Formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006, VOLA explore a mix of 70’s style progressive rock, electronica, industrial and metal, topped off with clear, beautiful vocal lines.
After recording early demos, they self-released two EPs, ‘Homesick Machinery’ (2008) with an early line up of Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar), Niels Dreijer (guitar/backing vocals) Martin Werner (keys), Jeppe Bloch (bass) and Niklas Scherfig (drums) and then went through some changes for 2011’s ‘Monsters’ which saw Bloch and Sherfig replaced by Nicolai Mogensen (bass) and Felix Ewert (drums).
Talking about the early releases, Mygind reflects; “On Monsters we started experimenting with 7-string guitars and more groove-driven songwriting. It worked so well on the EP that we wanted to elaborate on this for a full album.”
Mygind was in high school when he started writing songs and jamming with his friends in a rehearsal room in the basement of his parents’ house in the Copenhagen suburbs. “The collaboration grew out of a common interest in adventurous rock and weird time signatures. We’d listen to stuff like Freak Kitchen, Opeth and Porcupine Tree and tried to play their songs in order to explore what kind of sound we could create as a unit. And also because it was just a lot of fun!”
In 2015 they digitally self-released their debut album ‘Inmazes’ which was mixed by Asger Mygind himself and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork, Amon Amarth, Symphony X, Paradise Lost, Devin Townsend, Arch Enemy) of Fascination Street Studio. Creating ‘Inmazes’ after the two EP’s was a liberating experience for Mygind and his bandmates. “The album format of course also allows for a more voluminous story to be told in music and lyrics, which can lead to an overall more rewarding creative experience – and by that – a more rewarding listening experience.”
The album had an instant impact with rave reviews flooding in. By this time Niels Dreijer had left the band (2012) which saw them reapproach their songwriting technique. “We became one person less than on Monsters, I had to fill out more space as guitarist and singer, as Niels also played guitar and sang a lot of vocal harmonies.”
In the months following the release of the album they played their first ever festival shows at Euroblast (Germany) and ProgPower Europe (Netherlands) and the band caught the attention of Mascot Label Group (Flying Colors, Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck, Von Hertzen Brothers, Ayreon) who re-released the album physically and digitally throughout the world.
Upon its release ‘Inmazes’ was met with a wave of critical praise; Prog magazine lauded their “widescreen heavy stadium Prog”, Metal Hammer rejoiced in the “genre-defying, weighty riffs, gloomy, ambient soundscapes and guttural grooves” whilst the UK’s biggest daily newspaper, The Sun exclaimed their “genre-mashing” ability. The single ‘Stray The Skies’ was playlisted at both Kerrang! Radio and Scuzz TV and they ended 2017 with a nomination for the Limelight Award at the Progressive Music Awards.
At times futuristic, the music of VOLA has references to tech-prog and pop as well, their influences range from Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Devin Townsend, Soilwork, Meshuggah and Ulver to Massive Attack.
“What we’ve always liked from artists like Steven Wilson and Devin Townsend is that the music can change the physical state you’re in. It’s not just sound reaching your ears. It’s a force of a larger scale. There is nothing like a big chorus that suddenly opens up and elevates your body to the point where it almost feels like you levitate from the floor. That’s one of the feelings we want to evoke with our music,” Mygind adds.
Lyrically, ‘Monsters’ dealt with strategies on how to escape the negative thought patterns, while ‘Inmazes’ looked at the feeling of being trapped in mental mazes and not being able to fully experience happiness.
Having only played a handful of shows before ‘Inmazes’ was released they have since taken part in the ‘Fallen Hearts of Europe’ tour with Katatonia from September to November 2016. Drummer Felix Ewert left to pursue other projects and was replaced by Adam Janzi in summer 2017. He joined them for a series of festival appearances at ArcTanGent (UK), Rockaue Open Air (DL), Take Over Daze (DL) as well as their first ever run of UK headline shows the same summer including Dingwalls, London. More shows followed in 2018 with Euroblast (Germany), Complexity Fest (Netherlands), Tech-Fest (UK), and Bloodstock (UK). They have even picked up fans in the shape of Trivium’s Matt Heafy and Paulo Gregoletto along the way.
In the summer of 2018 they announced the release of their second album ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’, which will be released on 12th October on Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group. The record was once again produced by Mygind and was recorded in Copenhagen at Heyman Studios and then Asger’s own home studio whilst the mastering was done by Andy VanDette (Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Devin Townsend, David Bowie).
On the new album, they probe society’s distractions from thoughtfulness and examine the way human relationships have evolved whilst touching upon fear and anxiety. Where their debut ‘Inmazes’ dealt with the struggle that came with being trapped in mental mazes, the themes are now focused on the outside world rather than internal conflict.
Talking about his headspace when writing the new album, Mygind explains, “I was in a very different place mentally while writing the lyrics for ‘Inmazes’. I’m definitely in a happier place now. It was actually a relief to be able to have a wider range of awareness for this record. I think our songs develop in the most natural way if I let my emotional response to the music dictate what the lyrics should be about rather than following any kind of plan.”
The album title is a metaphor derived from our relationship with social media, how we can appear close but be miles apart. Mygind elaborates: “We spend a lot of time trying to present ourselves in a flattering light in the pursuit of continuous applause, even if it’s a distant applause from those you may not connect with away from the screens.”
Following the release of ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’ the band will be touring Europe with Monuments in October and November 2018.
VOLA is: Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar), Martin Werner (keys), Nicolai Mogensen (bass) and Adam Janzi (drums).