Interview with Asger Mygind, Guitar and Vocals of the Danish progrockband VOLA.
About your name, Vola is an interesting name, who came up with that and what does it stand for?
It was our old bassplayer who came up with that name. It´s Italian and meens fly. It is a bit of a metaphore for the music, because we try to do our choruses very majestic and grandios and that I think we succeeded with on ‘Applause of a distant crowd’.
Why don´t you start by telling the history of VOLA.
Basically it started out in Copenhagen with me and some friends who started to jam in high school. Eventually it turned out to be a more stabile line up and we made some demos about 2006 and became more of a stabile band. We released an EP in 2008 called “Homesick Machinery”, and in 2011 we recorded another EP that was called “Monsters”. After that, our guitar player left the band. We decided not to replace him, so now I do all the guitars and vocals myself, and our bassplayer, Nicolai Mogensen is now singing backing vocals live.
What is the current VOLA line up?
3 out of 4 is Danes, and then there is a Swedish drummer.
Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar)
Martin Werner (keys/programming)
Nicolai Mogensen (bass)
Adam Janzi (drums)
How would you describe your music to someone who has not heard you before?
I think we are focusing on big Choruses because that is something I enjoy tremendously. Big choruses and things like that take you somewhere else, I rely heavily on that and that is an important element in our songs. Just like our music influences like Porcupine Tree, Devin Townsend and Opeth, just to mention a few, we like that our riff is a bit qurkey and different than just the repetetive riffs. We like how Meshuggah works with their riffs, which is also a big inspiration for the band. For us it is important not to get stuck in our music. Our goal is to move forward musically all the time.
Tell us a little bit about the new album ‘Applause of a distant crowd’. Where was it recorded and who produced it, how long did it take?
We started recording the drums in September in a studio in Copenhagen, called Hayman Studios. We spent about four days to record the drums. After that we moved the production to my own home studio. The band spent about nine months recording the album. It took a long time to write the lyrics on ‘Applause of a distant crowd’. Then it was mastered in June, and here we are.
I produced the album myself, and it was mastered by a guy you might have heard of, Andy Vandette, who have worked with a lot of big bands, like Porcupine Tree, Devin Townsend and David Bowie, just to mention a few.
You have your own studio. That must come in handy?
Yeah, its great. You wake up and eat your breakfast cereals, and then you just go in to the next room and start working on song ideas for the album.
I read somewhere that your debut album ‘Inmazes’ got released twice. Is that true? What’s the story around that, and how did VOLA got in touch with their current label Mascot Records?
Yes, actually it was, We released it in 2015 on our own, as a private pressing. More or less directly after we released “Inmazes”, we were discovered by our current label Mascot Records.
After we got signed by Mascot records they decided to re-release it in 2016 after it just been out for about six months, which was great to get a proper distribution and marketing in a way we could only dream of.
About how we got in touch with our label is not really officially established. Some say that we approached them, some people are firm believers that Mascot approached us, so actually, I´m not really sure.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest difference between your ‘Inmazes’ album and’ Applause of a distant crowd’?
I believe that on ‘Inmazes’ the album had more of a defined Porcupine Tree sound and not so diversed, but ‘Applause of a distant crowd’, is a lot more of a diversed album. It is little bit more all over the map. The spectrum is a lot wider on this one. There is a soft piano piece, there is some very heavy riffbased songs, but the bass is the foundation, it’s a bit more rockish, drums are more live so this album has more of a rock vibe and is a bit more dynamic than ‘Inmazes’.
Who does most of the writing in VOLA?
We try to meet up and work on ideas with each other. If we don´t do that, we work on our own and put them on a server for all in the band to listen to. So our drummer Adam who is rather new to the band, he joined when all the songs were finished. But on this album the biggest contribution is made by myself and Nicolai.
Your first album ‘Inmazes’ was massivly acclaimed by the critics, If I’m not mistaken, you were nominated for an award at the Progressive rockmusic awards. Was it hard to write a follow-up album?
No, it came pretty natural I must say. We had some song ideas that was pretty close to our debut album ‘Inmazes’, but pretty early in the process we found out that it didn’t make any sense to make a sequal to ‘Inmazes’, because it would just fail in comparison. I think that ‘Inmazes’ is such a well-crafted album that just trying to make a sequal would just not make any sense, and with that mindset, most of the ideas to ‘Applause of a distant crowd’ came pretty natural.
In my world there should be an inner pressure to make an album that is equally as good and critically acclaimed?
Not so much, really, because I was pretty confident that we could create something that had another identity, and a very strong one, and as soon as our mindset was not to make a copy of anything else and not to make a sequal and be proud of that, it all came pretty naturally.
What are your expectation of the new album?
That’s a good question, I´m very excited to see how the album will be received around the world, and a good reason to tour alot. We will be touring for at least a year before we start working on a new album. I believe we have potential to reach a lot of new listeners compared to `Inmazes` for the reason that this album have this rock vibe…. this is an album that is very honest statement of were we stand at this moment. It´s exciting to see where “Àpplause of a distant crowd”will reach compared to “Inmazes”.
According to your press release, you only had a few shows under your belt, and then you ended up touring with Katatonia and ended up on a lot of big festivals. That feels like you been thrown in the deep end of the pool, so to speak. How did that go?
Yes, it was an opportunity we got and the timing was perfect for us so we grabbed it. And touring was a new experience for us, like living on a bus for the first time, and see countries you never visited before, and have concerts on a daily basis, that was a whole new experience for us.
It was actually incredible to tour with Katatonia that is one of my favorite bands. I actually idolize them, so it was a special time for me and quite surreal to tour with your idols. Just sitting on the same tour bus with Katatonias lead Vocalist Jonas Renkse was just mindblowing for me.
You ended up playing a lot of big festivals. That also feels like you been thrown in to the deep end of the pool?
Yes, you are definetly unexperienced as you go, you can surely see that the last shows got better than your first, the songs feel more comfortable and the shows makes you feel safer on stage. We have a lot of confidence because we’ve had such good experiences live and you see a lot of people who actually sing along with our songs. It´s something that really strengthen your confidence and I’m excited to use that confidence when we will get out on the road with the band Monuments.
You are going out on quite extensive tour around Europe this fall, What are your thoughts and expectations about that?
The timing is great. We start the 5th of October and the album will be released on the 12th of October and this time we play right before the headliner. band Monuments, and have more time on stage to play our new material to the people, than we had on our last tour. At that time we were the first band on stage and got less time to play. I love to get out there and see how the songs works with the audience in a live setting. We don´t really know that yet, because we write our songs on a computer, so we don´t really know how they feel for the band yet, and that will be interesting to find out.
What can I as an audience expect when I hear you guys live.
You will get your mind blown away by our music.:-)hahahaha
You really are a confident band and I just love it.
Yeah, well, we really believe in the thing we are doing right now, and according to the response we got on our tours, we’re definetly going in the right direction.
What are the plans for VOLA after the european tour this fall?
Yeah, the next thing for us is to do a headline tour but we don´t have anything written in concrete, yet, and that will start in the beginning of 2019. Then maybe another tour as a supporting act, and in the summer we probably will focus on the summer festivals. But like I said before, there is not a definitive plan yet.
Will there be a Vinyl version of ‘Applause of a distant crowd’, and where can I buy one?
Yes, there will be a vinyl version of the album for sure. And of course there will be a cd version of it as well, and you can order your copy on cd, vinyl or other merch on our website: www.volaband.com