1. Can you tell us a little bit about Vex for those that have never heard of you before?
Vex originally began in San Angelo, West Texas, formed by Bill and Ciaran. The band underwent many many different personnel and stylistic changes over the years. We have been jamming with the current lineup since early 2008 and we feel like we've finally discovered the Vex sound after all these years.
2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album?
Well interestingly, Thanatopsis comprises material that we've been playing live for a long time; some of the songs we wrote all the way back in 2000 and 2001. But when we began tracking this record, we were also writing new material that reflects a lot of the progressive rock and jazz fusion music we were beginning to listen to and be inspired by; you can really hear those influences on 'Thanatos' and 'The Past is Frozen.' So since those two songs ended up on this album, the album sort of documents a lot of the history of the band as well as reflecting a change that was just beginning to happen in our sound.
3. What are some lyrical topics and concepts the new album explore?
Well I'm maybe not the best person to answer this one but in general the lyrics explore a philosophy of personal nihilism and through that lens it sort of views the world and all the big formative experiences that a person can go through in life. The album name is reflective of that--even though 'Thanatos' is an instrumental, the concept of Thanatos and Thanatopsis pervades many of the lyrics. In my view, that's really what the album cover symbolizes as well--a monument to a human life, though from the perspective of nature. The natural world outside of the human species approaches death much differently than we do. That's what the Bryant poem 'Thanatopsis' is about that inspired many of the lyrical themes on the album, essentially a view of humanity and death from the perspective of the natural world.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band's name?
Well as I mentioned Vex has a lot of history, many different band members and many different musical styles. If I remember the story correctly, the name was chosen at random out of a dictionary. We've discussed changing it, but no matter how much we evolve as a band, that name always just seems to fit with what we are doing.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
Actually the CD release show for this album I would say is right near the top of the list for us. We were able to land an opening spot for Katatonia, Swallow the Sun, and Orphaned Land at Emo's here in Austin. We played a good set to a packed house and then topped it off by getting to watch some of the best metal bands out right now. I wouldn't really know how to describe our stage performance; we don't really have the typical metal look. Honestly I think most of the time we are more concerned with how we play and the stage presence just kind of naturally happens as a result of our feeding off of the music. It's not something we really plan in advance.
6. Do you have any touring plans for the new albums?
Not as of yet. We have a ton of new songs that we need to get written and recorded first, so that's gonna be the focus of the band at least for the near future. After that, I'm sure we will look at touring.
7/ What is going on with the side projects these days?
We all keep very busy with side-projects. Bill has a very well-received and talented metal band in San Angelo called A Black Anatomy. Ciaran's side project Nosferion is in the midst of recording a new album, really good sort of primitive black metal but with a more modern edge. I play regularly in a band called Batcastle based out of Austin, and actually Mike and I collaborate on many of the same side projects like Ruins of Honor, Alternate 15, and The Stan Laurels.
8. How has your music been recieved so far by extreme metal fans worldwide?
It's hard to say, really. As I mentioned we don't really have a typical metal look, and I wouldn't say our sound is typical metal in any way, so I'm always interested to see how really hardcore metal-heads react to our stuff. Overall it's been fairly positive; we've been very pleased that most of the reviews coming in on Thanatopsis have been generally positive.
9. How would you describe your musical progress over the years?
Well Vex in its original format was more heavy rock, kind of catchy, heavy stuff. As the band continued, the music took on a more extreme sound, incorporating 'dirty' vocals and faster drumming, etc. It was during 2000-2005 that we wrote most of the stuff on Thanatopsis, and we were gigging practically every weekend at the time so that was where we really polished those songs to their current state. But just as we were beginning this album, we began to see that a lot of our non-metal influences, particularly progressive rock bands, were beginning to seep into the sound, and that's something that's continued to this day, as our music just seems to get weirder and weirder.
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Honestly I think we've gotten to the point as a band that we really don't even pay much attention to who our influences are anything of that nature. We really just listen to any type of good music; I know that may seem like a half-assed answer but it's really true in our case. I mean I can trace influences of everything from metal bands like Vader, Iron Maiden and Dissection all the way in the other direction to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Zawinul Syndicate, etc. Really just all over the place. If something's good we listen to it, and the more we listen to something the more it tends to work itself into the music in all kinds of subtle and unsubtle ways.
11. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Well I am in the process of transitioning to playing music full-time, so it seems like there is less and less time to maintain interests outside of music, but I mean I watch a lot of sports, cook a lot, some nerdy science shit, pretty standard stuff I guess.
12. Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
Just a big thanks for the review and the interview!