Interview with Aesop Dekker (drums)
By Brandon Ringo
What do you get when you combine one of the most powerful voices in metal with a who’s who of Bay Area musicians? You get the lineup of Vhöl, a band featuring Mike Scheidt (YOB) on vocals, John Cobbett (Hammers Of Misfortune/ex-Ludicra) on guitar, Sigrid Sheie (Hammers Of Misfortune/Amber Asylum) on bass and drummer Aesop Dekker (Agalloch/Worm Ouroboros/ex-Ludicra). Thanks to their incredibly unique style that displays their varied influences and abilities, Vhöl defies genre pigeonholes and have become one of the most compelling new bands of 2013. I recently got the opportunity to chat with Aesop and we discussed the origin of their name, how they crafted their unique sound and how the songwriting process compares to their other projects. Vhöl’s self-titled debut is out now on Profound Lore Records.
When you and John came up with the idea to start a new band, what was it about Mike and Sigrid’s styles that made them appear as perfect fits for the sound you were going for?
I don’t think it was style as much as it was ability. Who can we get that has the prowess to articulate any idea that may come up. We really just wanted to work with talented people that we know we get along with.
How did you decide on the name Vhöl? Also, does it have any specific meaning?
We wanted a made up word or at least a made up spelling of an existing word, so we wouldn’t be faced with another band or book or whatever having the same name. We wanted something that sounded menacing and cosmic.
Vhöl’s sound is one that’s incredibly hard to classify into a specific sub-genre due to the unique musicianship associated. What sub-genre or adjective do you think best describes your sound?
Hard to say. We certainly let our love of 80s hardcore, crust, thrash, and classic speed metal sort of creep in. Honestly, we never really spoke too much about what we wanted to be or sound like.
During the writing/recording process, did you have a particular aim for how the songs should sound or did that just come out organically?
I know John had ideas surrounding the vibe and production, but the rest of us just focused on what the songs wanted. John wrote the riffs and we all just created parts. Again, our histories with punk and old thrash did somewhat inform how we came up with our parts, at least on my end.
As far as the songwriting process goes, were the songs written by one member in particular, or were they just created by jamming in practice?
John had made demos at home and then the songs were tweaked and rearranged through trial and error at rehearsals. With Mike living far away, he had to work from updated demos we sent. He came down and rehearsed a couple of times.
With you and John working together again, was there much of a difference in the songwriting process between Vhöl and Ludicra?
Less cooks in the kitchen. John and I can work pretty efficiently together. Years of Ludicra gave us an understanding of what the other is liable to do. I understand his songwriting devices and he tends to write to my ability. Vhöl certainly moved a bit faster.
Was there a difference in the way you approached your style of drumming for Vhöl compared to your drumming in bands like Agalloch and Ludicra?
Definitely wanted it to be more extreme in tempo and execution but also wanted it to be somewhat mechanical. Not sure if I achieved that, but I like the results. Ludicra was always the most physically demanding band for me, most challenging. So I wanted Vhöl to go to the next level, so to speak.
Due to the many projects you guys have, do you think this album was a one time thing, or is Vhöl a band you think can go on tour and keep going for a while?
Touring is difficult with the demands of our other more active bands, but we are all in to make a follow up record. The experience was so rewarding and we are extremely proud of the album. I couldn’t possibly say enough good things about working with Mike Scheidt. All of us really shared an amazing chemistry and singular vision for Vhöl.
Check out our 5/5 star review of Vhöl here: newnoisemagazine.com/vhol-vhol
Purchase Vhöl here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/