Interview with David Defeis of VIRGIN STEELE

MAY 2000

CRITICALTOM: Who would you say your musical influences are? Do I detect a hint of Uli Jon Roth?:

DEFEIS: As a Band our influences are, LED ZEPPELIN, QUEEN, BLACK SABBATH, the DEEP PURPLE/RAINBOW FAMILY, UFO and such. My personal influences are those previously mentioned, plus, BRYAN FERRY, ROXY MUSIC, T.REX, BOWIE, CHOPIN, BACH, VERDI, LISZT and DEBUSSEY. I /we have not listened to Uli Jon Roth or Warlord so the answer would be no.

CRITICALTOM: Iím curious about your 2 album series on the "Marriage of Heaven and Hell." Were they inspired by William Blake? Are you aware of others who have borrowed from Blake? And, what do you think it is about Blake that appeals to so many musicians? (Ulverís "Selections from Blakeís Marriage of Heaven and Hell", Bruce Dickensonís "Chemicle Wedding" artwork, Terry Taylor "Knowledge and Innocence", for example)

DEFEIS: My interest in BLAKE, was kindled through his works, the SONGS OF INNOCENCE and the SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. I was not aware until after we were well into "THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN & HELL PART II", that he had a work with that title! I of course upon learning this, went out and read it and most certainly enjoyed it! I am interested in his beliefs in equating FREEDOM with ENERGY and the Law of Opposites. In addition to BLAKE, I have a great interest in the works of BAUDELAIRE, VERLAINE, RIMBAUD and POE. Also a fellow named AIKEN.

Perhaps what appeals to us is the defiant, rebel spirit and the paganizing (is that a word???) of organized religion. The love of the Elements and all Nature that he revels in.

CRITICALTOM: Was your album, "The Noble Savage" based on the philosophical teachings of Rousseau, or was it Duchampe? And your album, "Invictus," is that an epic?

DEFEIS: The NOBLE SAVAGE album is not based on any of the fellows you mentioned. I am not familiar with their works. The concept for me was somewhat related to the figure in HUXLEY'S Brave New World. In a broader sense it was also Christ as much as it was just simply how I saw/see my own World and my relationship to it. Bringing out the animal within, aligning oneself with Nature, etc.. Perhaps it's Wiccan in a way, or Pagan. Musically the album is a mixture of Epics, Anthems and straight-ahead rockers. Now the re-issue contains 6 Bonus Tracks! Quite interesting if you are a Fan of STEELE!!!

Yes of course, INVICTUS is an EPIC!!! It is the third installment of the "MARRIAGE TRILOGY", and is about the War of Gods and Humans. It is a powerful Drama and what the Greeks would call an Agon (a conflict or struggle).

CRITICALTOM: Why do you think the world at large has turned its back on the more complex and musically correct forms of metal for the more banal and less musical types, i.e., Korn, Lame Biscuit?

DEFEIS: Have they really turned their backs??? I would say the Europeans have not. If you mean the Korn's & Limp things of the world then perhaps that's so. But the musical community is large and global so I would say that "AS THE TWIG IS BENT SO SHALL GROW THE TREE". Whatever one's influences were/are, will be reflected in their output. There are other Bands who along with us, are striving to create a more sophisticated style of music, such as GAMMA RAY, STRATOVARIOUS and EDGUY, to name a few. And there will always be those who will follow the common herd and jump on the latest trends. Perhaps that comes from a passion for instant fame or instant gratification, as opposed to a sincere desire to learn, express and perfect one's craft. It is kind of like what happened with the original Punk Movement. It was a reaction against all the more "highbrow" works of Queen, Zep, ELP, etc.. The punks didn't want to be bothered with really learning to play, they just wanted to get on into the game immediately.

CRITICALTOM: Looking back over your career, what would you say is your greatest accomplishments?

DEFEIS: Musically I would say our greatest achievement is progression! We are always as we say, "FORGING FORWARD"!!! I don't want to stand still and neither do the rest of us. We will continue to push the boundaries of what we believe is true Metal Music!

CRITICALTOM: What goals do you guys have for the future?

DEFEIS: To become a global touring force. To branch out into more film type endeavors, to reach more people with music. To maintain a way of Life that we've created and which we continue to be quite fond of. not lose our hearing!!!

CRITICALTOM: Do you guys tour?

DEFEIS: Of course we tour. We've been touring for quite some time. Unfortunately for our U.S.A. Fans, our Tours have been mostly in Europe. This is starting to change now. We will begin doing more Stateside shows after the release of THE HOUSE OF ATREUS "ACT II".

CRITICALTOM: What would be an ideal tour?

DEFEIS: One where it was sold out a month in advance!!! Every tour is ideal! We appreciate the fact that we are able to do this and actually pay the bills from it!!! It is an Honour we don't take lightly!!!

CRITICALTOM: I get the impression you are formally trained/educated in music.

DEFEIS: Yes in terms of piano lessons and college I am trained. I have my Bachelor's degree in Harmony/composition. I did start the Master's Program but I was not able to finish due to my VIRGIN STEELE commitments. I will take some time off and go back one day. On the other side of the coin, as a singer, I am self-taught. I just learned and continue to learn, by doing it. I've got one foot in the gutter and one foot in the Opera House!!!

CRITICALTOM: (I have lost the question I asked here. The answer makes sense without the question, though)

DEFEIS: Sure!?! I am a human electric guitar! It was my wish to sing like a Jimmy Page guitar solo. Edward (our guitarist) is a Page fan and grew up playing Zep, Sabbath, Purple, etc. and has also studied classical guitar a bit. Frank (our drummer), is a ball of energy and fire-power. He approaches drums the way some people approach boxing, to kill and win!!!

CRITICALTOM: Finally, who do you think are some bright spots in the metal world today?

DEFEIS: Hmmmmmm.......EDGUY, ANGRA, I can't remember. Of the current bands these days, I like TYPE O NEGATIVE and THE GATHERING. I'm quite ecstatic that THE CULT is back together too!!!