VOLA was formed in the mid 2000’s in Birkerod, a Copenhagen suburb, by a group of friends all attending the local music school. After having made a small handful of demo recordings in 2006, the group – including Asger Mygind and Martin Werner – wrote and recorded their debut EP ‘Homesick Machinery’, which was self-released in 2008.
In 2009 Nicolai Mogensen joined VOLA after having stumbled upon an audition call from the band. Being first and foremost a guitarist, Nicolai was not actually playing bass at the time, but he liked the music of VOLA so much that he borrowed a bass and decided to apply anyway.
“We played ‘Like a rainbow’, ‘Giants’ and a few others. I remember thinking that their style of music was really unique, not something you would hear a lot of in Denmark at the time. So I was keen to play with them and very happy when they finally, after three months of leaving me hanging, invited me to!” Two years later the band recorded and released their second EP ‘Monsters’ (2011), already at the time receiving some international attention through social media. Talking about this release, 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.”
DEBUT ALBUM: ‘INMAZES’
VOLA in 2015 self-released their debut album ‘Inmazes,’ mixed by Mygind and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork) of Fascination Street Studio. The album lyrically dealt with the feeling of being trapped in mental mazes, not fully experiencing happiness and was further developing the sound from ‘Monsters’, importantly taking the role of the keyboard in new directions. It had an immediate impact with rave reviews flooding in. The band was subsequently signed to Mascot Records (Flying Colors, Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck) who re-released the album physically and digitally worldwide in 2016.
Upon its re-release, ‘Inmazes’ was met with another 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. They ended 2017 with a nomination for the Limelight Award at the Progressive Music Awards.
“It is weird to think about today, how we sat together in Asger’s tiny dorm room and made this record, which ended up meaning so much to a lot of people – and to us as a band as well,” says Mogensen. Having only played a handful of shows before ‘Inmazes’ was released, VOLA then took part in the ‘Fallen Hearts of Europe’ tour with Katatonia from September to November 2016. They made 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. More shows followed in 2018 with Euroblast (Germany), Complexity Fest (Netherlands), Tech-Fest (UK), and Bloodstock (UK).
Upon this time, Adam Janzi joined the band, after the departure of former drummer Felix Ewert. VOLA found Janzi on Youtube, especially liking one of his Meshuggah-covers. They invited him to come to Copenhagen and rehearse for some shows and they instantly fell for his unique drumming style, which has later come to influence VOLA-songwriting significantly.
‘APPLAUSE OF A DISTANT CROWD’
VOLA’s second album ‘Applause of A Distant Crowd’ was released on 12th October 2018 on Mascot Records. It was produced and mixed by Mygind and recorded in Heyman Studios, Copenhagen and Mygind’s own home studio. The mastering was done by Andy VanDette (Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Devin Townsend).
The lyrics focused on the outside world rather than internal conflicts, thus differentializing the record thematically from both ‘Monsters’ and ‘Inmazes’.The album title was 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.”
The release was followed by a busy touring schedule, supporting both Monuments and Haken on their tours, playing 51 shows across Europe, and then going straight into the festival circuit with standout performances at Euroblast (Germany), Bucovina Rock Castle (Romania), Ramblin’ Man Fair (UK). Shows supporting Anathema in their hometown show in Liverpool, UK and two concerts with Dream Theater in Germany followed.
Having now expanded their fan base, VOLA did their first European headline tour spanning 21 dates through the summer and fall with the band playing to sold-out venues across the continent. Reflecting on this milestone in the band’s career, Werner says:
“Finally being able to play all across Europe in front of our own audience was a huge experience. The tour gave us a gratifying feeling of support from our fans and a strong confidence in the band’s future.” Following the tour, the band retreated to Mygind’s home in the Southern part of the Danish Island of Zealand to write songs for a new record. Additionally, the band made their first live television appearance at the popular Danish Music Magazine GAFFA’s Music Awards ceremony in early 2020.
‘WITNESS’ (2021) AND ONWARDS
VOLA’s third full-length album ‘Witness’ was announced in February 2021 to be released on 21st May via Mascot Records. Mygind was once again producing, but this time the mixing and mastering was handled by Grammy-nominated producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, The Black Dahlia Murder, Amaranthe).
Musically, the band regards the album as almost a reaction to their former. Discussing the sound of ‘Witness’, Mygind says:
‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’ had a lot of dynamics between the songs, and the production steered towards a highly organic and lively sound. After having done that, it felt refreshing to try to do something more processed sounding, where the energy level was less fluctuating. The songs were surely written with this aim in mind.”
He also mentions the specific impact of Hansen’s work on the record:
“Having Jacob Hansen mix the album was also a factor. Since he is very good at creating catchy vocals, the prospect of working with him was a motivation to make an album where big, memorable choruses were paramount. In general he’s fond of grandiose soundscapes, which inspired us to add more layers to the production than what we’ve ever done before.”
Somewhat thematically aligned with ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’, Witness explores unsettled relationships on both an individual and societal scale. Mygind explains:
“I did not have a plan when writing the lyrics, but when the songs were done I realized that the lyrics largely deal with failed relationships. On a societal scale, they show themselves in the friction between leaders and followers, which is caused by misuse of power, and if I zoom in, the failure is born from unrequited love, grief, manipulative behavior and insecurity. Connecting it with the album title, one could view the characters portrayed in the lyrics as being witnesses to the dissolution of the bond they have created with people in their lives.”
With ‘Witness’ being conceived and released during the Covid19-pandemic presenting the album live is an obvious challenge that the band is currently facing. But so far, a Danish tour has been announced with more to come.