INTERVIEW: James Stewart – Vader

When it comes to death metal, there is no greater royalty than Poland’s VADER. With a career spanning over three decades, the band is amongst an elite group of bands that helped drive the expansion and evolution of death metal. Now, in 2016, the band are still as ferocious as they were back in the 1980s and despite numerous lineup changes, the sound of the band has remained consistently strong. On their recent tour with thrash metal titans OVERKILL (read our review of the Manchester show here), we spoke to drummer James Stewart about the tour, the pressure when he joined the band in 2011 and the next VADER album!

So we are onto the second date of the tour with OVERKILL. How is it going so far?

James: Well the first date is always tough, you have to set everything up and get to know everybody. We had to get to know the conditions so there wasn’t much time. Today is already more chilled out already, generally, we are looking forward to it!

And how is it being on the road with OVERKILL?

James: So far so good! Their crew is actually Polish, so we know them already! VADER has been on tour with OVERKILL a few times before so it’s easy really.

You’ve been in the band for five years now, was there a big pressure when you first joined?

James: No, not from the fans or from the band, the only pressure came from myself to try and get better and try to get to their standard. Once you’ve practised for a while you just get used to it, now it’s just fun!

You joined shortly after the release of Welcome To The Morbid Reich, was there a quick time period where you had to learn those songs for upcoming tours?

James: Not really, I knew I was going to join the band around six months before the album was released. So I had quite a lot of time to get to grips with the new songs. Being a fan of the band already I was familiar with the old songs so the process of learning songs was pretty easy, there wasn’t too much I had to learn really!

And then two years later you had your first album with the band, Tibi Et Igni, that’s been out for a couple of years now. How have you found the reception?

James: Very good, very very good! It’s done really well, a lot better than we expected actually so we are know trying to build on that for the new album and hopefully it will be even better!

You just mentioned about the next album from VADER. Has that process already started?

James: We hit the studio this month so as soon as this tour is over we are going back to Poland to lay down the drums and everything else is going to be tracked. So the whole process will be done by June and then we will release it sometime after festival season, we don’t have a date yet. It’s planned for Autumn or Fall.

So when it comes to writing now that you are a permanent member of the band, do you have a lot creative input?

James: Yes, everyone is able to submit what they want and then we just go through the normal procedure.

Looking forward to the performance tonight and for the tour, what’s the setlist balance?

James: Well it’s not a VADER headline gig, we are playing to predominately OVERKILL fans so we’ve done a good mix of everything that VADER is. It’s a mix of absolutely everything to show the OVERKILL fans what we are about as we are expecting that there won’t be too many people who are familiar with VADER or what we do. We are trying to show all signs of the band but if there are VADER fans they will love it. All classic hits!

And is that the difficulty with tour packages like this?

James: Not really, as the answer with the setlist when playing with a band that is radically different is to not give a fuck and play what you do. VADER is just going to go on stage and do what VADER does best. We had big success yesterday, there was a lot of OVERKILL fans in the crowd and a lot people went to our merch table. We aim to keep that up.

And really to close this off you have the new album dropping after festival season, can fans expect Vader at any festivals this summer?

James: Yeah, we’re going to be at Hellfest, we’re going to be at Wacken, we’ve been announced for Summer Breeze. I know which ones we are playing but I don’t know which ones we can announce yet! Hellfest, Wacken and Summer Breeze will be the main ones to watch out for!

Well best of luck for tonight and the rest of the tour!

James: Cheers mate!