A Few Words With Vader's Poitr Wiwczarek

Poitr, Peter, Pumpkin/Soul-eater...

My interview with Vader’s PiotrPeterWiwczarek is timely, given Vader’s new album The Empire was released last week – though we did get caught up in discussions around stuff other than the new album. So Peter, when you write, is it for yourself or with fans in mind? He considers my question before answering in a rich accent that conjures the aristocracy of eastern Europe. “I am a fan so I’m writing for myself as well! I’m an artist so I perform; this is how I compose and express myself. This is how I put my emotions - my anger – through the music; and years ago I found that metal music is the best solution to do that. The best solution is to scream my anger – it’s pretty loud! Of course, it’s a different type of scream after thirty years but it’s still how I communicate.” A bit like primal scream therapy, eh? He laughs heartily, “Pretty much!”

So as an artist, are you concerned with how your work will be received or is it more an attitude of  ‘fuck it’ and going off to do what you want? “Well, I write the stories and the stories can be interpreted in different ways. I don’t want to be a preacher, telling people what they should do. I make pictures and I create stories – even if I know there are some real stories in the background and between the lines – it’s still a story, and imagination is the key. This is metal to me and this is how I communicate; it’s just a language I use. For instance, even if I don’t like the politics of something, it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what is happening around me. My life, and what’s happening around me, is what I’m talking about in all these stories that I’m trying to ‘show’ with the music.”

His answers are always punctuated with a deep laughter so I get the impression that despite the band’s violent nature, he’s a rather amused type of fellow. Do you find problems are a good source of inspiration? “We started in Poland in 1983, it was so very different to the Poland of today. It was absolutely crazy different, it was so different that it’s hard to explain that to the new generation. But I’m not just going to cry about how bad the situation was because our passion was so high that no problem could stop us, and that goes for in the past and today – the problems are just different. ‘Problem’ is my name so I think I should write a song about that!” Again, he laughs, adding “But if there weren’t problems in my life, I wouldn’t have anything to scream about. Of course, I don’t just focus on the problems but problems make me who I am, and the problems that I have make me active as an artists and as a musician.”

Do you see a logical progression in band’s sound/writing process from The Ultimate Incantation (1992) to The Empire (2016)? He sees it more in the nature of his understanding and his world view; “It’s natural that after all these years that you’ve survived and grown up, you know the world better, so you have way more to say about it than in the past. When I was a teenager and started Vader, I was rebellious but it was more about pure teenage rebellion; I was screaming against anything, even if I didn’t know much about it, but today I know a lot about the things which I’m screaming against – and that’s why I scream; because I know more about the problems! I’ve grown up and the music has grown up with me.” It’s apparent he still loves what he’s doing – and why wouldn’t you? Playing metal for a (possibly paltry) living but living the dream. He says as much. “I let it flow, and over the years I think I’ve become better. The music is the art but I’m not the one who may judge if it’s good enough. You should ask the fans if you want to know about how Vader is, or what Vader was. They can tell you if we’ve progressed or not. But for me, it’s a natural progression because all my abilities as a writer, as a musician – as a man – are better. The music is different though; for me, it’s more natural. I don’t want to re-discover an American continent again and again because that’s not the point. I love the language we’re using and the style; we’re like AC DC or Motorhead but in a different style. People recognise Vader because we’re Vader. If we tried to be different just for the sake of it, I don’t think we would be as popular. The people that love extreme music today are the same people that loved extreme music back in the past, that’s why they like Vader. It doesn’t matter if metal changes or evolves, there’s still the ‘soul’ of it that doesn’t change, and I believe we keep this ‘soul’ in Vader and the music.”

So in the 33 years that Vader has been going, you’ve never thought about quitting? You must get pissed off, aye? “Pissed off?! Oh yeah! But I’m really an optimistic person even though there are many people and situations around me that piss me off, and that’s why I write about them. I’ve got enough material to write the next bunch of nuclear, energetic Vader songs because of these people and situations!” He’s laughing but adds “I’m kidding!” just in case I miss his point. He continues “But I am surrounded by these problems which are the reason why I write; I put these things into the stories and the tales that I write about. The background is more serious and real but this is how I communicate them to the world.”

Blimey, we’re nearly out of time and we haven’t even touched on the new record or the upcoming European tour. For me, Vader is all about the live experience; it’s important for Peter too. “I think this is the meaning for every metal band in existence; live, playing shows. I could say that Vader is just one never-ending, extensive tour. It’s what I love and honestly for me, the next album is preparing for the next tour, and I’ve always focussed on touring and playing live; being more focussed on being on stage rather than in a recording studio. The next album is just the next album, it’s something that we do in order to create the next set-list to continue the work that we’re doing but the live show is the real meaning of Vader’s existence, and that hasn’t changed in decades.” Spoken like a true devotee. So what about a visit to Australia soon? “I really hope so. We’ve only been to Australia once and it’s about time we came back. We were very close several weeks ago because we were in Japan and Taiwan but we just couldn’t make that last jump in order to visit Australia. The current tour that commences in Europe and goes to Poland in just the beginning; I really believe that in 2017 we’re going to come to Australia because we’re definitely visiting the continents around you guys, and we really, really want to get back there.”

Now that’s something to look forward to. The Empire. Out now: Yes, you need this album