Interview with vocalist/guitarist Chris Rob
, Era Vulgaris (June 5th 2007)

Not all of our readers might know you guys, so maybe you could start off and tell us a bit about the background for Era Vulgaris?

Era Vulgaris – We started up seriously around 2004 with the objective of writing a strong combination of metal and hard rock which were the two styles of music we were most passionate about.  At the same time we wanted to explore all influences, mainly we just wanted to write music that we would enjoy listening to and playing live.  It wasn’t until 2005 that we had found a full line-up capable of realizing this goal when we recruited our drummer Chris Con who had experience with jazz and funk drumming but also a real drive to play heavy, challenging beats.  We’ve all played in bands before but Era Vulgaris is really the outlet for us to push ourselves has hard as we can and see what we can achieve. 

How has the response been on your debut album “What Stirs Within” – to my knowledge it’s only available to the press and in Ireland and what kind of expectations do you have for it?

Era Vulgaris – So far the album is available in all record stores in the UK and Ireland, we have a full distribution deal through Code7 and Plastic Head and also it is available worldwide through Amazon and Ciao and all the usual on-line stores.  The response has been fantastic actually, much better than we could have hoped.  In fact, ha-ha, yours is the first strongly critical review we have received; even the mainstream press in Ireland (pop magazine Hotpress) enjoyed it.  The UK press is slowly catching on, RockSound Magazine listed us in their Top 100 Bands for 2007 and we’ve appeared in Terrorizer a couple of times now.  Thankfully, for the most part, people seem to understand that we’re just a totally underground band trying to get ourselves out there; the album is released on our own label, we financed it ourselves and the response to our songs has been really encouraging.  We can’t wait to get started on a bigger project in the second album and our expectation for What Stirs Within is simply that it gets us to that next step!

If you should choose one song, which represents the essence of Era Vulgaris on the album, which one would that be and why – my personal favorite track is the closing 11 minutes instrumental “Imram”?

Era Vulgaris – So far across the board the fan favorite has been Harmonic Discontent.  The album review on described it as “one of the greatest prog-metal tracks of all time”.  Now, ha-ha, I might not go that far myself but we do get audiences shouting for it during our shows and we’re really very proud of it.  If there is one song that off this album that thrusts us up onto the next level I think it would be Harmonic Discontent.  Glad you enjoyed Imram so much though, it was a real labor of love writing that one and it came out great on the end product.

If you had to describe your music to a complete musical ignorant – what would you tell him?

Era Vulgaris – I would tell him that Era Vulgaris write accessible, progressive metal.  I think the key element that we always bear in mind is the concept of the song.  Most prog-metal bands get so bloated and self-indulgent that they seem to be more interested in showing off than entertaining.  I think that’s really where the rock influence comes in; concentrating on song writing over being needlessly technical.

How important is the lyrically side of Era Vulgaris – and what has inspired you on the album?

Era Vulgaris – Well, as the lyric writer, they are obviously important to me but we don’t have a message that we are trying to shove down people’s throats.  What Stirs Within, lyrically, is fairly auto-biographical.  It describes pretty much events that I was going through during the writing and recording process.  But it’s written in a broad way which I think most people can relate to.  Discovering the weaknesses in yourself and turning them around to your advantage – that is what stirs within.

Tell us a bit about the album art work – to be honest, I don’t know what to make of it...

Era Vulgaris –  Ha-ha, yeah, well I guess that’s the perfect reaction Kenn!  We wanted artwork that looked great but gave the viewer no pre-conceptions about what might be inside, something abstract.  It is an original piece which we commissioned by a friend of mine Janto McMullin who also designed our logo and the rest of the inlay.  I can no more tell you what to make of this abstract art than any other piece.  We really like it though – we definitely didn’t want a blood and gore style metal cover. 


Chris Rob, Era Vulgaris

How did you get the name Era Vulgaris, and is there a story behind it?

Era Vulgaris – I highly enjoy the writings of Aleister Crowley which is where I first came across the term.  When people ask me why we chose it as a name, well, I don’t like to give too much away.  I would recommend reading some of Mr. Crowley’s work.  He was by no means a perfect man but he certainly had some views that you won’t find elsewhere.  He was strong and he persevered against the grain in the face of constant adversity.  I guess in that way we are very similar.

What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment for you and Era Vulgaris, not necessarily sales wise?

Era Vulgaris – The biggest accomplishment for us, I think, is gaining the respect of the metal scene in our own country.  Whether you like it or not you will always be an ambassador for your native scene.  Internationally Ireland has made a very small impact in metal but the young fans love being able to name drop a band from their own country.  I know when I’m in Europe I always ask people if they know of Primordial or Mourning Beloveth.  Every time we get an e-mail from a young Irish person saying their friend told them to check us out – that’s the best accomplishment of all, better than the most praising review.

Do you have any touring plans for 2007, maybe on the European Festival scene?

Era Vulgaris – We are hoping to do around a three week tour in Europe around November time.  Playing live really glues a band together and it is unfortunate in that way that Ireland can only offer so much in the way of opportunities being such a small country.  We can’t wait to get out on the road!  As for festivals, well what Ireland can offer we’re playing; the DOD Festival in July with Entombed, Candlemass, Sabbat, Skyforger and many more and then the Whiplash Festival in August with Onslaught and a host of Ireland’s best.

What are the strengths and where can Era Vulgaris improve?

Era Vulgaris – The main strength is perseverance!  In terms of the music though I think our main strength is understanding that the only way forward is not by copying what others have done but taking influence from every thing you love and not restricting yourself in the way it comes out.  Where can we improve?  Well what we want is the opportunity to record in a professional studio with a veteran of the industry.  From the reviews it is clear that much of the skill in the music is hidden because the end product is not what we heard in our heads.  The majority of people do not seem to mind this but it is a big pity when it stands between someone enjoying what we have worked so hard to create because we have little control over that aspect. 

Could you please finish the following sentences for me?
* In 5 years Era Vulgaris is...
working harder than ever before to stay at the top of their game and performing live shows that leave audiences thirsty for more!
* The metal community in Ireland is... an extremely harsh environment but when you are born in the frying pan you come out tough.
* To make it as a metal band from Ireland you have to... think big, think outside of this tiny island and don’t be intimidated by the number of metal bands from other countries all fighting for the same breathing space. 

Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and why?

Era Vulgaris – Led Zeppelin.  Discovering Led Zeppelin’s catalogue of diverse and wonderful music made me realize that you could make a career in music writing music that you wanted to hear yourself.  As the famous Wayne’s World quote goes “Led Zeppelin didn’t always write songs people liked, they left that to the Bee-Gees”.  They constantly went against what the critics and the press told them they should be doing, they fought against everyone just so they could release their music exactly the way they wanted to.  That deserves the highest respect, whether a fan or not I think it is undeniable how that would inspire any musician.

Which five albums would you bring on your iPod to a deserted island?

Era Vulgaris – Ha-ha, I don’t have an iPod, I hate mp3s BUT five albums would be Death – Individual Thought Patterns, Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti, Megadeth – Rust In Peace, Miles Davis – Kind of Blue and ummmmmm…Tourniquet – Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance.  I think that would be diverse enough to keep me happy!

Which album(s) have put a big smile on you face and has made you bang your head in past year?

Era Vulgaris – In the past year I’ve been delving back into some old classics like King Diamond’s Conspiracy album, it took me a little while to get into the vocals but there’s so much character there!  Also been getting into a lot of Doom like Reverend Bizarre and Trouble and of course Candlemass who we have the pleasure of playing with at DOD Festival.  My album of the year so far though is Rotting Christ’s Theogonia – awesome from start to finish and their live show in Dublin was totally inspiring.

I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with?

Era Vulgaris – Well if we have any UK or Irish fans reading I want to thank them for getting us to this next stage of interviews from Denmark and to readers who don’t know us at all I always say I can guarantee there will be something in our music you can enjoy, we love all metal and all rock and this comes out in our music.  Mainly though, we really look forward to playing live, that is what we aim for the most, the opportunity to bring our songs to the audience and perform for them.  So keep your ears open and come see us when we’re near you!

Interviewed by Kenn.

Era Vulgaris - What Stirs Within

Album available on Open Your Ears Music.

For more info on Era Vulgaris - click on the album cover.