A Cave Dweller Interview With Vexing Hex

93

Wise Blood Records is gearing up to release the sophomore album by Vexing Hex, a wonderful release that I feel will be The Best Occult Rock Album Of 2024. We will be doing a full review of the album, but to wet your whistle a bit, we proudly and happily present you with an inside look into the band, and their new music!

Written By: Tom Hanno of Tom’s Reviews

Cave Dweller Music – Hey, guys, thanks for taking the time to do this for us, and for bringing music fans such an excellent album. For those that aren’t aware of the band, can we get you to share some brief background info?

Vexing Hex – It’s our pleasure in both regards, and thank you for the kind words about the album! Vexing Hex is a heavy occult rock band from Central Illinois whose five members may or may not be possessed by primordial spirits of pure malevolence known as witchlords. But let’s move on from that. We released our first album, Haunt, in 2018, and now, we are near the release of our new album, Solve Et Coagula, out June 21st with Wise Blood Records!

C.D.M. – Now that we’ve got the intros done, let’s jump right into things. What were your main goals for the music as you went into the initial songwriting sessions? And from your perspective, what do you think/hope people will hold on to from this collection of new songs?

V.H. – Honestly, the main goal was to make something fun. We set out to create a killer album, hopefully devoid of any filler or pretense, that people would enjoy listening and returning to. We wanted to blend more of our roots, influences, and core musical memories into our sound. We wanted to expand our range as a band a bit and evolve as well, and show off more guitars and instrumental bits since Haunt was more vocal-based.

The most obvious thing that will likely stick with people is the melodies and hooks of these songs, but we want to make music that gets its hooks into you emotionally and mentally as well, be that giving you goosebumps, a cold chill, a new perspective on something, or perhaps even transporting you to a different world and providing an escape from reality. Our goal is to move you in some way, or infest your mind!

C.D.M – One of the first things that I noticed was that Solve Et Coagula seems to have a more full sound when compared with Haunt, both in terms of production and songwriting. What were the main influences for this change as opposed to when you were doing Haunt?

V.H. – We have always been a very DIY-oriented band, so the biggest thing with that is just additional experience and differing circumstances when writing and recording. We tracked drums with a great engineer (Zakk Burke/Roadhouse Studio) in his recording space, which led to a cleaner, fuller drum sound to build off of than in the past. Production-wise, we took influence from some of our favorite pop, rock, and heavy metal albums and strived to make something that was polished and nice to listen to and felt “timeless” to us, but still retained its personality and some blemishes – it is rock & roll, after all.

As far as songwriting, I think it’s just a case of growing as an artist and becoming more adventurous and confident in that area. The more you’ve written, the more confident you’ll be in coloring outside the lines more and experimenting. You start exploring and considering all possibilities and ideas that spring to mind, keeping and developing the best, and then distilling them down. Having a dedicated keyboardist and a second guitarist also helped us to write more full, ambitious compositions and arrangements.

C.D.M – One of my favorite songs is “Poison Apple”, which on its lyrical surface seems to have a “seen from the viewpoint of the evil queen in Snow White” theme. It’s also one of the poppiest tracks, which helps it get stuck in listeners’ heads. How did this track begin life, and is my Snow White comparison accurate to any extent? 🤣

V.H. – Upon it being written,“Poison Apple” was not originally slated to be a Vexing Hex song, but we quickly realized it fit the album’s whimsical vibe, reveling in psychedelic, drag-inspired, glammed-out, arena rock opulence. Your assessment is accurate, as it really is just a familiar fairy tale from a villainous perspective. When it comes to art, there’s often many meanings and deeper layers you can take from it, but “Poison Apple” is about as shallow, saccharine, and silly as we have ever gotten, and it’s great fun. Sometimes, when you watch a lot of classic animated films and indulge too heavily in the devil’s lettuce, a “Poison Apple” is born. Give it a try!

C.D.M – While we’re on the topic of the songs and their lyrics, what song do you guys think best represents what you had hoped a completed Solve Et Coagula would be?

V.H. – Since all the songs are quite different, it’s kind of a tough question, but we’d have to say “One Thousand Eyes” is likely the best candidate. It’s a perfect blend of light and heavy, bubblegum pop and doomed rock, horror punk and heavy metal. It’s a bit hostile, eerie, and alien, but also familiar, catchy, and fantastical. It’s dramatic, campy, and fun, but still reaches into some dark depths of underlying horror. Overall, it’s a good representation of what the soul of Solve Et Coagula is – some weird amalgamation of everything that we love and want to create and share with others.

C.D.M – My top songs change almost every time that I listen to the album, which, in my opinion, really signifies the quality of the music. In doing so, the question as to which songs were your favorites to work on arose. What tracks did you enjoy putting together the most?

V.H. – That’s very high praise, so thank you for that! To be honest, no one song really stands out as more enjoyable to put together than any other. One could say “VViccaphobia” kind of coalesced very easily and effortlessly, though. That heavy wah riff in the chorus came from us going “we can’t have the guitars both playing the same arpeggio part here”. Out of that observation arose a very simple riff, but it became a defining part of the song and helped establish the sound we were going for more. It’s that kind of thing that is fun and enjoyable, organic ideas and mutations popping up throughout the process.

C.D.M – This is something that I like to ask out of my own curiosity, as I find these little details super interesting. Do you guys get in a room to turn demo ideas into songs, or send files back and forth via the internet? And what benefits do you find in doing it that way?

V.H. – The songs are channeled and written through a sole oracle interpreting a higher power, so to speak. Demos are manifested, and from there, the band learns the tunes and breathes life into them as a band. The songs continue to grow and become corporeal, with each member adding their own style and putting their signature stamp on things in big and small ways, before we finally end up tracking everything. That fermentation stage between writing and recording is part of why we don’t have albums coming out on a conveyor belt. It’s not the case for all music or artists, but letting songs mentally marinate and get a bit funky before we release them seems to be an important part of our process for making new music and maximizing the flavor factor. Not all songs get the same amount of time to distill, but comparing the final versions to the earlier demos has one saying “BOLDER, RICHER FLAVOR”, to quote a friend of ours.

C.D.M – Now for a weird question, say that Vexing Hex had to end for some reason or another, either inside or outside of your own control, what would be the things that you hope people would take away from your body of work up to this point?

V.H. – That’s a very deep question with a lot of possible answers! If Vexing Hex were to be banished to the void beyond existence for all eternity, we’d hope that people take away from our catalogue that heavy metal is for everyone, that they aren’t alone in this world and that their tribe is out there, feeling and dreaming similar things, and maybe for some people to see a different point of view, or see the way we see the world and imagine what we imagine. We also hope our art inspires others to make and share their own art with the world – the world needs artists more now than ever.

C.D.M – I just wanna thank you once again for doing this interview, and to give you the opportunity to plug any shows or other cool things that you have coming up!

V.H. – Thank you again for your support and passion for this album and our music – it means the world to us! We just want to plug our monstrous creation Solve Et Coagula one more time, which will be unleashed upon the world June 21st on Wise Blood Records. We will also be possessing stages throughout the haunted cornfields of the Midwest this summer and fall with live performances, so if you see a show pop up with us on the bill and you’re able, come and be hexed in the flesh!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *