Tuesday 3 April 2012

Interview Time with Wooden Stake

Wooden Stake is a ghastly horror Doom Metal band formed in 2010. Vanessa Nocera and Wayne Sarantopoulos aka: Elektrokutioner are the two sole members of the band best known for their occult drenched riffs and demonic banshee vocals. These two are hardly new to the world of metal and horror having performed in (combined) 16 different bands. With an impressive full length, 3 eps, 2 splits and 1 compilation album as Wooden Stake. Vanessa was nice enough to spend some time answering a couple questions for me.

Some music to accompany the interview.

1. Who are you?
Wooden Stake is Vanessa Nocera on all vocals and bass, and Wayne Sarantopoulos on guitar and drums.

2. Where you from?
I am originally from Manitou, Kentucky and I just recently moved back with my husband. Wayne is originally from Massachusetts and just recently moved to California.

3. What do you do?
Music, music, and more music. I’m also a full-time psychology student, so my time is full these days, but I’m not complaining.

4.Why do you do it?
I’ve actually been involved in music since I was very young. I discovered thrash metal when I was 7 years old, I picked up the guitar at age 9, and tried to form my first band when I was 11. I have some old recordings I did from this era in my life, but nothing was very good until I was 14ish. Ha!

Wayne’s love of music keeps him going. I think that’s why he and I work well together. We’re obviously happy when our music does well, but we do it because we truly enjoy staying productive and creative.

5. What made you decide on the name Wooden Stake?
Actually, Stevo of Impetigo gets credit for coming up with the name.

6. Going along with names, Elektrokutioner, I hear he is a familiar face in the death metal scene.
Yes, he is. I couldn’t begin to name all of his bandsI sometimes wonder how he can remember.

7. What's the story behind the name?
I have no clue actually. Ha!

8. Makes me think you should go by a nickname, Vanessa sounds too innocent. Ever think about it?

I have thought about it, but I don’t know how I would settle on one. It’s a little too late now. Most people call me V anyway.

9. Wooden Stake is drenched heavily in the occult with many horror themes, what is it about this style that attracts you to it?
I’ve been a horror fan since I was 2 years old. I could operate the VCR when I was little and I would watch “The Shining”, “Children of the Corn”, “Nightmare on Elm St.” and so on. Of course as I grew older I discovered more films and began to read on the occult, Voodoo, Black Magic, Satanism, and so on. It’s something that has always intrigued me and I’ve always felt a part of it and it’s a part of me. I’ve always been drawn to the shadowside.

10. What influences whether books, movies or music caused the horror background to happen?
Definitely “The Shining”, “Children of the Corn”, “Nightmare on Elm St.”. There have been several books and films that I regard as a major influence on my creativity, but there are way too many to name. Music is another medium where the list goes on and on. I don’t even limit myself to metal when looking to gain inspiration. I look to things like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Wolfsheim, Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks…

11. You have a fairly unique sound, stripped to its roots its essentially doom metal. Are there any influences behind this genre choice?
The obvious influence, at least on my end, is Black Sabbath. I’ve always loved heavy music with clean vocals, but it had to be done just right in order for me to like it. Untrained ears would lump us into a category with Lacuna Coil or whatever that band is, but I would like to think that with our lyrics, attitude, and heaviness we have our own sound that is balls to the wall heavy metal with doom and death influences. Even black metal as far as my vocals go since my roots involve black metal.

12. Female fronted bands are still pretty uncommon, especially ones with such raspy, dark vocals. In my area I cant even find a girl who likes metal, what made you choose this path?
I was an oddball since I was a zygote. I knew of bands from my father’s record collection like Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf, but it was when I was 7 and heard Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” for the first time. I knew there was something there that I wanted to be a part of. I was a weirdo in school with very few friends, so I turned to music, movies and books to confide in. Metal was definitely the genre that I committed myself to and be creative in.

13. Along those lines, how does it feel to be a woman in the metal scene which is primarily male dominated.
It can suck major balls. When I was younger I was naive to the thought that there was even a separation of the sexes, so when I was dreaming of being Kirk Hammett on stage, that was never a factor in my mind that my genitalia would be such an issue. It pisses me off that people are not passed the mentality of the 1950’s man. Metal music is supposed to be about rebellion and saying “fuck you!” to the majority, yet I have met many people who claim to be into metal and they’re just as square as the jocks who hang out at the sports bar.

It also pisses me off when girls will claim to be into metal but behind closed doors make statements like, “Well, girls aren’t REALLY into metal; they just claim to be to look cool or to follow what their boyfriend does.” What a load of bullshit. Fuck off!

14. Apart from the growls your voice is beautiful, ever think of perhaps a different side project?
First off, thanks for the compliment; I appreciate it. Yes, I have actually thought about re-recording some songs I did when I was 13 in a “dark wave” project I did called Red Harlow. I also have another music project up my sleeve once I get better musical equipmentbut, I won’t disclose any information on that just yet.

15. One that embraces the clean vocals, Blood Ceremony or the Devils Blood come to mind.
I’ve not really heard Devil’s Blood, but I am fond of Blood Ceremony. I actually had only heard of them around the time we were recording our demo. I like their sound and to me they are one of the better retro doom bands.

16. Do you still perfom as Scaremaker? Or is Wooden Stake the main focus?
Scaremaker is definitely still my baby! I have been writing riffs for the second album for a while now, but many interruptions have prevented me from finishing it completely. It’s been put on hold for my other bands like Wooden Stake and Skeletal Spectre, but I’m ready to get the album on its way. I guess for a bit you could say Wooden Stake took my focus, but I try to not put one band over the other.

17. I would imagine it being difficult, balancing multiple acts. Does Elecktrokutioner still play with his other bands?
Yes, it can be. It can also be very enjoyable to have different creative outlets. He still plays in some of his bands, but not all of them.

18. The past couple years has seen a steady rise in the doom scene, plenty of great bands are coming out, Wooden Stake being one of them, Are you fans of any others?
As I stated before, I really like Blood Ceremony. Blizaro is another obvious choice along with John Gallo’s other band Orodruin. Other doom bands aren’t coming to mind because I usually just stick with the classics.

19. While writing this I've been listening to Dungeon Prayers & Tombyard Serenades, did the album fulfill what you wanted of it? Rise beyond expectations or fall short?

Thanks for listening. It definitely was what I expected and then some. I wasn’t going to pre-meditate anything before Wayne worked on the music, but it was hard not to. Every time he would send a song I would get inspired to write my bass parts and vocal arrangements and record it.

20. Whats your opinion on downloading music? Necessary evil or advantageous friend?
Well, as co-owner of a record label and a lover of music, I would say that I fucking hate downloading. I was fortunate to catch the tail-end of when people would go to a record store and savor the sacredness of holding an album in their hands and spacing out to the images and music. Nothing is sacred anymore, so I’m becoming used to the idea that people just take what they want and are unappreciative half the time.

21. If you were trapped on a desert island with an mp3 player that could only hold 3 albums, which 3 albums would you listen to til the end of time?
Metallica “Master of Puppets”
Bauhaus “Best of 1 & 2”
Death “Leprosy”

(and this was hard…!)

Well I've ran out of questions, you have any last words you want to say to your fans?
Those out there who support us, we appreciate it and hopefully if and when we play live we see you there! Keep your eyes peeled for future releases because there’s one just around the corner...

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