Progstravaganza Questionnaire: Vermilion

Vermilion was formed in 2009 when guitarist Timmy Segers and keyboardist MichaelPenson met and discovered they shared an interest in progressive music. With drummer Tom Vansteenkiste and Tom Everaert they play a unique brand of instrumental progressive metal that incorporates odd time signatures and a wide range of influences including jazz and fusion. Timmy answers the Progstravaganza Questionnaire.

How did you come to do what you do?

I myself (guitarist) started playing when I was 15. At first I was mainly influenced by Randy Rhoads, Criss Oliva and Alex Skolnick. I never had a formal music education but I was interested in music theory by default so I indulged a lot in that. I later became interested in progressive music through Dream Theater and heavier things such as Meshuggah; Animals As Leaders, Special Defects, Chimp Spanner, Amogh Symphony, Cloudkicker, Death, Opeth, Atheist and Exivious would follow. Along with that I got really interested in jazz fusion. Greats such as Allan Holdsworth, Guthrie Govan, Greg Howe, Pat Metheny, Frank Gambale and John McLaughlin still inspire me a lot. I’m also a graphic designer and like works by arists such as Hugh Syme, Storm thorgerson and John Baizley. I’m responsible for most of Vermilion’s artwork.

As for the rest of the band, our keyboard player Michael comes from a musical family where both parents and now also his sister are professional musicians. Michael himself is actually a classicaly trained violin player and also plays in an orchestra. He also got interested in prog metal through Dream Theater and Opeth. Some of his other influences include Queen, Porcupine Tree and Pat Metheny. He’s also an educated music producer and is responsible for the bulk of our recordings.

Our drummer Tom hails from a more funky and hip hop/jazz oriented scene, but his heavier influences also include Faith No more (and associated Mike Patton projects such as Mr Bungle), Meshuggah, Death, Special Defects, Zu, Shining and Hella (Zach Hill). He plays drums in another proggy/groovy band called Carneia, composes some solo stuff and sings in a Faith No More tribute band.

Our bassist Tom was mainly into technical death metal and proggy power metal. Influences include Death, Opeth and Symphony X. He has his own technical death metal band and has done some work in gothic metal bands as well.

What is your first musical memory?

My first musical memories that I really liked were some heavier 90′s cartoon opening themes. Things such as Mighty Max, Swat Kats, Biker Mice From Mars and Spider-Man (1994). I also really liked the Jurassic Park soundtrack by John Williams and the Tim Burton Batman soundtrack by Danny Elfman.

What does progress in music represent to you?

To me progress in music simply means that we should always be open to different and ever changing influences. We should look beyond certain subcultures and see what new things we can create. This certainly applies to the metal scene, where there are a lot of people who would rather live in the past I think. Or at least that’s the case where I come from.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

See question 1.

What message does the song on our latest Progstravaganza compilation carry?

The song doesn’t really have a clear message since we’re an instrumental band. The titles mainly come from how the song is composed or what feeling it evokes. We usually tend to like “strange” and “uncanny” elements in music wether it be by unusual time signatures or weird tonalities so I guess that’s a feeling that we would like to carry over to others.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

I usually come up with riffs and ideas since it’s still a metal band, which is guitar oriented music, and I’m the only guitarist. We work on everything together though which usually makes it more interesting. Also, everyone is still encouraged to contribute.

What is your method of songwriting?

See former question.

How do you see your music evolving?

There are new influences creeping into our music every day. Game soundtracks is something that I’m also really into. Some of my favorites include Metroid, Machinarium, the Final Fantasy series, Ecco The Dolphin, Chrono Trigger and many more. Drum n’ bass and breakcore is also something I can appreciate. I like artists such as Aphex Twin, Nerve, Drumcorps and The Algorithm. I even like some Enya or Brian Eno from time to time.

I would like to think that our music is maturing too. Lately we’re more inclined to leave the overly technical “cut and paste” approach behind and focus on the song itself (which will still be pretty technical of course).

What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?


What are you looking forward to?

We’re looking forward to playing as many shows as possible. We recently played some high profile clubs in Belgium such as the “Vooruit” in Ghent and would like to see where this is going. It would be cool to play some festivals in the future. Euroblast, Graspop, Progpower Europe and Dour Festival are some that come to mind.

Vermilion on the web: