feature image

Today, Teeth of the Divine will be represented by a noob who goes by the name of Averatu. That would be me. Although I’m new here, I’ve done my share of reviews and interviews for another site no one’s ever heard about, Global Domination. But enough about me, let me proceed to do what I enjoy most, which is chewing cud with metal musos.

Vex are from Texas, and if you say that to fast you could get Vex Mex. When I first received my copy of their new album Memorious, I thought “Oh-no, not another Amon Amarth clone band”. But I kept listening, and I discovered an album with a lot of depth and textures, from blasting battle anthems to fireside ballads. I predict this album will without a doubt be on my end of year top 10 list for 2013.

Eoghan ‘Owen’ McClosky is the drummer with the impressive beat separation that could make any rhythm section sound like a jackhammer, and I got to pick his brains.

Please give us the obligatory introduction to the band, where, what, why, how, which, and uh, when.

Vex was originally formed in San Angelo by Bill and Ciaran many years ago under the name F.U.K. Back then, it was sort of crust punk I guess you’d say, but I don’t want to completely trust my childhood memories cause I was still a kid the last time I would have heard them. The band spent years gigging in San Angelo, and gradually started to embrace more extreme metal influences right around the time I joined. We’ve been jamming with our current lineup for about two years now.

Lets talk about the weather. You’re in Texas. Where I live it hits 35’C, in your terms that would be the 90’s.

Yea that would be a normal warm day for us, a little low for the summer probably. in 2011, we had the worst drought on the state historical record–I wanna say it was over 100 days straight of 100+ degree weather. Really hellish. But the weather is getting really ugly everywhere recently, so I guess we’re no worse off than anywhere else is really.

Have you been compared to Amon Amarth much?

Yes, several times. That’s a comparison I enjoy hearing, because I think Amon Amarth is a great band, but it’s one I don’t really agree with. It’s hard for me to hear other groups in Vex’s music, but I know we’ve all spent a lot of time with Amon Amarth records so I’m sure that influence makes its way into the sound whether we intend it to or not.

I kinda hate when that happens, but I get sent a lot of stuff to listen to, and majority of the time the bands end up ‘sounding like’. Depending on frame of reference most people will compare. But in the case of Memorious, the approach to arrangement would be the only similarity to Amon Amarth.

Yea, I see what you mean in terms of the arrangements. I don’t mean to sound like I have a problem with people comparing us to Amon Amarth; I certainly don’t. In fact, I think it’s a pretty generous comparison. It’s just that it was never a conscious thing on our part–we never sat down and said “let’s make our arrangements kind of like Amon Amarth for this record.” But we’ve all been fans of Amon Amarth at one time or another, so their music certainly informs what we do whether we’re aware of it or not. And it’s fascinating to me to hear that kind of thing from other people–hearing about the music Vex reminds people of, hearing what bands they compare us to. As you say, everyone has a different frame of reference.

Well, I hear a bit of a Ghaal era Gorgoroth atmosphere in there as well. And both take their names from LOTR.

Yea, I guess it’s sort of the same thing with Gorgoroth. I know we used to listen to ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Incipit Satan’ a lot back in the day. But in terms of directly influencing the song arrangements and atmosphere, I think these days we probably take a lot more influence from weirder, kind of non-metal influences. Ciaran is always talking about taking songwriting and arrangement ideas from Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland,’ or Thin Lizzy or Weather Report–not in the sense of writing music that sounds like these bands but in terms of using their techniques for building tension in the music and structuring songs.

I so passionately dislike that Graceland album. I’m in South Africa, we had that album rammed down our throats because ‘Ladysmith Black Mambaso’ sang on the title track, like they invented acappella choir music or something, and it was mostly produced here. But then I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

Haha–yea I see what you mean. I guess it was different for Western audiences who felt that that music was so exotic, but it’s interesting to hear your perspective on it. Actually the other night I saw a documentary on TV about the political controversy in South Africa that followed the release of that album–that some members of the ANC felt that Simon’s going to South Africa and working with South African musicians was a violation of the UN cultural boycott.

It helped create a lot of awareness in the outside world. In the 70/80’s, South Africans traveling overseas were shocked at what was in the news about their own country, because we were kept in the dark at the time. But screw that, people should be able to express their creativity regardless of politics.

Absolutely. That was ultimately Simon’s argument in the documentary–that it’s not the role of musicians to be enlisted in political conflicts on behalf of one side or the other. He had found a group of musicians that he loved and wanted to work with, and celebrating that collaboration was above all of the petty political conflicts. That’s a viewpoint I’m inclined to agree with. In ,en though we all follow politics and have strong opinions, as a band we end up being more or less apolitical. To me, making music is so much more important that whatever petty political conflicts dominate this age or the next age or whatever else.

Would you feel obliged to deliver to the expectations of the fans?

Not in particular. I often find it kind of strange when bands put pressure on themselves to deliver music that their fans will expect or that they will find palatable, like when you hear a band say something like, “we finished our new album but it’s not what our fans expect or deserve, so we’re gonna scrap it and write something else.” I think that’s kind of a cop out in a way, because people expect of musicians that we will deliver an artistic experience that will give them an emotional reaction. The only way you can really give that to people is by expressing yourself honestly and genuinely–not by trying to tweak your music according to what you think your fans may like or dislike. It would be disingenuous of us to go out and make a typical grindcore record or a typical black metal record or whatever else, because that would mean ignoring all of our other influences outside of metal. So instead we just present our ideas in all of their weirdness and people can either take it or leave it. That’s true of any artistic medium, I think. A genius chef isn’t going to sit around and only cook food that she thinks her demographic won’t be too weirded out by. She’s going to put her whole personality into it so that it’s a complete and honest statement of her personality and her passion.

Do you feel you have enough freedom to experiment or is extreme metal a restraint?

I think as a style extreme metal provides excellent opportunities for musicians and bands to be experimental and unorthodox. It’s such an enormously diverse genre. I mean when you consider that Katatonia, Marduk, Dying Fetus, My Dying Bride and Cynic could all be considered as belonging to the metal idiom. I mean I think jazz is really the only style that’s as expansive and diverse as metal. That means that bands like us have a lot more space to get weird and explore some of our musical eccentricities without losing the emotional intensity and the immediacy that makes metal music what it is. That’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about playing in Vex. As a rule, we try to never put any constraints on ourselves stylistically. If a part feels right and doesn’t sound like shit then that part belongs in the song, no matter how metal or un-metal it might seem.

You did your first east coast tour toward the end of 2012:Which band member got fall off the stage drunk?

We were all pretty hammered in Knoxville. It was a small venue built onto someone’s house. The owners were completely accommodating and great; they promoted the hell out of the show but the weather turned shitty and there was another metal show across town so we ended up playing to three people and a dog. We had gotten into town so early in the day that we just picked up a case of the cheapest beer we could find and made a night out of it. I wanna say we ended up playing ok, but we were shit faced so who knows.

Who missed the bus/van?

Well the morning we left, we all piled into the van but didn’t do a headcount until we were already out of town. So we left behind our singer Joe and he had the whole house to himself. See, the night before he had gotten into a fight with his oldest brother Buzz so we sent him to his room–that’s why nobody saw him when we left. He tried after shave for the first time, but it hurt really bad. Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci tried to break into the house but he used his Talkboy and a bunch of contraptions and booby traps to stop them. In the end, we all reunited for Christmas. It was beautiful.

Who left their clothes behind?

As far as I know nobody, but Ciaran left a duffle bag with a bunch of stuff at our last gig in Charlotte. So if anybody finds a bag loaded with guitar gear, Irish literature and red hairs they should mail it back to us.

Do you practice the art of ‘pee bottle’. I understand Gatorade bottles are the best.

Actually I’m glad to say we never had to resort to this. Which is good, because we were all generating enough stench on our own so I can only imagine how the van would have smelled had we been pissing into bottles.

Moving on. For the next album I’d like to order more clean vocals please.

I think that’s likely to happen. We were cautious about using clean vocals for a long time, because I think it’s very hard to use clean vocals in metal in a way that doesn’t sound cornball and that hasn’t been done before. But Bill and Mike both have backgrounds in choir, and Joe has been developing his clean voice a lot, so we decided to kind of dip our toe in the water with some clean layers on a couple of tracks. We were really happy with the way they turned out, so I think we’re most likely going to explore that a lot more on the new record.

My only criticism of the new album is it’s a bit of a headphone mix.

Interesting. Do you just mean it sounds better through headphones than through speakers? I wouldn’t agree personally, but again it’s always interesting and instructive to me to hear other people’s reactions to our music and production and mixes and everything else. Overall, we wanted a mix that was kind of dirty–something that would stand apart from the super-compressed, over-produced, polished  sound that you hear on a lot of metal mixes these days. We wanted something a little more gritty and organic, like ‘Heartwork’ or ‘Blackwater Park.

It does have a nice raw almost grinding sound when it’s rolling, and I especially like how the bass and drums sit in the mix, almost enhancing each other, but the vocals sit in a bit of an odd place that is typical of a headphone mix.

Thanks. Locking in the rhythm section was something we really wanted to focus on for this record, and I’m really happy with the way the bass and drums turned out. As far as the vocals, our guitarist Mike did pretty much all the mixing. I just did some engineering here and there, so I probably wouldn’t be the best person to talk to about the vocal mixing.

I did an interview with another band from Texas where I mentioned the ‘Bible Belt’, which resulted in a rant from the guy I questioned.

Yea, religion is a huge part of the culture here. It is what it is–religion and the political influence that it has causes a lot of problems, but of course it isn’t anything like the kind of power that religious groups have in places like Israel or Saudi Arabia. Parts of Texas (particularly San Angelo, where Vex first started) tend to be extremely religious and orthodox. That certainly had an effect on me growing up, and I would guess it did for everyone else in the band too. I remember in junior high when I was first starting to question religious doctrine, feeling pressure from my friends in school not to admit that I didn’t believe in God or go to church. But I was lucky to be raised in a family that didn’t push any sort of religion onto me or my brother, so it was easier for me than it was for a lot of people. Of course Texas is also a big state; it’s a lot more complex and diverse than people outside of Texas sometimes think. For instance most of us live in Austin now, which is a lot more liberal and less religiously conservative than other parts of Texas.

What is the current plan with the album, I see you’re releasing it via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

A: Yes. Our relationship with HPGD over the years has been great. They’re a small outfit, but they really bust ass for their bands and every experience we have had with them has been great. They released our first full-length album ‘Thanatopsis’ and a vinyl split we did with Divine Eve a few years ago. So it was an easy decision to go with them again for the release of Memorious. As far as plans, the album will be officially released on February 5th. People will be able to order hard copies from HPGD’s website and digital or hard copies from our Bandcamp site, which we are in the process of putting up right now. So in the short term, we are focusing on promoting the album and playing a few gigs around Texas to help promote the release. Hopefully we will be doing another tour this summer but that is still up in the air. In the meantime, we have just started demoing some new songs for the follow up to Memorious.

Where do we go to keep up to date with the future plans for Vex?

The best place right now is our Facebook page: Or you can become an official Vex Loser by following us on Twitter: @VexLosers

We’re currently in a bull market, and the commodity of choice is metal, more specifically Vex’s new album Memorious. Release date set for February 5. Order your copy here.
Buy Buy Buy!!!


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.