Saturday, December 7, 2019

December 7th, 2019 - "At This Point It Is All About The Quality Of The Music": An Interview With Dan Vadim Von Frank Marino

Good afternoon hellions!  I had the great fortune of not only seeing Morbid Angel this past Wednesday, December 4th, but I also was able to sit down with rhythm / lead guitarist Dan Vadim Von and discuss the current tour, his background, and heavy metal music in general!  Here's that interview... enjoy!

B&T: I'm here with Dan Vadim Von of Morbid Angel.  You play rhythm and lead guitar.

DVV: Yes.

B&T: You are currently on tour... the 2019Sickness Tour.  Your are touring with Watain and Incantation.  About half way through the tour currently.

DVV: Not quite to the halfway point.  We will be in a few days.

B&T: How's the tour been so far?

DVV: Great, great!  Responses have been great.  Audiences have been great.  I would say that this band... one of the most obvious things I can say is that this band has been great, you know, for me and we have some of the strongest fans and most dedicated fans.  

B&T: And I would say this current incantation of Morbid Angel is incredibly tight.  I saw you guys the last time you came through town and it was phenomenal!  

DVV: Thank you!  We put in a lot of practice before we tour.  We make sure that by the time the tour is ready to take off we are the best that we can be.

B&T: Nice!  What a lot of fans and other people may not know... I've read some article recently and you've been referred to as "the new guy", but I don't think a lot of people realize is that you've been involved with Morbid Angel for roughly a decade... maybe not always playing, but you've done design work for the band as well, correct?

DVV: Uh, yes, since 2006, I've been an artist for the band.  I've done a number of shirts, different media, even down to the website.  I've known Trey [Azagthoth] for a long time.  At first it started with the visual arts, presentation of the band.  Then my project [VadimVon] started eventually touring with them as an opener, which started with the Illud [Divinum Insanus] tour.  And shortly after that... a couple of years after that, Trey enlisted me in the band.

B&T: How did you meet Trey originally?

DVV: It was through work.  It was through creative stuff.  We just got to talking... I believe it was 2005... I would say.  It was really all about art work, and music, and different approaches to playing, things like that.  At the time, obviously the band was full and we weren't really talking about me playing in the band.  It was just the visual stuff.  The music came a couple of years later.

B&T: Let's go back in time and talk about how you got started in music.  What was your inspiration?  What was the driving force for you to become a musician?

DVV: I've been around music since I was a little kid.  I actually grew up in the Soviet Union and came to the United States as a kid in 8th grade in the very early '90s... right before the fall of the USSR.  So technically I left the Soviet Union and never lived in the Russian Federation.  Back then it was a huge part of the culture for kids to delve into the arts... whether it was musical or visual arts from a very early age.  I started playing classical piano at the age of 5.  Eventually, a few years later, I turned to the guitar.  So the piano gave me the foundation in music at first... the understanding of it, the passion for it.  A few years later I gravitated toward the musical instrument of my choice.  And I still very much appreciate keys, you know, piano players, keyboard players.  Even though at this point I literally couldn't sit down and do what I did at 7 [laughs].  Because you are practicing all the time.  That was a big push.  

B&T: Were your parents musicians?

DVV: My dad was a musician.  He's been gone for a while, but he was a musician.  As far as extreme music goes, as far as the metal stuff, it is hard to say what was the big turning point for me... whether it was seeing Pantera live on the Vulgar Display of Power tour and just being a kid, just a couple of years into high school and I was literally not being able to believe what was going on; how well that guy was playing guitar.  Or perhaps it was the "Rapture" video from Morbid Angel.  Maybe a kid being glued to the T.V. and watching Trey play and not really getting it at the time because it was so extreme and so fast, but I think that's what gave me the goal.

B&T: You've put out 3 albums as a solo artist over the last several years, yes?

DVV: Yes, I've recorded a couple CDs.  Honestly that project I was doing called VadimVon right before I joined Morbid Angel... it was actually just intended to be a recording project.  It was just going to be some stuff for the studio, but then as things started to progress with art work for Morbid Angel, I felt that I had to put it into a live situation and put together a live band that could tour.  And then we started to tour with Morbid Angel.

B&T: With the last album, the most recent Morbid Angel album, "Kingdoms Disdained", you played solo work on that?

DVV: Yes.

B&T: As far as the writing process, I'm guessing that Trey is the driving force behind a lot of that, but is it a collaborative effort in terms of when you were brought in?  Do you have free reign to go crazy?  Does he express what he wants from you?

DVV: Ya know the idea of this "new" lineup was to really take things back to some of the favorite times of Trey, which was probably the "Formulas [Fatal To The Flesh ]" era.  So Steve's return and then collaborating on the lyrics and stuff like that... Trey really handled all the riffing on this album.  These are his songs and I think that he really had a breathe of fresh air working on these songs because they are such a step away from the previous album ["Illud Divinum Insanus"].  Not to say anything bad about the previous album, but this new material is very different.  So Trey definitely handled it.  He handled it very well.  These new songs are all seven-string songs.  And actually since Trey resides in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is right by the studios, it was just really easy for him to go in and record the rhythms.  I came in a little later to record some solos.  And that's how it worked.

B&T: Now I understand there may be a new album in the works?  Is that correct?

DVV: I don't want to go into it too much, but there are some ideas being tossed around.  It is time to start working on some new stuff even though we are still touring on "Kingdoms".  The band has always been a creative unit. We are never going to stop coming up with new song ideas on the back of the bus.  I don't want to say we have anything ready to go by any means, but sometime soon we will start making new tunes.

B&T: Excellent... I'm excited!  "Kingdoms Disdained" is just a fantastic album.  It is brutal and intense.  When I put it on it took me back to "Heretic" and "Gates To Annihilation" and "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh".

DVV: Yeah, and also Steve's [Tucker]  presence has a lot to do with it because Steve is so intense.  His playing is very intense.  His whole presence is very intense... the way he sings his vocals, the way he writes his lyrics.  It's a whole new chapter in Morbid Angel.

B&T: It seems like you guys - especially live - play off of each other really well.  As a unit, as a band you are very cohesive and you're very tight.  I would imagine there is a fair amount of practice before a tour.

DVV: Yes, of course.  For a guy like Trey to be in this business and to be doing it as long as he has, he definitely made sure the members have chemistry and work well together.  So yeah, that you for noticing that.  I would say the chemistry between these musicians in this lineup is very good!

B&T: Yeah, you can hear it on the album and definitely live.  What is your favorite song to play live?

DVV: Oh, there's just so many!  It probably wouldn't be fair to say what my favorite Morbid Angel song would be because there are so many great songs.  And I'm sure the fans - and I'm speaking on behalf of the fans having been one myself for such a long time - it is just hard to pinpoint, but I would say that songs like... if you are talking older stuff; stuff not from this album, stuff like "Summoning Redemption" is a great song.  Very heavy; it really sets that vibe.  So those old school songs like "Abomination", "Blasphemy Of The Holy Ghost", things like that.  I definitely love that stuff.  And "Covenant" has so many cool tunes on it like "Rapture".  So that's pretty much my favorites, but I would say everything else is just as good. 

B&T: Do you have any plans... will we see another solo album?

DVV: Yes, I'm going to be working on some stuff.  Actually, as we speak, there's a new CD in the works.  I'm not really sure if it is going to be put out as VadimVon.  It might be something else.  I'm going to be doing some stuff for Ibanez coming up after this tour.   I just signed with Ibanez Guitars and I'm going to be doing a pretty extensive presentation at NAMM coming up.  Immediately after the tour I'm going to be jumping into that for a while and resuming work on the CD at the end of January.  So hopefully by spring... late spring or early summer it should be all together.

B&T: Another thing my readers might want to check out is your YouTube page (  You recently posted solo work for Morbid Angel songs.  It's really cool.  You can really see what you are doing and how you are playing.

DVV: That's something else I'm planning on being busier with is my YouTube page.  There are a few videos on there now, the playthroughs of the songs.  Some people really like to see that. They have questions about certain things, certain riffs.  And I just give them the chance to really see how it is done.  I'm planning on doing a lot more videos also after this tour and not just playing through songs, but showing different techniques and stuff.

B&T: You mentioned Ibanez Guitars.  For the gearheads that read my blog, what do you use?  What amps do you use?

DVV: Well, Morbid Angel is a band that has always used GCM 900, Marshall, Marshall heads.  Both Trey and I use 2 heads each on stage and a couple cabs as well.  Right before this tour actually, we re-speakered old cabinets back from the Covenant Tour and re-tubed all the old GCM 900s.  Besides effects, Morbid Angel is really about Marshall amplification such as GCM 900 heads particularly and Rack distortion.  Both together creates that Morbid Angel sound.

B&T: What would maybe surprise us as fans that you listen to?

DVV: As I mentioned before, as a youth I was deep into classical.  My introduction into extreme metal and playing extreme metal didn't come until a few years later.  Initially I was exposed to a lot of classical and various folk stuff from around Europe.  And eventually as my pallet grew, at this point I can say that I appreciate stuff like Curtis Mayfield just as much as anything extreme or anything like that because at the end of the day to me, at this point it is all about the quality of the music.  It isn't about the style or some fort of a label.  Some of these guys that huddle up in groups and say, "We only like Black Metal".  It is so silly because it really is only about music.  Styles at this point don't really matter to me.  I like the Isley Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush just to name a few; just to give you an example of stuff I like besides metal.  And Trey is the same way.

B&T: So one last question for you.  So you get done with a recording session or finish up a show, what beer do you crack open and what album do you spin to chill out?

DVV: Wow... um, well honestly, I'm just now getting back into beer.  My favorites have always been IPAs, but I also like Amstel Light.  IPAs are probably my personal favorite in terms of flavor.  As far as music, that's kinda hard to say.  There's always stuff playing... and there's always people drinking beer [laughs].  But let's say Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush.  That's a huge influence for me and Trey and something we listen to on the bus on tour.

B&T: Very cool, very cool!  Well, Dan thank you so much for meeting with me.  I really appreciate it.

DVV: Oh it's my pleasure.

Make sure you catch Morbid Angel with Watain and Incantation... currently touring North America!!  It is a definite must see... you don't want to miss this!!


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