A talk with
ADAM ALEX (Guitar)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
Hamilton, Ontario Canada based Varga started its quest back in 1989, two juvenile lads named Joe Varga (bass/vocals) and Dan Fila (Drums) wanted to do something with their passion called Metal, they were determined to start a band. With the help of a few other soul mates, they drove off the local neighbourhood to play some gigs, mostly consisted of cover songs.
As time passed by, these guys wanted to create a sound by their own… now 25 years later on and Varga still deliver Metal in its purest form, better to describe as a perfect blend of Progressive Power / Thrash Metal, Varga just released a new album called “Return Of The Metal”. At Metal To Infinity, we have a special connection with the Canadian Metal movement… those days during the 80s era, we had a whole lotta fun banging our heads to the sound of Sacrifice, Annihilator, Anvil, Exciter, Breaker, Infernal Majesty, Sword, Piledriver among others.
I want to say it again, a time to cherish forevermore. I must admit that this is my first encounter with Varga so lets’ find out all about these guys’ sustained musical career.
Q: Belgium greets Canada by the grace of Metal, how Varga came into being?
A: It all began at a high-school talent show, with the merger of Joe, Dan and Adam playing “ Remember Tomorrow” around a cafeteria lunch table. A couple years and many guitar players later we finally hooked up with Sean and the rest is history !!
Q: Actually you started as a cover band, right? How the setlist looked like those days?
A: Lots of Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Queensryche… mostly anything with a twin metal guitar attack.
Q: Where’s the band name comes from actually?
A: AAARGH !!! Vaaaarghaaaah .. get it !! Sounds great.
Q: How did you experienced the almighty 80s Metal scene yourselves. Like I did, going to concerts seeing awesome bands while scoring buckets of alcohol, collecting cassette tapes/vinyl… nothing in the whole damn world was more important than Metal music !
A: Yes, lots of good times. Seeing Metallica on the Ride the Lightning Tour with Cliff Burton was a definite highlight. They blew Wasp off the fucking stage. Lots of great shows, early Queensryche , Number of the Beast Tour, Slayer, the list is endless.
Q: In terms of live acts, I suppose that each performance happened as support to other bands. With which acts you’ve shared the stage with and what about the response from the crowd?
A: We’ve done lots of great gigs with some great bands over the years. Opening for Metallica, White Zombie, Anvil, Crowbar … the crowds were always great and very receptive.
Q: At one point it was decided to create your own sound, what were the ambitions those days?
A: Joe and Dan have been playing together for a long time. We basically can throw any rhythm at them and they get it done. Sean and I do the twin guitar attack but try to play individual parts within the song. We don’t hang on the same part for too long together. That was initially how we decided to approach our writing.
Q: Would it be possible to paint a picture of the period regarding from your early days of existence and, let’s say 1996. During this era, your first albums called “Multiple Wargasms”, “Prototype” and “Oxygen” were released… can you look back to a successful period or not? Give us a picture of the first 15 years of Varga in a nutshell.
A: This period was all about evolving as the band and doing what we wished . We never settled on a certain “style” but were open to trying anything. Were we successful ?? Didn’t make a bundle of cash but I don’t think we’d have traded the experience for anything …
Q: Regardless of the new album “Return Of The Metal”, do you guys have some other albums on the roster?
A: We have got loads of material waiting in the wings. Songs, parts of songs and a million more riffs to go. We look forward to putting more and more together.
Q: With the rise of Grunge music came a hard time for Heavy Metal music. Convincing fact is that Metal has won the battle, with pleasure we said goodbye to all and everything involved. Have Varga been hampered by this genre?
A: I don’t think music lovers ever had a problem, heavy toons with heavy beats are good. Doesn’t matter to the music lover. Media and Business needed to label and commentalize and I think that’s where all the confusion comes from. At the end of the day, the listener is most important.
Q: What happened the next following years within the camp of Varga? You fell of the radar for quite a while, right?
A: Honestly, it was an extended break. We went hard at it for a long time and just felt we needed some time off. We all explored different opportunities in music and life. A while back the phones started ringing and we decided to give it another go. We are glad we did.
Q: You were signed by Vargantuan Music and made a comeback with the new effort entitled “Enter The Metal”. Basically standing at the beginning of a second term, what were goals to achieve this time?
A: We decided to go back to our roots, record some new toons with the new technology and then boom… shit just started taking off again. Gigs, interviews and a great response has really stoked the fires once again.
Q: It seems all goes very well because of only one year later, you already bring out a successor by the title of “Return To Metal”, again through Vargantuan Music. A little explanation please.
A: ROTM is part two to “Enter the Metal”. The story continues… more riffs, more drums, more crushing bass. And lots and lots of hooks and parts for our fans.
Q: MTI co-editor Officer Nice’s review of your new album has already been published at THIS place. Being entirely agree with all the positive words he wrote, it’s my first contact with Varga’s way of Metal and have to admit that “Return Of The Metal” took me by surprise as well. Strong compositions delivered by skilled to the teeth, aging soldiers of steel… loaded with six songs, a brilliant album that should be given a global attention. Kick ass blend of ProgPower, Heavy and Thrash Metal to me, are you agree wit that?
A: Thanks so much for the kind words. I think Officer Nice hit the nail on the head with his review. “Global attention”, I like that, we’ll keep pushing, and thanks to people like Stefan and MTI we are getting more and more fans each day.
Q: Released through Vargantuan Music, your own label or what? Who’s in charge to run the company?
A: This time around it is all us. We are doing what we love on our terms. We have a great support staff including our manager Todd Farhood and some super loyal fans who are trying to crash the internet with more and more Varga stuff .
Q: The album has been recorded in memory of fallen heroes of Metal like Cliff Burton, Dimebag Darrell, RJ Dio, Jeff Henneman among others which is a heartfelt gesture of appreciation. What these legendary people means to you guys?
A: They are all legends, all inspirational, all masters of their craft… and unfortunately all gone.
Q: Who’s the songwriter in the band, what’s the name of the man in charge for the great production, how the whole recording process passed by?
A: We co write pretty much everything. The man who was behind the sound is Julius Butty . a great friend and great Canadian producer (look him up, check him out... he is a beast on the board).
Q: The average running time of the tracks is about six minutes which is quite long. You have to be musically strong enough to hold a lengthy song attractive for the listener. Listening to the entire effort, my attention was not distracted by weak moments. Based on that, I can only say that “Return Of The Metal” sounds darn good! Would guide us through the lyrical content of some of the songs?
A: When it comes to lyrics, we try to take the Rush approach with each song being its own entity and telling its own story.
Three Section Staff: an homage to a Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movie “Master Killer”
After life comes: trying to figure out what the fuck this life is all about.
Disfigured Gargoyle: Satanic Beast enslaving humanity for the final Satantic Mutant War !!
Evil Drifters: a story about history’s bad dudes.
Money Talks: Greed, corruption and the love of power .
Far East Super Slaughter: hope and new ideas crushed by an oppressive regime.
Q: Will there be a European distribution of the album? Otherwise, give up an address where to order this cut.
A: We are currently being sold in some stores in the UK, and we are trying to work on a Continental deal. Other than that , the best place to get to know us is at the Varga Store at www.vargahq.com
Q: According to your own opinion, what’s the strongest album up to date for Varga?
A: I’m pretty happy with all of our recordings, but in my opinion, “Enter and Return” are both pretty fucking cool records.
Q: What about the feedback from press/ media outside the Ontario regions?
A: The response to the recordings has been great. It’s been awesome having older fans rediscovering us, but on the other hand, being seen as a brand new band again and having newer and younger people getting into the music has been phenomenal.
Q: Okay guys, due to running outta questions, the time has come to leave I guess. Before sending down the curtain on this interview, I’d like to ask one more question… what’s on the map to realize with the eye on the future?
A: The future is for us to just keep on rocking. As long as we keep up the chops we will continue to fire up the metal and try to bring it to the Metal Masses .
Q: Some last remarks? Thanks for the time and long time faith in Metal !
A: Thank you so much Stefan and everyone at MTI for supporting Varga !! We are hoping to get over to Europe to do some playing and meet all the new fans from Belgium. Lots of beers, metal and good times in the future. Cheers everyone… ROCK THE FUCK ON !! I’m outta here - Adam.