Interview with Vorph of Samael by Unholiestgoddess (4/8/05)

Vorph is calling me from Switzerland at 11:00am. At precisely 11:00am, my phone rings. I turn on my new speakerphone, grab my notes, and I'm ready to go.

Voice with an accent: May I speak with Tina?

Yes, this is Tina.

Voice: Hi Tina! This is Qwest calling to tell you about some wonderful new products and services!

Arrrrghh!!! Go away!!!

I hang up the phone which immediately rings again. I pick up the receiver this time instead of hitting the speaker button.

Voice with an accent: Tina?


Voice: Tina, hi. This is Vorph from Samael.

Oh... Hi! [LOUD CRASH - I drop the phone. My receiver cord is too short.]

Vorph: Hi...

Hi! How are you? [LOUD CRASH - I drop it again.]

Vorph: I'm good, how are you?

I'm [LOUD CRASH] good...

He pretends not to notice the series of deafening crashes. I pretend they never happened. Somehow, he doesn't hang up on me.

Unholiestgoddess: I heard that you quit smoking a few years ago.

Vorph: [laughing] Wow! Yeah, that's right!

I was wondering if you've noticed any difference in your vocal abilities since you quit.

Vorph: Uhhhhm... Not really. I mean, basically I just feel better. I have a better way of breathing, but I don't think that it made much difference with my voice really.

You don't hear any difference in the sound?

Vorph: Not personally, I don't know.

Because the vocals in "Reign of Light sound really strong, and I was wondering if it was because of that...

Vorph: Oh okay. Maybe, then [laughs]. Cool.

A lot of people try to quit and just can't do it. How were you able to quit?

Vorph: Actually, I quit when we were touring the states. That was in '99, and I don't know, it just seemed like that was the right time for me to stop. I was away from home, I had new habits, I took a book there, everything was different, so it just seemed like the perfect time for me to quit. I didn't start again when I came back, so I was fine.

It wasn't more stressful trying to quit while you were out touring?

Vorph: You would think so, but it wasn't that way really.

What do you think it was that finally motivated you enough to quit?

Vorph: Well, I had tried before. I quit for two years, and then I started again just stupidly. I thought just having one cigarette wouldn't hurt. Then, here it clicks again, and the whole process comes back to your mind, and you just feel the need to have another one, and that's how it works. So I think once you succeed in stopping, you've got to be aware that it's forever. Because it's a trick to think, well, now I've quit, I've proven to myself that I can do it. I don't need to prove it anymore, so I can have another one, you know? And that's where everything broke down. Are you trying to quit smoking?

I quit actually. But it was hard.

Vorph: Okay. And you are still clean?

Yes, I haven't smoked. I'm really glad I did it.

Vorph: Good! Cool...

You are going to Moscow at the end of this month?

Vorph: We are going to be there on the 28th of this month, yeah.

And you played there also in 1991?

Vorph: Well, that was just an extra thing. Yeah, we did play there in '91, and that was just out of nowhere. We were playing a show with Napalm Death in Poland, and we got the offer there to play in Moscow. That was just out of the blue, and we took the opportunity. We went there by train, and that was kind of hard. Everything around the show was kind of hard, but the show itself was just so much over the top that we can't wait to go back there.

That must have been awesome.

Vorph: It was great, yeah.

Do you think this trip will be the same as last time?

Vorph: No, no it won't be the same because we were playing a club with something like a 1,000 capacity, and last time we were playing a different kind of place that was a lot bigger. But at least this time we are headliners, and it's not going to be any kind of festival or anything like that.

Do you think the metal fans are any different there because, you know, they are more isolated from the metal scene? Do they seem more excited when bands play there?

Vorph: Actually, when we played then, I would say so, yeah. But now days, I can't tell really. They don't have a show every week, so I suppose they go for it a little bit more. And it's maybe a tiny bit more expensive than anywhwere else in Europe, so when people have to spend their savings to go to a show, they really want to enjoy it, you know? They don't want to miss out. So, it's not like you go there just to have a drink. They really feel very strongly.

Are you going to be touring in Europe this summer? You have festivals?

Vorph: Not exactly touring, but yeah, we do quite a few festivals.

The last time you were here in the US was 2003? I saw you here in Denver with Cathedral and SYL...

Vorph: Yeah, okay...

So it's been about two years.... Are you coming back?

Vorph: [laughs] Actually, we are looking at this very moment to have a tour there maybe this fall. I mean, September would be great, but so far we don't have a line-up or anything, so we are checking at the moment. We don't know what the opportunities will be, but definitely we are going to try to come there this fall.

Well I hope so. A lot of people want to see you here.

Vorph: Cool...

"Once we found a way to do things better...I don't see any point to try to fool people by trying to go for the easy way, you know?"
There is one thing I did want to ask you. You probably know that some of your fans are still after all this time hoping that you'll go back to your "Ceremony of Opposites" sound. Do you think that will ever happen?

Vorph: I don't think so. I don't see the point really. Once we found a way to do things better, and to my point of view it is better what we are doing nowadays, I don't see any point to try to fool people by trying to go for the easy way, you know? I always like to have a kind of challenge when we play a song, and feeling like I'm a hundred percent, and I'm not playing under my game. So I don't think we're ever going to do that.

Okay. Well I had to ask.

Vorph: [laughs]

"Reign of light" was released on your own label?

Vorph: Yeah, we released it ourselves and we sold license to "Regain" in Europe, to "Nuclear Blast" in America, and to "Musikvertreib" for Switzerland.

And you had some problems getting out from the Century Media label, but you're all done with them now, right?

Vorph: [long laugh] Yeah. Supposedly we are, yeah. I'll tell you, I mean, they still have some material that we are still dealing with them on, from 2002, that they haven't released. And, actually, we just had some discussion not long ago with some people from the label. They might want to release it some time this year, and we feel like, if they do it, it would be nice if we can kind of refresh it a little bit, because it's already three years old. And that was the discussion we had, but we didn't have any dates for the release or anything, so we just don't know. But, yeah, we are free from the contract now.

In your opinion, are things they could have done differently that would have kept you with them?

Vorph: It's hard to say, because I think we were kind of tired of being in the same routine. That was the first longtime experience we had with a label, and we really were craving to look for something else, or to look for something new. So ...I don't know. I mean, if that would had been during the hype or something, probably we would have kept with them. But it was a little bit on the side that they had some trouble, because they were moving from Europe to America, and during a little time there they were floating. Now, I've seen they are back on track, and that's good for them, but at the time it was a little bit blurry, and I'm glad we moved on.

Now that you are older and wiser...

Vorph: [laughing] Yeah sure...

Looking back on your career from the beginning, is there anything you would have done differently?

Vorph: I don't think so. Because I think every time that we've done something, we tried to do the best we were able to at the time, with what he had, and what we knew. So, you know, there is no remorse to have really. And I think one album has led us to another, and so on, and so forth. So, no, I'm fine with it. I know where we come from, and it's okay with me really.

So you don't regret anything?

Vorph: No.

What do you love most about your life now?

Vorph: [laughs] I like it. I don't know if there is something I like better than anything else. I can live the way I wanted to live, like ten years ago, so I can't complain. I'm not doing anything else besides music, so that's probably the biggest achievement so far. And we still want to push this band a little bit further, to achieve some of the goals that we have in the band. But I'm not complaining really.

What kind of things do you do for fun when you are not working?

Vorph: Uhmmmmmmmm... I just chill really, you know, reading a book, listening to music, going out to have a drink somewhere. I like to go to movies. I visit painting exhibitions from time to time. It's a really laid back time of life for me.

What kind of books do you read?

Vorph: At the moment I am reading Paul Auster, I like him a lot... "The Book of Illusions." And I read another of his a few weeks ago. And I'm reading "Being and Time" from Heidegger. But I don't know if that's the right translation because I have it in French. But, uhmmm, whatever. Hmmm.

And what is your favorite album of all time?

Vorph: I don't think I could answer that question. But, actually, I spent half my afternoon writing half a page for Back in Black from ACDC, because a French magazine was asking me kind of the same question, and I would name that one probably. I mean, it's maybe not the best ever, but this is the one I can still relate to, and since the day I bought it, to this very day, I still think it's great. It could not have been any better. So, yeah. I would name that one.

You are going to France in a couple of weeks?

Vorph: Yeah, actually, next week we play a festival. Yeah.

You're only playing festivals every couple of weeks at this point, and you have time off in between?

Vorph: Yeah. We come back home all the time. Like the festival we play next week is only six hours from here, so it's not that much travel. So we just go there, play, sleep and come back.
And then you come back here to rest here and relax.

Vorph: Definitely. I'm resting a lot. [laughs]

What is the weather like in Switzerland right now?

Vorph: It's been raining the two days before. But it's probably going to get better tomorrow, hopefully. We probably have the same climates. We're just starting the spring time, so it's getting better.

Do you have anything else you want to tell people?

Vorph: Yeah. Don't ever start smoking! [laughs]

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview.

Vorph: It was my pleasure really.

Hopefully I wlll be able to see you when you come back out here in the fall.

Vorph: Yeah. Hopefully this fall, as I mentioned. That would be nice.

Link: www.samael.info


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