(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Musician Dan Lorenzo (guitarist) was a highly integral component to many of my own earlier, formative music years. His song writing abilities and guitar playing talent were the creative catalyst for the legendary Eighties power metal / thrash band Hades. In that band he helped pioneer the music and sound of the East Coast’s own take on underground music.
Active for over twenty years, Hades released six revered official albums and myriad singles and splits, while also being included on numerous compilations. The band holds a highly revered place in the heads and hearts of metal lovers both old and new to this very day. From Hades, Dan’s creative Jones led to the formation of the amazing Non-Fiction, a band that was quite ahead of its time in my opinion.
Non-Fiction‘s early Nineties existence resulted in three incredible, forward thinking studio releases (1991’s Preface, 1992’s In The Know and 1996’s It’s A Wonderful Lie…). The band’s take on darker progressive metal registered quite well with listeners and fans. It was another so-called feather in the cap for the artistry that Dan Lorenzo encapsulates.
During the early to mid 2000’s, Dan worked as a solo artist and released three phenomenal full-length albums and one EP. On these, he explored a vast swath of differing styles of music and blurred the lines for those obsessed with genre-labeling. Before that decade was over, Lorenzo was part of The Cursed alongside fellow New Jersey staple, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill). Their one and only album to date thus far, 2007’s Room Full Of Sinners, was another landmark where Dan’s creative prowess was displayed.
Now it is 2017 of course and recently, news broke about a new project that Dan Lorenzo is part of. From far out of left field comes the revelation of Vessel Of Light, Dan’s new musical partnership with Nathan “Opposition” Jochum of Ancient VVisdom. As unlikely a pairing that anyone could imagine, Vessel Of Light‘s debut single “Meant To Be” (streaming below) is a somber descent into heavy Doom music with psychedelic, sludge and atmospheric nuances. The duo’s self-titled debut EP will be released through Argonauta Records on November 3rd and promises to be one of the year’s most intriguing offerings.
So, as a long, long time fan and appreciator of all that is Dan Lorenzo musically, I was recently given the opportunity to speak with him. It goes without saying that I jumped into such an exchange without hesitation for Dan really is a major component within several musical outlets that have (and do) mean so much to me. Without further ado, let’s get to the goods that got us here, shall we? It is my pleasure to present you….
The Riff Relevant Interview With Dan Lorenzo!
Pat Riot – Vessel Of Light. Your new project with Nathan Opposition..how did this project come about? You two seem an unlikely pairing as you all are coming from much different musical backgrounds (outside looking in anyway) so who did what, or brought what to the table, in VOL?
Dan – Back in December I was in Austin, Texas. Before I went, my wife was listening to a lot of stoner rock. Neither my wife nor I drink or smoke, but we both like Sabbath-y types of riffs. I Googled “Austin stoner rock” and came upon the video “The Opposition” by the band Ancient VVisdom. I had never heard of them and I rarely like “new” music. At first I was taken aback by the lyrics. I go to church and I have a Jesus tattoo and they were singing Satanic lyrics. I literally watched this video 10-15 times over the next two days. I consider “The Opposition” to be one of the top 20 greatest songs of all-time. I tried to figure out what label Ancient VVisdom were on or a contact address, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m not on Facebook. Eventually I found an email and I wrote saying how much I loved their song and Nathan Opposition wrote me back. I mentioned them in a NJ magazine I write for called Steppin’ Out. I mailed Nathan a copy of the magazine and a HADES and THE CURSED CDs. We spoke on the phone and hit it off. Then one day I got an email from Nathan about the new project he and I were starting! I had no idea what he was talking about as this was never discussed (laughs). I couldn’t say “no” to his idea though. I have hundreds of riffs and I started mailing Nathan some of them.
Pat Riot – What can music fans and listeners expect from the debut album? Do you think it will appeal to your own fans as well as those of Nathan’s?
Dan – Do I have any fans? (laughs) Yeah, if people liked my riffs in Non-Fiction and The Cursed, they will be happy. Nathan’s fans will love it too.
Pat Riot – How did the label deal with Argonauta Records materialize? Can we expect to see VOL play some live gigs at any point?
Dan – I was about to leave for a vacation in Hawaii. Right before I left I was trying to find a doom label and I came across Argonauta. I sent an MP3 to Brian Slagel [Metal Blade] and Argonauta and nobody else. I was at the airport suffering through a United Airlines 12 hour delay and Argonauta wrote me that they were interested in signing us. Gero and I sent a few e-mails back and forth and that was it. As far as live gigs before we got signed I said “No way”…now I want to do some shows.
Pat Riot – In the mid-2000s you independently released a string of solo albums (3 full lengths/1 EP)..how were those received in your opinion? As both a solo artist and member of some major legacy-type acts / bands, do you have a preference for one over the other (i.e. solo vs. member of band) and if so, why?
Dan – They are both fun. My whole thing is I despise repetition. My solo stuff was a way to get 30 songs out in 13 months without having more than a couple of rehearsals. Nathan and I only had two rehearsals and then we spent a whopping seven hours in the recording studio recording 6 Vessel Of Light songs. Five days later we had a record deal. That kind of spontaneity is incredibly appealing to me. How were my solo CDs received? With contempt! (laughs) No, the “right” people loved my solo work. Bobby Blitz, Peter [Fletcher, guitarist] from Pigmy Love Circus. Cool people with good taste! (I’ll definitely take THAT as a compliment, ha! – Pat)
Pat Riot – Speaking of “legacy acts”..Hades. This year makes 35 years since the “Deliver Us From Evil” single surfaced, where it all started for Hades. Looking back, what’s your take away from it now, knowing what place Hades holds in the hearts of so many metal fans?
Dan – Oh wow! That was 35 years ago. Damn. It’s nice honestly. Dark Symphonies out of Massachusetts is re-releasing our first two CDs with Demos never released on CD and 20 page booklets inside. Hades was my first love so it will always be special to me.
Pat Riot – Hades’ last studio LP was 2001’s “DamNation” and while I know you are just one member of Hades, has there ever been any serious discussion of a reunion or new record?
Dan – Nope. It’s over. I’m still friendly with the guys though and Jimmy Schulman might play bass for VOL live.
Pat Riot – Dan, what was the catalyst event be it band, album, concert, etc. that ignited your interest in music as a youth? Who would you cite as some of your primary influences and what did you yourself learn or pick up from them?
Dan – Ace Frehley of Kiss and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. I play nothing like Joe. My few solos are very Ace-like.
Pat Riot – Now, let’s hit upon 2 absolute favorites of mine: First..Non-Fiction. To me, NF was quite progressive in style and really ahead of its time I believe. What fueled the formation of Non-Fiction?
Dan – Trying to be the exact opposite of Hades. Non-Fiction were spontaneous. We took risks. I would write a riff in the dressing room before the show and then we might use that riff as the opener for that night. So much fun. We rarely rehearsed and when we did it was to write new songs. I fucking loved being in Non-Fiction. It was way more fun and way more “me” than Hades was.
Pat Riot – And what ultimately led to the demise of Non-Fiction? I learned something in researching for our exchange here that I did not know, that a S/T EP was issued featuring Dan Nastasi (of Mucky Pup, whom I love) on vocals.
Dan – We came home from our 1993 European tour with Overkill and Savatage and things seemed to be moving backwards. Plus I fell in love with a girl named Gina. I was so poor that one day I couldn’t find a quarter for a bagel. I was so bummed. I knew I needed to get a job and I knew that would be the end of Non-Fiction. After that Nastasi and I reunited the original Non-Fiction line-up and called it #9. We got a deal with SPV. We were starting to record and Nastasi got a solo deal and his manager put the kabosh on #9. There is one rough mix from those recordings on my website. The song is called The Story Goes. #9 were the shit. So fucking bad ass.
Pat Riot – The Cursed. ‘Room Full Of Sinners’ is such a genre-diverse record..how did that project come to be? What kind of feedback have you gotten over the years since that LP was released?
Dan – Well Blitz was a fan of my first solo cd and we always hit it off. It was weird because I’m not a huge fan of Overkill, but when he started writing to my riffs I realized how incredibly talented Blitz actually is. I think a lot of people loved our CD together, but I think Bobby felt a lit bit uncomfortable promoting it because at that time Overkill was starting a resurgence. All thanks to me getting Ron Lipnicki in the band! ( laughs).
Pat Riot – I interviewed Blitz earlier this year and specifically asked about a possible 2nd LP from The Cursed ever happening. He lovingly passed the buck by saying “never say never” but also made clear it was not really his call. What say YOU?
Dan – I would have done one, but like I said, Blitz…he didn’t even want me to pay to have a video done for The Cursed, so I’m not going to spend my time writing/rehearsing and recording something I can’t even promote when it’s done. We have a 4 song demo we recorded for The Cursed before we did Room Full Of Sinners. My wife’s favorite song by The Cursed is Lucifiction on that demo. It’s never been released. I would love for Blitz to tell me he wants to re -release the whole thing and include a new song or two. I think we write very well together. (For the record, literally, my fave is “Native Tongue”. – Pat)
Pat Riot – OK, Dan..had you not been in Hades, Non-Fiction, The Cursed, Vessel Of Light, etc…what band throughout all of Rock / Metal History would you have liked to been in and why?
Dan – I’d love to take Malcolm’s spot with Bon Scott era AC/DC or maybe The Plasmatics guitarist during A Coup De’ Etat.
Pat Riot – Outside of music, what type of things do you enjoy doing in your “normal, every day life” i.e. hobbies, travel, etc.?
Dan – I play pick-up basketball 4 days a week during the summer. Gina and I have been happily married twenty years and we love to travel.
Pat Riot – I have a tradition of ending interviews with the subject having the final say. Anything you’d like to say, share, state for the record, rant, what have you, this is all you:
Dan – I really wish people would stop smoking cigarettes. It’s expensive, ages you and is disgusting!
There you go, people…Be like Dan and do your smoking on the frets of a guitar! I want to wind down here be saying what a pleasure it was speaking with Dan Lorenzo, a musician whose music via multiple projects has been a staple of my own musical fanaticism for years. Thank you, Dan!
Now, we stand at the precipice of a whole new era of music from Dan via the upcoming Vessel Of Light S/T release (via Argonauta Records Nov. 3rd). My own review of that is coming soon but I’ll go on the record now saying it is going to surprise and astound listeners, and fans of Dan’s both. To keep up with all things Dan Lorenzo, visit his website and Instagram, along with Vessel Of Light’s Facebook page (linked below).
Argonauta Records website.