goal is the blend of melody and intensity, generally played at high speeds.
Odyssey: How have your two releases been received so far? What are you looking for in subsequent releases?
Brett Scott: “Iron Age,” our first album was released in 2012 to a fairly modest response, but we took everything we learned from that and turned it up a few notches with last year’s “Rage of the Gods,” which has been getting excellent praise! We are absolutely thrilled with the response we have gotten so far from “Rage.” Our goal now is to continue that trend and hopefully outdo ourselves once again. We have been playing around with all of the different sounds we visited on the last album and are hoping to expand on some of those ideas to make something brand new, but still familiar to the Vänlade name. Long story short, more of the epic speed metal we all love, and maybe some fresh new twists peppered in!
Odyssey: Who writes the music and lyrics or is this done collaboratively? Are there any other musical genres that interest you? Anything different you would like to try in the future?
Brett Scott: The music is typically handled as a team effort with a large portion coming from Zach. The most common scenario involves Zach arriving with a riff or a series of riffs and the band will jam them out and arrange them into the finished product, although there are situations where another member will bring the idea to the table. Lyrics and vocal melodies are something that are 99% mine, although as with anything in the band it is an open forum for the other guys to contribute when they want. As for non-metal musical genres, I know it’s not too far out of the box but I am a huge “classic rock” fan, although I’m not a fan of that term since it’s so non-descriptive! Let’s say more specifically, 70’s hard rock, progressive rock, blues rock, stuff like that. I think a lot of the melody and attitude we inject into our music comes from styles like that. I think the other guys enjoy some new wave, goth, and 80s pop stuff from time to time, but I do my best to steer clear of that! Anything different we would try in the future? Well, I think it’s more of a natural progression than anything, but the riffs and structures are becoming more and more complex as we become more experienced writers. My goal as always is to create engaging vocal hooks, so hopefully those will continue to develop over time as well.
Odyssey: With music based at the root of the Metal genre, who are your biggest influences musically and lyrically?
Brett Scott: As a band, there is the obvious Maiden/Priest/Dio trifecta that we will never escape, but going beyond that I think our biggest collective cornerstones are Riot’s “Thundersteel,” and a lot of Megadeth. There are obviously others – Saxon, Metallica, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Overkill, Rainbow, Rush, Van Halen, etc etc. Lyrically up to this point the focus has been exciting fantasy imagery with a little real life implication buried if you look for it. Of course I give full credit to the master of that art, Ronnie James Dio!
Odyssey: What were your biggest motivations to create your brand of Classic Metal since the genre has been splintered in recent years? What do you want to bring to the table that is unique to Vänlade?
Brett Scott: To be honest, we just didn’t like any of the music that was coming out as we were coming of age! My earliest memories of heavy music were nu metal so I had basically written heavy metal off as a kid. I got into my dad’s music in middle school, which was stuff like Foreigner, Boston, Bad Company, and Heart and I was hooked. My oldest pal, Nikky (bass guitar) on the other hand had been raised on heavy music. One day he showed me Iron Maiden and it all clicked for me. Everything about it was perfect – epic lyrics, dramatic soaring vocals, shredding twin guitars, battering ram drums, leather and flames… I mean, why would you listen to anything else!? I think what makes us unique is the way we build on that template. We do our best to kick things up a notch while keeping the hooks intact. We’ll build up to, at times, thrash-like intensity, but always with something you can sing along to.
Odyssey: I am really impressed with the extremely high quality of your recordings. Who records and produces your music?
Brett Scott: That is excellent to hear! We went all out on the production for “Rage of the Gods.” We went to the best studio in Kansas City, Chapman Recording, and worked with the engineer Rob Rebeck. You may have heard his work with other area favorites like Origin and Tech N9ne. We are super impressed with the work Rob did!
Odyssey: What are your feelings about the explosion of self-production and the use of computers to manipulate music to the n’th degree? Helpful or harmful?
Brett Scott: Self-production becoming so popular is a double-edged sword. On one hand it’s great that anybody can make music without having to answer to record labels and million dollar loans. On the other hand, competition has skyrocketed. To get somebody to even acknowledge your music is now a very difficult task. Now it’s a free-for-all DIY skirmish against bands from literally everywhere. That brings us to your other question, computer manipulated music – it’s a product of the competition driving expectations higher and higher until it takes heavy computer manipulation to get your product to be taken seriously in the industry. I think the whole thing’s a mess. Now, I’m not bashing editing through music software, but when the human element is gone altogether, as it so often is, then we have an issue. I believe Rush said it best. To paraphrase: All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted. It’s really just a question of your honesty. Glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity.
Odyssey: Based on all of the pictures, videos, music and, specifically, the cover art of “Iron Age” there seems to be a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor the I find entertaining as hell and endearing to the band. How do you keep your sense of humor and make music fun and exciting with it being so tough in today’s scene?
Brett Scott: Ha! I think that just comes from us being goofy guys! We could try to be dead serious all we wanted but I think we’d be arrested for fraud. You could probably attribute some of that to our chemistry together as long time friends, especially me, Nikky, and Zach, being schoolmates. A lot of groups are bandmates first and friends second, but we were friends before anything, and our bond is our humor. I also think some of it comes from our more classic influences… look at some bands before thrash metal happened — they smiled!
Odyssey: Do you have any specific favorite and/or meaningful tracks? Why?
Brett Scott: My favorites so far are “Frozen for all Time” and “As Above, So Below.” “Frozen” is the song I think of as the definitive “Rage of the Gods” track. It’s got a certain swing to it for being so quick, and all of the hooks seem to line up just right to me. As for “As Above,” that song was very fresh when we hit the studio and it sort of fell into place during recording. It’s different than anything we have done before, more sing-songy and melodic, but still has that Vänlade attack. We tried something a little different and it worked out pretty well! We even surprised ourselves!
Odyssey: Where do you normally play? What have been some of your bigger tours/gigs and whom have they been with? Any good stories that you would like to share along those lines? Any upcoming plans/events that we need to know about?
Brett Scott: Our definitive headquarters is Kansas City’s Riot Room. There are other great venues in town, but that is the number one spot for a metal show in Kansas City. That is not to say that we don’t do our best to branch out of the area as often as we can. We try to play out of town about as often as we play Kansas City. There have been too many great shows to keep track of anymore, and I could namedrop for awhile, but let’s stick to a couple highlights… We played the Ragnarokkr Festival in Chicago a few years ago and had an absolute blast. We did a couple Warriors of Metal festivals that we really enjoyed. And then our last tour, which was only about two weeks long, took us on a loop out to California, up to Oregon, and then back home. It was solo Vänlade, booked myself, and totally self funded, and it was a huge success for us! Besides a single cancellation, everything went perfectly, which is almost impossible to believe if you have ever been on a band tour! And yes, we are currently booking a short tour this fall, which will be based around the EXCELLENT Frost and Fire Fest in Ventura, California! Frost and Fire is October 7-9 and will be featuring the reunion of Cirith Ungol as well as a boatload of other killer bands like Omen, White Wizzard, Slough Feg, Night Demon, and tons more!!!
Odyssey: Who is your audience/target audience and their collective reception of your music and shows?
Brett Scott: It’s hard to put a pin on just who exactly our target audience is. There is the older generation who enjoy that we remind them of the way metal used to be, and there is a younger crowd, especially out west, who are seeking out bands of their generation who play this kind of underground music. More recently have some of these similar bands been seeing some success and drawing younger people in, so there is this very underground network of “traditional metal” style bands and fans that we have integrated with. It’s really just a matter of word of mouth and consistent touring to get the right people to come out to the show.
Odyssey: I am an older guy that experienced the creation of Metal so your music really resonates deeply with me. How do you target younger listeners who may not have the same appreciation I have for that “Classic” sound Vänlade excels at?
Brett Scott: It’s very hit or miss with younger listeners who aren’t familiar with the style. The obvious goal is a total conversion, but a lot of the time the music falls on deaf ears and confused looks. Young people tend to expect their metal to be brutal, dark, anguished, dissonant, melancholy, and what have you – all things that we are very far from. In the end we know when to choose our battles and we are selective enough with what shows we book ourselves on that it is rarely an issue.
Odyssey: Obviously, you are a “live” band with a larger-than-life persona. In your own words, how would you describe a Vänlade show?
Brett Scott: Fast and fun! It’s all about keeping things moving on the stage and acknowledging the people in the crowd. We pour tons of energy into the show to make sure we are delivering something worth watching, all the while trying to make the crowd feel like they are apart of it. Humor is another way we engage the crowd that I think brings a little bit of levity to our show. It’s all about escaping for a bit, so we put on the best spectacle that we can.
Odyssey: Being an excellent but lesser known band, what obstacles do you see in front of you? What do you see as solutions? What doors have opened for/by you recently?
Brett Scott: The biggest hurdle is always going to be money. Money is not the reason that we play music, but it is still a necessity that is scarce in music these days. Our solution is our mind-frame: we do this because this is what we love to do and anything that comes out of it is purely a bonus. The downside is that we have to find a balance between our lives at home and our music, but luckily we have no strings pulling us in any direction. Everything is on our schedule and, going back to our tight chemistry together, I can confidently say that we aren’t going away anytime soon.
Odyssey: Are there any modern/contemporary bands that have or are currently influencing you and/or that you are really interested in? Any friends of the band you would like to throw a shout out to who we should be watching for?
Brett Scott: We are lucky in that a lot of our contemporaries in the scene have also become friends of ours over the years! To name just a few favorites off the top of my head, there’s Night Demon, Spellcaster, Skelator, Zephaniah, and Vindicator. I’d also be doing injustice to my bandmates for not mentioning their other projects: Alsatia, Meatshank, Garoted, Verrater, and Relic (our drummer gets around!)
Odyssey: What is your vision for the future of Vänlade and your music?
Brett Scott: The vision is to keep making the kind of music we want to hear! We plan to keep expanding our reach bit by bit and spreading our music as far as we can. We love to go new places and meet new people, so every chance we have to get out and play, we will take! Other than that, I can say that the future for Vänlade holds tons of high-quality heavy metal!
Odyssey: And finally, as is traditional for any Metal Nexus interview, the floor is open to you (rants, anything else you would like to share or add, parting words, etc.).
Brett Scott: Be on the lookout for fall tour and recording updates!
You can keep up with all things Vänlade, as well as contact us on Facebook.
“Iron Age” and “Rage of the Gods” are available for free streaming on Bandcamp.
Again, I really appreciate your time to interview with me. I really enjoy your take on the Classic Metal sound and look forward to hearing much more from you far into the future. – Odyssey
Brett Scott: Thanks again for having me! I’m glad you enjoy the music and we truly appreciate the support! Stay heavy or die!!!