Interview Logs: Val.Ium of Pist.On

Hello everybody!

We had a few days off but now we are now back into action! As you can see, we are still going through our archive and we are finding a true treasures there. This is the oldest interviews we have ever conducted! In 2002, Rita and Mal have been contacted by one of the journalists from Polish Radio Programme 3 to create a fan led music website that was to be called “The Rock Service”. Unfortunately, the project never really took off and we were left with several interviews and lots of materials.  Please read our conversation with the to incredible bass player Val.Ium. Enjoy!!

Interview with Val.Ium (ex – Pist.On)

There are not many women in metal music. Val.Ium, a bass player for New York City based band Pist.On is a notable exception. Known for her incredible skills and stage performance, Val took the male dominated music world by storm. The following interview has been conducted in April 2003 for a “Rock Service”, a fan created music website in co-operation with Polish Radio Programme 3. Sadly, the project never took off,  but the interview has been placed on PistArmy website two years later. Now updated with new information, it proves that the legacy of the band still lives on!

Part I: Life before music

Vanadian Avenue: You are one of the world’s top female bass players. What made you to pick up the bass guitar for the first time?

Val Ium: Well, I had originally learned to play the piano as a child, but, when I got into my teens, I developed an attraction to the heavy thumping beats of the bass. Once I met Henry, he wanted to switch over to the guitar, as he was originally a bass player as well, so, I just practiced my ass off so I could keep up with him.

Vanadian Avenue: You were raised in a religious family. You even attended two Catholic schools for 12 years. Do you think your childhood had any impact on your adult life?

Val Ium: Look at what a freak I am. What do you think?! 🙂

Vanadian Avenue: I know that The Cars are one of your favourite bands. Can you name your past and current favourites?

Val Ium: I grew up when MTV had just begun, so I was exposed to everything from Devo to Judas Priest and I’m thankful for that! MTV today in theUS sucks! I hear very little new bands that I really get excited over; I get more excited listening to the old metal bands; Priest, AC/DC, White Zombie, Motorhead, etc.

Val interview page 1, all rights reserved

Part II: A life in Pist.On

Vanadian Avenue: Was Pist.On your first band?

Val Ium: It was my first serious band! I played in a few others that I consider “practice” now looking back.

Vanadian Avenue: Pist.On was described by many music journalists as a cross between Metallica and Paradise Lost. True or false?

Val Ium: I never even heard or heard of Paradise Lost until we signed with their manager. I think the Metallica thing was a result of Josh Silver making Henry sings like Hetfield on that first record. They were never considered an influence though!

Vanadian Avenue: You are good friends with Type O Negative. Your first record “Number One” was produced by Josh Silver You can be also heard singing on one of their records – “October Rust”. How do you recall working with them? Are you still in touch?

Val Ium: We don’t really keep in touch at all anymore. We’ve all basically gone our separate ways in life. I sang on “In Praise of Bacchus” because I was there during the recording and I worked cheap!

Vanadian Avenue: Does Peter Steele scare you?

Val Ium: I would think that  I scare Peter much more than he could ever scare me. I’m sure he’d agree.

Vanadian Avenue: Shortly after finishing your debut album guitarist Paul Poulos and drummer Danny Jam Kavadlo left the band. Later your second drummer – Jeff McManus was told he had only six months to live plus you had numerous other problems not easy to solve. Bad luck, curse or a fatal fate?

Val interview page 2, all rights reserved

Val Ium: All three!

Vanadian Avenue: Ok, what’s the story with dropping the dot in your name for Atlantic label in the US?

Val Ium: Atlantic Records refused to release anything that “referred to bodily fluids”. We were against it from the beginning but no one ever cares what the band thinks when that much money is the issue!

Vanadian Avenue: After releasing your second album $ell.Out your band went on hiatus. Henry have satisfied himself that Pist.On wasn’t active for almost year and a half. He said, “My current [back in 2001 – Rita] situation made me attempt to disappear from the human race for the past three months”. – Can you tell what happened?

Val Ium: Allegedly he went into a deep depression, but looking back I think he just needed a little attention and knowledge that some people still cared.

Vanadian  Avenue: In statement published in January 2001 on your official web site you wrote, “We realized that we are happier being miserable together than being miserable apart and beside that we all tried to join other bands. But nobody wanted us so we are all doomed to stay together forever.” But six months later you have announced your departure from the band. Why?

Val interview page 3, all rights reserved

Val Ium: Because I was tired of trying to hold things together. Looking back I realize that it was just a selfish effort I made to keep the band going when no one else really wanted to do the work anymore. It was probably a mistake, but, if it did nothing else, it made me realize that I definitely had had enough. I regret things turned out the way they did to this day, but, it was a question of whether or not I wanted to keep my sanity. I chose to keep my sanity.

Part III: Life after the band

Vanadian Avenue: Ex bands should be remembered fondly. What was the best thing that has happened to you while being in Pist.On?

Val Ium: Without a doubt the two things I am proud of; the friends that I made whom I still keep in touch with and the places I got to see and things I got to do that very few people are lucky enough to. Meeting some big rock stars wasn’t too bad either. 🙂

Vanadian Avenue: “Val will be missed as she was my friend and my business partner for many years, but the show must go on”. These are the words of Henry. Is there a band without Val.Ium?

Val Ium: That’s a question for Henry to answer!

Vanadian Avenue: In an interview for Delirium mag, you said, “I’m pure evil … don’t come near me.” Are you still that angry?

Val Ium: No, my anger ran out when I left PistOn I think. My bitterness remains, though.

Val interview page 4, all rights reserved

Vanadian Avenue: You used to write for British edition of “Metal Hammer”. Do you plan the return of “Vanity Case”?

Val Ium: I doubt “Metal Hammer” would care to hear from me at this point!

Vanadian Avenue: What are your plans for the near future?

Val Ium: I am going to school to get a degree in textile design. (In May 2012, Val graduated with MA degree in Social work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College – Rita)

Vanadian Avenue: Is there anything nice you would like to tell your hard core Polish fans? 🙂

Val Ium: Sure. I’d like to say that I appreciate every moment that I was fortunate enough to live my life as a musician. There is nothing like it in the world and I encourage anyone who wants to do it to work hard and not give up, as long as the fire burns within you. I also say thank you to YOU for even being interested in listening to me!


Interview and layout
by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz
Pictures used with permission, all rights reserved

Important links: – Val’s official Facebook page – Val on Instagram – fan page on Facebook – a fan website dedicated to Pist.On – Wikipedia entry for the band

Thank you so much for reading!

The PDF version of this interview can be seen here:

The Issuu version can be found here:

First publication of this interview was posted on Pistarmy website several years ago and still can be seen there:

A screenshot showing the original interview at Pist.On official fan website

A screenshot showing the original interview at Pist.On official fan website

Screengrab to show our interview being featured on Pist.On official fan page

Screengrab to show our interview being featured on Pist.On official fan page

As with other interviews, please do not re-post them without our approval. It happened to us many times and we consider it stealing, even if you provide links! Please write for permission first. any questions? Rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Muchos gracias,
XXXX Rita and Mal

****Update 19/05/2017****

Screenshot from the fundraiser for Val Kaye – the campaign raised most of its funds in 6 hours and is trending!

A lot of time has passed since we updated this particular entry but now we have a good reason.
Valerie Kaye – the fearless former bass-player of NYC heavy yet melodic outfit Pist.On needs our assistance and we are more than willing to step up to the task.

Known under her stage name Val Ium, Valerie recorded and toured with Type O Negative and Marilyn Manson among many other biggest acts of the 90s. Now Val pursues a new career in a new state. However due to unfortunate circumstances she lost a car that is vital in her current situation.

It will cost a bit to get the car back – so please help out. Any donation counts.

As a thank you – here are some scans from our personal archives of metal madness featuring Val.Ium in all her glory:

Val.Ium on a feature in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium featured in Metal Hammer UK, 1997

Val.Ium on a feature in Metal Hammer Poland, 1996

Love and kisses


****Update 20/05/2017****

Val reacting last night to the fundraiser. How awesome!

You people are incredible. No seriously, you are all rock stars in your own right. What happened last night is just awesome. In just one day the goal of the fundraiser was met and currently it stands at $3,130

That means Val may recover her car and pay all the necessary fees and charges. But let`s not call it a victory yet. We strongly appeal to anyone who wishes to still contribute – do it. Help Val to assure she can safely be back on her road to build a new successful career. It ain`t easy, and if you can offer a helping hand or few bucks or RTs, we all will be grateful.

“We rise by lifting others”
-Robert Ingersoll

We promised ourselves that if the fundraiser reached $3000, we would post more images from our musical archives. So here they are:

Close up of Val from Pist.On debut album #1

Pist.On with Val on their debut album #1

Val and the boys on second album Sell Out

Val on the sleeve of Pist.On second album – Sell Out

Keep on rocking good, good people of the world


****Update 21/05/2017****

Tattude Lady website logo

The fundraiser is still going and we are now at £3275! So it is only fair to reach down to our archives again and share some more Val.Ium related goodies. Did you know that Val used to have her own official page called Tattude Lady? It is now offline but guess what – we have saved portions of it so you can get to see it.

Main page

More screens recovered from old website

Some good old sarcasm from Valerie – she is known for it.

Page debuted around 2000 – and it may look very simple by today`s standards.  However remember  that Valerie was one of the first in the business to actually have her official page. And she was to our knowledge the only bassist in metal community to maintain this side of business at that time.  It was through Tattude Lady that Val communicated her departure from Pist.On to her fans by publishing a special interview (another first in metal world!)  – you can read it below, and it makes a fantastic addiction to our own interview with Val.Ium. See, we do spoil you!

Interview p1

Interview p2

Interview p3

That was the beauty and tragedy of Pist.On – they were ahead of their time by at least a decade, both musically and business wise.

We kind of wish Tattude Lady was resurrected.  Perhaps one day it will.

All the tours that Val.Ium was on

Please continue to donate. We still have few things in the archives which we are willing to share.


Interview logs: John Bechdel

Hello world! 

Happy Ascension Day! We have been preparing for today for quite some time now! After interviewing Burton C Bell during City of Fire campaign, we thought it would be great to talk to other members of Ascension of the Watchers as well. And when John Bechdel, a true  industrial rock legend, agreed to speak to the fans, we were more than thrilled. Mal teamed up with David J Mazur, the admin of AoTW official group on Facebook and they asked him all the right questions. Please read on – this interview is all you ever wanted to know about the band but never had a chance to ask! Have fun!


Every instrument has its true master. Think about guitar and names like Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and others spring to mind. Drums? Gene Hoglan, Bill Ward, Vinnie Paul Abbott. We say bass and we mean Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler or John Deacon. Keyboards? John Bechdel is usually the first choice.  Regarded by many as one of the creators of the industrial rock genre Bechdel played for legendary groups like Ministry, Killing Joke, Prong and Fear Factory.  He is also a member of Ascension of the Watchers, False Icons and Arado. We caught up with John before the Ministry tour to speak about AoTW, ongoing projects and life in general.

Question 1: In terms of the choices of audio samples put into the songs of AoTW, what was the inspiration behind those you chose to put into such songs as Canon for my Beloved with the howling wolf, as well as the voice samples within Ascendant?

Interview page 1 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

John Bechdel: Those were Burton’s choices. He had some old records and had those particular sounds picked out. When we first started, I didn’t know I was co-writer/producer. I thought I was simply recording Burton’s solo project. I figured it would sound like Fear Factory. I was wrong on all of the above. Burton showed up for what I thought was maybe a few weeks. Turned out to be 10 years. Anyway, he showed up with a guitar. No demos, no lyrics. I set him up to record and he played some guitar. I instantly knew we weren’t making something that was going to sound anything like FF. I wasn’t sure what to think. Then he told me I was going to be co-writer/ producer. So I started listening to him play guitar and suddenly, in my head, I heard music. Beautiful melodies started coming to me. I knew I could use a lot of my vintage keyboard sounds that would blend nicely with the guitar. So, to answer your question, if there was inspiration behind the choice of those particular sounds, you’d have to ask  Burton.

Question 2: How do you view the deep impact and connection people have with AoTW? Did you expect the band to have such an impact?

John Bechdel: I didn’t know we had an impact. That’s good news. “Residual Presence” and “Moonshine” were the first songs to make me feel that we’d really captured something; however I didn’t fully grasp the depth of the music until we were out inTexas mixing. I knew then that it would be a very moving and inspirational record. I think the biggest challenge was to overcome people’s expectations. Like me, I think everyone was expecting something like Fear Factory. I think a lot of people never got beyond that to give it a chance. At first, the guitar parts may sound simple and not very interesting. But soon they begin to transform into something trance-like and take you away to the world of AotW.

Question 3: What was your main inspirations for the sounds and ambient music for AoTW?

John Bechdel: Like I said, I almost immediately heard music and began capturing it. I have a lot of wonderful keyboards and sounds that I never got to use with all the heavy bands I had been working with. Not including Killing Joke, that would be an exception. I used sounds from the Emulator, Synclavier, Fairlight, PPG as well as Moogs and ARPs. We went back to our early influences like The Cure and Joy Division.

Question 4: Where do you see the future going for AoTW?

John Bechdel: I didn’t know we had a future.Burton’s only mentioned a possible future on maybe two brief occasions. I never say never in this business. I loveBurton; I’d consider working on new AotW material.

Question 5: Will the demos for AoTW ever see the light of the day?

John Bechdel: There’s demo’s? I’m not aware of any. Like I said, he showed up with a guitar. The songs you hear include the original recordings. I never get rid of anything. I have every take. We started laying down tracks and the songs took shape. Ironically, he didn’t write the lyrics or melody lines until the music was done. He was inspired a lot by my music, and I was inspired from his guitar. We released Iconoclast which included the first songs. Those original tracks were then taken out toTexas whereBurton and Al worked with them, they changed a lot of the drum sounds but the keyboard tracks were virtually unchanged.

Question 6: In one of the interviews Burton mentioned that second album was planned as a collection of covers. Do you have any intention to stick with the plan and release it?

Interview page 2 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

John Bechdel: Well I’m not big on cover records. I enjoy a cover here and there. I may recall him mentioning that at one point. Maybe we were inspired to do it at one time. I’d have to talk to Burton about it I guess.

Question 7: There are many stories involving AoTW on the Internet. If you were to correct one about you, what would it be?

John Bechdel: I never played keyboards for Static-X. My name is sometimes affiliated with them because I did a remix for them. As far as I know, they never had a keyboard player. Koichi Fukuda did some programming and may have played some keys at one point.

Question 8: Do you recall when and where you and Burton discussed the project that became AoTW for the first time?

John Bechdel: We were on tour with FF in the summer of 2001, we had a day off in PA and we went to my house for a BBQ. Burton was enamored with the area & the vibe of my studio and said he’d like to come to record there after the tour.

Question 9: Are you still in touch with other members of the band, especially the live line up? What have they been up to?

John Bechdel: I try to keep in touch with Edu and Alex, they were out withBurton once to my studio jamming on a project called Echoes and Shadows which I really liked. Not sure what they’re doing at the moment.

Interview page 3 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

Question 10: On a different note, please give us some more details about your current projects. We know you have been busy recently not only with Arado but also with the False Icons.

John Bechdel: Arado is my most recent project with partner Steve Howard, a good friend of mine fromEngland. We met in the 80’s when we were both living in NYC. We collaborated a bit then and again when I was living with him inLondon during my time with Killing Joke. False Icons is the band that I wanted to have since the beginning. I just got caught up playing in all these bands but, have always written my own music and really needed an outlet for that, so, I stared my own band. I’m writing the follow up to the debut CD and it’s the best representation of my true musical style. That’s the cool thing about having your own band I guess, as long as you have your own ideas, and I did. I’m not just a keyboard player. I play the guitar and sing & write the lyrics. And of course, the keyboards.

Question 11: I want to also ask if your studio Music Shop has a website or anything of that sort. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see how the place where AoTW was born looks like on the inside? Do you have any photos from the period that you andBurton worked on the Iconoclast EP?

John Bechdel: I’m sure we can find a few pictures. The studio hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. I can get you some. I don’t really have an official name for it. Everyone picks their own name since I just call it the studio. Davy Jones of The Monkees recorded with me there, he called it “Bechdel’s Tipi” ’cause we had a Tipi in the yard at the time.Burton chose “Machine Shop” ’cause it used to be a woodworking shop before. Arado chose “Space Lab” ’cause I have a little sign by the mixer that says space laboratory. Ironically I originally chose the name Sound Escape which I thought was kind of clever, it had the vibe of soundscape and sound or solid escape which it truly is. No one seemed to like it, it never stuck for some reason, so pick your own name I guess. It was called Furnace Lab on a CD at least once. So, there is no website. It’s really my private studio but people approached me about recording there, eventually I said yes.

Interview page 4 with John Bechdel. Pictures used with permission

Thank you very much for answering our questions!

John Bechdel: Thank you.

You can find the PDF version of this interview here:

Interview by Malicia Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout: Malicia and Rita Dabrowicz ( by Burton C Bell and Ryan Speth (

Important links: – John’s Facebook page – Wikipedia entry – John’s Myspace account  – AoTW community page on Facebook  – Official AoTW group on Facebook – False Icons’ official Myspace profile – Arado’s official Facebook page

Thank you so much for reading! As with other interviews: no copying, no re-posting, posting, screenshots without written permission. When quoting, please post a link to AoTW group on Facebook or to this blog. We worked our assess off to make it happen so please respect our work! Any questions? Write to rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Have a great day!
And tune in soon, especially if you are a fan of New York music scene.
We have a special interview coming up!

Rita, Mal and (David J Mazur)

Online shops and t-shirt contests (with rock music in the background)

Good morning folks! 

Let’s take a short break from Interviews (we aren’t done yet!) and dedicate this entry to our favourite hobbies: online shopping and contests! After all, we cannot just talk to people all the time, can we? You have to do something else too. Variety is the spice of e-commerce as they say!

Running a promotion for a band is a dream come true to some, just like playing music is for others. You do it for the sake of it, because you have love and passion and a ton of ideas that you just can’t wait to put out there. Meeting people who can influence you or who can team up with you on a project is a bonus.

At the end of 2010, Rita and I discovered a band called Ascension of The Watchers. It is a side project of  Burton C Bell (of Fear Factory and City of Fire) and John Bechdel (of False Icons, Arado, Ministry and Killing Joke fame). Those two teamed up to create one of the most mesmerizing bands in a decade.

Picture of the AoTW tshirt, digital polaroid by Malicia Dabrowicz

There is always a thrill when we get into a new band. Research, looking for information, reading lyrics, finding references in the music is part of a charm. Or to put it simple – the more information we gather, the better. We like to know a lot. And we know our music quite well, thank you very much.

We loved AoTW from the first notes as we have a soft spot for Burton C Bell’s music (being a Fear Factory fans for seventeen years now). Soon it became our hobby to dig up articles and reviews as the band was not widely known. Well Rita and I are always up to a challenge and sometimes it just pays off in a most fantastic way.

It must have been May 2011 when Rita stumbled upon an online shop called Renegade T-shirts. Their official website can be accessed here:

Rick modeling one of the AoTW tshirts that are available in the store

It was owned by a man named Rick Ferdinande and to my delight it offered official merchandise for AoTW. I have written to him and asked for quotations. I had my answer nearly immediately and the owner of the shop assisted me with various issues that arose when placing my order (he had to reset his shop twice so a payment from Malta would be accepted, among many other things).

I have bought two t-shirts and got to know the owner a little bit better. Rick must be a chronicler for AoTW, Fear Factory and other acts. He is also a personal friend of Burton and one of the most professional sellers I have known in my life. Check his ratings, he haven’t got one bad word from his customers. And righty so.

What are ya looking at? Mal is a metal head!

I have been wearing my AoTW shirts with pride throughout the summer. By the time October arrived, Rita and I were fully integrated into promoting AoTW and Burton`s other project City of Fire, running fan groups and doing a million of other things (I will address those things in a post in the future, it is so much of it).

Few weeks before Halloween, I have contacted Rick again, this time to purchase a t shirt for a friend. He not only helped me again with the order, but knowing that the friend was going through a rocky time, he had offered an extra in the form of a signed FF gig poster to the purchase. It was a really fantastic experience. But the best thing happened one week later.

We spoil our friends, you know! Come and say hello, we have cookies and rock t-shirts too!

Rick approached me and mentioned that Burtonwas thinking of organizing a contest for AoTW fans. The contest was to design a new shirt for the band official merch and that Burton himself would judge.

Both of us were really excited to be allowed to execute the master plan. Rita had prepared the Terms and Conditions of the contest and we have uploaded it on the AoTW fan group (the community has its own poetic name – Hotel Ascension). The members of the group were then submitting their designs.

AoTW T shirt contest rules announced!

We have gathered eight designs (one of them was mine) in total and it was a really inspiring collection. The entries can be seen HERE

Voting took place in January 2012 (contest deadline being 31 December 2011) and two winners have been announced: Canadian artist David J Mazur and (to my surprise) Malicia Dabrowicz from Malta.

Amazing contest entry by David J Mazur from Canada
You can find him on Facebook:

It came a bit of a shock but it was nonetheless something extremely positive as I have never won a contest before (if you don’t count a ticket to a Mercyful Fate / King Diamond gig when I was 16 ^^) and I was the only one who actually submitted a photo for a design. A true ego booster, speaking from a perspective of an aspiring photographer and a fan of Ascension of The Watchers.

“Evading” – a winning photograph by yours truly Mal D. of Malta

The whole contest will be  remembered fondly. We have learned a ton of stuff, how to promote the event, how to encourage other artists to take part and how to believe in one’s abilities in my case. We have also learned a lesson that best things can come out brilliantly of thin air if you are working with the right people. And we consider Rick Ferdinande to fall under this category.

A bonus photo of Burton C Bell wearing one of the Renegade Tshirts.
That’s how renegade they are!

If you want to familiarize yourself with Renegade T-shirts, they are on Facebook under this address:!/pages/Renegade-T-Shirts/111375302251379

Rick Ferdinande himself can be also followed here:!/rferdinande

So long for now, we have a many rock-n-roll stories coming up your way so stay tuned.

Mal (& Rita as she always tags along)

Interview logs: Victor-Hugo Borges

Buenos días !!

Welcome again. As you can see, we are still in the Spanish mood 🙂 Yesterday, we presented Rita’s collaboration with Christian Ricardo, a popular Spanish blogger and  rock journalist. Today, we have something even more exciting! In 2011, Rita and Mal have been involved in all kinds of  music-related projects: from social media campaigns gathering funds to record an album to running  the artists’ official  pages on Facebook and Twitter. During the promotion for American rockers, Ascension Of The Watchers, we interviewed a world known artist and director Victor-Hugo Borges. All questions submitted by fans were collected by Malicia and later edited and turned into an official interview by Rita. Please read on, as  Mr. Borges took us for a truly unique journey to an animated world of cinema and dark fantasy!


If a great music is the half of the success for a rock band, then the music video must be the other. Since the beginning of MTV in the early 1980’s, the audience has been raised to believe, that every released single must be accompanied by a video clip. Video killed the radio star, remember? In the last two decades, millions of music videos have been produced; some ridiculously expensive, some boring and some simply astonishingly… bad. Luckily for our eyes, in the depths of the world wide web, we can find true masterpieces. One of them is certainly the hauntingly beautiful animation to “Residual presence” by an American band Ascension of the Watchers led by Burton C Bell (City of Fire, Fear Factory).   The video has been directed by Victor Borges. Born in 1979 in Santos he is an acclaimed Brazilian artist, director and graphic designer. He started his professional carrier in 1999 and since then his works have received more than 50 prestigious awards, have been shown on more than hundred festivals in 20 different countries. Despite being a very busy man, Victor was kind enough to answer questions from Arnaud Mittempergher, Ryan James Opsal, Sandra (Wormgir), Antonia Fraser, David J Mazur, Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz.

Question 1: Your short movie “Icarus” has been turned into a video for Ascension of the Watchers. Can you tell us how the collaboration between you and the band began?

Victor-Hugo Borges: Actually I don’t remember exactly how it began, hehe. My theory is:  I have some common friends with Burton C. Bell. They have showed him some stuff I made. ThenBurton recommended me to Angie Jourgensen, the label manager. The rest is as you already know.Burton is a really sweet guy; we’ve talked a lot about family, vacations and mundane stuff. I like to work for PEOPLE, you know. Not celebrities.

Interview page 1. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Question 2: Why did you decide to make the video to “Residual presence”? Have you heard this song before?

Victor-Hugo Borges: Burton showed me the song before it was released. He gave me freedom to choose between “Residual presence” and “Like Falling Snow”. It was easy for me to decide, as “Residual presence” has a “theme” I really like. You can also see it in some of my early works as well.

Question 3: What was your inspiration for the style of this video and how long did the animation take to complete?

Victor-Hugo Borges:  My own childhood was my inspiration. My father abandoned me and I had to create my own stories to explain his absence. The animation took about a year to be completed. At first it was a short movie. I showed it toBurtonand said: “Hey, I have just finished an animation that fits this song, if you like it, we can re-edit it into a music video”.Burton’s answer was: “Wow, let’s do it!”.

Question 4:  What type of software was used to make the video? Have you ever considered using a style similar to Kinetic Topography?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I don’t remember all software used to make this animation but certainly it included: Stop Motion Pro, Combustion, Maya, Photoshop, 3D Studio and several others. Kinetic Topography is great. Maybe someday I will try to experiment with it.

Question 5: Any other secrets on how the animation was made?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I can give you some interesting facts. All stop-motion sequences were recorded in the animator’s living room. She decided to do her job at home to give this movie her full attention. We literally had to destroy her lounge to install all lighting and the green screens. We also installed a huge generator in her kitchen, as the electric lines in the house were not powerful enough to completely light the set. Most of the movie was shot against the green screen and the backgrounds were constructed in CGI. Some backgrounds were also painted in a traditional manner. Sadly, the original movie’s narrator Gianfrancesco Guanieri, died a couple of weeks after the dialogues were recorded. He was a really well known actor in Bazil.

Interview page 2. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Question 6: What other videos have you directed?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I’ve directed a lot of stuff in the last 11 years. Some of videos are available online, some of them have teasers/trailers online. Most of them don’t need translation to be understood. My personal favorites are:

  – “Des Fantastik Sucric”, made in the late 2001, is a 2-minute take on a popular Brazilian tale. A boy wants to join the circus and surprises all with his unique talent. It was directed by Victor and animated by Claudio Nascimento. “Des Fantastik Sucric”, animation in cuts, was awarded a 2001 Mapa Cultural Paulista and received an honorary mention at the Vitória Festival

– Made in 2002 and narrated by Francisco Cuoco, “El Chateau” has been praised by critics on the CurtaSantos Festival and was named the Best Animation of 2002 by Academia Brasileira de Cinema (BrazilianFilmAcademy). This 6-minute long animation tells a dark story of a doomed romance, red meat and a very unusual restaurant. You simply do not wish to know what’s on the menu!

“Historietas Assombradas (para crianças malcriadas)” or “The Haunted stories for misbehaving children” is probably Victor’s most accomplished work. It was awarded more than15 times at different film festivals (Festival de Tiradentes, Anima Mundi, Cine PE and others). This 15-minute long movie is divided into three stories told before the bedtime to “bad” children by their 100 years old grandmother. It has been narrated by acclaimed actress Myriam Muniz. You can see the trailer here:

Interview page 3. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

“O Menino que Plantava Invernos” (“The boy who sowed the winters”) is a short 15-minute movie made between 2007 and 2008. It premiered at the 20th Festival Internacional De Curtas-Metragens in Sao Paulo in 2009. The animation tells the story of a young boy who lost his parents right after his birth. Believing the tragedy was caused by an evil dragon, the boy seeks revenge by conjuring up the coldest winter ever in an attempt to freeze the horrific monster. You can see the trailer here:

– Directed in 2008 and released a year later, “Tristesse Robot” tells the story
of a robot awakened two hundred years after the suicide of his creator. He automatically tries to search for answers and finds a world full of spiders, a zombified girl and two ghosts in his way. The short movie debuted at the 13th Luso-Brazilian Film Festival in Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal. Victor received an Incentive Award from the Ministry of Culture in 2007 that made the filming of this movie possible. The teaser can be seen here:

– “O Baú de Lu” is the newest project of Victor and the first one created especially for pre-school kids. Luke, the main character
of the series, is a boy who loves creating things and always carries a huge chest on wheels with him. He keeps all toys and tools inside the chest, but the magical box also serves as a home for two of his friends: Mini-mini, a huge monster-pet and Zorba, a robot with encyclopedia in his head. With their help and his imagination, Luke can create a whole universe around him. The trailer can be seen here:

– A short 7-minute animation entitled “O Ladrão de Nomes” (“The Name thief”) was created in 2009 especially for the exhibition “As Palavras e o Mundo” (“The Words and the World”) organized by Brazilian organization SESC. You can see the full video here: (

 Question 7: The interpretation of this video could be that the two-face robot symbolizes the wish to attain happiness. The man with the hat (we guess he’s the father of the child and died in an airplane accident) is switching the robot from sad to happy and giving him a gift because as father, he wants his child to be happy. But the child rejects the “residual presence” of his father (he turns the robot back to sad), the gift gets broken and he scares the people (the pilots of the plane toy) away. This would mean that he has not accepted the fact that he’s dead; he rejects the thought of his father because it causes him too much pain. But eventually time passes by and the robot gets happy all by itself, meaning the boy has accepted the death of his father and got over it (“nothing ever lasts forever”, meaning his mourning). So the question would be: is that interpretation correct? And as an artist, did you have freedom to interpret the lyrics of the song freely or were you given “instructions” from the band?

Interview page 4. All righs reserved to Victor-Hugo Borges.
Images used with permission.

Victor-Hugo Borges: I think there isn’t a “correct” interpretation. That interpretation is beautiful, so, that’s fine with me. I’ve seen a lot of different interpretations for this video, some of them are really inspiring. So, why should I “limit” the potential of the viewers telling them an “official” explanation? This is why art is so important, to give peop le some wings.

Question 8: Can you explain, what is the relationship between the child and the toy?

Victor-Hugo Borges: The two-faced toy robot could represent one of the biggest problems we face: how should we look at things happening in our lives? Even in the darkest hours, I think, we should be able to CHOOSE if we want to see things in a positive or negative way. We can’t blame life as it is, everything is a choice.

Question 9: Tell us more about yourself. What are you working on at the moment?

Victor-Hugo Borges: I’m 32 years old. I live inSão Paulo,Brazil’s biggest city. I have a 12 years old son, a wife and a dog. I’m currently working in 2 shows for children and on a feature film, due in 2013.

Thank you once again for your time and answers.

Victor-Hugo Borges: Thank you all, feel free to add me on Facebook, you are my friends already.  Keep on dreaming!

Interview by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz,
Official Ascension of the Watchers group:!/groups/21526817840/

You can see the PDF version of this interview here:

The Issuu version can be found here:

 Victor-Hugo Borges personal sites:

Deviantart gallery:


Thank you for reading! As with previous interviews: please do not  re-post, take screenshots, quote or post this interview anywhere else without our permission. Contacting the artist, arragements, editing and conducting those interviews took as months! We tried really hard to make it all happen and it is sad seeing your hard work  being taken away. If you’d like to contact us, please write to: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.
Come back soon!

Till next time,
Rita and Mal

Interview logs: El Sanctuario del Rock + Burton C Bell

Hola amigos!

The Long May weekend is over and we are back to work! Today we have a special treat for all of you – another interview with Burton C Bell of Fear Factory and City of Fire, but this time in English and Spanish! No, we haven’t mastered Spanish overnight 🙂 Let us explain: On Halloween 2011, Rita teamed up with Christian Ricardo better known as El Reverendo. Christian is the popular blogger and the owner of El Sanctuario del Rock – a website bringing the freshest news from rock and metal scene to the Spanish speaking community on the Internet. Christian prepared the questions and Rita conducted the interview. Despite the technical issues (Skype video would not work properly!), results of this glorious co-operation can be seen below. Enjoy reading!

INTERVIEW WITH BURTON C BELL by Christian Ricardo and conducted by Rita Dabrowicz
First published on El SANCTUARIO DEL ROCK, November 2011


Logo of El Sanctuario Del Rock. Please visit:


SANCTUARY OF ROCK: City o f Fire was formed three years ago. However, there are people inSouth America that still hasn’t heard about the band yet. Could you please tell us briefly about the band’s beginnings?

Burton C Bell: The band formed when Byron’s old band Caustic Thought decided to do a reunion show inVancouver. After the show they decided to re-record some old songs and some new ones, they brought in Terry “Sho”Murray in to help them as a second guitar player and as a producer. The music came our so well, they all thought they could use a new singer. Byron knew that I would like the music, so he asked me to listen to the demos. I really liked them, so I flew out and started jamming wit them. They had a person to back them financially, like a benefactor, to help. This guy turned out to be a fraud. He was not in the music business and he messed everything up after the record was finished. That is why we never toured properly and the albums were never distributed around the globe

Sanctuary of Rock:  But things seem to be much better now. Two months ago you started recording a new album. Tell us how the recording process is going. Is the album already finished?

Burton: Okay, things are better. We finally have a manager who is getting us the proper support and going through the proper channels for financing. We just finished recording our 2nd album, which is to be titled “TRIAL THROUGH FIRE”. I am very proud of the work we have done. We “found” our sound on this record. Terry has been the main producer and he just finished cleaning up the tracks so that Greg Reely can begin mixing the album. The record is just about finished. All the recording is done, just the mixing and mastering is left.

Sanctuary of Rock: Ok, you have just answered half of my next question…

Burton: Great!

Sanctuary of Rock: Do you have a release date planned?

Burton: We are hoping for a March 2012 release around the globe!

Interview page 1, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of rock: Can you tell us what was the main difference between recording and writing the self titled album and the new one?

Burton: The main difference was that we knew what we wanted to achieve. We knew what are strong points were with the band’s music. We all had a great understanding of the band itself. Terry has a great sense of what my voice can do, so he and the guys were able to write the music that suited everyone. We were very “cohesive” as a band. We knew everyone’s strong points.

Sanctuary of Rock: On the first album you covered “Rain” by The Cult. Byron mentioned in previous interviews that this song worked very well in the concept of the first album and had theVancouver’s vibe… Are you going to experiment with covers again?

Burton: Over the years, we did a couple of covers: “Children of the Revolution” by T REX, and “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” by Blue Oyster Cult. Terry proposed a song to do for the album, “Enjoy the silence” by Depeche Mode. It came out very grandiose, and it does fit the vibe of this album.

Sanctuary of Rock: That’s a great song!

Burton: It came out City of Fire style!

Sanctuary of Rock:  Now, let me ask you about the technical side of the album. The band has produced the first album themselves.  Do you plan to produce it again or are you working with another producer?

Burton: We produced it ourselves again. We know our sound and all of us are seasoned veterans in the studio. Terry is actually the main producer. He has a great sense for songwriting and arrangement.

Sanctuary of Rock: Ok, now we just had to ask this: where did you get the idea from to collect money for recording the new album on Pledge Music?

Burton: That was our manager. She found success in it with another band she has worked with. IT was a fantastic idea. Not only did it generate the funds we needed, it also created a grass roots fan base that is important for a new band. It created a personal network between the band and our new fans, and they are a very happy, as we are.

Interview page 2, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of Rock:  Music video to song “Bad Motivator” was filmed few weeks ago. Could you us when the video will be released?

Burton: The video was created thought the program of MUCH MUSIC in Canada- it is Canada’s MTV. Every year, they give grants to new bands to make a video. We applied and got the grant. The video was made through all Canadian videographers, directors etc. Much Music has the video, but I am not certain when they are going to show it. I think it is soon.

Sanctuary of  Rock:  Very well. How did you end up working with Cody Calahan? Is he a close friend of yours?

Burton: It was the first time I met Cody Calahan, and I look forward to working with him again. He is very ambitious and I like his creative ideas.

Sanctuary of Rock: Tell us about the writing process for City ofFire. Does it differ from your other bands? Will be there any particularly theme for the new album?

Burton: The writing process is very similar to other bands. The guys had music ideas and were recorded on a demo. I would sit with Terry in the studio and just sing out ideas. I usually have some words to “throw down” and I try to incorporate them into the song. A lot of times, I just say things that come out, like speaking in tongues. There is no theme, but everything we were writing bout was happening in our lives, so that is why we call the album “TRIAL THROUGH FIRE”. It was a very difficult writing process.

Sanctuary of Rock: Difficult? Why? Can you explain?

Burton: We were all going through personal issues, and also the band was dealing with business issues. This record may have never been made if it were not for our manager. All the songs tell a story.

Interview page 3, Pictures by Omer Cordell

Sanctuary of Rock:  Ok, I guess with your busy schedule it’s not easy to rehearse very often with the band. Who is the main songwriter in the group? Is everybody allowed to bring the ideas for the songs to the studio? We wonder how the creative process of the City Of Fire looks like.

Burton: We all are very busy, but when there is a tour, or album, we make the schedule to get together. Everyone brings ideas to the studio; however, Terry was the main songwriter for this album. The process is rather simple, for instance, I had an idea for a song that I had been working on. When I got to Vancouver, I played it for the guys and they loved it. Terry and Byron do the same. We sit and listen to each other’s ideas. Then we quickly record the idea so that it is not lost and we build from there. That way, I am abler to absorb the song and begin doing words and vocals. It is actually a very exciting process. It is my favorite part of the whole creative process.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Is City of Fire just a side project or a number one priority band in your musical career?

Burton: In this day and age, there is no such thing as a side band. A professional musician needs more than “1 iron in the fire”. City ofFirehas great potential and we as a band see that. With the right management which we have, it will do great things. With the proper scheduling, I will be able to do all the music I want to like Fear Factory or Ascension of the Watchers and other projects.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Let us speak about Jed now.  I know that Jed played guitar during the live shows. Is he still a member of the band?

Burton: Jed Simon only filled in on one tour. He is not in the band by his choice. W have a new guitar player named Steve.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Can you tell more about him?

Burton: Steve Sal was in Terry’s band Shocore. We auditioned him, and he is a great player, and he is a great guy. He will do just fine.

Sanctuary of Rock: You have already visited South America a couple times and you enjoyed Rock at the Park 2006 in Bogota, Colombia. Any plans for City of Fire to visit the Latin-American fans again?

Burton: That was a great show, would have been better if it had not rained, but it was fun. I do hope to get down to South America again someday, and with City Of Fire.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Finances are a hot topic nowadays; a lot of people think that all musicians with a successful career are millionaires. After many years working on, what do you think about the actual status of the musical industry?

Burton: I know, I get that all the time. Only if you sell millions of records, that you can be a millionaire. I have been in the industry for 20 years as of today! (the 31 of October) and I have seen it change drastically and it is because of the internet. Illegal downloading has taken my royalties. If you are a fan of a band, you should support them properly. Illegal downloading does take the hard earned money from the artist. That is how we survive and if no one is buying records anymore, then I cannot support my 3 children and I will have to do something else. That is why I have 3 bands. I am still a starving artist, even after 20 years. It shows my dedication to my art.

Sanctuary of Rock:  Let’s hope with the new album you will become millionaires!

Burton: I am not holding my breath!!!

Sanctuary of Rock:  All right, Could you say HELLO to all your fans from THE-SANCTUARY-OF-ROCK-DOT-COM?

Burton: I would like to say a GIGANTE GRACIAS a SANCTUARIO DEL ROCK!. City Of Fire hopes that we can play to all of our new and old fans in Bogota very soon!

Sanctuary of Rock:  Ok, Burton, thanks again for answering our questions! Anything else you’d like to say to all readers of the Sanctuary of and your fans from Latin America?

Burton: Please support your favorite artists properly, for this is how we survive, and without proper support, your favorite bands will not exist anymore. It is up to you!!!!

Sanctuary of Rock:  We will pass your message to our readers, once again, thank you so very much for your time.


The original Spanish version of the interview can be seen on Sanctuary del Rock website:

English PDF file can be seen here:

Please do not copy, re-post or place this interview anywhere else without a written permission from Mal, Rita or Christian. If you have any questions, contact us at  rdabrowicz at yahoo dot come. Pictures used with permission and were taken by Omer Cordell. All rights reserved to Vanadian Avenue and  Sanctuario del Rock 2011-2012.

Hope to see you soon!
We have more to come!

Rita and Mal

Interview logs: Burton C Bell

Hello gang! 

We are on the roll! Day three of our interview logs brings you the master of the machines: Mr Burton C Bell. The voice of City of Fire and Fear Factory has been interviewed by members of City of Fire Face Book fan group right in the middle of  e-campain to collect the funds for the band’s second album “Trial through fire”. Malicia, a mastermind behind the whole project, gathered the questions and then submitted them to Burton through email. Some time later, we received the answers and this is the final result!

Cover of “Trial by Fire”, the second album of Canadian rockers, City of Fire

City of Fire – fan interview with Burton C Bell

Burton C Bell, the voice of Fear Factory and City of Fire, is a very busy man. In recent months, he and the rest of the band dedicated a huge amount of time and effort to secure founding of their second album. They teamed up with Pledge Music to launch an online campaign that allowed fans to finance the release. As City of Fire is now preparing to finally enter the studio, Burton was kind enough to answer several questions from the fans:

1. Question asked by Daniel Stevenson: Is City Of Fire going to be your full time band now? Or are you going to continue playing in both City Of Fire and Fear Factory?

Burton C Bell: City of Fire is a great band to be a part of. So is Fear Factory. Why do one or the other? I can do both, with a lot of inspiration, hard work and determination, and scheduling, I can make them both work.

2. Question asked by Rita Dabrowicz: Imagine that you can play one song with your favorite musicians: what song would you choose, where would you play it and who’s in your band?

Burton C Bell: Please allow me to have a bit more thought into this scenario. So many beautiful songs and so many heroes.

3. Question asked by Angela Smith: I’m seeing a lot of bands, these days, creating albums with “themes” (FF has proven this with their albums) and I’m curious to know if there will be a theme for the forthcoming City of Fire album? Meaning, is the inspiration for the songs being written centered around anything particular going on in the world and/or personal lives?

Burton C Bell: The new City of Fire album will not have an official theme through out, however; there will be relativity in all the songs. We have all been through many stresses and setbacks there (including the entire world). I have always written close to the heart. To poetically relay the passions of my heart, the thoughts on my mind, and the strain on my soul. This is true for the new COF album.

Page 1 of the Interview. Image used with permission

4. Question asked by David J Mazur: What does the song “On the River” truly means to you?

Burton C Bell: This is a very personal question. The song came about through a sensation of enlightenment I experienced one day as I was strumming the music to the song that became “On the River”. As I was sitting in my room with a view of the Susquehanna River in summer, the late day sun was angled on the rolling river in such a way as to glimmer like gold in my eyes. It is difficult o explain a moment of Gnosticism. It is something that penetrates your entire being. At that moment of ecstasy, I could feel the oneness with my surroundings. I felt a presence of something much greater than life itself, an intense love of being.

5. Question asked by Daniel Garcia: We know you’re a good lyricist and also a good writer; you developed a full concept on “Obsolete” album for example. Have you thought on releasing a novel or write small stories on a blog, website or something like that?

Burton C Bell: I have always wanted to be a writer. I do have plans to release a book of all the lyrics I have written, including all the “stories” behind “Demanufacture” through “Digimortal”. I am also looking into releasing my own book of photographs. I have stories and essays outside everything else that I have to complete. So yes, one day, I will reach all my goals.

6. Question by Malicia Dabrowicz:  I was wondering about your fascination with the element of fire. Five of Fear Factory songs refer to the act of self immolation. You took the photo of  “a burning” tree from the cover of Ascension of  The Watchers album. Your third project is called City of Fire. Some songs of COF recall mythological figures linked with fire: Phoenix in “Rising” and Prometheus in “Prometheus Unbound”. Is there something behind all those fiery ideas?

Interview page 2, image used with permission

Burton C Bell: I am fascinated with fire, so much to the point of being a pyromaniac. Since I am water/air sign, fire stirs my soul. I see it as a life saver and a life taker. The ability to harness nature within your fingertips, and how a simple action can also destroy nature. Fire is inspirational, mystical, useful. It soothes me and frightens me. I see life as a burning flame.

7. Question by Sandra (aka WormGirl): In “Hollow Land” you wrote: “Lost in her thoughts I was in Hell”. What does “hell” mean to you? Is that fear you refer to in this song? Fear of what?

Burton C Bell: To me, life as we live it, is a physical hell. Heaven is what we dream of for the hereafter. Hell is any place that causes grief, anxiety, loathing, fear….Feeling and being lost is a hell in itself. The fear that uncertainty and worry, unease and doubt creates can be interpreted as hell. To be lost and bound inside the fear of another’s mind? That sounds like a hell to me.

The Pledge Music project is still ongoing. Though the band is now at 194%, please keep in mind this is a set amount estimated by Pledge Music based on band’s Twitter and Facebook followers. Every bit collected will be spent on making the next record. If you’d like to pledge in support of the album, please visit the band’s official Pledge Music site:

Thank you again!


You can see the whole PDF by clicking on this link:

As with the other interviews. Please do not use, re-post, make screens and post anywhere else without  our permission. We have worked hard to put them together and it’s hard to see your efforts being taken away from you. If you’d like to ask about anything, please contact us at rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

And because it is the 4th of May, let us say this:

May the force be with you today!
Rita and Mal

Interview Logs: Jed Simon

Hello again!

Another day and another interview. In 2011, we have spent nearly ten months running an online campaign for Canadian rock band City of Fire trying to collect funds for the band’s second album. During the campaign, we interviewed Jed Simon, another rock legend and COF member at that time. Sadly, soon after the interview was conducted, Jed left to pursue other musical projects. But being a big fans of Jed’s talent, we are truly proud and grateful he took his time to  answer our questions. Plese read on!

Jed Simon being totally politically incorrect and we love it!
Picture used with permission from artist official website. Please visit:

An Interview with Jed Simon

Not every day, you have a chance to interview somebody as special as Jed Simon.

Incredibly talented, extraordinary nice and universally admired – Jed has shared the stage with the greatest metal and rock bands in the world. In his long career, he has played with Front Line Assembly, Caustic Thought, Strapping Young Lad, Zimmers Hole and recently, City of Fire, to name just a few. With a resume like that, he has become one of the most influential Canadian musicians. Jed was kind enough to find a spare moment to answer several questions we had for him. Please enjoy!

Vanadian Avenue: You joined City of Fire right before the tour with Soulfly. How do you remember the tour?

JED: The tour itself was amazing, I’ve followed Soulfly since day one, and it was an honor to travel with them. On top of that we were inAustralia, which just happens to be my favorite place on Earth. So all in all, there was nothing even slightly dull about any of it!

As for joining CoF before the tour, it was so easy to “fall in” with Burt and Byron, and Bob too… I’ve known those guys for so long they are like family to me. And now that I know Terry a lot better, I count him as a Brother too. The thing about Terry is that we have a really great bond on stage…I hope that in the future I get to  do something with him again, we really “clicked” as guitarists…and that is a VERY difficult thing to achieve. I love that guy. So you can imagine that the preparation for the tour was a relatively easy process!

Page 1 of the interview. Copyrights to Jed Simon, pictures used with permission

Vanadian Avenue: If you were to name the best concert that you have played with COF, which one would that be?

JED: EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Although the show in Whistler (Canada tour) was a bit  of a tough one. It was so fucking cold, haha! The guitars just would not stay tuned, every time I hit mine it sounded like a dying donkey braying his last wishes!

Vanadian Avenue: Any anecdotes from the tour that you would like to share with the fans?

JED: Anecdotes eh? Oh man…there are always more than a few when I get together with these guys…well, SYL was full of anecdotal material too! The first that comes to mind would be me getting a little tipsy on Blueberry Stoli and repeatedly tackling Byron in the hotel. After a while, he was like “Simon! Enough!” and he just bull-tackled me to the floor. He was the angry parent scolding the mischievous child for sure, haha!

Vanadian Avenue: You and Byron have a long history together, playing in at least 5 projects. How it is to work with Byron?

JED: Yeah we sure do have history. It’s hard playing with anyone else. We work together like gears in a clock, always in synch, always knowing what the other is doing, and never having to worry about anything. That’s an unbreakable bond. He is one of my best friends, I can lean on that guy for anything, and he’ll always be there. A true brother. Through and through.

Page 2 of the interview. Copyrights to Jed Simon, pictures used with permission

Vanadian Avenue: Please share some new info on your new projects. What can we expect from Jed Simon in the future?

JED: Well I am always busy writing whatever is happening “in my head” at the time. So I tend to have a backlog of material when it’s time for band stuff, which is a good thing! Lately, I have been writing new Zimmer’s Hole songs and we are looking to get that beast fired up and running again asap. And apart from that I have my new band here in Philadelphia, we are called “American Blood Cult” and are dead in the middle of writing for a first album. We are currently looking for a singer so there is still a ways to go, but stay posted with us and you’ll be hearing some new Simon-style thrash very soon.

You  can visit Jed’s official MySpace page here:

Or like his page on Face Book:

Please also visit Jed’s profile on Rico Jr. Guitar page:

Thank you for reading!
Malicia Dabrowicz

You can see the whole interview in PDF format here:

Please, do not re-post the interview anywhere else without our written consent. We have been working really hard and we do not want to see our efforts being taken away from us as it happened in the past. If you’d like to publish this interview on your website, please contact me or Mal or Jed for authorization first. Any comments? Write to rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Thanks and see ya soon!

Your regular blog rock chicks,
Mal and Rita

Interview Logs: Omer Cordell

Hello guys!

April came and went and now we are celebrating the long May weekend! Having some time off, we decided to take a look  in our archives to see if we still have some materials that were supposed to be published here, but for one reason or another, they went MIA.  You may not know it, but 2011 was not only the year of Earth Garden or Notte Bianca. For many months we were also involved in e-music campaign for several artists, including City of Fire, a Canadian rock band having strong ties to Fear Factory. We had an unique chance to collaborate with a world famous  music photographer Omer Cordell. After exchanging several emails, a crazy idea was born – to politely ask Mr Cordell for an interview. He not only agreed, but quickly sent us long and detailed answers to our questions! If you ever dreamt of becoming a  professional music photographer, please read carefully. Omer is a  front row veteran and has a great deal of experience how to survive in the mosh pit and take pictures at the same time! Clicking on the pictures you can see how the interview looked like in PDF format.


Omer Cordell is a true legend among music photographers. Vancouver native, Omer has been interested in photography since childhood. His professional career started in 2003 and since then he has worked with the biggest names on the metal/rock scene including KMFDM, Alexisonfire, Clutch, Mnemic, Threat Signal, Meshuggah, Fear Factory and Apocalyptica. His pictures have also been published in almost every music magazine, on MTV website, Century media promotional materials and in the popular book “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” by Garry Sharpe-Young among others. Outside of photography, he is also a respected artist and designer. We contacted Omer to ask him several questions about his recent projects, working with City of Fire and photographic gear.

Interview page 1. Copyrights: Omer Cordell, used with permission.

Vanadian Avenue: You go a long way with Burton. You photographed Fear Factory, Ascension of The Watchers and now City of Fire. How did you two meet?

Omer Cordell: We met back in 2003 when I did my first photo session with FF for their Archetype album and we’ve kept in good touch ever since. We connected on the theme of Ancient Civilizations and UFO’s. I love that kind of stuff! I’ve spent hours and hours watching documentaries and reading books about these subjects. Burt also an avid photographer and he’s done some great work from what I’ve seen so far. The photo shoot that I did with FF back in 2003 really helped launch my career. I got some decent recognition from it and I’m still thankful to have had that opportunity. If he reads this then I will have to add: “Nice Marmot!”.

Vanadian Avenue: You recently had various photo sessions with the City of Fire. One in the Factory Studios and the other on the location in Granville Island. Please tell us what was the atmosphere in the studio? Did you hear any new songs?

Omer Cordell: Well, I think the most prominent thing that I personally noticed is that as a collective, they are excited about this band, they have a great working relationship and I think that the music on this album will reflect that enthusiasm. I got to hear a lot of songs at various stages and from what I’ve heard it sounds really great. They all have their bits and pieces of styles and influences that they are bringing into this and I think it mixes together very well. It’s definitely going to be one of those albums that you can sit back and listen to 30 years from now.

Interview page 2. Copyrights: Omer Cordell, used with permission.

Vanadian Avenue: Any interesting stories from the recording sessions?

Omer Cordell: The band recorded the drums, overdubs and bass at the Factory, the rest was done in Toronto. I visited often to take some photos of the sessions but I’m not sure what the band wants to do with those shots. As far as equipment goes, I only did pay attention to Byron’s gear, being a bassist myself. He used an Ampeg SVT Classic and an Ampeg Cab split with a Marshal guitar head and cab. He also used his Custom Fender Jazz. Bob uses Mapex drums, I think. I’m not sure what Terry uses. From the photos, it looks like it’s a very old Marshal head and an even older Mesa Boogie cab.

Vanadian Avenue: Granville Island is from what we understand an industrial estate. How come you decided to use this location for City of Fire?

Omer Cordell: There wasn’t much thought put into it really. We thought it would be a cool place to do a shoot, and it is! There’s a lot of great spots to shoot. I often see a lot of people with their cameras and tripods roaming around and taking photos there.

Vanadian Avenue: Can you tell us about the book Inside the Machine as not many fans know about its existence. Is it still available?

Omer Cordell:Back in 2004 I proposed to the Fear Factory camp that it would be a cool idea to do a sort of photographic documentary of their lives on the road. They agreed and so I went on a few tours with them and collected an arsenal of photos. It was supposed to have been released officially somehow but it ended up not happening the way I thought it would. Long story short, I was about to scrap that entire folder of photographs when I heard from a friend about this online self publishing thing. So I decided to give it a go and it turned out OK. The only drawback is that it ends up being quite costly as it’s over 100 pages and there’s a lot of overhead. It’s still available for “collectible” die hard fans. Maybe some day I’ll do another book with a different theme, who knows. The book can be purchased at:

Cover of “Inside the Machine” by Omer Cordell

Vanadian Avenue: What equipment/gear do you use? Do you need a different camera to take pictures during gigs and in the studio?

Omer Cordell: Too much gear… I still shoot film, 35mm, 6×6(inch) and 4×5(inch). I don’t have a desire nor the enthusiasm to switch to digital. I’m a film guy and that’s what I know to use best. My main body is a Canon EOS 1V My backup is a Canon EOS 1N My backup to that is a Canon EOS 5 And my spare one is a Canon Ellan 7 For my Medium Format photos (you can tell because they are square) I shoot a Hasselblad 500c and my large Format (which I hardly use) I have this cool circa 1950’s Graflex Crown Graphic which takes stunning photos. My lenses include: Canon 17-40 f4 L Canon 28mm f2.8 Canon 50mm f1.8 Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS Symmar – 150mm S f5.6 Carl Zeiss T* 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss T* 150mm f4 I rarely use strobes, but I have this old Multiblitz set that I sometimes use. In the studio I try to use my Hasselblad more and when I shoot live I take my Eos 1V.

Interview page 3. Copyrights: Omer Cordell, used with permission.

Vanadian Avenue: How did you become a photographer?

Omer Cordell: I remember taking my first photo in 1985 in Viña del Mar, Chile. I was always fascinated with cameras. When I was 14 or 15 I borrowed my father’s old Pentax Asahi (from around 1969 I believe) he gave me a 32 second crash course and I was on my way. At some point, taking photographs for me became a meditative experience where the whole process of composition, exposure, waiting for the right light conditions (for some landscape work for example) and final printing was transcending. Because of the type of cameras I used, to this day, regardless of how “modern” my camera is, I still shoot on Manual mode. It makes me feel good to know that I got a well exposed shot, particularly when I shoot live shows where the light quality changes quickly, it’s an added challenge. Back when I started to shoot concerts, I used to go through 5 or 8 rolls of film, now I only take 2 rolls at the most. A lot of photographers still look at me like I’ve just landed from another planet because I still shoot film and only shoot about 30 photos per show. Even when I do a press/promo shoot, I narrow the entire shoot down to maybe 30 images. Too many options can be confusing and tedious to go through.

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us more about Seventh Frame.

Omer Cordell: I started  in 2003. It has been very challenging staying afloat in a very saturated industry. It was easier when I started out but nowadays photography is a lot more accessible than it has ever been so anyone can do a good job. For the past 4 years I haven’t been shooting as a “business” but mostly for fun. I felt that the business side of things was taking the life essence out of it for me and it could (and did) potentially harm some friendships. So now, I work on a much more conservative scale than before. Strictly if I WANT to do it, not because I have to. Apparently, my hosting has now expired. I have uploaded a “new” site for now, until I figure out what’s happening:

Interview page 4. Copyrights: Omer Cordell, used with permission.

Vanadian Avenue: What bands have you photographed except for City of Fire, Ascension of the Watchers and Fear Factory?

Omer Cordell: What bands have I photographed, well, I’ve worked a lot with Strapping Young Lad, a bunch of Devin’s projects, Meshuggah, Mnemic, Threat Signal, Darkane, Moonspell, Katatonia, 3 Inches of Blood… and probably a few others I am forgetting.

Vanadian Avenue: What is the favorite picture you have taken?

Omer Cordell: Every picture I take of my wife!

Vanadian Avenue: Any plans for the future?

Omer Cordell: Currently, I am working on the artwork for the City of Fire’s new album “Trial thought fire” which is coming along nicely. Burt and I have been bouncing ideas and it’s been taking shape nicely. I can’t say much about it at this point just that it’ll look pretty cool 🙂

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for answering our questions!

Omer Cordel: You are welcome!

You can also see the whole PDF file here:

The Issuu version can be found here:

Please do not repost the interview anywhere else without the written permission from Mal or Rita or Omer Cordell.
If you’d like to contact us regarding the interview, please write to: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

See ya very soon,
Mal +Rita (aka Vanadian Avenue)


Edit 17/01/2013

We thought this post needed an update. You see Omer Cordell was quite busy recently, but not with photography. Omer turns out to be also a talented bass player and he has his own musical projects: Winter of Freedom and Trailight.

We love Omer`s work with Trailight. It’s like a one man army but it feels so spacious and the music is filled with so many ideas that you could squeeze a whole orchestra into the sound. We thought that it would be a good contrast to the interview (which is mostly about photography) and it will show another side of this incredibly creative person.

Omer posing with his Spector bass guitar. Isnt it a beauty?

Omer posing with his Spector bass guitar. Isnt it a beauty?

If you wish to give Trailight a listen, here’s some links for you:

Official page:

Facebook page:


YouTube Channel:

Omer uses bass guitars made by Spector Bass Company. His involvement earned Omer few proud mentions on Sector’s website and Facebook page. We could not help but to capture the screenshots.

Feature showing Omer and his guitar of choice on Spector Bass website.

Feature showing Omer and his guitar of choice on Spector Bass website.

Omer puts heart and soul into his art and obviously he gets recognition. We do respect artists who are dedicated to their craft a lot.

For the record, if anybody is interested in following Spector Bass online you can do it via their official website:

or via Facebook page:

Mention on a Facebook

Mention on a Facebook

We hope you will give Trailight a listen or at least leave Omer a like.

You may also check our photography post that was inspired by Trailight music: