Interview with Victor Arduini
ARDUINI / BALICH is the new and mighty project of guitarist Victor Arduini (ex-FATES WARNING) and Brian „Butch“ Balich of ARGUS.
Their first albm ´Dawn Of Ages´ is a real masterpiece, so we asked Victor Arduini to answer us some questions. Enjoy!
Victor, ‚Dawn Of Ages‘ ist a dark and gloomy album. To which extent does the music reflect your mood?
I’ve always been into dark heavy sounding music (as a huge SABBATH-Fan) and between getting into a lot of underground doom/stoner style bands and my love of the „riff“ it just led to a natural expression of where I was at. Songs like ´The Wraith´ came about after getting turned on to BLOOD FARMERS ´Headless Eyes´. I became inspired to create a dark, brooding sound which I think was accomplished.
Your contribution to WHILE HEAVEN WEPTs ‚Suspended At Aphelion‘ also fell into this phase. How did it happen?
I’ve know Tom Phillips of WHILE HEAVEN WEPT for a few years. He was very inspirational while I was putting together the FREEDOMS REIGN-album and our friendship continued over long talks of music and his experience which helped bring me into the current way of doing things. He asked if I’d be interested (like I’d say no to playing on a WHILE HEAVEN WEPT-release). Sent me some raw tracks and I just built it up over the course of a few weeks. One of my favorite solo’s ever and man that album ´Suspended At Aphelion´ is a masterpiece. Please check it out if you have not done so already.
I love it! Has it inspired you for ARDUINI / BALICH?
No necessarily. When I write I just let my natural expression come out. I’ve learned over the past few years there is a style or sound to my playing which goes back to my days with FATES. Nothing really has changed except I’ve grown as a musician creatively and when I’m in the right frame of mind and in good shape as a guitarist I find the riffs coming out of nowhere. I really think getting back into the metal scene and learning about so many great underground bands really inspired me to want to create something that could hold up to them.
When did you decide to use the material for a new project?
Right after FREEDOMS REIGN ended our promo tour, I was already in the process of writing/recording riffs. The music was far heavier and more intricate that the vibe created with FREEDOMS REIGN. I already knew I would be doing this more as a solo project. I was at the point of wanting complete artistic control without the restrictions and democracy that comes in playing in a band.
Did you complete the material of ‚Dawn Of Ages‘ before Brian joined you?
All the music was written and recorded before Brian came aboard. I lived with it for almost 18 months, before I heard the first vocal. In the meantime it helped me to continually listen and come up with new layers and sounds. I must have 100’s of mixes of each song continually trying to get it where I heard it in my head. I got to a point where the music could almost stand alone and Brian’s vocals just took it to a completely new level. Amazing performance by him I must say.
How did you get to know Brian?
FREEDOMS REIGN did some shows together and I got to hang with him a bit. He taste in music is similar and very eclectic which I really liked. Most people like the same stuff by Brian & I are deep into the underground scene and have a similar thirst for new music.
Have you been following his band ARGUS in recent years?
Once I was turned on to them by Tom Phillips I became an instant fan. Their sound, writing and Brian’s vocals blew me away. I have all their music. Maybe I need to talk to Brian about sharing some „Rare“ stuff privately.
What other artists are playing on the album?
Other than Brian and myself (I did play all guitars/bass) we were fortunate to have Chris Judge (FREEDOMS REIGN) play drums on most tracks. He is an amazing drummer and while the project is called ARDUINI / BALICH his inspiration was a big part in helping me create riffs & ideas when we were rehearsing. Nick Belmore (TOXIC HOLOCAUST) who recorded/mixed the album played drums on two bonus tracks ´Sunrise´ and ´After All (The Dead)´. Bruce McPherson did the keyboards of ´Sunrise´ as well.
Would you like to establish ARDUINI / BALICH as a band or should it remain a project?
From a writing/recording standpoint it will be Brian & I. After doing this I’ve realized it’s best for me and very rewarding. If we decide to do some shows I would bring aboard some great seasoned musicians to play with who want to be a part of it while understanding their roles without interpreting their in the band. I wouldn’t falsely present it as a band.
Have you ever thought about a collaboration with John Arch?
Not Really. John works with Jim and I’ve never had a working/writing relationship even in the FATES-days. I’m a huge fan of his but Brian’s vocals are much closer to what I’d like to have behind the music.
You recently played with ENTIERRO, who are also rooted in Doom- and Stoner-Sound. Wasn’t it possible to let your song-ideas flow into ENTIERRO?
I joined with them simply because I was a huge fan and they suddenly needed a new guitarist. I see my role in that band is to play their songs, add what I can here and there to new stuff and see what happens. My true musical style wouldn’t really work in that band which is fine. I enjoy doing different styles and they are an old school metal band. Doom/Stoner influences, but really more of some straightforward metal.
Do FREEDOMS REIGN still exist?
No. FREEDOMS REIGN ended once we did our last show. I don’t think anyone else knew that at the time, but I was already becoming less interested in the style and I was done singing. Was a great experience to put myself in that place and they were all the best guys to be with. It simply was growing apart musically.
Are you in contact with Jim Matheos?
No. We really have never been close and have spent the past 30 years living our separate lives. I wish him well, but we just don’t have much in common.
Why did you leave FATES WARNING after ‚The Spectre Within‘ ?
Simply put I was bringing up my concerns of going out on tours, which we earned nothing, while having the financial responsibilities of my marriage and my first child on the way. Basically was told by Jim „that’s the way it is“ and apparently after he asked for a vote, I was told they wanted me out, so they could find a new guitarist, who could commit to touring and get ready for next album. I can’t say I didn’t understand where they were coming from as they were all single with no commitments, but as an equal writing member it was a pretty selfish and hurtful thing to do. I remember walking out like I was hit by a truck as there was no warning or chance to work things out. I also blame myself, for not standing up and fighting to stay. A year later John got the same ultimatum, so if they were ok with loosing him (really bad move) I guess my departure carried even less weight.
… and even though you’ve written half of the songs on this album including the classics ‚Traveller In Time‘ and ‚Orphan Gypsy‘.
´Spectre´ was truly our first real album. `Night On Bröcken´ was just five very young kids who suddenly decided to start writing their own songs. By the time we began writing for ´Spectre´, Jim & I were becoming better players and it showed in our riffs and writing abilities. It was a true band effort in every sense. Jim or I would come to practice with a new idea and the band would work it out together. Songs like ´Traveler In Time´ & ´Pirates Of The Underground´ were great collaborations, where both our riffs and ideas were merging in and out and not just you write 1st half and I’ll write 2nd half. Even songs that are seen as his or mine there were still individual elements on each whether it was as short melodic riff or harmony. While now we probably do control our writings back then we were a band. Both Steve & Joe also made strong contributions to what we wrote and those songs would have never been the same or as good.
Have you ever regretted the leave?
I don’t regret it at all as it allowed me to raise my family and be a great dad. I do wish it didn’t happen in a sense but I’m sure I would have left anyway if John was asked to leave (actually I would have made my thoughts known) and either have left or be voted out If he did leave. I’ve said for many years FATES WARNING was the 1st three albums with John. Loosing a guitarist is pretty significant, but then loosing your voice (not just any voice) really ends that band in my opinion. No doubt they have created some amazing music since then, but that’s not the point. It’s how the band was torn apart early on and it was wrong. It’s just my personal thoughts on the subject I’ve had for years. I’m way too happy with my life and where it brought me to ever have regrets or hold and grudges.