Photo Credit: Bobby Bates
New Jersey Rockers, VEXES, are in the midst of an exciting time as the the guys have just released their new album, ‘Ancient Geometry’. Rather than cater to one genre, VEXES have combined a variety of expertise and experience to bring to life a mixture of Alternative-Metal and Experimental Post-Rock musical bliss. I caught up with Guitarist, John Klagholz, to discuss the release of ‘Ancient Geometry’, his dream three-day music festival headliners, tattoos and more.
Congrats on the release of ‘Ancient Geometry’. Tell us about the creative and recording process this time around and what you enjoyed most.
Thank you very much!! The creative process for me at least was extremely relaxed and casual. Since we recorded, engineered and mixed the record ourselves, it offered ample amounts of time to be able to nail down exactly what we were going for with respect to tones, song structures, etc. Sometimes being in that type of setting, it becomes difficult to actually say “when” and be decisive enough to call a song and the overall record complete, but we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out, and we hope everyone shares that view with us.
Who did you guys collaborate and work with for the visuals behind the album?
The visuals were the product of an artist from Oklahoma named Andrew Herndon. He specializes in the digital art realm, and we found him on a creative, collaborative site called Behance. We were all blown away by his creations, and he had a series of images specifically that we loved, so we were able to work with him on getting those for the record. We wanted something that would stand out from the typical album art we had seen in recent years, and were looking for something that would be instantly recognizable. Again, we couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.
What is one of the challenges that you encountered within recording this album that in turn served as a learning lesson in hindsight?
The only “challenge” we encountered was knowing when to say when, from a writing or a producing standpoint. When you have unlimited time in which to work on a project, sometimes you can get a little too far down the “rabbit hole” and not realize when to call a composition “complete” I suspect it has to be much along the same lines as being a tattoo artist, you have to just “know” when a piece is complete and when to move on. Otherwise the recording process was a pleasure. We love being in the studio and we can’t wait until we have enough material to head back in and record the follow up to ‘Ancient Geometry’!
Any upcoming tour or festival appearance plans that you can fill us in about?!
Nothing planned at the moment, really. We’re kind of waiting to see what areas of the country it would be most viable for us to visit based on the response we get from people that have gotten the record and want us to come to. We’re unfortunately all in a position where it would be difficult for us to pick up and hop into a van and tour for three or four weeks straight with the families, jobs, and commitments we have at home, but we are most definitely going to make it a priority once the record gets out to as many people as possible to pick some spots to get out to.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you worked with to bring them to life.
For me personally, one of my favorite artists is Kevin LeBlanc from White Lotus in Toms River, New Jersey. I was lucky enough to be in a band with him for a while, and he is an extremely nice guy and world class tattooer. I got a (as yet unfinished) piece on my ribcage that I’m really proud of. Another one of my favorites is Lango Oliveira from Black Heart Tattoo in San Francisco. I have multiple pieces from Lango, from my collarbone to my stomach, and each piece has that “graffiti” type component that he is so well known for. I’m hoping for more pieces from him in the future as well!
Broad question. What is your perception of the current state of Metal?
Metal itself these days is a funny thing to try and quantify. Over the years there have been so many “splinter” groups for lack of a better term, or sub genres and sub sub genres that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is “metal” these days. That’s not necessarily a slight on the overall genre of Metal. In fact I think that in some ways it’s better than ever. I’m in love with bands pushing the envelope these days like The Contortionist, Norma Jean, even a “newer” band like Letters From The Colony, are prime examples of the fabric can be pulled and twisted and manipulated. Obviously things have kind of gotten diluted over the years but if you’re looking for fresh innovative acts you can always find them.
If you could choose the headliners for a three-day weekend festival, who would you choose and why?
This is a really tough question, and I’m probably going to sound a little off the reservation here, but I’m thinking what would create the most energetic show possible, based on bands I’ve seen in my lifetime. My number one would have to be Deftones, hands down. Second would be Dillinger Escape Plan, and third would have to be a band that probably not too many folks in the U.S. have heard of but they’re called Agent Fresco, from Iceland. Fantastic live band, huge degree of technicality in their songs and they are killer players. Could we get VEXES on as a 4th??
What have been the most transformative words of wisdom that you have received from a fellow musician?
Well most every pro musician I have ever encountered has basically said the same thing… practice practice, practice. While their friends were outside playing, they were inside noodling with chords or theory etc. While I didn’t particularly adhere to that advice, I did take from others the creative aspect of playing… songwriting, chord progressions, emotive-type movements in a song, melody, etc. I’ve personally always been tormented in the writing process by things that sound too typical or things that sound like someone else has already written. Of course we all have our influences, but I’m constantly in a battle with my own head over where a song could go that would make someone sit up and take notice, and someplace that’s not necessarily expected. Those bands that can achieve that sense of exploration and experimentation and still apply it to a typical song structure are the ones that I have the most respect for.
If you could exist as a cartoon character for a day, which character would you choose and why?
Wile E. Coyote! Guy continually gets his a** beat and miraculously gets back up to do it all over again… Isn’t that life, really….
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
We can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support and good wishes that we have received so far. It truly is humbling. We’ve done our best to put out a record that is representative of all of our influences but still incorporates a huge degree of originality, so hopefully everyone hears what we hear! We hope to see everyone out on the road at some point in 2018! Thanks again and we love you!!
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