The Progressive Metal Haven of Vanishing Point
The Progressive Metal Haven of Vanishing Point
The mighty Vanishing Point from Australia has returned, ready to take on the world with their exhilarating melodic metal assault on the senses. Their sixth full-length album Dead Elysium is now available via AFM Records, and it’s an absolutely mesmerizing magnum opus. Highwire Daze recently interviewed guitarist Chris Porcianko to find out the story behind the amazing Dead Elysium, an introduction to the newest members of Vanishing Point, opening for Iron Maiden, an appreciation for Neal Schon of Journey and more…
Is there any overall story or concept behind the title Dead Elysium?
It is not so much a conceptual album per say. But just more or less lyrically speaking, it’s touches upon everything from anxiety and self-doubt within all of us, to world affairs to a degree. There is an old saying about heaven and hell both being earthly and what you make of it here while you have got time on Earth. And that’s hence the reason where the title Dead Elysium came from. It is also from I suppose a mental / environmental perspective. Also about reaching out at the same time too. It is really a lot of ideas thrown into one for the title and it seems to work pretty well. And it is also indicative of the times that we are in. We finished the album last year in terms of the songs, the album title, and the cover. Little did we know that three months later in Australia, we’d have all these bushfires. And then we have the pandemic and everything happening. It is crazy, but it seems to be fitting with what’s going on right now.
Select two songs and what inspired the lyrics.
Salvus is basically a double-edged sword in terms of the title, as Salvus in Latin means “saved” or “creating a safe haven.” And it is purely from a perspective of being a parent as well as just looking after your children, looking out for each other, looking after your friends. And in times of doubt or need, creating that safe haven and safe space for them. At the same time recognizing this as a little bit of instability in the world. You don’t have to change the world, but I can keep you safe. I will look after you if you need it. If you need a shoulder to cry on. If you need a compassionate word or a positive word that as a friend or colleague or parent or whatever you are there for the person and vice versa. That could be also about being there for yourself.
In terms of Count Your Days, it is a bit of a story in terms of I suppose anxiety, depression. It is also about learning the gift of perspective more or less and living with what you have, not what you want. Do with what you need, but also be humble and acknowledge and appreciate what you have right now. Because as the title says, before you know it, it could all be gone. I mean you are born one day and then you die several days later, or several years later, of course. But I mean it is also about the positive impact that maybe you provide to yourself but to the world as well. It is all about perspective more or less, man.
It has been six years since the last Vanishing Point album. How frustrating was it to wait six years to release new material?
Extremely. We started recording Dead Elysium in October 2016. In that time Silvio was in the hospital and one of the reasons which really stalled it up as well was Silvio actually had lost his voice. So, he had to go back into vocal training and vocal therapy to regain his voice. Because his doctors said to him, “Look, we don’t know if you ever going to get your singing voice back.” There was a stage when Silvio could barely talk. So, it took a long time for him to get his voice back but thankfully he has and it was a lot of rehabilitive work on his behalf. But he stuck with it and we got through it. But the other thing was also, of course, finances with the band. We pour in all our money into this. But also Silvio’s parents had both passed away. So, naturally we had to give him time and space to look after things because family comes first and foremost. So it was frustrating but at the same time too it was understandable.
Thankfully last year, Silvio really came to the front and said, “Look guys, you know, I have been working my voice. Everything is good.”. And we actually found time to get it all sorted and released. But in terms of music, there is a lot of new music that Vanishing Point has to offer in the future. Because we wrote all in that time. So that was probably I suppose in a sense our coping mechanism.
You have two new members, Gaston Chin and Damien Hall. How did they become involved? And what are their backgrounds?
Gaston was born in Malaysia and he has been in a few bands here in Melbourne in the past. Not many that I have known of, to be honest with you. There is a website here in Melbourne that I was using as a portal to find new musicians and I saw Gaston’s profile on there. He was looking for a band. And he had a video of him playing an Angra tune, a Dominici tune, and a Dream Theater tune. And it was just him playing on the bass with the music in the background and I was like, “Wow, I have to get in contact with this guy!” Because we had Adrian in the band but he left October last year. He just became a father. So it was more or less, “okay, he wanted to go”and that is understandable. He had passions somewhere else musically as well. So, while it was hard, we all made a mutual decision. Okay, it is best for him to go. And when we contacted Gaston, it was just very easy to chat with him and I sent him the set list. I sent him the Dead Elysium demo track and I said, “Okay, if you want to give it a shot, figure out this song and send me the video so I can show the guys.” And I said to him, “Look, if you have any questions about any notes or anything like that or anything you need a hand with or need help with let me know.” Sure enough two or three days later, I received a video and it was perfect. I am like, “Wow. Okay, so that was easy!” So, Gaston was in.
In regards to Damien, it was pretty much the same type of process. I found him on the Internet. We had spoken to a lot of drummers as well and we just could not find the right drummer. Some of them are fantastic drummers but just did not communicate whatsoever. Whereas, with Damien, we sent him the track and I said, “Look, get us a video back of how you are playing it and give us your interpretation of Dead Elysium as well.’ Damien sent back the video. Again, three / four days later and it was perfect. And so it was just like “Dude, you’re in the band!” It was as easy as that, to be honest with you. There was not like a crazy process around that. We were just very lucky that we have found two new guys who are really good guys, great players, and happy to have them part of the Vanishing Point family. And they are easygoing lovely guys. They really are.
What has it been like to release new music in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
That is a good question. We have actually got time to do primo press because we are not working at the moment. A lot of people have been saying it is a crazy time to release the album, but I think it’s worked out okay. We are giving people something new to listen to. And of course Vanishing Point is known as having light and dark on their albums in terms of moods and stuff like that. So, I think that it is going down pretty well with the press. The reception so far has been pretty good. In terms of releasing it amongst all the world unrest, that’s a really hard question because after a while with social media and all that, I tend to switch off. There’s just too much negativity. I am just like “Fuck I cannot deal with that shit!” This is too much. So, I would rather more less just do what I do and hope for the best and if tomorrow comes, it is a good time. It is a good day. I have been also joking on Facebook on my personal profile saying to people “Look! The sunshine is out there. Get out amongst the sun, get yourself your 15 minutes of sun because it is winter here. It will do your mood of a great favor!” instead of sitting there on the internet and going, “Oh my God, this is happening...”, and feeding the negative bullshit machines. There is no point. But I think in general just going back to the album; it’s been received relatively well, and we are very happy with that.
Has anyone in Journey heard or commented on your cover of Separate Ways?
No! I wish they did because I love Journey. But no, nobody has. No. I do not even know if they’ve heard it. But we are such big Journey fans from years way back.
How has Neal Schon influenced you if at all?
Amazing guitar player, I would definitely say yeah, he is one of the guitar players out there that has influenced me. Because as a guitar player, I am not a shredder. I’m a more of a melodic player. And purely and simply I cannot do that shreddy stuff. But I love players like Neal Schon. I love Gary Moore and stuff like that. I love melodic guitar playing and Neal Schon is an amazing guitar player. I saw Journey live when they supported Deep Purple about five years ago here in Melbourne. And I was blown away. It was like, yeah, this is it! Neal Schon was playing like a demon and I walked away happy.
What was that experience like opening for Iron Maiden? Did you get to meet and hang out with them at all?
It was an amazing experience. We were picked to support them for the shows in 2008 at Perth and two shows in Melbourne, in our hometown. So, the two shows in Melbourne we’re playing both nights to fourteen or fifteen thousand people capacity and it was amazing! Their crew, their organization, their management, everybody is fantastic. We were treated really well. We got to say hello to Steve Harris. Got to meet Nico and one of the big things for me was meeting Bruce Dickinson and he is an absolute gentleman. And I suppose it is probably a testament to the fact why they have been doing this for many, many, many years. They are just down to earth guys. They are very humble. It is a business but it is also their art. And they have a professional crew behind them. And that same professional crew looked after us for those three shows t