I have no idea why it is so surprising to see a metal band like ABONOS from Serbia making the rounds. It’s been close to 25 years since the communist regimes fell to the ground in Europe and despite the awful civil wars that ravaged the Balkan in the 90s most ex-Yugo countries are a part of the EU now. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I only know of you because I saw a posting on Facebook. How well known are you outside of your own little universe?
-In Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia we are one of the well known bands, I guess, and at some point, thanks to facebook and other social media we found out we have a lot of fans in South America, to our pleasant surprise. Sometimes we joke with a line one fan told us when we played on EXIT festival in 2009: “You are not a proper headbanger (in Serbia) if you haven’t heard about Abonos”.
How do you go about promoting/presenting your band outside of the social Medias? What ways are there to reach a potential audience?
-We are not doing much about promoting/presenting for some time now, since we have been dealing with some personal issues (few band members lost their dear ones) and we have been in studio working and recording. For example, facebook page we have, hasn’t been promoted since we made it, and even without any promotion it gathered more than 1000 people in few month. But as soon as new material is released we plan on activating all social media channels and to play as many festivals as we can get in, in addition to staying/getting in touch with some journalists, bloggers etc.
If you were to compartmentalize your music, where would it fit in the best?
-Abonos draws inspiration from all types of music, from classical to modern. Most songs on our first album where inspired by medieval melodies (Serbian), but there is also strong baroque, jazz and other influences. You can hear symphonic, trash, progressive metal parts … all in all a contemporary style.
When you come from a country that isn’t really known for its metal scene how much harder do you have to work to get heard?
-Serbia does have a small but good and diverse metal scene. There are more than few really good bands here, like: Alogia, Seraphim, HeterA, Destiny Potato, Organized Chaos etc. Unfortunately this type of music is not that popular, especially with media, so metal bands have to work really hard to do pretty much anything. Most bands rely on social media sites and forums to spread the word about gigs or new albums as there are no other ways of doing so. Reaching to broader audience, outside Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia, is even more harder and that’s where people and sites like this one come in play.
What kind of metal scene are we talking about? Is it pretty much a DIY scene with bands interacting to help each other out?
-It is a combination of those two. Every band is usually its own manager, producer, publisher etc. On the other hand in promotion you get help from other bands as we mostly know each other and we try to help as much as we can. We in Abonos always love to have other bands play with us and we do try to help others as much as we can.
Can you as small metal band do a national tour and actually get something out of it?
-Abonos already went on national and regional tours few times. One time we where opening act for regional tour for one of Serbian legendary rock bands called “Riblja Corba”. We played all kind of venues, from small clubs in front of 200-300 people, to large stadiums and festivals where we played for few thousand people (2004 at Tas stadium, MetalHammer Stage Exit festival 2005, Explosive Stage at Exit festival 2006 and 2009 …). We love and enjoy doing live shows but making a living out of our music, in national limits, is almost impossible,
Why do you think that the countries in southern Europe have a less heard of metal scene than for example Sweden?
-Southern European bands have less ways and funds to reach potential listeners outside their countries. As I mentioned previously most bands in these parts of Europe do everything by themselves so the know-how and funds are limited.
From what I’ve gathered you have released an album and some singles. What kind of reaction have you had to these releases?
-Abonos has one album and 5-6 singles released so far. It was all self-released as we didn’t manage to find a record/publishing company interested in releasing our material. Reaction was good. We have a strong fan base in ex-Yugoslavian countries probably due to our lyrics being mostly in Serbian language, and surprisingly we have a lot of fans in Spanish speaking countries like Columbia and Mexico. Hopefully in the future we can spread beyond those boundaries and more people will get to hear us.
It might be me being old but I only recently realized what impact youtube have on promoting your band. What kind of response do you get from these sorts of postings and what does it really mean in the real world? What kind of revenues does it actually generate?
-Unfortunately for us, we still haven’t started to use youtube but we do plan on doing so. So far, all our stuff on there has been posted by fans (some got more than 100.000 views), but in the near future we will open an official channel and upload proper material there. As far as we know it’s a good way of promoting bands and their music, but for generating revenue … I don’t think small bands like us can do that.
What kind of future do you envision for Abonos?
-Abonos will continue to make music, it is something we have been doing for 12 years now and we plan on doing for as long as we can. Hopefully one day and with some help from friends we might manage to reach larger audience, outside ex-Yugoslavian territory, so more people can hear us and possibly enjoy our music.