VARDIS is a classic NWIOBHM band. And with the rerelease of their albums from back then an interview was in place. Answers from Steve. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-I honestly never really had any idea what I was doing in the old days. Never a pre-planned direction. I think like a lot of bands Vardis got a shit deal out of the industry at that time: we had the talent and the songs to make it all the way to the top, but were unlucky with bad advice and dishonest management. Fortunately though we made music that has stayed with people and it’s humbling to be remembered the way we have. I feel life right now is better than expected.
How do you feel about the rerelease of your records? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-Yeah over the years I’ve seen a few bootleg standard reissues and quite frankly was appalled at the overall quality. It was always my intention to track down the master tapes and reforming the band just added impetus to that. They turned up at BMG and I was very pleased when Plastichead/Dissonance proposed the releases and got Tim Turan to remaster them. They have all done a great job and really care about the quality of the product. They sound as they did back in the studio, and are the only representative CD releases in my opinion.
What was it that set your sound apart from all the others back when you started?
-I remember the circuit being very diverse and strong when we started in the 70s and yet the media of the time mainly ignored heavy rock through the punk era. I suppose this was the true beginning of NWOBHM but as it coalesced into more of a subculture I was aware we didn’t fit the mould in many ways. I must admit that I did like the Sex Pistols and The Stranglers, we’ve never tried to restrain that punk energy.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Yes it is important, but I think that the best songs have more than one message and are open to interpretation. It’s exciting when a song speaks to you about how you feel and I suppose tapping into that makes music stand the test of time. I think in modern times not just me but many people are frustrated with the way the world has gone. We have been living through a very selfish period in history. I couldn’t stop those feelings coming through in the music if I tried, however I still think there is room for a laugh no matter how dark the subject matter.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-Yes I think the artwork is part of the album experience, key to the overall theme of what I try to achieve with an album. In that respect I think Red Eye and Quo Vardis have been the best. I do feel the resurrection of Vinyl is a good thing, people still value the physical object as well as the music and often own the record and the digital files so the old and the new work well together in the modern age.
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-I’ve had more success in my life than I’d ever dreamed of achieving. I’m proud to have brought joy to people with what I create and doing what I love and privileged to still be able to enjoy performing in 2017, over four decades since I started. I suppose it’s easier to gain exposure when you come out of a culture that people recognise for certain kinds of music, but no one who “breaks big” does so solely because of where they’re from. Wherever you are: do your thing because you love doing it and there should be no other reason in art. It’s up to the audience how big it gets.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-I’ve always felt very strongly that I’m in competition with no one. If you create something good then people will find it. Digital platforms are a great leveller as they give everyone a platform, but the quality is still down to the artist. Just enjoy what you do, cos Life’s a bitch and then you die
. What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-It’s important but it’s happening less and less nowadays, tribute bands seem to dominate the local circuit in the UK at the moment and young artists are less attractive to promoters to take a chance on.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-At this point Rock and Metal are part of the UK’s cultural heritage. I’ve seen far fewer barriers inside the scene too, it’s much less divided and proprietary than it was in the early years.
What does the future hold for you?
-Who knows? we have recently signed with Rock’n’Growl management to represent the band. I don’t make long term plans these days, but if I live long enough a new live Vardis album and one more studio album for sure!