VIIRTAAN RISE are brand new on the horizon. They released their first single before the new year began and it is already receiving praise. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to founder/guitarist/backing vocalist Jack Stanley about the band’s sound, future plans for the band, mental health and his dream quest team.
For those who haven’t heard Viirtaan Rise before, how would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as Twilight Force meets DragonForce meets Rhapsody. The first single Apocalyptic Skies is very DragonForce but I tried to throw in some Rhapsody and Twilight Force in there. The second one that is coming out; musically, I have tried to make very heavy Twilight Force and Rhapsody, putting the DragonForce aside if that makes sense.
Speaking of Apocalyptic Skies; what were the origins of writing that? Was it written a while ago and remastered it or is it something you wrote recently?
The whole concept of Viirtaan is that it’s a mythical place and it was started around 2019. I like to write songs to a certain concept, I am one of those song writers that like to think of a whole story for a record and write about that. It helps with the lyrics. Apocaplyptic Skies is one spot within the story of Viirtaan Rise.
Is Apocalyptic Skies the beginning, the middle or a spoiler ending?
It’s somewhere in the middle. I suppose on the face of it as it’s a single, it’s a song but lyrically it’s part of a jigsaw that the rest of the record is going to be built around. Spoilers there, we are making a record.
You say you like to write lyrics around a story, are there any stories from TV shows, books and films that you took influence from?
I suppose Game Of Thrones has had a big influence because I really enjoy Game Of Thrones. However the big one for me, this is really nerdy, it was back in 2009 and I was playing Dragon Quest 9 on Nintendo DS; to this day that remains one of my absolute favourite games. My entire outlook is so heavily based on that one game, I have a song on the album coming up that I had to change the lyrics several times so I wasn’t just writing Dragon Quest 9. That game very heavily influenced me.
In fact; originally before Ryan [Thomson] got involved with the project, it was called Angel Falls not Viirtaan Rise. Purely because the first town you reach in Dragon Quest 9, there is a character called Angel Falls.
So you’re working on a new album, could you tell us a bit more about that?
Like I said earlier, I like to write lyrics around a concept. So I write the entire concept then pick certain parts of said concept to make them into songs. Naturally, that’s leading to a full record because I’m not just going to release Apocalyptic Skies, one part of one story. I think part of me has always wanted to be a writer, an author. During early secondary school, I would shut myself away in the library every lunch and work on this novel I was writing. Really it was just a rip off of The Shining. I had never been good at writing books or anything so I turned to writing lyrics which lead to a full record that we are working on.
Would you consider turning your ‘rip off The Shining’ into a full record? That would be really interesting.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent but it’s the same story. We will save that for another day. [laughs]
You mentioned an upcoming single, can you tell us more about that?
I won’t tell you the name just yet, that will be released. Where Apocalyptic Skies was balls to walls fast Power Metal, I would describe this upcoming single as a slower pace song. It has a much more magical feeling to it, it has some nice intervals in there. The origin of this song is really funny actually. In 2019, I was living in Bath, Somerset and I was studying at Bath Spa University. I was in the shower, it’s where the best ideas come from, and this melody hit me. I then got out the shower, grabbed my phone to record the idea I had for a melody and now it’s the next single.
What are the most challenging parts of recording your music?
There are a lot of challenges because it’s taken ages to get to this point because it’s just the two of us, we do everything ourselves and it had to get to a point where we have the right equipment and plugins. You can see the mic stand behind me and I’ve got audio interface. Plugins wise, it’s taken ages to get it all to work and learn how to use it. So that’s one of the struggles of doing it.
Another struggle being doing everything ourselves like I said earlier. With Apocalyptic Skies, Ryan did one of the guitar solos and all the lead vocals. I did all the rhythm guitars, bass and programmed all the drums note by note. I did a bunch of orchestrations, Gisha [Djordjevik] mixed it all and did a great job.
Writing the songs is a challenge because for a long time, the guys from X Japan used transcribe all their power metal songs note by note. They used to handwrite the whole lot. For a long time, I used to do that myself and it takes forever. I have stopped doing that now and I have started to write more directly now using the software and plugins rather than note by note.
At Rock Out Stand Out, we like to spread awareness around mental health and keep the conversation going. In your local area, what’s mental health awareness generally like?
I think it’s alright. Just driving around, there are signs for a Men Talk night they have every week. I haven’t looked into it but just by seeing it, it’s great to see there is support for men who struggle with their mental health. Seeing that stuff up is encouraging.
Is there anything we can do more of as family members, partners, friends, band members etc so people feel more comfortable opening up?
I think it’s generally being aware of symptoms because I speak from experience, I went through a hell of a time in 2019; going to work, I would be the guy that stood at the back and hid away from everyone else on my shift. It goes unnoticed and stuff like that nowadays I look back on it, if I noticed that with someone else I would think ‘hang on, is this person alright?’ So I think recognising the symptoms is the main thing. Obviously the support is there to deal with it but actually recognising the symptoms and being able to stop and say this is happening, is very important.
It’s so easy to mistake it for every day problems like feeling tired from your job but those all build up creating a bigger issue.
And then it starts to happen regularly as well. Someone repeats they are tired from work, that’s when you got to ask if something else is going on.
Is there is anything you like to do to unwind or calm down if things get overwhelming?
I like to play games. Games like Minecraft or Skyrim; I am fan of big open world games where you can explore, drive around and see things. You can do anything you want in Minecraft. Skyrim is so beautiful. Grand Theft Auto if I want to take my anger out on some things. Me and my friend have started playing a game called Just Die Already, it’s an open world sandbox game where the idea is to cause destruction and mayhem.
Going back to your influences in fantasy games and TV shows, which fantasy world or realm would you like to visit the most?
I feel if I visited Skyrim, I would get absolutely destroyed. If I went to Westeros, I would get destroyed. I would go back to old faithful and say visit the realm of Dragon Quest 9, you can go into the big towns as no monsters attack those.
Which five people would you take on a quest with you?
If I say Daenerys Targaryen, do the dragons come seperately or do they count as one person?
Let’s say for the question, they count as one.
So I’d take Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, as she would be a great front liner with dragons. My extremely levelled up character from Dragon Quest, I would take him with me on an adventure as he would also be a great front liner with all his weapons. I would take Francis Rossi from Status Quo, obviously he comes with the guitar. He’s the bard and he would just be at the back singing Rockin All Over The World. Spiderman, because I like Spiderman and he would be the nifty infiltrator. Rico Rodriguez from the Just Cause game series because in that game, the main thing to do is blow things up so I feel like he would be the guy at the back with the rocket launcher.
Do you have messages for Viirtaan Rise supporters and Rock Out Stand Out Readers?
Stick around as there is a lot of stuff I have planned for Viirtaan Rise. It’s not going to stop at the album, so stick around and enjoy the music. Also, thank you very much for the support because it’s a new band and this is when the support is the most important.
Thank you so much Jack for taking time to speak with us at Rock Out Stand Out.
Find VIIRTAAN RISE on Facebook.