Interview with: Stefan Vida and Simon Christ
By: Lara Cappelli
Right before their show at Tuska afterparty in Virgin Oil, we had the chance to talk with Stefan Vida and Simon Christ, the singer and the drummer of the Swiss band Blood Runs Deep, to get to know the band a little bit better.
Hi guys, how are you doing?
Stefan: We’re doing very good, we arrived yesterday and it’s amazing to be here! We are actually surprised that everything’s going smoothly. The last time that we played in Helsinki, our flight was cancelled and, although we managed to catch another one, then our gear got lost somewhere in Amsterdam. We almost had to cancel our show, but in the end the gear arrived about one hour before the show!
Did you have the time to check the festival?
Simon: We did, but only for couple of hours yesterday. We saw only Suidakra and Trivium because today we were in the city…
Stefan: We had to do our shopping through record stores; it’s quite a good city for that!
Can you tell us something about Blood Runs Deep? When did you start the band?
Stefan: We have been playing since we were kids but the band started in 2003 when all of us wanted to grow and get bigger as musicians. We recorded an album, “These Thoughts About Suicide” in 2009 and after our line-up was finally defined with Simon on the drums we decided to take the next step…
Simon: Yes, we decided to take the plunge out of Switzerland; we have played a lot in our country, but it’s still a very small one. We started to organize more: we got a car and started to play around in Germany, where the scene is much bigger. Only then we got connections and experiences on stage.
What stands behind the title of your album “These Thoughts About Suicide”?
Stefan: Well, we never had any problem with suicide ourselves, but I think it’s a very interesting topic; especially when you hear so many cases coming from our own country. It’s just wrong not to talk about it, you hear so much about love and God and all these “normal things”, but suicide is just as normal when you consider that people have problems.
Simon: We just tried to understand the causes, what’s the turning point and what comes after that.
Stefan: It’s all about these people who leave the world and no one really knows why: it’s like a secret, it’s very mysterious to us.
So where does the inspiration for your music come from?
Stefan: Mostly the bands that we prefer the most are Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd and older stuff and, even the Beatles. But when we recorded the album the Swiss band Celtic Frost released their album called “Monotheist” and that was a brilliant record that gave a sort of impact to our sound. In general we write music thinking about older stuff coming from 70’s. We’re not so into the new music style.
Simon: It’s there where we want to connect our music, to the past, not to the present. So it’s really hard to find another band, today, with that same sound or that did the same music. Our music is slow, it’s deep, it’s dark and it’s probably like the emotion that it should convey… it should make you sad! I mean, it should make you think about something, you should try to get what’s behind it.
Stefan: Exactly. And actually it’s much easier for me to write lyrics about this kind of topics rather than the more shallow ones. It’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s also what you get everyday from tv: somehow you always get these suicides or violence-related news so it shouldn’t be completely weird. The music is also based on quite normal things like broken love affairs, questions about God, about who we are… everyone experiences these kinds of things.
Do you feel any pressure before playing for a new audience outside Switzerland?
Simon: I think the pressure comes when you walk the stage and see the crowd, but it stays for the first song only. Oh well, I can’t say much about it because I’m the drummer and I always stay in the back so no one sees me! But I don’t really feel it like pressure; it’s more like something you look forward to!
Stefan: I don’t really feel any pressure actually. Sometimes it’s like the show is only a part of the whole thing, especially in Finland where we know so many nice people. We love the whole experience of playing these kinds of shows… Like for example, yesterday, I don’t think we thought about the show that much, we were so into the sightseeing and the shopping. We only have two days so you have to pack in everything, there’s no time for pressure!
Simon: But that’s how we live it. We can’t do anything but giving our best. Some people will like it and some won’t, that’s just how it goes.
How do you find the balance between the frequent shifts of mood in your music?
Simon: I think that’s the reason why you make music, why should I record an album where every song sounds the same? Every song should bring an emotion, but why not make everyone of them bring a wide range of emotions all together, through different sounds?
Stefan: Another thing is that we are inspired by music like Celtic Frost and Pink Floyd, so it’s quite a big range of music. We also as musicians have different tastes, I like it slow and Simon likes it fast, for example. But I really love it, I love the way you get aggressive and then you ease down with those dark parts. In the end we are always the same musicians playing the same instruments and the same kind of music, which stays on the metal side. It’s just the emotions that change.
What’s the biggest difference in the band since it was started?
Stefan: We have played nearly in every basement in 2003 and in every bar that gave us the chance to grow somehow, but for a long time we stayed quite in our environment. Now we want to share our music and grow with it.
Simon: For the members it’s been like growing together. Now the band has a fundamental place in your life, it’s not anymore about the fun of it. It’s like a girlfriend!
Stefan: First it was really only about the fun of it. Now it’s so much more; the meaning of this music and this band has changed our lives.
Simon: We understood the meaning of sharing what we do with the others, which has grown to become the ultimate reason why we make music, or at least why I make it. Composing something, sharing it and seeing how it gets interpreted is amazing.
Is there something that you’ve learnt in these years that you think will help the band in the future?
Stefan: That there’s no money? Ahah! There are so many bands out there, so it’s hard to break through. We all had lo learn that, it’s not that you make a band and the year after you’re a rock star. There’s a possibility that you’ll never make it to the top as well and you have to accept it.
Simon: But once we took it seriously we did learn to help each other, to look around and invest money carefully. People don’t buy cd’s anymore, and that has grown so much in the latest years that you just have to adapt to it, what can you do? So that pushed us even more to get on tour because that’s really the only source to get some experience and money to invest on the band.
What’s the thing you’re most proud of?
M: Yes, we made this tour with A Pale Horse Named Death, the new band of Keith Caputo of Life of Agony and Sal Abruscato of Type O’ Negative and that was so great.
Simon: The tour we did in January and February was maybe our highest achievement. It was so great to play all those shows and get some good response both from the audience and the media, we didn’t expect that. That was really a big achievement not only for the band but for us as persons too. Ten years before that we bought cd’s of those two bands and then we went five weeks on tour with them!
How did you get Simone Vollenweider to sing in the album?
Stefan: We knew some guys from Celtic Frost, Martin and Franco, and they used to have a very cool bar in Zurich. I think we have been there every weekend and it came from there because once I met Simone in the bar and I just asked her to make a collaboration. I expected her to say she was too busy or something like that, but she said yes instead. She has a fantastic voice so it’s really nice to have her in the title track.
What are the future summer plans for the band?
Simon: We’re definitely going to work on our new record, which is hopefully going to be released in the end of 2012. But tonight is our last step until November, when we will have another tour, so we will be working a lot in the meanwhile.
Stefan: We have to work a lot indeed. We need some money to take care of the band so we can’t loose time. Especially now that we have some time off of work, we can concentrate more on the writing process. We don’t get that much inspiration when you are on the road, or at least it goes like that for us. There’s never enough time, but when you are in your practice room, then the inspirations comes back, so it’s there that we’re leading to now.
Simon: We don’t know how to compose while touring, not yet. Mostly we need some more relax to write a song, but we never really want to think about that too much either because the song will come by itself. But yes, for now our priority is to write music and, just to go back at the question about pressure, we might feel no pressure for playing live, but composing… now that’s a pressure!