Like someone said in that movie one time: "A man is only as good as his word." and this interview has a lot of them so enjoy every one of them.
Eugene: We are a quartet, my name is Eugene and I’m handling vocals, the other three are Alex, Dmitry and Pyotr, they are playing guitars, bass and drums, respectively. We’ve all been doing music here and there a little bit before Septa, but nothing spectacular or worth mentioning. Septa is kinda a takeoff for all of us. Also, me and Dmitry are in a hardcore side-project that is called The Nietzsche, we’re coming up with a debut EP somewhere before the end of the year.
2. How is the scene in Ukraine when it comes to progressive, heavy and/or experimental music? Any recommended acts beside yourselves?
Eugene: I think the scene in Ukraine is pretty strong, but it could be better, I guess. Especially, in Odessa, our hometown, where the rock music is officially dead, only a handful of a really good bands are left here. Overall, in Ukraine there are a lot of amazing stuff, and in particular earlier this year these two truly remarkable albums were released that you should check out: first one is by Kharkov band Burrow and the other one is by ZLAM from Kiev. And it’s really cool that in times of such distress for our country we are still capable of producing awesome music.
(Editor's note: Bandcamp players for both bands mentioned can be found below. Both of them are highly recommended.)
Eugene: Yeah, we mix it up a lot. At first we were really let down with the inconsistency of our sound, but then we figured out that this is our sound, we kinda drift in-between genres, doing what we like at that particular moment. And it’s a grudge, really. I think that the biggest influence for all of us always were and still are the Deftones, they carry that beauty and a shear force that we are aiming for, too. And personally for me Mike Patton is a huge influence, it’s nice of you to point that out. I think that Norma Jean, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge inspired us the most during the recording of Destroyer, so this record is a tribute to them, sort of. Also, we love Botch, The Chariot, Finch, Every Time I Die, Mastodon, Thrice, Poison The Well, just to name a few.
4. I, Havok is quite different from the rest of the album, even keeping in mind that there is another electronic track on the album, is this a sound we can be excited to hear expanded along with the melodic heaviness and experimentation on future material?
Eugene: Both electronic songs are a product of me messing around with my iPad, haha! When we had I, Havoc recorded we all instantly knew that it’s gonna be a hit, softer than a pillow, sweeter than a candy. I think that in some way, Havoc represents my love for Radiohead and Unmaker Omega is a twisted ode to Nine Inch Nails. It’s crazy to think that originally I wanted Omega to be a hip-hop song, haha! We have in mind a couple of semi-electronic songs for a future record, but maybe I need to syphon my electronic trippy tendencies to some solo stuff, so not to drag our music sideways and out of focus.
Eugene: I think it’s both. We do not pursue any big statements like “All music should be free!” and I personally don’t think so. There are so many legal services like Spotify where you can literally get music for free, so this whining need to stop, music is already free. But I find this pay-as-you-want model rather nice, it doesn’t pay our bills, but it’s nice to get a couple of bucks now and then, it shows that some people do care.
6. Speaking of these "big names". What were the main reasons you had for working with Matt Bayles and Chris Common?
Eugene: Matt produced many of my all-time favorite records, like We Are the Romans by Botch, Oceanic by Isis, O' God, the Aftermath by Norma Jean and Crack the Skye by Mastodon, so the choice was pretty obvious to me. With Chris we worked from the very beginning, he mixed our first singles, I’m a big fan of These Arms Are Snake, so it really was an honor to work with him. With both of them, actually, it is still kinda surreal to me that here I was listening to Norma Jean and seven years later I’m skyping with the man who produced that record. We were also very lucky to work with Magnus Lindberg of Cult Of Luna recently, he mixed our song for a split with Moscow-based post-rock band She Oak, coming soon.
7. When I wrote about the album for my Freekend column I noted that on a concept album you could create a role or purpose for each different sound that you utilize on the album but afterwards I started wondering whether Destroyer is in fact a concept album as you have these different parts of the Destroyer entirety spread across the album. So in short: Is there an underlying concept for Destroyer?
Eugene: Yea, it sure is! And I was surprised that you didn’t get a hint of it back then. Like our first album The Lover it carries a multi-layered concept: there is a more grounded side of it that is obvious I think. It’s all amorous in one way or another, loving each other, losing each other, yada yada yada, thank kind of stuff. And then there is more story-driven side of a concept. In case of Destroyer it’s really surreal, like some crazy Aronofsky movie, haha! Imagine that there is some kind of a virus or a curse, I don’t know, that makes you explode to pieces every time someone feels true love towards you, like in "Beauty and the Beast", but instead of streaming light out of your fingers and turning into a beautiful prince you combust and burst into flames. Yeah, I guess these twisted fantasies can tell a lot about me, psychologically I mean. So exactly this happens with our protagonist at the beginning of the album, he sees his beloved explode in the sky. And this thing it’s contagious, he now got it and he’s bummed out about it and about losing her, and angry and pissed off, you know. So somewhere between second part and Havoc he meets someone, and he’s mostly driven by anger and revenge, so he makes her fell in love with him. However, somewhere along the way he changes his mind, he can’t do this, he tries to turn her away, but it’s too late, this process is irreversible and so he burns in the sky, too. I don’t know, in my mind it is so complex and Shakespeare-like, but when I try to explain this it sounds just silly, so that’s why I don’t usually do this, haha! But it’s all in the lyrics, man, maybe you can come up with a different story, it’s totally interpretive.
8. Based on the electronic influence already present in your music and with the addition of the numerous remixes of two singles I'd venture a guess that you guys are heavily into electronic music. Any recommendations you'd like to share?
Eugene: Nah, frankly, we’re not that into electronic music, I think out of four of us I’m the most into it, but even I am not that into electronic. I loved new Aphex Twin, he’s the king. And last year I was totally hooked on Jon Hopkins album Immunity. And that comeback Boards Of Canada album was amazing, too, they are one of my favorites, actually. I’ve been listening to Oneohtrix Point Never a lot lately, that’s about it.
9. Also, regarding the remixes, why and how did you make the remix EP's? Did you reach out to specific artists to remix or did you just advertise the opportunity?
Eugene: When we released All The Birds our friends from Russian band Metropolitan Poets came up with the idea of remixing it and making it into that amazing dancy thing. And then one day I was contacted by Mehdi Safa of *shells and Mahumodo fame who was at that moment mixing a record by Ukrainian band Vermona where I was featured on the vocals, and he proposed to remix All The Birds, too. So that kinda ignited the process of compiling a remix album. As for the Aaron Harris remix of 12th it was inevitable, you know, this song is so much inspired by Isis so we really had to ask him to remix it and he did an incredible job. One day we might release a whole The Lover album remixed, something to look forward to.
Eugene: Man, with a tough situation in our country it’s really hard to plan something like this. We even had to cancel some Russian shows. For now, we’ll be touring Ukraine as intensely as we can, but we’ll definitely try to get to Europe next year.
11. Anything else you want to add, advertise, advocate or admit?
Eugene: Thank you for an awesome interview!
There will be a lot happening with us in the future: we’ll be releasing the aforementioned split in a couple of weeks, shooting a music video sometime next month and working on our next record that will be a proper hour-long full-length. Listen to Destroyer now!
Thank you Eugene for the interview and thank all of you for reading, enjoy your destruction and watch out for explosions in the sky.