When Void Vator lead singer Lucas Kanopa sings “break down the walls” on “No Return,” a cut from the band’s new EP Dehumanized, he’s speaking metaphorically. But the LA-based hard rock band has just embarked on their Southwest Express Tour to promote the EP, and fans and venues from Nevada to Texas are hereby warned; they’re going to blow the roof off the place!
Dehumanized holds five no-nonsense hard rocking yet melodic cuts, filled with shrieking and shredding guitar from Kanopa and lead ax man Erik Kluiber, and anchored by a pummeling rhythm section consisting of drummer German Moura and newest group member, bassist Sam Harman. In advance of their tour, we spoke with Kanopa, Moura and Kluiber by email to find out a bit about the making of Dehumanized and what else makes these rockers tick. Their commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com
AXS: The latest Void Vator release, Dehumanized, was produced by Ulrich Wild, who has worked with White Zombie, Pantera, Deftones and Slipknot just to name a few. Can you relate a favorite moment from being in the studio with him, and what was the main thing you learned from the experience?
Lucas Kanopa: Ulrich rules! After our last session he gave me a 1lb bag of Skittles. Anything can happen in the Wilderness (Ulrich’s Studio); there are no rules. One time I was doing a session with him for another artist and I started playing with his cat which led to a pretty bad allergic reaction. Ulrich gave me some medicine and I ended up passing out, so they would wake me up whenever I had to do takes. What you learn from the experience is the confirmation of the fact that recording sessions need to be fun and have a flow that makes sense with the type of work you are doing and the results you are trying to achieve. We don’t track each section a thousand times separately trying to achieve the cleanest take possible. We play the song all the way through somewhere between five and 10 times and we go home. I love that approach. Otherwise the recording process feels like a chore. You gotta keep in mind that the overall vibe of the recording session makes its way into the music. So if you wanna end up with a fun and energetic piece of music, you can’t have a contrived and repetitive session. Ulrich knows this better than anybody.
AXS: Tell us a little bit about the making of the video for “No Return.” You have to have a good eye to catch it, but there’s one quick moment where the band members switch instruments, at least for the sake of the visual.
German Moura: The coolest thing about making this video was having to perform the song at half tempo to later have it sped up in editing to its normal tempo. This gave our movements a more eerie, demonic look. We had no idea how it all would turn out, we were just blindly following along the director’s vision. I remember us being hesitant to the idea of switching the instruments for some shots but it ended up being some pretty funny shots. I have worked together with my wife, Janilee Svardstal, in the making of all three of Void Vator’s music videos. However, this video was all her own vision and direction. It turned out really cool.
Another interesting fact about this video is that all the snowy and gray shots of the video were actually shot in Gothenburg, Sweden, during sub-freezing winter time. It was so cold the camera kept freezing up. Janilee wanted the video for “No Return” to represent the disorganized mind. The band members switching instruments symbolizes trying to be someone you’re not, and the overall idea is that you can get so deeply entangled in your own mind that you may eventually meet a point of “no return.” All in all, the video has a dark comedy feel to it. Pay attention to the details. You won’t notice all the cool little things happening by just watching it once. In fact, the more you watch it, the more entertaining it gets.
AXS: How has having Sam in the band affected Void Vator’s overall sound?
LK: We have never sounded this good. Sam’s style is exactly what this band needed. A lot of times when the guitars and drums aren’t doing much he would instinctively throw in some melodic bass lines that give that part the hook that it was lacking. Having Sam in the band has made the creative process a lot faster because he is as fast as we all are as far as learning new material on the spot is concerned. That was our main issue with our previous bassists. They weren’t able to keep up with German, Erik and I. So now we can come up with entire songs during a rehearsal in a very effortless way. Not only that, but he also has a very peculiar bass sound that contributes to the overall sound of the band.
AXS: Your Southwest Express Tour hits mostly big cities but you also have a stop in Bisbee, Arizona, an off-the-beaten-track funky and hip little city. Have you come over from LA to play Bisbee before, or how did you get hooked up with a show there?
Erik Kluiber: Yes, I even have a poster from a previous show I played in Bisbee taped up in my apartment from Fri. Dec. 13th, 2013, back when I was in Gypsyhawk. I remember getting to Bisbee early after visiting a Walmart right on the border of Mexico. Bisbee was insanely tripped out. It was like a big circular road going around a hill with all these colorful Dr. Seuss looking homes and structures stacked side by side. Before the show we walked around town and there was a guy with a big inverted cross or pentagram tattooed on his forehead playing pool at a nearby club with a classic rock cover band playing The Allman Brothers or something. I was kind of shocked as Bisbee seemed very well off and high on the economic food chain, yet there seemed to be a lot of pirate-type wild people who either lived in or frequented the city.
Gypsyhawk played an energetic show that evening with Fuzz Evil at the Stock Exchange. This time Void Vator is coming to town and we’re playing with Powered Wig Machine featuring Joseph Rudell at The Quarry on Fri. July 20th. Joseph set up both shows. After the Gypsyhawk show we partied our asses off, and the venue generously let us sleep in these 5-star hotel rooms upstairs. The vibe was regal, yet sinister with some cool occult type decorations sprinkled about that reminded me of “American Horror Story.” The hotshots in Hollywood should shoot a season of that show there, if that building and that show are still a thing. I had Tantric sex with a lady I met that night, and while it’s all a bit of a blur, I still remember to this day what a nice room it was!
The next morning we were all in a stellar mood loading our gear out of the club when an older woman pulled up and yelled at us for “blocking” her way, told us off, and then drove around us through the narrow street behind the club. We were a bit miffed, but held our tongues because for some reason, we thought she was the venue owner. She sure seemed very important. Perhaps she was just a pissed off older lady mad at us for having long hair and being happy. Either way, it was perfect and we drove off into the horizon, onto the next town.
AXS: What else will Void Vator be up to this year after the tour is completed?
LK: We’ve been working on new material since the beginning of the year and we just got done recording three new songs with Ulrich. We’re planning on picking one of those three and releasing it as a single along with a music video when we come back from tour. The plan for next year is to record a full-length album. We already have about 12 songs written and demoed, but I want to demo at least eight more so we can pick maybe ten or eleven songs for the album. Basically we’re gonna be writing and doing demos until we get in the studio again next year. We still have a bunch of shows booked for the remaining months of 2018, so we are going to have to juggle that with recording new material and shooting a new music video. We like to keep ourselves busy.
Follow Void Vator and find tour dates here.