Saddening though it is to hear that a favourite band is splitting up, I've always thought it better that a band split than continue to the detriment of their creativity and - in some cases - sanity. So yes I was disappointed to hear that Reverend Bizarre's career would shortly be coming to an end, but there are already the stirrings of a baby phoenix or two in the embers (not quite ashes, not quite yet) as the band members are beginning to work on new projects. I contacted guitarist Peter Vicar to find out more...
The last few gigs to go for Reverend Bizarre. How's it feel?
Peter: Very strange, very schizophrenic if you like. The last gigs (still two more to go when writing this) have been absolutely mind blowing. The audiences have been amazing, and I think we have played our best gigs now. Perhaps the impending doom of our band is giving us more power in the final days. I for one feel quite sad as well because I was the one who wanted to go on for two more albums, but at the same time there is this massive relief too. An end of an era surely, we have been doing this band for a long time.
And one last album - how's that going?
Peter: Not going yet, we will start recording in February 2007. But we pretty much know what to do at the time, so it should be good in the end. Some of our sessions have been tormenting, but I think we have learned our lesson and can work it out this time.
What prompted the decision to end Reverend Bizarre?
Peter: Some personal problems within the band. Sometimes when a band becomes a massive burden it's better to move on to other directions and quit while we are still on the top of our game. It has been glorious, and this is truly the right way to end it.
'Slave of Satan' entered the Finnish charts at number 2. Was that a complete surprise or have you always had a strong fanbase in Finland?
Peter: It was a big surprise, and a big fuck you to commercial mainstream chart system here. 21 minutes of blasphemy on the charts, right after the Idols celebrity Antti Tuisku. Totally insane! We have a great fanbase these days, but it has not been like that for a very long time.
How does it feel to be famous? Do you get recognised in the street very often?
Peter: We are not very famous, thank Wotan. I live a completely free life outside some stupid 'publicity' circles, concentrate on my work as a researcher and being with my family. We don't get recognized that much, I am glad to say, some metalheads have come to talk at times, which is ok. I assume Albert is well-known by the younger folks at Lohja, as it's a small town.
My cats seem to find your slower material irresistible and can't stay away from the speakers when it's on. Has your music had any noticeable effect on any other animals that you know of or do my cats just have exceptionally good taste?
Peter: I guess your cat likes to have a good low frequency massage, hah hah! I don't have any pets so cannot really comment any further.
Some of your tracks are credited to Albert, others to you, and others still to both of you. Has your song-writing had changed over the years - do you write together more as a unit now for example?
Peter: Matter of fact we collaborated only in the early days. These days it's pretty much so that we bring our own songs to recording rehearsals, and then the other two comment on the lyrics, asking for clarifications and sometimes changes. Mostly we have quite ready arrangement ideas as well, so we do not jam our songs.
You recorded 1999's demo 'Slice Of Doom' in 3 days. In what ways has the recording process changed for you since then? Has it changed for the better or worse?
Peter: Nowadays we use something like 100 hours, so it has definitely changed. I'd say for the worse as the tense studio vibes are one reason to end it all. I dare to say the two others are the worst perfectionists in the world. There are times when a perfect take has been sacrificed as they have not been totally certain if it was in time. Our studio sessions have at times been like a military camp really, full of shouting and fucked up minds. But we do see the funny side as well… matter of fact there has been talks about a reality television show 'Reverends'. It would be sick and filthy let me tell you!!! For some reason I really look forward the last sessions ahead. I guess it's because we have had fucking great times together lately AND that we know it's the last chance. So everything will be on eleven.
What about production - I notice your albums are self-produced?
Peter: Yes. We have a clear vision of what we want, both in the terms of music and packaging. And we luckily have the total control over both.
The first three tracks on 'Crush The Insects' are a bit of a departure from much of your earlier material. How did that come about?
Peter: I actually do not agree with you. There is a logical continuum from our first songs to the last. And most of the material was written at the time of the first album anyway, so there is no evolution almost at all. We just decided this would be a suitable order, to put these fast songs to the beginning of the album. Crush the Insects first lifts you upwards, only to take you down again. I'd actually say there has been much more experimental stuff on Harbinger of Metal for example.
'Thulsa Doom' is only available on vinyl, and 'Crush The Insects' is available as a DLP as well as on CD. Are you a vinyl junkie yourself?
Peter: I would not call myself a junkie, but I love the format both sound-wise and because it does credit for the artwork. I am not a collector, but do get everything I can from the scene. And we look forward having everything we have done released in vinyl format in the future.
It seems a shame that much of the care that is taken over designing a product is lost by the advent of digital technology. Albert has a hand in the sleeve designs on your releases - how important is it to you to have control over the artwork and presentation of your work?
Peter: It is VERY important. Matter of fact Albert does not only have a hand in designing, he totally designs our every release, save some 7' split covers. These designs are then realized by different graphical designers under his supervision.
You're planning to start another band soon, Lord Vicar. Have you any definite ideas for how it will sound at the moment?
Peter: Yes I have, I have actually done demos for four songs already, only drums missing. It will be doom and heavy metal like it was meant to be. So those who have liked our stuff should have something to look forward when the time comes. Five of the seven songs I have written for the debut album were meant to be Reverend Bizarre songs.
And how are things going for your other band, Orne?
Peter: Nicely, I'd say. The first album, The Conjuration by the Fire, is FINALLY out from Italian label Black Widow Records. Vinyl version should follow any day now. And the first reviews have been really amazing, people seem to have understood what I was after.
Orne are a change of style from Reverend Bizarre. Could you explain a little more about it?
Peter: This band was actually formed already back in 1997, and it grew from my deep love to early progressive rock such as Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Genesis (Peter Gabriel era), Pink Floyd, etc. The band has had many members, the first album was recorded by seven people and some quests. The debut has the whole of Reverend Bizarre lineup in the central roles. The idea is to create dark progressive rock, a tribute to the music and atmosphere of early 1970s, but also to some themes dear to me such as the occult, war, history, childhood memories, and lost things in general.
Why the name change from Mesmer?
Peter: There was an awful American prog rock band called Mesmer, and two Finnish Mesmers as well. I figured I don't want my music mixed with any of those. And because we had only released one demo as Mesmer it was an easy decision.
Of everything you've done during your career to date, are there any times that are particularly memorable?
Peter: The tours abroad. I have some of the best memories of my life from different places in Europe and USA. Hails to my good friends out there!!!
Do you have a message for your fans?
Peter: Love is the law, love under Will. Try to contemplate that for a while.
Interview © December 2006 Amanda Hyne
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