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Ready To Ascend To New Levels: An Interview With Vodun

With the rejection many of us have to the more mainstream rock and metal bands today, it's always refreshing to find a band which keeps the original flame alive, quite literally in this case. As I mentioned in my report on their show in Bristol, London based power trio Vodun are a band quite unlike any other, combining Sabbath like grooves with African rhythms and mysticism. The three piece has just released their sophomore album, "Ascend," and before their show at The Crofters Rights, I was able to sit down and talk with all three members of the band about influences, "Ascend" and more.

Diamond Oz: Straight into then, this tour is to promote your new album, "Ascend," which has only just been released, is that right?

Oya: The seventh of September, so about three weeks now.

Diamond Oz: Lovely, have you had much in the way of reviews and feedback so far?

Marassa: Quite a few reviews trickling in so far. Everything seems to be positive, everybody says it's a step up, the textures are thicker than "Possession"...

Oya: Yeah, good reviews, positive. People seem to like the dynamics of the songs and the war cry aspect of it in what we're talking about.

Diamond Oz: I'm not surprised they're liking it, I've had "Spirits Past" in my head all day!

Oya: Well we're playing it tonight so you'll soon be sick of it!

Diamond: So what seperates "Ascend" from "Possession"?

Oya: Well, we have a fantastic new guitarist named Marassa. The vibe is different this time, which brings different influences.

Diamond Oz: And in what way is the sound and influences different?

Marassa: We brought a different sound I guess, the guitars are a lot thicker and heavier. We spent a lot of time perfecting those because we have no bassist. The album is a lot more thought out too, whereas the first album is a bit more thrown together with all the different ideas and the goal of creating something new, whereas with "Ascend," the band was already created and we knew what it was doing so it was a case of pushing forward with that.

Diamond Oz: I was curious about the lack of a bassist because the sound is so powerful. How do you create such a sound without one?

Marassa: Well, I can't give too many secrets but a lot of bands are doing it these days. There's some two pieces around but the idea basically comes from Ritchie Blackmore. He used to play through different sized speakers to give different frequencies. So there's a bit of switching and magic used in between which punches the bass in and out which does a few different things.

Diamond Oz: Magic of Vodun? You're about to embark on a European tour, mostly concentrating on the west of the continent, are there any places coming up that you've not been to yet?

Oya: We're playing at a load more places in France, having only played a few shows out there before, though one of those was Hellfest which was pretty big! We're going to places we've been to before in Spain and a few new places in Italy. We struggled to get a Prague date unfortunately but we might just have a day off there.

Diamond Oz: You mentioned playing Hellfest, with the new album "Ascend" now out, do you have any festivals lined up for next year?

Oya: Well, we'd like to get more. We're speaking to agents and hitting up festivals. Ideally we'd like to do as many as possible. We did 2000 Trees this year, we did Bloodstock a few years ago, which we'd love to play again.

Diamond Oz: Going back to "Ascend", there's a guest appearance on there from Chris Georgiadis from Turbowolf on there. How did that collaboration come about?

Oya: I used to be in a band called Invasion and we would often play with Turbowolf and do the circuit with them. I did some backing vocals on their "Two Hands" album, they'd get me to come up and do "Rich Gift" with them. So when our song came up, it reminded me of the driving Turbowolf sound and we thought, "It'd be great if we could get Chris to sing on this".

Ogoun: We basically ripped Turbowolf off.

Oya: (Laughs) Yeah it's basically a Turbowolf song!

Diamond Oz: I mentioned "Spirits Past" earlier and the video is something really special. It's very high concept and interesting to look at with some very cool visuals. Was it a concept which you'd thought of or one pitched to you?

Oya: That's all down to Noomi Spook. She's amazing. She pitched to us, basically saying it was pretty much gonna be Star Wars. But with the idea of the album focusing on ancestry and learning from the past in order to move forward, she got the idea of having three different generations: One trapped, the younger coming through to help save them and the elder coming in to educate the younger generations.

Diamond Oz: You mentioned using ancestry there. I wondered if you've had any negative responses from people warning you that you're playing with something dangerous.

Oya: No, not really. Any time you name yourself after a religion you're touching on dangerous ground. People hold stuff very dear to their hearts. But it's our take on it a religion and ancestry. We do it in a way like reading a history book. This album looks more at the things we've overcome, speaking as a black woman and a person of colour, not just here but abroad and many of them have had it way worse.

Diamond Oz: There's use of West African rhythms and music, nowadays it seems to be a hook for some bands to uses influences from certain areas of the world. When you started the band did you feel it was something very true to yourselves?

Ogoun: I basically just got a bit obsessed with afro beat (laughs). Afrobeat and Latin American rhythms. It tied in well with what Oya was singing about with her ancestry and everything. I use a cow bell a lot because I tried to sell it a few years ago and the guy never came to pick it up so I thought, "Well I've got it, I might as well use it at every opportunity!"

Diamond Oz: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me, I really do appreciate it.

Vodun: No problem, it should be a good night!

You can buy Vodun's music now through their Bandcamp page or pick up a copy of "Ascend" through Cargo Records UK.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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1 Comment on "Vodun Ready To Ascend To New Levels"

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1. LeeFowler writes:

Awesome band, nice one Ozz. These guys are literally on fire right now :p

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