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Virgin Steele

An interview with Virgin Steele creator David Defeis

Virgin Steele CD: Black Light Bacchanalia
Record Label: Steamhammer / SPV
by Tina Hall
November 2010

The heavy metal band Virgin Steele was formed in 1981. Since then they have evolved their style into what they call Barbaric Romantic Music (they added classical music with elements of mythology and fantasy). Made up of David DeFeis, Edward Pursino, Frank Gilchriest, and Josh Block they offer metal with a twist that is far from ordinary. Virgin Steele released albums from 1982-2010, the latest of which The Black Light Bacchanalia was released this year.

Maximum Ink: How does it feel to be part of a band that has been around since 1981? Did you ever think it would have lasted this long?
David DeFeis: It feels wonderful! It has been an amazing journey! I didn’t really think about things like that when we began. I had no great illusions when we started. I simply wanted to create and play music that I loved. Upon getting into the whole experience, I realized that what I was doing was not really crafting a “career”, but creating a “Way Of Life” that would sustain me, give shape and meaning to my existence, and be my guide through my time on the Earth. To make one’s Life a work of Art that was the point. That goal has been achieved. And that is still my plan for the future. To keep going, to try to always make Life worth living, to keep creative regardless of how successful or unsuccessful it all is business wise. That is meaningless. What is important is the Life, the creative process, the Work crafted. The lives touched along the way,the communication.

MI: How has the music you make changed most since the early years?
DD:  It has gotten deeper, richer and more full of all the darkness &  light that Life has to offer. I have developed my craft as a composer and a lyricist and can now capture more subtle emotions in sound…The Barbaric-Romantic Spirit is fully realized now.

MI: What led you to blend the elements of myth/fantasy and classical music with heavy metal?
DD: I grew up in a house where there was theatre, opera, classical music and rock music. It was all so exciting and I wanted to join in in some way and contribute to the excitement. I never put all those different elements into little box and compartmentalized everything. For me it was all Art and I cross pollinated everything and distilled it all into myself and made it my own.

MI: Since you do work with mythology based themes, do you have any one particular myth that appeals to you most? Why does it stand out in your mind above all others?
DD: It should be understood that I am not giving a history lesson with my lyrics. I am always talking about the here and now. Myth is simply a metaphor for Life. But anyway, I do really like the Myths concerning Dionysus and also Demeter, Persephone and Hades…Also the Tale of Atreus always remained with me…which is why I chose it for the Metal-Opera I did.

MI: Why do you think myth and fantasy have always had such a timeless appeal to them?
DD: They are timeless tales of timeless blunders we make, timeless hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows. We can easily see ourselves in them and look in that mirror and laugh or cry as the case may be, and maybe..even…change.

MI:  In 2011 the entire back catalog Noble Savage forward will be reissued. Are you excited to see that?
DD: Of course. I look forward to bringing them all out into the light of day and the dark of night. It will be a nice way for new fans to discover them and for the fans who have already been with us to receive new copies if their older copies have worn out.

MI: What one thing about you would your fans be surprised to know?
DD: I’m really not Lucifer’s son.

MI: What is a Virgin Steele live show like?
DD: It is aggressive, bombastic and full of power, mystery and the Sword Of The Gods. It is dynamic…there is the hard side and there is also the tender and romantic part of it all. It is passion and theater and it is cathartic.

MI: Where did the idea to name the band that come from?
DD: It was in the air at the time. I wanted a name that combined the heavy and the tender, the dark & the light, like Led Zeppelin or Iron Butterfly, Black Sabbath, etc. It was in the air.

MI: What do you like to do with your free time?
DD: Exercise, keep in shape, eat like a maniac, drink wine, try to learn new things. My other great passion is the female form.

MI: What projects are you currently working on?
DD: The next album, and the albums beyond that, the live show, world peace, eternal youth, my Halloween costume, the usual things.

Purchase Black Light Bacchanalia on Amazon.com
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