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Interview with David DeFeis by Ralph Geiger

1.) Before we can talk about more pleasant topics, I want to confront you with some statements from my recent interview with ex-Virgin Steele guitar player Jack Starr. Could you please give some comments?

Sorry but as we expressed to you, I'm really not interested in discussing bullshit. The bottom line is that his comments are False and everyone knows this already. It would be a dream come true for him if I were to sling mud back at him, because then he can get more print time/space, which he so desperately craves! He hasn't done anything of note these past many years. It is painfully obvious that he is desperately trying to ride on my coattails, because of the wonderful success that I have achieved with VIRGIN STEELE for all these years!

a) Together with Metal Blade, Jack wants to re-release the first Virgin Steele albums. Dave tried to re-release them before, but Jack refused his consent.

NO, that is not what transpired. I have been discussing the idea of putting those recordings out with him, for about 4 years now. We had numerous discussions in which I told him, that after I completed my work on THE HOUSE OF ATREUS, I could go back into the studio, and get the albums into shape for release. I do own and have in my possession, all of the Original Master Tape Recordings! Apparently he has chosen to forget about this and has gone ahead with his own plans. I believe he has burned a Cd copy from a vinyl pressing. He tried to put those albums out without my knowledge, about 5 years ago with a company called Power Records. I put a stop to that.

b) Jack says that Dave wanted to get rid of him after the "Guardians Of The Steel" album to make more money.

The album was called "GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME "actually, not "Guardians of Steel". Anyway, FALSE! There were numerous reasons for his exit, but I am not interested in discussing them. However, money was certainly not the issue at all. I was not the only member of the band at the time who wanted to move on, the others were equally keen to have Edward in the band then. It was actually a good time for the split, as he had just completed a solo album, so he was on his way anyway.

c) Dave talks bad about other bands (Hammerfall, Manowar).

As We posted on our Website, this is utterly False, as everyone already knows. I/we have great respect for any musician/artist that is trying to do their best in this World. Plus I/we have no interest in gossip of any sort. We have maintained a proffessional rapport with all the bands we've met or toured with over the years.

d) Dave betrayed Jack when they recorded the "Sacred" demos together.

And exactly how did I betray him??? By working with him free of charge??? I introduced him to the studio where I work and got him a very fair rate. I worked long hours for nothing in return. I Wrote, Sang, Played Keyboards, Produced and also asked my bass player at the time, Rob DeMartino to play on it.(Rob did a very nice job I might add!!!) And...I never saw a penny from it. I did it out of a love for music, and friendship. So this is what he calls betrayal. I in fact sent these recordings to 3 Labels. None were interested unfortunately. I also worked with him on what he claims is his "Favorite solo album", NO TURNING BACK . I played keyboards, produced it, helped him out with all the arrangements and co-wrote the songs. I even rehearsed the band in my house for these recordings! What did I get for my time & efforts, nothing. No money whatsoever! I have a contract with him regarding that album, which is even written in his own hand. This contract entitles me to a certain amount of money. Yet did I ever come after him looking for my pound of flesh? No I did not. Again I did it for music & friendship. So I ask where is the betrayal??? Bullshit!!!

e) Dave tells guitarist Edward Pursino which notes to play.

I am a complete songwriter. When I compose I just don't throw out a few riffs and some half assed lyrics. I compose, and yes sometimes that does include the guitar solos. Edward, is an extremely accomplished guitarist and because of this, I can tell him my solo ideas, as he CAN PLAY THEM!!! Edward brings his own ideas to the table as is quite obvious as well. We have a great chemistry, which has produced many Classic VIRGIN STEELE tracks, such as: TRAIL OF TEARS, THE WINE OF VIOLENCE, RISING UNCHAINED, to name just a few! Ed is a great guitarist, musician and human being, who I have enjoyed working with since we were kids.

2.) Now let's talk about the other news: Virgin Steele will release a CD called "The Book Of Burning" in October, it will contain the songs I mentioned in question 1a), but as re-recorded versions. Why that?

ANSWER: What list of songs did you mention??? I don't see it here. Anyway, it will contain various songs from the early days through to the present, that were either written but never recorded, or new versions of older favorites and never heard of things, etc. Why you might ask??? Well why not???!!! The band is in great form now and we have vastly improved upon the older versions, and given out many surprises along the way!!! Most of our Fans today have no knowledge of those early works. we thought it would be nice to present the early period in an updated fashion, that is in touch with the past, but representative of who and what we are now. This is a rare glimpse into the past, present & future I suppose.

3) Which other rare tracks will be on the CD?

You'll have to wait & see!

4.) You will also release an Anthology. Which rare tracks will it contain?

I have so many that at the moment I'm not sure. I/we record many things and whatever seems to fit the mood at a particular time will be included.

5.) How have the reactions to your new opera "Die Rebellen" been, compared to your first opera "Klytaimnestra"?

Overwhelmingly positive, great and over the top!!!I am quite happy & proud!!!

6.) Tell us more about the cooperation between you and Walter Weyers.

We will be working on a third "Opera" as well!!! He likes my music very much and my concepts about Art, Life Etc, are similar to many of those found in his works as well.

7.) The last performance of "Die Rebellen" has been in July. Will there be more?

YES!!! There will be many more, as luckily it was quite successful!!!

8.) Why didn't you want to perform on stage?

It was my intention to have the work succeed on its own merits, outside of a complete involvement from myself or the rest of VIRGIN STEELE. Plus, due to the time factor, I/we were too busy in other areas like touring or recording to actively take a full part in the production. Now having done things this way, there is the possibility of actually being in the next production.

9.) The new issue of the German mag "Rock Hard" contains a live review of "Die Rebellen". They write that the vocal parts were asking too much of the Memmingen ensemble and the spoken word parts were too long. Do you agree?

Some of the actors/actresses did have a bit of difficulty with the vocal parts. However, this did not detract from the emotions and the overall success of the Evenings. Regarding over long spoken parts...well if I had my way there certainly would be more singing than speaking!!!

10.) You plan to write your third opera. Tell us more.

I believe I already addressed this. Yes the answer is a resounding yes!!! It will be the third in a series of works that have two things in common, a very powerful female central character, and the fickle nature of the Gods/Goddesses.

11.) You are member of a very musical family. Your father runs his own theatre company. Your sister is an opera singer. Of course, the previous Virgin Steele albums also contained classical elements. But why did it take so long until you made the step to write an opera?

I don't see it as taking so long. I'm not on any particular time schedule. When the oportunity and the feeling coincide...then things happen. There is no grand master plan. In fact I don't really think of my music/VIRGIN STEELE as my "Career", it really is a way of Life that is incredibly enjoyable!!!

12.) Did your father and your sister see / listen to your operas? Which was their comment?

Yes they did and they enjoyed the music very much!!! My father had a few qualms regarding the director's ideas, but all in all he loved them!

13.) Do you think it will be possible to perform the operas in the USA? Maybe with your father's company and your sister on vocals?

Yes, all of those possibilities exist and over the course of time they shall be realized!!! These works now having been done, are...Forever, and...Timeless so... there is no rush. When the proper opportunity arises we will certainly do it.

14.) If you look back, what's your opinion of the last Virgin Steele albums "The House Of Atreus Act 1 and 2"?

I think they are Fucking Great!!! They contain some of my best compositions and performances, as well as unbelievable performances from Edward & Frank. In addition to that, they are wonderful examples of true Modern Metal, filled with sophistication and class. They show that Metal can move forward while still retaining it's origins and elemental power!!! There's no rehashing of old shit here. The albums contain advanced Harmonic, melodic and structural ideas that reveal themselves to the serious listener over repeated listenings. One can discover something new with each play of the work.

15.) When will the next Virgin Steele album be released? Do you already have some finished songs?

October will unveil "THE BOOK OF BURNING", which contains half new/never heard songs and half re-recorded/reworked older songs. I always have ideas, complete songs, half finished songs, etc., as I work all the time. We will issue a new studio album most likely after we release our live album!

16.) Tell us more about the "telephone pole incident" from May 13.

A very drunk gentleman, crashed into the studio's front window, taking out a telephone pole, another service related pole, and tons of wires, at the same time!!! The power on the entire block was out for 2-3 days!!! Which meant I couldn't work for awhile, which is of course aggravating to me!!!

17.) When Savatage mainman Jon Oliva concentrated too much on classical music / opera (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), his main band suffered from it. Aren't you afraid that the same may happen to Virgin Steele?

NO, because I am not taking time from VIRGIN STEELE. All the things that I do are channelled through the VIRGIN STEELE Experience. That is why there were no guest choirs, guest orchestras, guest singers, etc., on THE HOUSE OF ATREUS, it is completely VIRGIN STEELE from the first note to the last!!! We proved that a Metal/Rock Band can stretch the boundaries of the genre, with startling results.

18.) Do you still remember the gig at last year's Bang-Your-Head festival in Germany where you played without bass player?

Of course, my mind still functions quite well. It was a great gig!!! Most people had no idea that a bass player was missing! It was an extremely well organized event, thanks to Horst Odermatt and his team!!! Perhaps the most enjoyable Festival we've done thus far! I was able to socialize with many other Bands/musicans, etc., after the gig, like GAMMA RAY, PRIMAL FEAR, LEFAY, etc, which was Great Fun!!!

19.) Why do you have so many problems finding a permanent bass player?

I don't. We decided a long time ago that it was easier to make records as a three piece, so usually that is what we do. Either Edward or I handle all the bass duties. Now that we have recently completed a full scale European tour with a bass player named Joshua Block, we decided to work with him in the studio. He is a great player as well as a great person. He is playing on some tracks of "THE BOOK OF BURNING". He also plays great guitar, so his guitar playing, (both 6 & 7 string) as well as his 5 string bass playing can be heard quite prominently on the new recordings.

20.) What are your plans for the near future?

A live album/DVD, maybe a Book!!! More albums, more Metal, more classical
moments, more touring, more wine, more of everything!!!

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