Interviews

VEKTOR’S DAVE DISANTO AND FRANK CHIN ON SPACE, SCI-FI, AND, OH YEAH, METAL

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I think space is amazing. When I was told I needed glasses at six, I burst into tears because that meant I could never be an astronaut. And when I discovered that The Dark Side of the Moon was not, in fact, a documentary, my self-righteous younger self refused to listen to Pink Floyd until well into high school because of that space-related grudge. Oh, and you bet your ass I got choked up watching the live footage of the new Rover, “Curiosity,” landing on Mars. I’m a space nerd.

So last year, I was very pointedly told to listen to Vektor. This year, I very excitedly got to talk to guitarist/vocalist Dave DiSanto and guitarist Frank Chin, who politely indulged my space and sci-fi nerdery with their very own.

You released Outer Isolation last year and if I’m not mistaken, a little preview of new stuff earlier on this year. Are you working on more music or just still promoting this record and touring?

Frank: We’ve just kind of been touring. We’re working on some new stuff. Our next album is going to be a concept album. We only have a few songs right now and there’s really no deadline yet for when the next one’s going to be. Right now we’ve just been talking to Earache [Records] and stuff like that. Trying to figure out…

Dave: More touring for this year and then figure out kind of what they want for the next album because we owe them one album with the contract.

What kind of concept album? Or do I really need to ask that? 

Frank & Dave: [laughsYeeeeah.

Frank: But yeah, we’re just concentrating on this tour coming up and then a couple that we’re going to be involved with in the future. Pretty much focusing on that for now.

That’s cool. It seems like a pretty cool tour coming up. I mean, you’re skipping Massachusetts completely so I won’t hold that against you but —

Frank: There’s no announcement yet but we’ll probably be there end of October or beginning of November.

Oh, good! It won’t be murderously hot and miserable then so two things to look forward to. But that’s great to have back-t0-back tours, at least in terms of getting attention and the music out there. It seemed like you guys had kind of a small, cult-following almost and it’s just been growing from there. What do you think? Any chance of taken the show overseas?

Frank: It seems like that right now. We hope so! We’re definitely almost there especially with transfer from Heavy Artillery to Earache. Throughout the UK now [we’re] more accessible so it’s very possible. Very soon.

I think you’d be right up Japan’s alley.

Frank: Oh yeah, we’d love to go Japan.

Dave: Yeah, definitely.

What inspired all the sci-fi themes and images throughout your music? Was it like a gimmick at first or a sincere interest or love…?

Dave: Back when I first started the band, back in 2002, I was just kind of combining my two favorite things, sci-fi and thrash metal. I wasn’t trying to be like any other band or [consciously] trying to make it a thing. It’s just the stuff I was into and that’s what I wanted to do so I went out and did it.

Well you have to give me some examples now. Books, movies, shows, what were you in to sci-fi-wise?

Frank: All the Mad Max movies, Blade Runner

Oh, you know there’s a Mad Max remake in the works now.

Frank: [groans] Really?

Yep, with Charlize Theron. She actually looks really cool in some of the stills with the shaved head. Kind of like if Tank Girl had an older, slightly saner sister.

Frank: They’re remaking every movie that was ever released.

Dave: I’m a little skeptical about the new Total Recall, but I’ll have to check it out. Big fan of the original though, they’re going to have to blow my mind.

I’m curious about it. Don’t know if I’ll go see it, though.

Dave: Yeah, there’s no Arnold in it so… The first one was such a classic. But yeah, any of like the ‘80s sci-fi movies. Space Hunter, that’s one of my favorites or Battletruck —

Frank: BATTLETRUCK! [laughs]

Dave: There have been a bunch of sci-fi movies that came out recently that I’ve really been in to like Moon and Sunshine.

I loved both, especially Moon. I actually got them both as a double gift for a friend who also loves newer sci-fi/psychological films.

Dave: Oh, obviously Prometheus was pretty badass.

What? I was warned not to go to it and I didn’t but I did not hear nice things about it. 

Dave: It’s very like, if you’re in to Blade Runner, then it’ll blow your mind.

I will watch it and judge it for myself then.

Dave: Along with the sci-fi thing, though, we have like this loose interest in astronomy and it’s just a topic of a lot of our late-night drinking conversations so, it’s something else that interests us in the same vein. Kind of an astronomy nerd, too.

Yeah! Do follow Neil DeGrasse Tyson or listen to his podcast?

Dave: Hell yeah! PBS!

He’s one of my faves. You know there’s a new rover landing on Mars soon?

Frank: Yeah?

Dave: That’s awesome. I know Tyson’s trying to revamp space programs and stuff, which is great.

Let’s talk a bit about the artwork. I love the cover of Outer Isolation and I think I saw on your Facebook page a design for a new back patch, that was pretty awesome let me see if I can find…

Dave: The, “Sci-Fi or Die,” one?

Yeah! I love it. Do you guys have a specific person you enlist to do it or is it different people…?

Dave: I’m a newlywed, dude, and my wife [Katy Ashton] actually drew that one up for us. But the Outer Isolation artwork was done by Andrei Bouzikov, I think he recently did Skeletonwitch’s last album cover and bunch of other stuff. But prior to that, for Black Future we had our old drummer Kian Ahmad draw something up. We get our artwork pretty much wherever we can, we don’t have just one person.

What about the band logo?

Dave: Yeah, I made that up. I made both our like the old Demolition one that was a little skinnier and then the new one. I just wanted to make it really pop out, stand out a little more than the old one.

Frank: It was kind of cool, we had a biology class together and he was drawing it up while we were at school. [laughs]

You guys are originally from Arizona but you moved to Philadelphia, right? Any specific reasons for that? Was it just a better place to be, musically speaking?

Dave: That’s pretty much the reason, yeah. Pretty much everyone lived there but I was born in new Jersey and moved all over the place and I wound up in Arizona like eleven years ago so I’m kind of used to jumping around, you know, moving around and I think we’d all spent enough time there. It was getting a little stagnant

Not much of a metal scene in Arizona? I’ve never been.

Dave: It’s kind of funny because there really wasn’t and right when we decided to move, everyone in the fucking world, in Phoenix, decided to come out to our last show  and we’re like oh, there are the metalheads, finally. Right when we’re about to movie.

Frank: Right, like, catch you later dudes.

Dave: But I guess it was really dead like five or six years ago and then other bands out there formed and actually kept the scene going so, it’s pretty good. You see kids that came to the shows long time ago and now they’re kind of doing their own thing and keeping it alive out there.

That’s pretty cool. I can sympathize, I grew up in a kind of musical dessert and when I moved, bands started adding my town as a place to hit on tours. It was a little aggravating! I also wanted to ask, how much energy and stamina does take to get through each show? Certainly because of the technical aspects but I’m sure it’s got to be a strain on your voice? Are you guys just completely exhausted by the end of the night?

Dave: Pretty much. The first few nights of the tour are always rough but thena s it goes on you kind of start building up the muscles and strength and stuff. Towards the middle and end of the tour we could honestly keep playing for hours but you know but it’s pretty hard in the beginning. With like my vocals, some night I blow’em out on the first song and just kind of have to get through the set. Those are kind of hit or miss. I try to doa  good job every night but sometimes hah, I can’t.

Think you guys would ever play conventions? I’m back on the sci-fi.

Dave: [guffaws] That’d be sick! Play like Comic-Con.

Any good stories from on the road? I like hearing stories, especially gross or funny ones. Bonus if it’s about bad food.

Dave: Okay, well, we were in New York and our friend and roadie Ryan was like, “You gotta check out Katz’s Diner…”

Frank: [correctingKatz’s Deli.

Dave: Katz’s Deli, so okay world-famous place let’s go. I think I got like corned beef and hash or something and it was pretty good but about an hour later.

Uh-oh.

Dave: I started vomiting, like, everywhere. It was awful. I spent like all day throwing up in every New York toilet I could find. And then chugging Pepto Bismol all day.

So that day we were walking around and of course it was like, “Dude, I need a bathroom,” so we ran into Dave and Busters and I’m puking horribly in the bathroom but then in the stall next to me was a homeless dude just jerking off. While I was puking. Which just made the puke roll out even harder like, “Auuuughrrrh.” It was disgusting. But I guess even bums have to get their kicks.

At Dave and Busters, apparently. Ew. But thank you for that. 

Dave: We ended up playing that night but it was pretty awful during the day. I think I got it all out o my system by the show.

That’s what emergency buckets are for! 

Dave: A cool story would be, on the second tour we went on were in Ashland, Oregon, and we’d never played there before, weren’t sure how many metalheads were out there.  But the show ended up being in the woods like up in the mountains and we had to drive the shuttle up this sketchy ass trail and it ended up being super high up. Loading gear to this spot near a park, with a generator that was running with like two car batteries or something. So everything’s running off this makeshift generator and the place was lit by this bonfire, and a shit-ton of squatters and punks were there  ad families were bringing their kids. In Ashland, a metal show is like a community event. And they’re all around this fire playing, and we’re like, “Shit, stuff is going to get torched.” Literally in the last five seconds of our set, the last song, the generator died. So we were in pitch black and had to load everything and go back down in the dark.

Thanks guys, anything to add?

Dave: Look for us on tour, and we’ll be announcing a pretty sweet one in late October, early November. And come out and support us on this tour! It’s August 10 through September 16  and yeah, hopefully see you guys out there.

Frank: You’ll be hearing more of us, or from us, in the next six months.

Dave: Definitely be hitting the road a lot.

-LF

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