Suddenly, it was there.... Coming out of the blue and almost nobody even suspected, it would be that good. Although we already predicted, it might become a serious killer. I am talking about the new album of VAINGLORY, based around metal guitar hero Corbin King.
Vocalist Kate French is one of the most important female representatives in the heavy metal of the new millennium. And when I say heavy metal, I mean real heavy f*cking metal. Clear the stage, because Kate French is taking command. The frontlady, who we all know best from her previous band CHASTAIN, is back with a vengeance and ready to show the world what heavy metal is all about. And their self-titled album is just the beginning....
Recently, Metal Maidens got in touch with Kate through the email. We talked about her future plans and digged into the past of VAINGLORY. Nothing escaped our attention.
WARNING: if you didn't check out the VAINGLORY album yet, better do it now. Metal in 2007 doesn't get any purer or better than on this album. Everything else you need to know about VAINGLORY or Kate French can be read in the following interview....
When and how did you become a member of VAINGLORY
Kate French: "A couple of years ago, 2003 to be exact, David Chastain contacted me and asked if I would like to audition to sing on the new VAINGLORY CD. Corbin King had been looking for a suitable singer for a few years now. VAINGLORY’s first vocalist actually wasn’t chosen by Corbin, but picked by David, because they couldn’t find anyone Corbin liked. So I sang on a couple songs for Corbin and out of the over thirty or so vocalists that auditioned, I got the job!"
Is Corbin King the leader of the band, or is VAINGLORY more like a democracy?
KF: "Corbin IS the KING, but I am the Queen (LOL). So, I can have a little more influence at times. In a band, it's usually the guitarist and vocalist first. All the guys have their instruments and that is their say. If we didn’t have their input the band wouldnt be as good, and they are all amazing musicians."
The fact that you’re singing in VAINGLORY now, does this mean that CHASTAIN does not exist anymore, or is it put on hold for a moment?
KF: "VAINLGORY is my only band right now."
What is David Chastain doing nowadays?
KF: "David is doing an instumental CD right now."
If you’d ask my honest opinion, I’d say that VAINGLORY is the next big thing in heavy metal. The CD gets the full score, simply because it almost can’t get any better than this. I really had a great time listening to this awesome album, that shows us what true metal is all about. How are the reactions of other reviewers of the CD so far?
KF: "We’ve had some awesome reviews and thank you so much for the full score!! Im glad you liked it! We are trying to bring back real metal with an edgy twist, no growls no fairy princess, but metal as to what it was based on, strength."
Kate, you wrote most of the songs for the album. Can you tell us what they are about?
KF: "Corbin and I split the writing on this one. Most of the songs I wrote were about relationships, love ones, hate ones or akward ones. Corbins are the more brutal or not as personal, so it's a good mixture."
Why are some of the lyrics (For example "Midnight Hellfire"and "Vainglory") not printed on the CD inlay?
KF: "That is a collectors edition you have. The first printed CDs had flaws. They are special in that way."
How did the writing of the album go? Did you start with the music first or the lyrics, or did the songs slowly evolve while jamming? Please tell us a bit more about the whole writing process?
KF: "Usually, I listen to the song and get a feeling from that song, whatever that feeling may be. Then I build a hook or chorus from that feeling and write my verses and a bridge lyrically around that. Sometimes I will have Corbin re arrange the song, if I think different parts would sound better elsewhere in the song."
Corbin develops himself as a true, new guitar hero. Can he tell us a bit more about his influences? I already mentioned YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN in my review, but I’m sure there are more....
KF: "Yeah, he loves Yngwie, but he definately is influenced by some other guitarists as well. George Bellas being one. Zakk Wylde and Dime Bag Darryl are two huge influences. He loves their personalities. He’s a lot like that. People say, he's like a cross between Hetfield and Dime…. Everywhere we go, he gets: ”Oh, you’re that guy...mmmm....”. One day hopefully, they will mean HIM!! They are calling him "The KING of Southern Shred". Get it... King...... Anyway, I have sang for a lot of fantastic guitarists, but he IS the best!"
Maybe it is possible for the other band members to tell our readers a bit more about their influences, too?
KF: "Chris (bass) likes 311, ALICE IN CHAINS and PEARL JAM; Dan (drums) is a huge TOOL fan and John Michael (rhythm guitar) is a SLAYER fanatic!"
Kate, you are also mentioned as the co-producer of the album, next to Corbin the producer. Isn’t it extremely difficult to step out of the recording process, and have a critical look at what you did, and produce the whole album as a sort of outstander?
KF: "Yes, extremely difficult. The recording process is so long and going back and forth with what we hear or don’t hear between the two of us (Corbin and I), especially in the mastering process was really difficult. Your ear doesn’t hear anymore after a while!! In the end you just do the best you can and learn from the process for the future. If we never tried, we never would learned though."
Is there anything that you would have done differently, now the album is finished? And if yes, what would you change?
KF: "I am a lyricist and a songwriter. You always want the basic song to be at it's best. I wish, I would have taken more time on the lyrics of some songs, but then you can go crazy thinking.... When it comes down to it, I guess you just gotta get it out there and quit picking it apart and you always think it could be better."
We also want to know your personal favorite song and why you are chosing this particular song?
KF: "I’ve been listening to PANTERA lately. I like "Walk" off “Vulgar Display of Power” and love the mix on the CD, but my fave of all time is “Sad But True” from METALLICA’s "Black" CD."
In what way does the album differ from VAINGLORY’s previous album "2050", besides the fact that you sing on this album of course?
KF: "VAINGLORY is no longer a studio band, it is a real working band with real members. And that is the difference between the old VAINGLORY and the new."
Let’s have a closer look at your live shows now, if we may. Did you play live with the band already, and how did these live shows go so far?
KF: "Yes, we have done awesome at our live shows and had a great response. The Monterrey Metal Fest in Monterrey, Mexico was my favorite show. A few thousand people were there! I love the fans in Mexico! I got the chance to play with and hang out with UDO. He was awesome, got to give him a big kiss on the cheek, before he went on stage. And LEAVES EYES.... Alex is an old friend and I met Liv and their son, and DECIDE. I love Ralph and the Metal community. I’m very proud to know these people and be friends with them."
Are there any touring plans, and if yes are you planning to do a headline tour or are you trying to become a support act for a big name as headliner?
KF: "We would like to be support for a big name act to start with."
Are you planning to play any covers too, besides the own penned VAINGLORY material? Any CHASTAIN material maybe?
KF: "We do two covers: HALFORD’s "Resurection" and PANTERA’s "Walk". We do different covers at different shows. We mostly stick with original tunes though. No CHASTAIN stuff."
Are there also any plans for the band to come over to Europe maybe? A lot of European headbangers (including ourselves) are dying to see Kate French and VAINGLORY on stage.
KF: "We’re looking so foward to coming over there. We love you guys!! Can’t wait and I will buy you all a beer!! No plans as of yet, but I think this coming year we will be hitting the festivals!"
If you could go on tour with any band of your choice, which band would you pick then?
KF: "PRIMAL FEAR, because I love their style and music and I think we would compliment them and have a blast in the process."
How do you prepare yourself for a gig? Do you do any voice training, or does the band have any other ‘rituals’, before going on stage?
KF: "I hit the highest notes at the top of my range in full voice and control those notes up and down. The quieter I do them in full voice the more control I know I will have of my voice in the set. Corbin practices his solos, John and Chris play too, Dan does some druming on the table or whatever and stretches. Just warm ups, no rituals though."
We’re also curious, if there is something like a male groupie scene? We know, that you have four fine bodyguards on stage, but have you ever witnessed that guys were hanging out nearby you, trying to get more than an autograph or a picture taken with you?
KF: "That’s funny you say that, but yes, as a matter of fact, I had one groupie, I was with for four years! I’m so honored that people like what I do and I love meeting them."
Maybe you can share some funny or hilarious moments from all those years on the road with CHASTAIN, or from the gigs you did with VAINGLORY so far?
KF: "There have been so many. Corbin does this Church Lady dance on stage and he started doing it in the middle of the set one time. He had us all laughing so hard, I could not sing and the guys couldn’t play, he almost messed up the song. Most of the other times is when someone will cut a big fart on stage and we all have to just keep going. But we all know what’s up and try not to bust out in laughter. All the guys are a crack up and we have a lot of fun together!"
We see that heavy metal is slowly gaining success again in America. Can you agree on this statement, or is the scene still as dead as a doornail?
KF: "Well, metal has a specific community and those of us that are still in it are the warriors that never gave up. Metal lives in those people and their kids are now becoming lil metalheads. Music is everchanging. It's gonna take that one band with that one hit song to bring it back to the mainstream. I believe it will happen. It's happening right now with us!"
What’s the metal scene like in Georgia? Are there many clubs, where you can play live?
KF: "Not too many. The shows we do are mostly out of state, and I like it that way. It makes our shows a special event. We like to play to bigger crowds. It's very rare, that we play a small room."
Which other (well-known) bands come from your area?
KF: "MASTADON, HALLOWS EVE, SEVENDUST...."
How many hours per week do you spend on practising together, and where do you have your rehearsal space?
KF: "We rehearse at our house, we have a studio in the basement. We rehearse a lot individually, but only once a week together. We also have a private venue in town we sometimes rehearse at for big stage shows."
How did you get in touch with Rebellion Records?
KF: "The owner loved the band so much, he decided to have us as his flagship artist. He contacted us and proposed to build the label around us and our kind of music. What more could we ask for from a label?"
Is Leviathan Records still in business, or didn’t you actually see them as an option to release this album?
KF: "Leviathan has become a vehicle for David Chastain’s releases only, which is what he intended it to be originally. It is in business for now, but I don’t think he is planning to do it for much longer."
We reviewed the ‘limited edition’ of the album. What’s the difference with the ‘normal edition’ of the CD?
KF: "The regular CD is a later pressing, the limited edition is the first."
Browsing through the thanks lists on the CD inlay, we see that both Corbin and you seem to have a special bounding with ZAKK WYLDE. Is he a mutual friend of yours?
KF: "Yes, he and his wife Barb are very close friends. Before we met them, we were huge BLACK LABEL SOCIETY fans."
Cherie Currie of THE RUNAWAYS was one of the first women, who went on stage wearing a corset. Has she influenced you in this perspect, or is this your own idea?
KF: I never knew Cherie Currie to wear a corse, but I’m sure she looked killer, if she did. Corsets just are so sexy to me."
Maybe a strange question, but is it always possible to have a private cloathing room on tour, or a place where you can change clothes before you go on stage?
KF: "I don’t care too much. The guys are like brothers to me and they don’t care either."
Looking at the pictures on the internet, you could also have a career as a model. Have you ever had ambitions in that direction? You already had some experience, when you posed for the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN CD cover.
KF: "Yep, I did a little modeling. No career though."
What are your future plans?
KF: "To get over to Europe and play some festivals!!"
Are there any important gigs on the agenda?
KF: "Yep, I will be meeting DORO for the first time as we are co-headlining a female metal festival in Minnesota. We will be flying out June 15th for a show on the 16th. I love DORO and I’m looking so foward to meeting her!! Should be a blast!"
For about twelve year now, we’re dedicating our work to the women in the hard rock and heavy metal. Do you feel, that the female musicians still need the support that we give them, or do you feel you’re already getting the attention and respect that you deserve as a lady rocker?
KF: "I LOVE METAL MAIDENS!!! Don’t ever give up what you’re doing!! It helps a lot and it is so cool that if someone wants to know info about a female musician or fronted band, they can rely on Metal Maidens!! You guys ROCK!! You need to expand and keep it up!! Love it!"
Metal Maidens is based in Holland. What else do you know from our country, besides the fact that we have beautiful tulips and windmills?
KF: "I have a lot of great friends in Holland. I know that there are a lot of great people there and I’m looking foward to playing there!"
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview? Maybe there is something we forgot to mention here, that is essential for the story of VAINGLORY, so far.
KF: "The VAINGLORY CD will be coming out this month in Europe, April 20th on MTM records. If you would like to purchase a copy, you can find it at http://www.mtm-music.com and please come say 'hi' on myspace at http://www.myspace.com/vainglorymetal. You can check out some songs from the CD on our myspace page, and we have one song that is a free download."
The well-known ‘last words’ of this interview are for Kate and VAINGLORY....
KF: "Thanks for your time! We REALLY and TRUELY appriciate and are greatful for this interview and the people who take the time to check us out. VAINGLORY is not vainity, but the persuit of happiness, that makes life worth living and keeps us fighting even through tough times. In other words: keep kickin’ ass and takin’ names and don’t let anyone tell you different!! We wish you ALL the best this life has to offer and that you keep persuing what you want, what makes your life worth living no matter what. Thank you Rita and Toine! Love, Kate."
Visit their website at: http://www.vainglorymetal.com