INTERVIEW - Act Of Denial: "we just want to play some early melodic death metal that we grew up with"
Act Of Denial is an international all-star melodic death metal project formed last year in 2020 during the pandemic. So far, they have just unleashed singles ahead of their debut album later in the year. The project was the creation of lead guitarist/songwriter and producer Vojan Koceic or Voi Cox (Koziak, Victim), as he likes to be known and guitarist/lyricist Luger (Benighted, Koziak). Together they have assembled a hell of a line-up for their mighty metal project, which is currently comprised of vocalist Bjorn Speed Strid (Soilwork), bassist Steve Di Giorgio (Death, Testament), drummer Krimh (Septicflesh) and keyboardist John Lönnmyr (The Night Flight Orchestra). Along with other prominent special guests such as Bobby Koelble (Death), Peter Wichers (ex Soilwork), Matias “IA” Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses, Sons of Apollo), who all contributed solos to the album. Their early melodic death metal sound and impressive line-up got my attention, so I had a chat with one of the founders of Act Of Denial, the humble Voi Cox, who is just thankful to be making the music he loves with those he admires...
You are one of the founders of the project, forming in early 2020. Was this before or during the pandemic, is that why it formed?
Yeah, the pandemic is one of the main causes of this because lots of free time now as we cannot perform live, so it’s the best time to make music, so that was the main reason for doing this project, it’s not a band it’s more of a project. I don’t like to call it ‘supergroup’ as I’m not super, those guys are, but I’m not super. I’m just a guy.
How did you come to form with guitarist Luger, and did you already have in mind the other members you wanted to be a part of the band?
I know Luger, he is my friend from childhood, and he made most of the lyrics and music with me. The guys, for example, Bjorn (Soilwork) is from a band we listen to our whole life, he is one of our idols and of course Steve Di Giorgio from Death and Testament, he was also one of biggest influences for Luger and me, so we decided, let’s make an album but let’s make it with those who we really admire and love especially their music and songs, so it happened because of them. One thing to know, this is the first time saying they are not going to perform live with us because of their obligations to their main bands, so yeah, we have a really good line-up live, but I don’t want to give any names for now as we are still waiting.
How did you end up with the band name of Act Of Denial?
In one of our songs we have, the title song of the album ‘Negative’, we have a line that says, ‘act of denial’, so it sounded interesting to us, so we were like, let’s go with act of denial, it’s powerful. The name does not really matter too much to us. It is all about the music…and money [laughs], no, there is no money in metal music, but we don’t want to go commercial. We just want to play some early melodic death metal that we grew up with.
How challenging has it been starting Act Of Denial during the pandemic and recording your debut? Did you do it virtually or in the studio?
I have my own studio. My day job is as a music producer. I’m not just a producer. I do everything, performer, cleaning guy, coffee guy. It’s a little studio which I recorded all the demos but the interesting thing, the album is not recorded in my studio, it is recorded in my little house in the village, and it’s deep in the mountains and the woods, so to have a better impact on the writing. When the pandemic started, me my wife and kids go there for three months, and I moved all the things from my studio up there and recorded every Act Of Denial song there.
What are some of your main musical and creative influences that are present on the upcoming album? I guess it was the guys you already had in the project, like Soilwork?
Yeah, the biggest influences are obviously Soilwork as he is on it and others like In Flames, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, Metallica, Maiden, of course, all the good stuff.
What are the main lyrical themes explored on the album?
I’m really bad with lyrics. You need to speak to Strid (Bjorn) and Luger about that. I just made the music, and that’s it, but I believe the lyrics are talking about inner struggle and the situation in the world.
How did you arrive at the album title of ‘Negative’, was that because of what is going on in the world?
Yeah, you can tell like that, no we recorded ‘Negative’ song ten years ago but it was under Koziak, our last project from Luger and me and we had the song but its completely different now, so we were like let’s go with ‘Negative’, it sounds like positive [laughs].
The album features some special guests such as Bumblefoot and Peter Wichers (ex-Soilwork). Did you actually get to record/work with them in person, or was it all done virtually?
Yeah, Bumblefoot and I are friends for more than ten years, he was meeting me few times, and I did the music video for, it’s one of my best works, you can check it out on Youtube it’s called ‘Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore’ (view below), it’s a big song with the music video. When he was playing with Guns N’ Roses he was here when I was working in New York. I met him and went to his studio so we are really good friends. He was interested to be a guest on our album, of course, and also Matias “IA” Eklundh, he also was here, from Freak Kitchen did a guest solo and Peter Wichers ex-Soilwork and also one of the founding members of Soilwork and Bobby Koelble from Death, so lots of brilliant musicians on there..not me, those guys, I’m really thankful for them doing this.
How excited are you for the release of the album, especially as you have managed to put together such an incredible line-up of members? Leading on from that, what has the reaction been like from fans so far as must-have fans from all their bands too?
Yeah, we have a big fanbase now. We can’t wait to release the album. It’s a really good album and old school sounding death metal, that’s the reason we wanted to work with Fredrik Nordström (At The Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy) from Gothenburg, he invented that sound, the Gothenburg death metal sound, the sound of At The Gates and In Flames, so we wanted to mix with Fredrik because he has that sound in his heart and now we are waiting for release. We signed with Golden Robot for the album, and I believe the album is going to be released probably in September, but it’s scheduled for the fifth single, I know it’s singles, but people want to hear the whole album, but it’s not on us to decide that, but I believe soon. Everything is changing, but I believe in September, it will be out on CD, digital, t-shirts, socks, everything [laughs].
I don’t know if this will be possible for you guys as a project, but will you be doing any live stream shows to promote release if you can’t tour anytime soon?
For now, not, now we are trying to find a good booker, manager and good roadies and cook and everything. This live stream is okay, but it’s like playing in your own room, and I want people to feel us live, you know when you go to a concert, you feel because of the loudness and the crowd and everything, I want to feel the crowd and the crowd to feel us. Streaming is okay, but I’m not a big fan of it. Like football, they are playing, I’m watching, and no one is cheering them.
Other than promoting the debut for Act Of Denial, what else have you got planned with your other bands/projects?
For now, this (Act Of Denial) is more than enough for me and my day job and family. We did a big thing, and we want to focus on this and get a bigger fanbase and promotion, and we need a good booker and manager. Of course, we have contacts now, but we need to find the best solution for us.
I know your only just releasing your debut album this year, but as this is a project, do you plan to release more material under Act Of Denial?
We have some idea about the second Act Of Denial album, with new guests and a different line-up, yeah, but we will see what the future brings. I hope people are going to like the first one. We are doing this, of course, for us, but also for the people who like the old school melodic death metal.
What is one thing, if anything, that you have discovered or gotten into during the pandemic, a new hobby or anything or just busy creating Act Of Denial?
Yeah, one of the things that Steve Di Giorgio inspired me to do is chickens and roosters and to make a cookhouse with chickens, now I have nineteen chickens and roosters, and like Steve has three, I believe, not sure, so we are talking about chickens and nature and animals, that’s the new news for me, and I did lots of physical work on the village because the village gave me inspiration for this, so now I must pay back to the village, I trim the grass and do everything, every week. Some musicians are collecting bees and honey, and I hear lots of musicians are tiresome touring, so they go to their houses in the mountains and enjoy the animals and nature. The drummer Derek Roddy (Nile, Hate Eternal, Malevolent Creation) is a big snake fan. I don’t know how many snakes he has, a bit different from chickens.
Lastly if there anything else you would like to add or share?
Yeah, I’m looking forward to you all hearing the album, our debut album, and I’m looking forward to your comments, your energy and everything.
Golden Robot/Crusader Records: https://goldenrobotrecords.com/crusader-records/act-of-denial/