VOJD – What’s In A Name?
February 19, 2018, a month ago
After finally having the chance to see Black Trip live, a band whose two full-lengths both showed up on my annual Best Of radar, I was crestfallen to learn the 2016 Bang Your Head show witnessed would be their swansong. The website had hinted at a conversion to the cryptic Vojd moniker, along with a few line-up changes. The cat is finally out of the bag and I'm happy to report that Joseph Tholl (vocals/bass, but had until just recently moonlights on guitar, with Enforcer) and Peter Stjärnvind (guitarist, who had previous stints in Entombed, Nifelheim, Krux and Unanimated, as a drummer!) remain the creative core. The new High Roller disc, The Outer Ocean, already seems destined for a coveted slot on the 2018 list. “I'm happy to hear that. Thank you very much,” says Tholl, from his native Sweden.
Right away, want to track down the origin of their unique choice of name. Google and translation software came up blank, which sort of bemuses the bass player. “It’s just a made up spelling of the word 'void,' phonetically written in Swedish.” While only minor alterations to the musical landscape, the change in name seemed unwarranted, especially given the inroads they were just beginning to make. Tholl agrees, but, “We were forced to change our name cause of an American band called Black Trip. They claimed the name and we couldn’t release our records in the US unless we changed our name to something completely different. So we had the choice of having a different name in the US or just change the name worldwide, which is what we did.” As to the line-up changes, “Jonas Wikstrand left due to lack of time, Sebastian (Ramstedt) and Johan (Bergebäck) left cause they wanted to go back to Necrophobic and play more brutal music. I see it as the same band as Black Trip but with a couple of new members. The Outer Ocean is our third album.”
In that regard, Tholl will try to make up for lost time, hopefully with an increased live presence. “I want to play live as much as possible, for a band like this,” he confirms, before explaining further. “I mean, some of us have family and we’re a small band, so we’ll have to work from our situation. I’d love to throw myself out there and take all the possibilities that shows up, but I also know that's not possible.”
Mentioning that a couple of the new songs wouldn't have been out of place on the Black Trip albums, like "Break Out", "Delusions In The Sky" and "On The Run", Tholl is non-committal as to whether these are leftovers, or completely new constructions, solely by the new band, saying, “I don’t distinguish between Black Trip and Vojd, as I said before, this is our third record, Black Trip and Vojd are the same thing.” The only difference, as I see it, is the increased presence of a rock element in this material. Stuff like ‘Dream Machine’ and the title track recall one of my faves, ‘70s Blue Oyster Cult (especially the vocals performance on that pair). Is the less metallic angle intentional, or just how this material turned out? ”We just wanted to introduce new stuff that we like, and I think it worked, it adds to the dynamics of the album. 'Dream Machine' is a song I originally wrote for something else, but then I realized it would be cool to have a song like that on the album and brought it in.”
In discussing other tracks, talk first turned to "Vindicated Blues", with its great groove. “The song is about change, and acceptance of things changing, to let go of things that you’re holding on to just because you’re used to it.” Then there's the aforementioned "On The Run", with a hint of Paul Stanley vocals. “Peter wrote this one 100 percent,” counters Tholl. “It's the only song where I didn’t write the lyrics. I haven’t thought of the Paul Stanley reference before, but I take that as a compliment.” Lastly, there's "Walked Me Under": “The lyric was written a while ago, when I spent some time alone in my cabin during the summer. The nights are beautiful out there but it’s also a little creepy. Sweden has a lot of myths about creatures living in the woods and how you can be seduced by the fog at dawn. So that's what it’s about, me alone in the cabin being seduced by the fog into the woods and down into the ground. This cabin is also where we recorded our video, for 'Delusions In The Sky'. In the video, you can see the actual woods that I’m talking about.”
Although there's a continuity with the past, Vojd is a new entity, still learning who their fan base is. “Statistics on our Facebook page says age 25-45, so there you have it,” he laughs. “It’s always cool when younger people pick it up and proves that the hard rock scene is alive and still growing.” Surely quite a few BraveWords readers will be interested and do their part. Check out The Outer Ocean now.