I am getting older and with that my memory deteriorates. And because of that it is easier to remember a short band name instead of a longer like VICIOUS HEAD SOCIETY. But I haven’t come that far yet. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
-I suppose The Vicious Head Society isn’t really a band in the traditional sense. It’s more of a project, similar to something like Ayreon where I write all the music and lyrics and then rely on other musicians to fill the gaps that I don’t have the skills for. The main purpose was for it to be a vehicle for my own musical vision.
How hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
-I think that’s a very difficult thing to do nowadays. There’s been such an explosion in music via the internet and trends seem to move very, very quickly. I believe if you are communicating something honest and genuine from your own perspective that it’ll end up being “your sound”. The chances are, it will have some resemblance to something else out there. For me, I try not to be too conscious of other stuff out there when I’m writing, I’d tend to borrow more in terms of sound and production ideas. It’s a tough line to walk though as eventually, your musical influences will find their way into your music.
I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
-The recording process is sometimes painful, especially for me. I tend to spend a lot of time searching for a particular sound, be it a guitar tone, synth sound etc and end up chopping and changing a lot haha. I’m also a perfectionist so it’s hard for me to walk away from a take that isn’t quite 100% perfect, even though that little bit of humanity can add so much more to the overall song. Releasing music is always very challenging for me. When you finally let go of something that’s very personal to you and the big bad world is going to critique it, it can be very intimidating. Thankfully, the critical reception to be debut album has been extremely positive so far.
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
-I think that’s a genuine problem, yes. I grew up in an era where listening to the entirety of an album was very important. We would pour over the liner notes, know all the lyrics and so on. Now, with it being so easy to access an enormous amount of music, I wonder if younger people have the same listening experience. Everything seems so transient. Of course, there are people that will always be very music into the album experience but I think it’s less common now. For my album, some of the songs are crucial to the narrative of it, both musical and lyrically and I don’t think they would have the same impact without being part of the whole. I think it’s very tough for bands. We’re at an age where exposure is so important but like you ask, revealing too much too soon can ruin the impact of an album release.
I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
-I wish I knew the answer to that one! haha. Again, it’s tough for artists to truly get compensated for their work. Crowdfunding seems to be gaining traction but that might only work for bands that already have a big following. I have seen some bands take to Patreon too in an effort to make a liveable wage from their art. It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of work to make an album and if there’s no return, it’s very hard to justify doing it again or even financing a tour. Perhaps in future, there’ll be less money invested in the creation aspect (programmed instruments, self produced). It’s very hard to say really, no one seems to be able to come up with a plan that’s fair for both fans and artists alike. Streaming services are great in theory but we’ve all seen the meagre amount artists are getting from enormous amounts of plays and when it comes to underground metal/prog bands that’s going to be significantly less! Don’t get me wrong, being able to call up almost any song or album in existence is an amazing thing, I have an iTunes subscription too, but I always buy music because I understand how much of a difference that can make to an artist.
What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
-Abject Tomorrow is due for release on March 24th and it has been reviewed by several places. Thankfully the critical reception has been fantastic. I think a lot of reviews have focused on the technical elements (musicianship etc) which really surprised me. At times, I felt it might not be technical enough! I suppose you can never tell how someone else will perceive your work.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-Well for me, this was a godsend when creating the album. I didn’t want to compromise the quality by using virtual instruments (some I had to use, I couldn’t afford an orchestra for instance haha) so via the internet, I was able to get in contact with some amazing musicians (Kevin Talley, Derek Sherinian, Wilmer Waarbroek, Pat Byrne, Nahuel Ramos, Nathan Pickering and Klemen Markelj) who thankfully, were gracious enough to lend me their considerable talents. I have to say, talking with Derek Sherinian and getting him to play on a track I wrote was a pretty amazing experience for me.
Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
-I think so. Even though The Vicious Head Society is a “project” and not a traditional band, I play live regularly. As, I get closer to the release of the album, it’s been great to have the support of some great online communities too. I think for me personally, music has brought a sense of validation. I’ve had my confidence struggles as a musician and will continue to do so but when someone buy your album or leaves a comment on a video you’ve made, it validates the choices and eases the sacrifices you’ve made to walk this crazy path. I think if I didn’t make the decision to pursue the project, I would have a huge amount of regret on my shoulders.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
-At present, The Vicious Head Society is not a live band. That could change in future but I definitely think that playing live is the way to go to build a following.
What plans do you have for the future?
-I have a lot of material written so if the album does reasonably well, I will end up driving myself crazy recording another over the top concept album haha. I would love to take it to the stage too but there are some hurdles to overcome with that in mind. Right now, I’m just focusing on getting this album out the door and hoping that people enjoy it.