Versifist is true, hollow, merciless black metal from Nova Scotia. Bassist/Vocalist Ross Vickers took some time to answer a few questions about the band.
What is the history of the band? How did you form?
We have known each other for years, playing in local bands. At one point, I was playing in three bands at the same time, but they were always someone else’s songs/vision. Then when all those bands broke up, I knew it was time to start my own thing with the right people. I guess it was Evan (drums) and I that got together first. We had one riff and a band name, and that was it. We both knew that Graham (guitars) was the only one that could complete the trio, and he accepted. So as we started writing, we decided to do a bunch of Bathory covers, to give us other music to jam on as the original material took shape. Our first show was actually a Bathory tribute. Then, after that, our own Versifist shows emerged.
You are from Nova Scotia, correct? What is the scene like there?
Lots of different styles of metal, I would say. So, very rarely do you get a black metal show or a death metal show. It’s usually one show with all styles. I’m sure that is because of the smaller population here in Nova Scotia. I used to be a lot more involved in the scene years ago, not so much now.
Would you say that Nova Scotia’s weather is an influence on your music? If yes, then how so?
No, not really. It can affect my mood, I’m sure, which in turn may cause some creation, but I don’t go out in the woods and get inspired by nature to write black metal like the Scandinavians might. I do enjoy being out there when I get the chance, but not as inspiration for Versifist.
You released 2014’s “Scripting The Catechism” on cassette. Can you talk about that a bit?
The initial run of 100 cassettes is sold out. We are not sure at this point if Vault of Dried Bones is going to do a repress or not. This release was obviously special, as it was our debut to the world and the first songs we wrote together.
Tell us about the Cipher vinyl recording – the production is excellent. The art is also awesome. What was the process like?
It was kind of strange because, going into it, I was wanting it to be a lot dirtier sounding. But as we got going, we used a great drum kit supplied by our producer, Mitch, and he was very meticulous on mic placement and drum tuning, etc., to the point where we be getting a little pissed off and saying things like “Come on, hit record and go.” But in the end, how we play is how we play and it came out superior sounding. I don’t think we spent as much time on the guitar and bass sound as much as the drums. We used our own amps. We tweak the sound a bit, crack a beer(or coffee) and off we go. Great sound overall, considering it was done in a two-bedroom apartment.
For the artwork, we just sent B.B. the lyrics and she went off of those. I didn’t have any suggestions for her or concepts. Sometimes just letting the artist do their thing can yield amazing results. She gave us a cover, which we liked. We asked for a few small changes, and we were set. Then, about a couple of weeks before it was supposed to go to press, she decided it wasn’t good enough and she did a completely new drawing, which is what we have on Cipher. It is the perfect cover for us.
Necrophobic The Nocturnal Silence
Cultes Des Ghoules Coven
Waysted Youth Black Daze
MGLA Exercises In Futility
Watain Casus Luciferi
What does metal mean to you? What drew you to this music initially?
I had the fortune of having an older brother in the late seventies/early eighties that was instrumental in my musical inception. So when he and his friends were sitting around smoking pot and listening to music on stereos that took up an entire room, I was subjected to KISS, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, etc. The older I got, I kept seeking out heavier and faster music. It just developed from traditional heavy metal to thrash metal to death and black metal. The biggest turning point was my first concert which was Metallica on the “Damaged Justice” tour in 1989. When I saw that show, it was all over (or just beginning).
You’ve released two EPs so far. Do you plan to put out a longer work next, or do you prefer the EP format?
I kind of like the shorter format mainly because it works well with the short attention spans people have these days. But our next release will be our full-length debut. It just seems like the next logical step for us.
Vault of Dried Bones is putting out quite a few bands on vinyl. What are your thoughts on the resurgence of vinyl?
I grew up on vinyl, so it’s always been there for me. But it’s always a good thing when people catch on to the ways of old. The ritual of listening to vinyl and metal go hand in hand. The downside is that records can be expensive (depending on where you buy) and sometimes our stuff and smaller label pressings get bumped in the record plants due to bigger labels getting their pressings done and Record Store Day presses.
What were some of the highlights of 2016?
The release of Cipher would be the highlight for me, as it’s the first time any of my bands were released on vinyl.
What do you have planned for 2017?
We will be concentrating on writing and recording the full-length assault. I expect it won’t be released until 2018.