Peter Wiwczarek (Vader) shares the secrets of fire

Vader is one of the veterans of the very active and renowned Polish extreme scene. For thirty years now (the band was created in 1983, although their first album was only released ten years later), and despite all the line-up changes, Vader’s leader Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek has consistently been moving forward, driven by passion, as he says himself in the following interview. It was a good opportunity for us to reminisce on his career and ask him what the thirty-year mark meant to him. But Vader is a band that doesn’t stagnate, as proven by the latest album, Tibi Et Igni, which was released last May. The death metal it offers is more formidable and efficient than ever, with an old-school side that will remind everyone that Wiwczarek finds his inspiration in the fundamentals.

Also, because he was one of the very first extreme metal musicians to come from Poland, and because he saw that scene (especially its proudest representative, Behemoth) develop firsthand, it was interesting to ask him about the incredible success story of Nergal. Because we’re nice like that, we’ll share his very interesting answers with you.

« Throughout all these years, passion is what made us do what we do. Without passion nothing would be possible. »

Radio Metal: Last year was the band’s thirtieth anniversary. How do you feel about that?

Piotr « Peter » Wiwczarek (vocals, guitar): On one hand I was a bit surprised at how fast time is flowing, because we’ve been an active band for so many years and I didn’t feel that way. It feels like I just started a year ago or something [laughs]. There was plenty of hard work but so many albums recorded, so many fans, so many countries visited, so I’m kind of proud that although we came from Poland and knew hard times, we still did it as if we couldn’t be stopped thanks to our passion. Actually passion was a fuel for us to break through all these problems in the past. We just love what we do. We love music. We love metal. We did it for thirty years and we still have fans who really want to see us and waiting for us every year. That’s the best. That’s the biggest success for us.

Did you think at the beginning of the band, thirty years ago, that it would last so long?

No. We could only dream about that, you know. When we started nothing was available in Poland. We were just playing for fans who wanted to listen to music, who wanted to go to the shows and who followed a band named Vader, and we tried to be like all the other bands in the world. It was more like a dream. No one expected that at the end of the day the dream may come true [Laughs]. That’s like fulfilling the passion, you know. So of course I’m glad and happy that, as I mentioned before, we managed to do it and that we’re still an active band. That’s what’s the most important. The fact that’s it’s been thrity years, is not so important.

If you had to pick one word to summarize all these memories and your career what would it be?

I mentioned that: the passion. Throughout all these years, passion is what made us do what we do. Without passion nothing would be possible.

Your new album is called “Tibi Et Igni”, which means “For You And Fire”. Can you explain the meaning of this title and why the title is in Latin?

I love Latin [laughs]. It gives a sense of secrecy. It sounds good. It sounds classic. But why this exact sentence? This album is touching fire and many different meanings. Fire is a very important thing that has been following humanity and life. Fire is creative and destructive. Fire is something which made life possible and probably is going to [provoke] life’s end someday. And you know, for us, for humans, for people, for men, fire is symbolic. It’s impressive. It’s linked to religions, to emotions, with so many aspects of life and our nature. And that’s why this time I addressed this theme. The fire, in Latin “Igni”, is the main theme and concept of the whole album. And, you know, this is just one side of the theme, because “Tibi Et Igni” was the line used in the past to inform the messengers that they should keep the information secret, you know, just read it and burn it, something like this: “For you and fire”. And the secrets and maybe the lack of secrets in the modern world is also something which made me think about this problem. I think that the secrets, whether they’re bad or good, that we keep for us make us special, they make our characters. I don’t think it’s good to inform the whole world and everyone around of everything that you think and feel. This is like pornography on ourselves. It’s kind of philosophic of course, but it made me think and made this line « Tibi Et Igni » a perfect choice for the album. It completed the theme about fire and secrecy.

Musically the album is very straight to the point. We have short and very efficient songs. It has a very rock n’ roll vibe. So do you have some hard rock and rock n’ roll influences in your music?

You know, first of all, it seems to be straight to the point but it’s not. All these, let’s say, classic elements in the music and the lyrics I used for “Tibi Et Igni” were made on purpose. It’s closer to the classical meaning of metal from the past, when we were listening to the bands which influences us and many other bands, like Venom, Slayer, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, all these bands that have started [metal as we know it]. They used some simple phrases, some simple words, sometimes to explain the emotions and the stories which were [brought] straight to the ears of the listeners. These were just simple stories, sometimes just emotions between the lines. This is something that I love in metal. Of course, the lyrics later became more “coded” in music and in metal. Because when I was a teenager I loved to take and understand metal’s strength: if the band was talking about hellfire, I wanted hellfire and I wanted devils. I didn’t use metaphors. I didn’t try to use imagination in this way. I wanted to see fire and feel Hell around because these were different worlds that made me feel better. When I was a young man, I tried to be rebellious. I tried to create in my mind a world which was totally different from the one I saw around me. Of course, after years, I kept this spirit in Vader, walking the path chosen by Vader and me as a metalhead and as a musician, but being more adult, after I saw a lot of things in the world. After I was more experienced with life, I wanted to put way more into music than just fancy stories. So this is what I wanted to do: make everything seem to be straight to the point, because it should be like this. But how you take it and how you understand it, it depends on your personality, age, what you love or what you want to hear.

« Behemoth is a good band and Nergal may not be a real metal freak – he definitely doesn’t look like one – but he creates good music and that, I think, is the best thing for everybody who love extreme music. »

Joe Petagno the illustrator for the album is famous for making a lot of paintings for artworks for rock and metal artists especially Motörhead. Do you feel close to Motörhead’s imagery?

You know it’s funny. I’m a huge fan of Motörhead and Ace Of Spades was the very first album I ever bought with my own money. That was years ago now! And of course I never expected that the same artist who created the logo for Motörhead would any day cooperate with Vader and [work on a] Vader album. So that’s awesome, something incredible! [Laughs] The funny thing is that I never thought that Joe was following our career. I had seen all these great artworks and first I didn’t even link this with Joe Petagno. Of course, after I recognized the style, I just called him and we talked for hours about things like metal history, the past, art and everything. And I just sent him some of the new Vader’s tunes and lyrics and Joe created some nice drawing sketches. From the three that he sent to me, I chose this one. It was just the perfect explanation of what you can find inside. You know, colors are important because it’s always the first look at what’s inside. There are parts of what the lyrics are about inside and you can feel the flames. That’s perfect.

Behemoth’s another metal band from Poland and had huge commercial success that surpasses the metal scene. How is the success of this band perceived in Poland?

You know, it’s a success but actually this is more Nergal’s personal success than the band’s success. Of course, it is linked. It’s something that happened that might not be really clear for people from outside Poland. Nergal has had a kind of romantic affair with one of the most famous pop stars [in Poland], one of those persons who liked to shock with scandals and shit [Laughs]. So that was the perfect couple of people, he being totally different… First he was kind of like a guy in the shadow, because that girl’s kind of… I don’t know who to compare her with… Maybe to Lady Gaga of Poland or something like that! But, you know, that gave him a great success and was a great opportunity for him to show the potential of the band. All this pop business is made for people with no character and Nergal amongst them was like a diamond in ashes. Some people, because of him, because of his personality, at first were afraid of him but in the end found an original personality in his character. So finally some of them, many of those people, tried to understand metal in general. So, definitely, to a certain extent, any success helps the whole scene. But I don’t think that the general situation of metal music in Poland changed. It changed shit, you know. Actually it was just something that was interesting for some people reading all these blabbing magazines talking about stars and rock stars and shit. But the general situation of metal music didn’t change ultimately. It’s just that there are some people who know more about black metal or extreme metal music and that’s it. Medias didn’t start to support metal and nobody try to acknowledge metal as a normal music. It’s still like worshiping devil and shit like that.

Don’t you have some pure extreme metal fans that are actually angry and who consider that this kind of success is treason to the underground scene and to the antichristian message of the band?

It’s hard to say. Maybe I would think in this way if I was a teenager. Some people take seriously that such a link with the business should not happen. But it’s hard to say. Of course it depends on what you expect from life. It depends on what success means to you. Maybe I wouldn’t do some things that Nergal did in the past years but all in all he’s still into the music. He’s still recording good albums; he’s still playing the same music that he did before. The rest is less important to me. So as long as Behemoth is a good band, is successful and brings hell on stage, there should be nothing to say. The philosophy came from the underground and, you know, it‘s kind of weird for some people. We’re different people and we cannot just blame people for treason just because we didn’t experience something, let’s say, Nergal experienced in his life. We can’t tell what we would have done [in his place], because in order to do so we’d have to walk in the same boots first, then we could decide. This is what I think. Behemoth is a good band and Nergal may not be a real metal freak – he definitely doesn’t look like one – but he creates good music and that, I think, is the best thing for everybody who love extreme music. He survived this. He did not bow to success. He was working hard for years for what he has and I’m pretty sure he deserves that.

Interview conducted by phone on May, 20th 2014 by Metal’O Phil.
Transcription : Thibaut Saumade.
Introduction : Spaceman.
Photos : kobaru.pl.

Vader official website: www.vader.pl

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