FEATURE INTERVIEW – DECAPITATED “I don’t know any other band that has been faced with the same obstacles that we’ve had to endure” VOGG

Posted on by Oran

Decapitated return with their most adventurous album to date this week! Guitarist and founding member, Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka explains the events that led to ‘Cancer Culture’ and why the band are stronger than ever….

Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2022

‘Cancer Culture’, is the eight studio album from the Polish Death Metal legends…

and despite the impact of the last six years, which saw the band accused of  alleged kidnapping charges [proven to be false] while on tour in America in 2017 to the impact of Covid-19, Vogg tells us why the band is more revitalised, refreshed and resilient than ever, as they emerged from a potentially career-ending scenario…

ODDecapitated are finally back with ‘Cancel Culture’. How long has this album been in the making, as so many things have happened to the band since the release of 2017’s Anticult?

VOGG – Some of the ideas were there from as far back as 202o. When I came back from the European tour I just started working on some ideas. We cut the tour and decided to just go home because of Covid in March 2020, and we spent two weeks alone in quarantine, and that’s when I decided to begin writing this new album.

We really didn’t expect how long the pandemic would be in full force… nobody knew, but we just pushed forward and got into writing in a big way. In fact, the first track I wrote was ‘Just a Cigarette‘, then ‘Last Supper‘, and…well, I was just blown away with the ideas that were coming together. I really became focused on all the ideas that were coming into the mix. Some ideas were hanging around for two/three months and I was not sure if I was gonna use them or not.

It was a really creative process and the fact that we were forced to stay at home, really worked for us all. Nothing was interrupting us, so we just really went very deep with our creativity.

OD – Considering all that has happened both, within the band, and in the world over the last five years, did you feel that there was so much inspiration to draw from with regards to the lyrical content?

VOGG – When you listen to this album, you can really hear the trauma and stress that has happened to us over the years bleeding through the music and the lyrics. It’s been a very difficult time for us all. There was a lot of things we really wanted to say on this album and I think we’ve managed to do that. We’ve been holding in so many emotions for such a long time.

The situation that we found ourselves in, was an extreme situation…an extreme experience. The idea here was to get it all out of our system. To turn it into something positive. I don’t know any other band that has been faced with the same obstacles that we’ve had to endure over the last five years. This is not just another ‘Metal‘ album. This is us pushing past a very dark and stressful time in our lives.

I wanted to do something very different with this album. We wanted to make a big move forward with our sound, and I think we achieved that.

OD – You recently completed the 25th anniversary run of shows in the UK and Ireland. I was in attendance at the Dublin show and it was very clear from the moment you hit the stage, that you truly missed that feeling of performing. Your sincerity at the end, when you thanked everyone, was touching to say the least. Did you find that tour to be somewhat emotional?

VOGG – It was a very emotional moment for me. Every show on this tour was special. There was a very spiritual feeling about all the shows on that tour. I felt that most of the people that came to see us were there out of respect for us and our career, and that is something that every artist can hopefully feel, as it’s so special.

It’s hard being in this business. You don’t really know what is gonna happen with each album cycle, and how the press or the fans will take to the new stuff. We’ve been so lucky to have had a great fan base for twenty five years, and that’s just mind-blowing for me. All the shows on that tour were packed out, it was just amazing to see. I was asking myself, night after night; “Is this really happening?“. To see all the smiling faces, it really meant so much to me.

OD – When delving into the bands back catalogue to put that tour setlist together, did you find yourself reflecting on the bands history, and did it give you any new emotions as to all you’ve achieved?

VOGG – I loved going deep into our catalogue. It was a strange, but wonderful, process going back and looking at these songs again. We were just kids when we started out and some of the songs we had not performed in almost eighteen years!

We got to fix some things on some of the tracks, which was really satisfying. We have so much more experience now, and with that, approached some of those old tracks with a new set of ears, improving certain parts that we just didn’t have the capabilities to do when we were younger musicians. Overall, it was very satisfying, to say the least.

OD – It seems that things are in a really good place for the band right now…

VOGG – Yes, we are just so happy to be able to continue doing what we love to do. The chemistry in the band right now is just incredible. Having James [Stewart, Drums] as a full-time member, and the return of Pawel [Pasek, Bass] has really transformed the energy of the band and right now we are in a very good place. In the past, the chemistry between the members has had its issues, but with this line up, I would say it has never been so healthy, and with the new album about to be released, we are all very excited and ready to move forward into the next chapter of Decapitated.

OD – In light of the events that happened to you guys in America, the realisation of all of your lives work being in jeopardy, what was running through your mind when things really became serious?

VOGG – The fact that everything could have been taken away from us in the blink of an eye became a reality. That was very scary. The whole thing was just… it was like a bad dream. That terrible experience made us look at things in a very different light. We now make sure that we make the right decisions with everything. Every single thing regarding the band. No bullshit. No mistakes. We need to be smart, and focused with every step we take going forward.

We are stronger than ever right now, and are dedicated to moving forward and doing the very best that we can.

OD – Having just completed the 25th anniversary shows, what are the chances of Decapitated coming back for another run of live shows but this time to focus on, ‘Cancer Culture’?

VOGG – Yes, we have the Despised Icon tour in the EU/UK this November [see dates below], which will see us play in about eleven countries. We just need to keep going and are interested in booking as many shows as we can. We lost a lot of time over the years, so we want to just get out and start playing as much as we can.

OD – The latest single, ‘Hello Death’ features Tatiana [Shmaylu, Jinjer vocalist]. Can you tell me how that came about and if you had her in mind for the vocals from the outset?

VOGG – So, during the writing process, I was working on ‘Hello Death’ and wanted to do something more technical and just very different to everything else on the album. I write music to drum patterns so I was looking through loads of drummer videos on YouTube for inspiration, you know… Metal, Jazz drum videos, etc. I really wanted something fresh and contemporary. I didn’t just want the same old blast beats and I don’t have the same kind of brain as Tomas Haake [Messhuggah], so, I have to search through many different styles of music to find something unusual and inspirational.

I was checking out Jinjer for the last few years and for me, they sound like Messhuggah/Opeth with a sort of European vibe, and I really love their music. Their songs are just packed with amazing riffs and I was looking at some of their videos around the time that I was working on ‘Hello Death‘ and I just thought to myself, “I wonder if Tatiana would be interested in getting involved” because I was interested in the idea of female vocals in Decapitated.

Down The Barrel Photography for www.overdrive.ie © 2022

I didn’t want her to scream or use guttural vocals, which I thought will piss off some people [laughing] but I really wanted to try something new.

OD – Had you met in person before working on this track together?

VOGG – We didn’t know each other but I know Daniel Kenny of Suicide Silence and asked him to ask Alex Lopez [former Suicide Silence drummer] who is her boyfriend, and he put us in touch with each other. She really liked the song and lyrics and recorded her parts, and it just worked out really great.

It was a risky move releasing it as a single but it really works and from what I’ve read online, people are really liking it. This song with Tatiana is just one experimental example on the album, and they will see that the album is just packed with so much extreme, classic Death Metal.

OD – The bands’ history is one that is a story of defeating the odds, hard work, determination, tenacity, not to mention many highs and some very terrifying lows. Has there been any discussion regarding an official biography or documentary, on the history of Decapitated?

VOGG – Yeah, I think there’s definitely a possibility for sure. I believe it will be an amazing story to tell, and could very well be a guide for what to do, and what NOT to do in certain situations. We have a huge story to tell, not to mention the bands history and the overall legacy of what we’ve already achieved. But, the other side of me says; “let’s just keep going and experience more positive things in our future“. Basically, I’m not sure if this is the right time to do a book or documentary. I feel there is so much more ahead for us, and I’d like to be able to encapsulate everything if we were to release something like that.

OD – Your involvement in Machine Head is another feather in your cap. Will you be touring with them when they go out with Amon Amarth this Autumn?

VOGG – Yes, I’ll be with Machine Head and I can’t wait for that. It’s gonna be a huge tour.

OD – In light of everything that you have experienced in your career, what are you most proud of?

VOGG – I’m just so happy to be able to do what I’m doing. I have an amazing band and great friends. This new album is huge for us and personally for me, it’s a big accomplishment, considering all that’s happened to us over the last five years.

Cancer Culture‘ will be released this coming Friday [May 27th] via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy here.

Oran O’Beirne

www.overdrive.ie 2022. All Rights Reserved