The melodic progmetal band Vanishing Point from Australia visited Finland for the first time last year as a support band along with Finnish Sonata Arctica for the Germans, Gamma Ray, and were welcomed in Finland with a wild crowd. I just had to be in Nosturi to see these guys live again and meet them, but as it was originally planned to do the interview there, it was just too much fun to bother the guys with questions that evening. So finally Chris answered my questions through e-mail and he sure could work as a secretary instead of a "crash test dummy" (hmm, you COULD call it that, his other work isn't far from it..) as he is so great with typing long mails ! But load yer Battery's, this will take a while to finish !
AOR-E: A must to ask. What does Vanishing Point mean and besides that does it mean something special to the band ?
Chris: Vanishing Point to us is pretty much to some of us definitive of how we work together, there are scientists who have been studying this phenomenon of when things go into a black hole they all become one in matter, this is called singularity and it is also termed as being the Vanishing Point. We all work together as one and we all contribute to the songs, so in a way this description represents how we are as a band and team. Another thing is also that Silvio once saw a painting that really caught his eye and at that time we were searching for a new band name, by suprise the painting was called Vanishing Point and so we all thought this was a cool name, so here we are.
AOR-E: What is the metal scene in Australia and how has it developed in the past 15 years or so after the eighties metal boom ?
Chris: The metal scene in Australia is getting stronger and stronger, there is a wealth of talent here and eveyone is very supportive of each other, in the last 15 or so years the scene has undergone it's ups and downs because there was always a lack of venues who wouldn't accept having heavy metal nights due to their old thinking believing that Metal bands and Metal gigs bring trouble, we also had a lot of clubs here went down due to the uprising of a Casino here in Melbourne and many clubs wanted to cash in and make their club a gambling venue, they are slowly turning full circle again and many bands are playing more and more, it is a very good sign. It is very hard for a band from Australia to get anywhere unless they sound very commercial , but the good thing is that the metalbands that we have here in Australia are all true to what they do, the truth is we have always had a great scene and in my opinion I think that it is growing and getting bigger. We have many young bands here emerging and we have many Australian Metal internet sites here who support and promote all kinds of Australian metal bands. At the end of the day, whether the band is black, progressive, gothic, death, grind, power metal, it is all metal and there are no barriers here between the styles, everyone supports each other.
AOR-E: What are the most popular metal bands in Australia now ?
Chris: We have Damaged, Pegazus, Alchemist, Frankenbok, Chalice, Destroyer666, Segression, Dungeon and ourselves Vanishing Point...there are many bands that are making inroads and they will be making a positive impact in times to come. We have a lot of great bands here and it is just a matter of time before the rest of the world hears about Australian bands.
AOR-E: Now that you've gotten a bit bigger again I was wondering is this what you want to do for the rest of your lives with all the fuss around you, where you hardly get a chance to relax anymore ? Like you've always dreamed about being a musician ?
Chris: Absolutely, I mean who would not want to do what they love doing, I love doing what I do and that is making music and playing live, travelling and meeting people, heh heh. If I didn't like being in a band and creating music with people in the band who are family to me, believe me I would not do it. I love what I do and I'll continue doing what I do. The cool thing is we get recognized here and there, but in effect it is really nice to talk with our fans and hear what they have to say, we are just normal people who are fortunate to play, record and tour with the music we play.
If I didn't listen to what our fans have to say then I would be a complete fool, they are the ones who made the possibility for us to record and tour become a reality, these are the people who send us emails saying hello and telling us how much our music means to them. I could never ignore that and I could never walk on by and act as if they do not exist, that would be selfishness and I would be stupid...the fans mean everything to us.I understand that when we played in Europe we received good reviews and as a band playing alongside Sonata Arctica who we are like brothers while supporting Gamma Ray, we made a positive impact and we were surprised ourselves truly, because everywhere we played we had many people enjoying our music regardless if they had heard our music before or not. So I think that we are getting a little more popular, but we still have a long way to go and it is really nice to be noticed and it is really nice to know that many people enjoy our music.
We always have a chance to relax, but when we do after a few days we are all restless, we are always practicing and writing. I think that the Christmas break was the longest we had in the last four years and to be honest with you, we are all going out of our minds, we are all really looking forward to getting busy again. We just really enjoy doing what we do and we all have fun being in Vanishing Point.
AOR-E: What was the reaction after your first show in Europe in Wacken 2000 from the fans and the media ?
Chris: Ok, I will try to sum this up really short, but will probably have not much luck in doing so. Wacken was and will always be the turning point in our careers, to be able to play such a festival and to be able to play alongside many of our favourite bands was truly an honour for us. The concert we played there was cool and we were noticed by some companies and media there and nevertheless it opened up the opportunity to be signed with LMP. The whole response we had with the festival was fantastic and we were over the moon to have been on the festival, because not only was it a truly great experience, it was also the start of our next step in our career as a band and as individuals. Without it we would not have been on tour in 2001 and we would not have had an opportunity to play in Europe. We love playing live and we love playing in Europe, we are always open and we want to play as much as we can in Europe, for all of us Europe is pretty much our second home now.
AOR-E: Any funny stories from the tour with Gamma Ray and Sonata Arctica, I bet there's a lot !?
Chris: Heh heh, where do I start, oh my how can I answer this without getting myself into trouble...ok let's just say that the tour was fantastic and there were many "candid camera" scenes that we all fell victim to, myself included...touring with Sonata Arctica was great, because not only are they a great band, they are also a bunch of funny guys and we all have the same quality of humour regardless of how visual, mental or how smelly it can be ( umm Tony?, Jack? heh heh ).
I must admit that their sound guy Ahti was very funny. At the start of the tour I didn't really understand his sense of humour, because it can be quite dry, but when you sit down and listen to the guy , he is a very charismatic person and I still have a giggle when I think of the things he did or said. Tony Kakko and myself got along very well and I had the guys in Sonata Arctica walking around talking in Maltese accents, so that was very funny and enjoyable...Of course they would have been laughing very hard as I was trying to learn some cool words in Finnish language, heh heh.
Of course on the tour bus everyone is never safe from those ghostly bus smells, especially when someone uses the tourbus toilet and is not meant to leave something there and it leaves an ungodly stench in the bus. Or when everyone leaves their bottles of drink on the tables and you wake up to notice that a bottle or two have fallen at the entrance of your bunkbed and everyone is looking at you, as if you are an alcoholic, heh heh. It is also very funny when your bus driver is a comedian and he has the same humour as the rest of you, that is really cool and it makes for some memorable moments like kidnapping his Playboy magazine and colouring white the black centrefold with correction fluid. Our driver Oliver loves dark females, so do we heh heh. And he wakes up to see that we have done something to his favourite model, that was pretty funny. Of course everything was in good taste..
Another thing that I learned while on this tour is to never drink so much Salmiakki. It tastes ok, but if you drink it in vast amounts you will be hungover like hell. At least you will not get a cold for a while though, heh heh, because everything inside is pretty much killed after drinking this evil black drink heh heh. No really, I enjoy Salmiakki and I am sure next time we bump into the Sonata Arctica guys we will have some more.
Gamma Ray were really cool also and as usual, the last show pranks were all there, my microphone had a condomn wrapped on it before we walked onstage. While we played Samsara at our last show at the Nosturi in Helsinki , the Sonata guys came onstage brushing their teeth and Dan from Gamma Ray jumped on his drumkit behind the curtain and started to play a different time signature all together to try to throw Jack from his time beat on the drumkit, it was very funny and I could not sing the backing vocals to the chorus without laughing. Silvio walked up onstage during Sonata's show with a sock on his c#%k and started to have a shave while he made Tony Kakko hold the mirror and poor Tony had to keep singing while holding this huge mirror. I think not only the guys in Sonata were stunned, as were Gamma Ray, the rest of us In Vanishing Point were stunned also, because we didn't think Silvio would do it and wouldn't you know it, he did it and the rest they say is history. I don't think that the Nosturi will be the same, heh...it was a great night and we have many great memories from Helsinki.
AOR-E: In Finland I talked to Danny and he said he was running around Helsinki with his shorts on (it rained snow that day and there was a helluva wind). Did he do that in other cold countries too and what kind of reaction did he get?
Chris: Oh wow, umm that's typical Danny for you, I am sure that on his wedding day he will wear shorts, because he doesn't like wearing jeans, heh heh. Yes it was weird walking around Helsinki and I think that the Finnish people were in shock as well, because when it is raining a snow-rain and it is blowing a strong wind, then you could only imagine how we felt not being in Finland ever before and experiencing this kind of cold weather. Danny has always been in short pants and even here in Melbourne when it is cold outside I have been with him in the same car on the way to rehearsal and while I am wearing gloves and trying to stay warm, Danny has the fan on blowing cold air into the car. I don't think he knows the meaning of the word cold, because when we are all freezing and shaking from the cold all he says it's "fresh" and he rubs his hands together as if he is in paradise, heh heh. When it is really hot weather here though, I know that he hates it and he just sits in an air-conditioned house, that's our Danny for you, heh heh . Danny has always gotten strange looks from people whenever he is outside in his shorts because he doesn't feel the cold like we do and people who don't know Danny must think he is crazy. I'm sure to them it is something unexpected, but to us in the band it is normal.
AOR-E: What weird personal things do other guys have, when Danny runs around with shorts in the winter time and doesn't mind the cold ?
Chris: I suppose the weirdest thing that we do as a band is clean out our rehearsal studio before we go on tour, knowing that we will not be using it for a couple of months, it would seem much better to clean it before and while we are using our studio. Jack likes to find a good bargain and he always goes to any shop sale and buys things he doesn't really want, but because it is cheap, I mean this is a guy who could really start his own company in Melbourne escorting rich people who are addicted to shopping and find the bargains for them...and himself of course.. Danny just likes to buy cd's like the rest of us and he sometimes searches for a good chinese take away restaurant, so he can find his ultimate sweet and sour chicken and he loves a good cup of tea. Tom likes to have 1 and a half hour showers when he knows that he is running late.. Joe can be nervous at times, but very rarely. Believe me that is weird, because Joe is the most relaxed person in this world and he will live past 100 years of age easy. Silvio doesn't have time for weird things, because if he has any spare time then he's usually sleeping. I like to collect press clippings, pictures, reviews, articles and other stuff about us, but I don't know where I put the stuff the next day. I am hopeless with finding things in my music room when I know that I had them in my hands ten minutes before or days before, heh heh ...we all have some weird things I suppose, but to be honest with you, this is the first time that I have really thought about anything like this.
AOR-E: Any plans for future gigs ? The Finnish fans were really excited about your show and those who had not heard you before also praised you madly !
Chris: This year we will be recording our third album and as soon as it comes out we would love to get back over to Europe. We had such a great time everywhere and especially in Finland, Helsinki, we had so much fun there and the crowd really enjoyed what we were playing which to us was very cool considering as you mentioned that hardly any people knew us until now. We will definately be back as soon as we can, we were somewhat a little sad to be leaving Finland, because not only was it our last show on the tour, it was also the same night we said bye to our close friends in Sonata Arctica. Apart from all the goodbye's it was great to play in Helsinki and the venue was very nice too. The people there looked after all of us and everywhere we went all the people we met made us feel very welcome and everyone was very nice. We want to come back to Finland and we will be there again hopefully in the not too distant future. I was very happy to hear all the good words about us, because I am also a fan of Finnish heavy metal bands, so for me it was cool to be playing on the same ground that many of the bands that I have a lot of respect for have done as well.
AOR-E: The show in Finland was a real surprise for both the band and the crowd. Hardly anyone knew your music, but you really put the crowd going ! Was it the same elsewhere ?
Chris: It was very much the same everywhere, the crowds were just really hungry and they wanted to let loose. It was very cool and the response we had everywhere was pretty much the same. The only thing that I heard from many people was why did we only play for half an hour, that was a bit of a bummer. But that's the way it goes and we have no complaints. In Barcelona, Spain, it was a special moment to have a guy waving the Australian flag for us, it was a pretty cool moment on the tour. Believe me, we were very much blown away with everyone's feedback and cheers. It was an awesome experience to play in so many beautiful parts of Europe, we will definately be there again. I am now thinking about it more and more as I answer these questions and I realize how much I miss everyone there. France was pretty cool also, because we have never had people slamdancing to our music, so that was kinda strange yet cool. I don't mind if they wanna dive or slam dance, as long as no-one gets hurt. What we noticed and experienced is that in Europe the people are really serious about their music and that is really cool. I must admit that we had great fun in Finland and we can't wait to get back.
AOR-E: I remember hearing something about you guys releasing a video later on, is it right and what can we expect to see ?
Chris: Yes, that is true and it will be released in the future. It will have our filmclips and interviews, tour stuff etc etc. We will put on there as much as we can, it will not be out for a while though, it is going to be a gradual process. I am sure that when it comes out it is going to be really cool.
AOR-E: I know you guys like Dream Theater, so I noticed on the song "Dancing With The Devil" you go really near to DT's "Space-Dye Vest" (which is one of my fave DT songs). Is that intentional or was that just a coincidence ?
Chris: Truth be known that it actually was a combination of the both. We really like Dream Theater and we are all fans of "Space-Dye Vest", so when it came to playing something in the section that the narration is on "Dancing With The Devil", I think that we made the wise choice of putting that part in, plus like yourself we all love "Space-Dye Vest" as well. I don't think that any guitar solo would have made that part of the song stand out further than how it is, because the words are very strong and very realistic, it represents what some people go through at some part in their lives.
AOR-E: As a fan of DT I know those guys have been going to music schools, so it's no wonder they can make such great songs. How much have you learned music and the theory and how long have you been playing music, since you've got a lot of the same touch in your music ?
Chris: Thank you for the compliment, that's awesome...The only people in Vanishing Point who have taken any music lessons are Silvio, Danny and myself. Although we had some training apart from Danny it does not mean that we have any knowledge of music theory. I would love to sit down one day and learn it, but so far so good, I have never used it and without sounding arrogant I don't think that I will need to. All of us in the band just play from what we feel inside and we have this motto that if it sounds good with 3 chords or 7 chords then there's no problem. It just has to sound good, that's all. We are very simple in the way we create our music, because we create the songs in our rehearsal studio together. Everyone has their part and everyone has to be happy with the end result. I admire people who can read and write music theory, but I am happy with how we do things and we don't have any problems with the way we create new songs.
AOR-E: Who wrote the lyrics to your "Tangled In Dream" cd ? I noticed they were all really sad, having almost the same mentality as Finnish metal bands have in their lyrics.
Chris: The lyrics were written by Joe, Silvio and myself. The lyrics are just an extension to our emotions and we write about what we feel, how we see things and how we learn and move on. The lyrics are written about life in general, somewhat sad yet there is always hope. I have always been a fan of melancholic lyrics, because that is what I naturally write and I would be a liar if I wrote a song that was about dragons or unrealistic stuff, because I don't know anything about dragons. And as far as being unrealistic, I cannot be because I am a realist, I see things and accept things for how they are. Some songs lyrics were written fully by Joe, some were written fully by Silvio and some were written fully be myself. The thing is that whenever Joe or myself write the lyrics to a song we always run it by Silvio so he is comfortable to sing it. He is using his voice so he has to be comfortable with how the flow of words are. We on the other hand can adjust, because we are playing instruments and not using our voices, heh. Silvio is very easy to write lyrics for because he has a great mid-range voice and he really gets into what he does. I like the way he involves himself to the words and he lives the words when he sings them. I have always liked whenever I saw a movie and you know that the actor has really put himself in the script, its like he's living it. And I like that same approach when I hear singers performing their songs with conviction and feeling, it really moves me. Passion is something that cannot be controlled and there is nothing wrong in my eyes with feeling emotion within music
AOR-E: Where do you find the ideas and inspiration to the music ?
Chris: I never look for ideas, I just have the luck that the ideas come to me and I don't force them to come. It just happens, I suppose that I am lucky that I might have an idea for a song in the most weirdest of times. I wish somewhere they could invent some kind of mind recorder for music, because I always have great ideas and music when my mind is relaxed and when I am about to go to sleep. Another this is I always come up with ideas usually late at night when everything is quiet and I don't have the telephone ringing non-stop. I find that having some quiet to concentrate is always good, because it helps you focus on the ideas that you have without any distractions. I have written lyrics while having dinner, just got out of the shower, while driving the car just about anywhere. It is strange, because inspiration can strike you at the most weirdest of times. I tend to write some really good lyrics when I am pissed off too, those lyrics tend to come easy, heh heh.
AOR-E: Can you tell me anything about the new album, do you have anything ready for it, will you continue with the same style etc ?
Chris: We have some new songs ready for the next album and we are currently writing a lot more new songs. We will be following on from where we left off with "Tangled In Dream" and we will be just doing what we do. We don't have any preconcieved ideas on how it is going to sound, but be sure, that if you enjoyed "Tangled In Dream" , then you will like the new album also. It is pretty much going to be what people expect from Vanishing Point.
AOR-E: What do you guys do on your spare time ? Chase scorpions ?
Chris: I haven't seen a scorpion in years, snakes I have seen many times, but really we are just normal guys and we all like to do our own things. Some of us like to go cd hunting and find a bargain, watch and collect movies, go fishing, watch new bands, drive and go to the beach awww.. umm, we all just do normal things.
AOR-E: Do you guys still work at other jobs ?
Chris: Yes, we all work during the day. Danny works for an employment agency, Silvio installs blinds (curtains etc), Tom is a painter, Jack is a warehouse supervisor, Joe works as a warehouse supervisor and I test drive cars for an Australian/European car company. I test drive proto-types and new cars before they are released on the market, it is fun and I have my freedom, plus they are flexible and where else apart from being a race car driver can you get paid for driving speeds up to 200 kilometers an hour, heh.
AOR-E: I know Australia's got a lot of poisonous animals, so have you gotten your share from them ? Are most of the Aussies immune ?!
Chris: I have been stung by a stingray while swimming in the beach, I have been bitten by a crab, I have been stung by the spikes on certain fish I go diving for here with my friends. I have had my fair share of "outdoor injuries", it's just a normal thing, nothing bad though really. What doesn't kill you will always make you stronger or more carefull, that's for sure.
AOR-E: You told me you once had a finnish girlfriend. So what do you know about Finland ? (A must question...)
Chris: Well it was one of those things when you meet someone and it all seems cool and then it just doesn't work out because you both have your own things to do. It's just the way it goes. What can you do, you just move on and hope the best for each other, she was pretty cool and we are still friends. I have a distant Aunty that was born in Finland, I know that Finlandia Vodka does not have to be chilled to make it smoother, it is good at room temperature heh heh. I have many favourite bands that come from Finland, I know that Salmiakki is from Finland and so is Nokia heh heh, I know how to say Kippis and Kiitos Paljon ( They mean Cheers and Thank you, though my spelling would be incorrect heh heh; [Satu: yep, you actually wrote Kimpis, Kithos Palion and Salmijaki, but now you know how they are written and can make some impact on girls != )], I know that Finland can be very cold in winter, but I know that Finnish people are very warm, friendly and I have met many Finnish people who I cannot wait to see again.
AOR-E: Anything you want to say to the fans in Europe ? Or just say..
Chris: I would like to say a big thank you to all the people who came to our shows, bought our cd, supported us, fed us and believed in us...you guys are great !!!!! We will not let you down and we will be definately back in Europe hopefully soon. I would also like to thank AOR-Europe for your support, you guys rule !!!!! Take care and stay safe.
Interview: Satu Reunanen