Inzwischen in die Tschechei emigriert, wird die Band den europäischen Markt aufrollen und hat schon die erste Tour in greifbarer Nähe. Zeit einmal dem Kopf der Band, Alexey, aufs Fell zu fühlen!
UG: Hello, Alexey – how are you?
Alexey: Hi! Great, we are preparing to our European tour
UG: When I think of Siberia, I think of long cold winters. Must be the perfect environment for writing black Metal Viking music?
Alexey: Yes, it’s a perfect atmosphere for making depressive or epic music – it depends on what you prefer more.
UG: I heard that the band has relocated to the Czech Republic. Can you tell us about the move?
Alexey: It was difficult process, because I had to change my entire environment and to look for new contacts abroad. I’ve been thinking about the relocation for some of years. The preparation was long. Ex-members didn’t take seriously my offer to change location – they thought I was crazy. But as the further existence of Welicoruss on the old place seemed pointless for me, I decided to move to Europe, without trying to do a stop in Moscow, for example.
UG: If you ask me, it's hard to “break up” grown structures, but of course sometimes you have to break something in order to create something new! What was the reaction of your former members?
Alexey: From all musicians only drummer Ilja Chursin was really upset because we were good friends and played a lot of gigs together. But I asked him to come with me and he refused and I could not do anything in that situation. For the rest of the musicians I've become such a kind of oddball who left his city and go to the new location, but all of them see what I`m doing now and they've got families and almost do not play music now.
UG: So, tell us about the changes in your line up.
Alexey: Yes, as I came to Prague, first of all I began to look for new band members. The whole process took about 3 months. All guys are full of energy and hope. I try to do my best to not disappoint them. Now the band is international – me and Dmitriy (bassist) are Russians, Gojko (guitarist) is Serbian and David (drummer) is Czech.
UG: Has these changes made an impact on the band? If yes, how so?
Alexey: Yes, of course! New members have their own vision of music, they have a bit different musical taste, but this could become new feature of Welicoruss! For instance, Gojko Maric’s guitar playing style is totally different from mine or our previous guitarist Max. Drummer David was grown up with classic pagan black metal and he has his certain style. This just can’t not to influence the band!
UG: Were there ever fears that it would not work out as planned?
Alexey: Fear is always near, but I had so many moments in my life, when I thought that it’s all over! Everything depended only on me, my will and Higher Energies! As people say, do your best and forget the rest.
UG: I am sure Siberia offered really limited touring. Has the move to Europe provided more touring opportunities for the band?
Alexey: Yes! It was one of the main reasons! The distances between cities in Siberia are about 350-800km (I mean, of course, bigger cities, not small ones, where people mostly don’t know, what is metal music), transport costs are astronomical and it’s just impossible to go on tour. Moreover, if you suddenly decide to do it in winter, you have a big chance not to come back :) And I spent almost 8 years trying to do something there!
UG: I know you have been able to play some pretty big festivals. What is it about European festivals that russian festivals can't offer?
Alexey: Yes, we’ve played on big Russian festivals, but after playing in Europe, you can forget about them. Here there is a whole culture of heavy music, many people can listen to metal and not to deny this fact. The quality of stage equipment is great and the sound is awesome. Last year we’ve played at “Made of Metal” Festival in Czech Republic, and we were surprised about how many our fans came to see our show! Also we have played on Wolfseit festival (Germany), Exit fest (Serbia), Rock For Roots (Germany) and this year we will play again in Germany on Ragnaroek Fest in Lichtenfels!
UG: Touring Europe and Siberia must be like night and day. What are some of your memories of touring in Russia in the early days of Welicoruss and some of the hardships you faced?
Alexey: A tour in Russia is always risky. There’s the chance your tour bus slips out of the frozen road or you meet an incompetent promoter. But though it wasn’t always that bad – sometimes we met really good promoters, who did their best. I remember how we played in former manufactory, where there were many machine-tools built in the floor, so fans had to headbang between them)
UG: Your new album “Az Esm” is out now. Can you tell us a little about it?
Alexey: We have been making this album for 5 years, many songs were re-written from the beginning for a couple of times. A lot of work was done with lyrics. Together with Anastasia Kriger we discussed almost every song. I wanted to make this album special, so I decided to invite guest musicians and vocalists to make all the ideas real. I would especially like to mention the man, who developed the booklet design (using Anastasia Kriger’s paintings) – Alex Mayhem Studio and Alexey from DRYGVA studio – both of them made a huge work and thank to them, album was issued in the exactly same quality as I planned.
UG: The phrase “Az Esm” translates to “I am”. Can you tell us why it was chosen as the album title?
Alexey: As for me, this is a comprehensive phrase, which says that you exist. And this is the most important feeling, when you can recognize yourself and feel that you are living here and now in this life. This feeling is important because with it you can radically change your way and to achieve what you couldn’t achieve for decades. We tried to develop this subject to the maximum.
UG: One of our teams favorite songs off “Az Esm” was “Woloshba”. Can you tell us a little about Anastasia and how you came to work with her?
Alexey: I’m very happy that you like this song, because it’s one of my favorite too. Anastasia Kriger is my wife, I met her so many years ago, when I just began to look for first band members in far year 2002. So we did the search together. She was my muse for all my musical life, in spite of some disagreements in lyrics and music. Anastasia is talented artist and architect. Many of her pictures were used in our booklet design etc.
UG: What is the meaning of “Woloshba”?
Alexey: “Woloshba” is an old slavic word, meant “sorcery” which was used in religious rituals. Yes, probably, the “ritual” is the main thing here. It is necessary for discovering the truth.
UG: Are there any plans to play again in Germany soon?
Alexey: Yes, the nearest concert will be in Munich on 10.03 in club 8below, than as I said before we will play on Ragnarök festival, in summer we will appeared on stage of Schlichtenfest Open Air!
UG: So there will be some opportunities to see you guys onstage and our interview is nearly done. Here's our traditional last question: Imagine you could meet your younger self in 2005 with the knowledge of today. Which advice would you give yourself?
Alexey: Interesting question! I would say - do not give man, work hard and believe in yourself, and then ayou will win all!
UG: Thanks for your time and we'll see us around!
Das Interview führten Grave und Alexey von der russisch/tschechischen Band "Welicoruss”
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