Interview with VIRGIN STEELE
The Band: Virgin Steele
Answers by: David DeFeis
I bring herein some words from their own site: “Amidst a sea of lame excuses, mediocrity, conformist rhetoric, and other bland sentiments that pass for rock music these days, we stand as an Island, a Fortress, a Bastion, a Haven for the Foundation of what we consider to be the True Metal Faith and perhaps the classical music of the 21st century”. They are all that because they have built all it by their own, album after album, show after show. Taking advantadge of the re-release of VIRGIN STEELE’s first two recordings, we talk with Mr. DAVID DEFEIS, not only a superb vocalist and artist, also a gentleman.
Hello Mr DeFeis and thank you for dedicating us some time. First two albums of the legendary US Heavy Metal act VIRGIN STEELE will be reissued this fall by No Remorse Records, right?
David DeFeis: Greetings! Yes that is correct. September 14th to be exact.
The same titled album from 1982, and “Guardians Of The Flame” from 1983, will be available as CD (with 24-page booklet and 8 bonus tracks), deluxe vinyl edition with 2 sleeve covers (limited to 100 copies on black and 100 copies on red vinyl), and as deluxe box set edition, limited to 200 copies, that will include the CD, the LP on an exclusive red/black splatter vinyl, a t-shirt and a patch. A great edition that surely will fly up in a few hours or days?
David DeFeis: I hope so! I hope everyone will enjoy these Works, crank them up and wail!
After 25 years, what do you remember of the recording of those albums?
David DeFeis: Pretty much every moment. It was all so new, fresh and exciting and those releases correspond to so many developments in my personal and musical life which are really one and the same, so it is easy to recall everything…I can see us in the studio wailing, sweating, roaring…tremendously excited by the sounds we were creating. It was like an avalanche or a volcano erupting. We tried to document all that we were living…in sound and fury.
How important they were in your career?
David DeFeis: Well they started the ball rolling for us, so quite important. That is where we started learning about the studio and doing larger concerts, experiencing the Metal Scene…meeting people around the world. It was an amazing time. We were the only band in our area to have an album out and when we did shows we did all our own material at a time when most bands were doing strictly covers.
Those two albums were recorded with Jack Starr in the lineup, did he have something to do with this deluxe reissue?
David DeFeis: No he did not. A gentleman named Chris Papadatos approached me from the label NO REMORSE. I had several discussions with him and we came to an agreement pretty quickly.
Usually, many people points out The Marriage of Heaven and Hell – Part One & Two as the highest moment of Virgin Steele, we will see a reissue of them too?
David DeFeis: Thanks for your kind words. Those two albums were re-issued through our current label SPV as a double disc digi-pak with bonus material included in 2014.
Virgin Steele can probably be named as one of those bands that helped to define and consolidate the genre of epic heavy metal, and influence for so many to come afterwards
David DeFeis: Again thanks for your kindness. I think that you are correct. I have heard from many different artists that they find the albums inspirational. That is personally very gratifying to me. I am extremely honored…
David DeFeis is without doubt one of the most especial voices heavy metal have ever seen. What is more important, a personal and characteric voice or a powerful vocal stream?
David DeFeis: I thank you most kindly for all your supportive words….Well it is wonderful if one can have both, but in the long run I believe that a unique style, and approach combined with an ability to really inhabit…live inside a song so to speak, and deliver an emotionally charged performance, will always win the day.
You have collaborated with some other artists as for example the project Avantasia some years ago. But with your charisma one would expect that eventually you would build up your own personal project apart of Virgin Steele. Have you ever thought about it? Is too late now?
David DeFeis: I never felt the need to start a solo career, because within VIRGIN SEELE I have all the freedom one could wish for to express myself both musically and lyrically. Only if I felt like I couldn’t express myself within the Group situation would I then pursue an outside project, or perhaps if I wanted to simply try something very, very different. But I am happy here and I am able to explore all the musical terrain I wish.
If you could change something in the Virgin Steele path it would be…?
David DeFeis: It might be to not make some business decisions that we made along the way…some deals…and also to not work with some people we worked with along the way, that didn’t further our best interests, but rather their own.
I remember one concert in Spain, some many years ago, you had lost the equipment with your flight and instead of cancelling your gig you played just with an acoustic guitar, singing along… and it sounded great, that talks a lot about one’s spirit and compromise…
David DeFeis: Actually what happened was our drummer never showed up as he got the dates mixed up so he never got on the plane to fly from over New York to Granada. So yes we went onstage anyway…me, Edward and Josh and did a kind of stripped down instrumentation type of set! I loved it! That wasn’t exactly acoustic…we used electric guitar, the electric bass and I played keyboards and sang. For us it isn’t really difficult to do that kind of thing as Edward and I are always trying the songs out in an acoustic style so that was sort of like that only much more amped up. We don’t like to say no…we always try to go for it and make something work. We love the “show must go on” motto and that was a very memorable show for us…Thanks so much for enjoying it.
Thanks for remembering it, a great and intensive show indeed. Your last album Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation didn’t work out so well as previous albums, you regret it?
David DeFeis: I don’t really know what you mean by not work out so well. We love it. It’s a great album. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. That album contains some of our best tracks and performances. It turned out just as we envisioned. Passionate, Bluesy…Romantic, Barbaric….it has it all. Plus it was a double-disc set with 29 tracks…not many people understood that as they only saw the single disc version of it, which is a shame because the second disc also had great tracks on it as well.
What is the activity of Virgin Steele at the moment, apart of reissues and compilations?
David DeFeis: We are currently finishing a huge Epic box set that will be released in November. It will contain 3 brand new full-length albums, that’s correct 3 new albums…plus the last two re-issues in the Catalogue, THE BOOK OF BURNING and HYMNS TO VICTORY.
An amazing gift for all the fans, an epic box for an epic band. Is this the final stage or we have DeFeis & Virgin Steele for some more years?
David DeFeis: Even though we are releasing 3 new Works this coming November, we are already also working on the next several new albums which will appear next year and the year after that. So no we are not done yet. Not by a long shot. We will continue.
On fire! What would you like to do in music before retirement? Or everything is done already?
David DeFeis: Perform with a live orchestra…tour the world with our “not exactly acoustic bombastic show” make the historical DVD…make a movie…write a symphony, a piano concerto, a book…it is endless really. This is a way of life for me…I don’t intend to ever stop being musical, being creative…etc.
Well then, no retirement for you, Mr DeFeis 🙂 Please, name some artists you admire and would invite to play with you on stage
David DeFeis: Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ann Wilson…Kate Bush…Bryan Ferry, THE CULT…so many others…
And finally, please give some precious advise to the young people starting in this hard business of music.
David DeFeis: The one thing that I strongly suggest is to never give up your songs. Own your own publishing always. Your songs are your children…and life’s blood; don’t let them fall into the wrong hands.
Thank you very much for your attention Mr DeFeis, health & Metal!
David DeFeis: Cheers many Thanks and all the very best to you. I thank you sincerely for all your strong support! Hail & BY THE GODS & GODDESSES,
David DeFeis-August 2018