Interview with Bill Mez, Bassist with Vedic and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
BM: As a band, Vedic writes music that is not only heavy, but provides plenty of hook at the same time. We are a heavy metal band for sure, but have stepped away from some of the speed and technicality and focus a bit more on groove and melody, bringing in more of the heavy rock influences of our past, but keeping it slamming at the same time. Vocally, Jason does a masterful job of interweaving his heavy screaming vocal style found in many verses and breakdowns with catchy melodic choruses, and is energetic as hell on stage. Lyrically, he writes a lot about the social aspects of the time we live in and tries to present the listener with the consequences and warnings of what could come if we continue our social glorification and don’t focus more on one’s internal self and appreciation of life.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
BM: I’m from the old school thrash and groove metal background. I grew up listening to bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Slayer, Overkill, Pantera, and Machine Head. I lived overseas when young, and when I moved back to the States in 1989 that’s the crowd I fell in with. But early on I also tapped into some more rockier and progressive bands like Skid Row, Dream Theater, Guns n Roses, and WASP. All these bands definitely influenced me as a musician. I started playing the bass around age 15. My first big break came when I was at a show in New Jersey where I happened to meet Jack Frost of Seven Witches. Right place at the right time you could say, as they were scheduled to record their first album in just a matter of months but never solidified a bassist. So I landed that gig and was honored to be part of my first real-working band, travelling to Germany to record, and playing on the first 3 albums. Unfortunately that came to an end but I was able to quickly move into another position with the emerging Single Bullet Theory. Funny thing is I landed that gig in almost the same type of situation. SBT needed a bass player right at the onset with a tour already scheduled. I spent a number of years in SBT, recording numerous albums and touring heavily at a point, supporting bands including King Diamond, Killswitch Engage, Soilwork, Hypocrisy, Entombed and Amorphis. Ultimately as a bass player I feel I‘ve become somewhat of a combination of Jason Newsted, Dave Ellefson, and D.D. Verni. In fact I knew D.D. back in the days of Seven Witches (he is close friends with Jack Frost) and the Musicman bass I play to this day was given to me by him, as he had no use for it but wanted to keep it in the family. I love that thing. As a player I don’t really show off huge technical skill, but prefer to be a tight, reliable, in-the-pocket player. I play hard and try to give a lot of energy on stage.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
BM: I’ve never been a songwriter so can’t really speak to that. I’d have to say I play music for myself, honestly. I’m blessed to have a natural musical talent and the ability to play the bass at the level I have achieved. It’s a love that I can’t seem to escape, even through all the breaks from it. It’s cliché, yes, but any artist will tell you that the feeling of being onstage, and to a lesser extent listening to your work on recorded media as well, is truly euphoric. And all the struggles you go through to make these things happen are all worth it for those few precious moments, so I try to give it everything I have when those times come around.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
BM: Well my prime has come and gone unfortunately. Back in the early days of my career I would have told you that one day I hope to be signed to a major label and tour as the main act on a major venue national tour. Well at least parts of that came true, being signed to indie label rosters and part of national tours during the Witches/SBT days. Right now things are a bit more laid back for all of us. But strangely enough we are in a better position now to deliver higher quality recordings and video. We look forward to taking the time to create each musical piece; we take pride in the results sonically, and continue looking forward to playing live shows as much as we can.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
BM: The proudest moment I think has to be the release of the SBT video for “Murder Machines” on Headbanger’s Ball in 2003. We were in the middle of the King Diamond/Entombed tour, sitting at a bar in some club in the Midwest I think, awaiting sound check. I remember looking up at the TV screens and there was Jamey Jasta introducing our video. It was a proud moment, and probably our high water mark.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
BM: The environment has definitely changed, even since from only about 10 years ago. When we were in full touring mode back in the day, it took a lot of effort to get to and then influence the right people to make things happen. And we were lucky to have broken through many of those roadblocks. Today the challenge is breaking through the wall of bands that have ease of advertisement and distribution. Collectively, we all have a lot of experience in the business, and have developed relationships over numerous years, so that gives us an edge still to navigate to the right people who can drive things home. I feel more for younger bands who have to find this all out yet and at the same time try to stand out from the crowd. With Vedic we are now able to do many things in house, and are pretty comfortable with our ability to release and distribute content.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
BM: We currently work with Hard Attack Entertainment for bookings and promotion. We are starting to line up our first gigs in the Philadelphia area since Vedic last performed about a year ago.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
BM: I’m not too concerned about this topic anymore. The process of making money in the music business has always been challenging, and it’s just done in a different way nowadays. I’m no expert though. You used to be able to get money up front (from a label, let’s say), but then owe (them) money on the back end. Now you have to front the money yourself, and potentially eat it if the return isn’t there ($ per spins, etc). In the end there’s probably a net hit to artists of today, since with the ability to access anyone’s music so easily, the downside is there’s a greater percentage of artists sharing the collective profit. But I let go of the idea that this is a money-making venture a long time ago.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
BM: There’s not many songs in our genre that stand the test of time like some of the classic rock songs we grew up with. One that I think of right off the bat is Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. That song is perfection; strikingly emotional, one that everyone can sing along to, and one we can all relate to on at least one level or another. I can’t imagine the feeling of having written a song like that. He is one of the greats.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
BM: It’s just a terribly difficult industry to make headway in. Extraordinarily difficult to reach the pinnacle of success. I often categorize musicians together with race-car drivers, professional wrestlers, and comedians. They all take enormous amounts of time and effort, blood sweat and tears, travel, of course money. Most of them pay their dues and then some, with very little to show for it in the end except for the overwhelming joy of having done it and all the great memories. But specifically in this business, I’m not a big fan of the overuse of technology in recording production techniques. It’s one of those pros and cons scenarios though; it can help for sure, but often makes some musicians sound much better than they actually are.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
BM: Right now we are awaiting the final edits back from Lord Zane Productions (Matt Zane of Society 1) for a video we shot a few months ago for a new song called “Mercy Killing”. We can’t wait to release that. I also just recorded my first song with Vedic entitled “Gag Order”, which we will be releasing very soon. And we are always writing new material, so have a bunch of new songs in the works. We are working on booking shows in the Philadelphia area as well, now that the pandemic has essentially ended.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
BM: You can find us online on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VEDICBAND) and on Bandcamp (https://vedic.bandcamp.com).