Thursday, October 2, 2003

Interview: Jake Vorrath of Circle of Nero

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jake Vorrath, the drummer from the Virginia-based Circle Of Nero. While our conversation ranged from beer to football, and all points between, we did spend some time discussing the band and their latest album Brutal Harvest.

[HMM] What's the band been up to the last couple of months? 
Jake Vorrath
[Jake] We are finishing up the last five songs for the Brutal Harvest CD. I have just one more drum track to finish on Sunday.

Yeah, I was wondering what the status of Brutal Harvest was. I know you guys had planned on releasing it quite awhile ago. Has a new date been set?
Well, we are trying to get a deal worked out. Hopefully Metal Blade will step up! If not, we have others that are interested.

No doubt! So what do you look for when considering a label?
We would like for a release in as many countries as possible; interviews; airplay; the usual.

Would you sacrifice, say, production freedom for worldwide distribution?
We have our own studio so worldwide would be the way to go. Hey, I wanted to tell you about some of our new songs.

Ok. Fire away.
To further CONfuse, one of our new songs has a big Black Metal influence.

Black Metal? You already have a ton of influences on the album so far...so is Gary rasping it out?
[laughs] Yes, he does a great Dani Filth. It's funny - we dig lots of music. Extreme metal has the best drumming. Very hard to do. It inspires me.

Do you think CON might evolve more in that musical direction?
Well not totally, but we might do stuff like that with our singing. I would like to hear some total Black Metal music with clearer vocals.

That's awesome. So any other new surprises?
Yeah. We have an element of everything we've ever heard! We like Heavy Metal and don't have all these genres, you know? Just HEAVY!

Cool. Too many up-and-coming bands try to stick to their influences and their music becomes formulaic. What I like about the songs on Brutal Harvest is the way you mixed in all those various elements, but every song kicked serious ass.
Thanks. We are influenced also by Life and Death. The eternal struggle.

Which can be really brutal most of the time. Is that what inspired the album title?
Well, we are not really a "brutal" band per se, but our lyrics are always dark. I think that is where the Brutal Harvest title came from. I read something that Gary wrote and said "Cool - good title".

Was it something like that for the band name too?
Oh no. I came up with the name after reading about Satanism.

Oh yeah? How is the name connected to that?
Well it's not. These fanatics here in Virginia were telling me that the Peace sign was Satanic. So I looked it up and found this Cross of Nero that was used for torture. I just changed it to Circle of Nero so we could be as heavy as a torture device or mellow like the Peace sign.

I like the symbolism.
Me too. Circle of Nero is not Good or Evil - we just are!

So what's the scene like in your area? Are you plagued by holy-rollers or are things pretty healthy?
Holy-rollers abound! [laughs] It's funny, on the day of the hurricane these Jehovah's Witnesses were knocking on my door. I couldn't believe it. Saving souls last minute.

Well, what better time to recruit than the end of the world, right?
Yup.

So do you find it tough to line up gigs?
We played at the Metal Mind Rage this past summer. Nothing booked now but we are in touch with Heavy Oder Was about next years Bang Your Head festival.

Hey, I gotta ask - Who's the babe on the cover of Massive Obliss?
Her name is Nicole. She's a model Chad got. Chad Michael Ward. He's a great artist.

So he's the guy behind your album covers?
Yeah. I want to use him on Brutal Harvest.

Did he do the artwork for the tentative cover?
No, we did that. We try to do everything.

Is that the sort of design you want to go with if Chad does the new album?
Yeah, or let him come up with something. On Massive Obliss, I had an idea of what I wanted. So maybe he could build off of this as well.

Gary McCaffrey isn't your original singer, but he's got great range. How did you hook up with him?
Century Media told me that I would need a better singer so I went on a mission looking. My girlfriend knew of him, so I checked out his band. And sure enough he was a bad ass.

How did the band get its start?
I met Koky [Flores] at a jam session of the Latin Kings! [laughs] Koky is from Peru. I went with this bass player and it was fucked up looking but we rolled in and started stompin' out some stuff and everything was cool. I thought we might get shot, or at least robbed. [laughs].

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk. Good luck with the album. Anything else you'd like to say to the readers?
Yeah. Visit us at www.circleofnero.com.

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