Oct 28 2013 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favorites to request interviews. Today we set our focus on a band from Hamilton, Ontario named VARGA. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on Varga website reads:
When you’re born and bred in a city that’s nicknamed “The Hammer”, it goes without saying that you will be raised on a healthy dose of metal music. For Sabbath, it was Birmingham, UK. For Varga, that place is called Hamilton, Ontario. Canada.
The ties between Joe Varga (bass and vocals) and Dan Fila (drums) are as far reaching as grade school. But it was in their teens when they would begin receiving local recognition as a fearsome rhythm section. After adding Adam Alex (guitar) and later, Sean Williamson (guitar), the once Glendale based outfit did what all aspiring young bands do. They bought an old beat up van and hit the road playing covers on the local Ontario bar scene. It was during this dues paying time when the four realized they could make a sound all of their own. So armed with a couple of cassette releases, Varga caught the attention of the A&R department at BMG Canada and left home to tour the continent.
“It was a hybrid – we had progressive influences from Rush and heavy influences from Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and the classics Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and fused it into a progressive metal sound,” recalls Joe Varga. “It was a great experience and the songs were written well. We got to tour a lot through Canada and the States with White Zombie, we opened up for Metallica and we got a lot of roadwork. When we got to the major label, we were a little more streamlined and straight forward metal but they were good songs and we enjoyed doing it. The ‘90s were a crazy time for heavy metal – it was kind of clashing with the whole grunge thing so we just did what we wanted to do at the time. We started incorporating a little more of an industrial sound to it.”
Getting signed to the major labels and becoming regulars on MuchMusic and MTV – including a thumbs up feature from the Mike Judge animated icons “Beavis and Butthead” – seemed to secure the band’s place in the Canadian hard rock music canon but after their 1993 Prototype and 1996 Oxygen CDs, the band simply faded out of the spotlight.
The band never officially broke up, just focused on different things and still remained good friends over the years. Fila and Williamson would help form Hypodust (with Julius Butty, Terry D’Andrea, and Marko Lubarda). The members of Varga even maintained their collective talents, offering awe–inspiring album recreations (with Julius Butty on vocals) from Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. When I witnessed their version of Maiden, the question only was with this kind of talent, why hadn’t Varga continued making music?
“We just parted ways for a while and that while turned into 13 years,” explains Varga. “It’s always been on my mind to get the guys back together and go back to square one and almost re–record some of our earlier stuff – the more technical, thrashy, progressive metal. That’s where we’re at right now.
Recorded at both Six Nations’ Jukasa Studio, and Silo Studios with Julius Butty producing, a new double CD, tentatively titled Enter The Metal / Return of the Metal, should be released from Varga in 2013.
“The stuff we’re concentrating on now is that progressive heavy metal with a lot of time changes, crazy licks and crazy vocals,” smiles Varga. “Even the new stuff we’re writing is in that realm because I’ve been watching what’s going on in the world of heavy metal and, believe it or not, there’s a huge style for that music right now.
Here is what they had to say to us:
• Hey VARGA, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?
Joe Varga – Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals
Dan Fila – Drums
Adam Alex – Guitars
Sean Williamson – Guitars
- How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
Dan and I grew up together meeting at the age of 7! At that time I (Joe) was playing drums and invited Dan over to introduce him to the world of drums.. taught him his first beat!! And Wipeout of course!!
Shortly after we moved we moved away from each other and found each other again totally by random luck across the other end of the city! Thanks Mom’s!! Still both of us in public school we started a band “Golden Phoenix”, Dan now on drums and me on bass after discovering Rush and KISS I knew my instrument was bass and vocals. A few years later in High School we met Adam Alex and played in a few cover bands together crankin’ out progressive rock such as Rush, Pink Floyd, Max Webster and starting to dabble into the metal scene with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. It wasn’t until a few years later in 1989 we met Sean Willamson and started writing our own twisted original progressive metal Varga epic songs. Practicing at Dan’s mom basement 7 days a week driving her absolutely crazy with our loud complex noises, those were fun times!!
• Who are some of your musical influences?
Rush, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, Anthrax, Dio and Frank Zappa of course!!
- So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
Organized kaos, progressive thrash metal, complex rhythms and a unified force of Metal
• Why do you believe that a music fan should come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night?
Our music is fast, technical, loud, heavy and melodic – no cookie monster vocals.
• What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
“Faster than a bullet, terrifying scream, enraged and full of anger he’s half man and half machine.” – Why? So fuckin heavy that’s what!
• What does the rest of 2013 and 2014 hold for you?
Two album releases first one in 2013 and the second in 2013. Then live performances will follow and we will write new material.
• Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig.
Any of the bands listed above under our influences would be killer.
• What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for artists?
Yes it is slowly becoming the digital age but people still want physical copies of music both CD and albums are making a big comeback! …. For now! Obviously bands are more independent now creating their own product and merch. Record companies are more used for distribution and touring.
• Where can people purchase or listen to your music?
• At the end of 2012 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2012. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it?
Anthrax – Worship Music, Testament – Dark Roots of Earth and Black Sabbath – 13
• Any closing remarks for our readers?
KEEP LISTENING TO HEAVY MUSIC…IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN!
Thanks so much to VARGA. We hope that you can see them live. They are playing Hamilton’s Club Absinthe on December 7 for a CD release party. The band’s website is here and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube.
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