New Jersey’s Voodoo Terror Tribe have just released their latest effort, the dystopian-themed beast, The Sun Shining Cold. VTT guitarist and band founder, Emir Erkal, is a wealth of knowledge and stories. He moved to America from Istanbul, Turkey in 2001 to pursue his music career. In the process, he met Ill Niño singer Cristian Machado, who subsequently began managing the band and also produced their new album. Over the years, Voodoo Terror Tribe has made a name for itself as a mainstay in the New York tri-state area and beyond. The band’s intense performances and diverse discography, which includes three EP’s and two full-lengths released between 2005 and 2014 (including 2009’s Symptoms of Sin recorded with Billy Graziadei of Biohazard and Suicide City fame), have solidified the band as a premier talent amidst a sea of contemporaries.
Erkal is joined in Voodoo Terror Tribe by vocalist Gil PZ, drummer T-Bone, and bassist Primer. This week, Metalholic and Metal Nation Radio caught up with Emir to chat about the band’s new record, The Sun Shining Cold, moving to America from Turkey, and much more.
How is everything in your world this week? It’s been a strange week with the unexpected outcome of the election.
“Yeah, it’s been strange. A lot of mixed feelings I guess. Obviously a lot of unexpected things happened. But at the end of the day I’m just hoping for a better America. It’s not looking that way at the moment, but I’m still hopeful.”
You came over from Istanbul, Turkey 15 years ago. That must have been something of a culture shock.
“Back then it was, actually. Even though people outside of America know a lot about America from the music, the movies, all kinds of things—15 years ago it was more like that. Back in Istanbul it was hard to get the albums or hear or see an American band. It was really difficult at the time. I had a band over there back in the day. It was like an old school thrash metal band. We made albums, all in English. Nothing in Turkish. Three albums; ’94, ’97, and ’99. We toured with the band at the time, but it was difficult. It’s a Muslim country and you’re trying to perform heavy metal and they think this is the devil’s music (laughs). It was tough, but now things have changed.”
The new album has been seven years coming. You released a couple of EPs in the interim, and you lost your former vocalist who passed away. How has the time between records and bringing in Gil on vocals impacted the band’s sound?
“A lot actually. Gil came in in 2009 and he brought a lot to the table with his incredible voice and as a writer. He composed most of this album lyrically and music wise. The rest of us still wrote some of it, but I can easily say he wrote most of it. We always arrange the music altogether, and Christian Machado being in the picture as a producer on this album, that was the highlight. That made the best for us.”
As you mentioned, you worked on The Sun Shining Cold with Christian Machado of Ill Nino. How did he impact the making of the record?
“He’s been a great musician, artist, professional all these years with Ill Nino. He’s had a very successful career. But aside from that, he’s just a great person. He’s very laid back and humble. He pushed us so much in the studio, pushed our boundaries. There were things that we didn’t know we were capable of doing, but then we did. On the guitar, on the bass, on the vocals, on the drums…So he really got more out of us, and we learned to be flexible with him. Before him, we didn’t really let anyone rearrange our songs.”
The Sun Shining Cold has something of a dark and haunted feel, even menacing. Was that the intent or just how things played out?
“It is dark in a way. Every song has its own story, but in general it’s like a post-apocalyptic scene, like Armageddon. It’s this frozen sun over a desolate city yet people are still hopeful to see that sun shine again.”
You can check out the full interview with Emir below as he talks more in-depth about The Sun Shining Cold, some of the songs on the record, his path from Istanbul, his influences, and working with Christian Machado.