Albania is the black hole of European metal. Right of the bat I can’t name one single metal band from Albania, CROSSBONE apart. Olsi Ballta, founder/vocals answered my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

Do you notice that there is an anticipation for you to release an album? Have you built a large enough following for people to eagerly await a new album?
-As soon as the trailer of our new album came out via Nadir Music Genova, we felt that there was quite a buzz around in various portals and webzines around the world. The same was in Albania, at least in Tirana where the majority of population and the rock community is present. The title, artwork and the sound generated a lot of curiosity and we felt good about that. Somehow people new this is going to be something interesting and from a country that very little is know about regarding rock/metal music scene.

Is it important for you that a new album picks up where the previous left off? How important is continuity?
-Well, it is important to have the same mindset as a band, anyway with the passing of the years there are things that can be improved in terms of sound, production or even composition.
It is important to be loyal to yourself and the band’s DNA.

Was it hard for you to come up with a sound for this album that you all could agree on?
-In general, the sound is pretty much the same as in a live gig. We always try to maintain a good sound and to be able to reproduce it live. There are bands that overproduce their sound in the studio and when it comes to live performance the sounds lacks quality and feels rather off and empty. We are happy with sound so far and yet we always try to improve.

How important are the lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Lyrics are a very important part of the song because they carry the message and the message has to be clearly conveyed to the listener. Words travel from mouth to mouth and get stronger.
It’s been 20 years now that i write the lyrics of Crossbones and i always pay close attention to words. The lyrics on this album are inspired by the recent events, war, conflicts, refugee crisis,
terrorist attacks, the endless quest of mankind finding and defining itself in this consuming world we live in. I would like to close this part with a few verses written at the end of the booklet:

“We are the people the machine, the plague and the suffering,
We are the rich who feeds on human dreams
We are the poor who feeds on thick blood streams
We are the children washed ashore
The tears and blood, we are at war
Please, no more.”

How important is the cover art work for you? How much do you decide in choosing art work?
-It is the most important thing when you see an album for the first time. You can decide to buy the CD just by liking or not the cover art. It is the first thing you get in contact with. But it has to tell in a clear way the message and also some hint about the music genre. It has to speak to your audience. We spent quite some time with how the cover art should be. We believe it works for us. It has character and complements the general idea of the album, the title and the current global events. It stands out and shouts for your attention…and it’s metal enough.

How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-Having a label is important because they can introduce you to important industry contacts, festivals and means that you have a certain standard and music quality. They can manage things that the artist or the band can’t. They are already in the industry so they can guide you and represent you and this gives importance to the band. But it comes with a price and every rose has its thorn.

I guess that today’s music climate makes it harder for a band to sell mega platinum. How do you tackle the fact that downloading has changed how people consume music?
-It has both the positive and negative sides. It’s positive because almost instantly, everybody around the world can hear about your band, history and music. If the music is good and relates to the people it will go viral. You can become an instant star. The negative part of it is that the band loses money and there also major bands that suffer this. It means more gigs and extra effort for the band to make a living out of it. At least for bands that are just breaking in the music industry.
The artist suffers. It’s ironic, but that’s the way it is.

Does nationality matter today when it comes to breaking big. Does nationality play a part in if or not you will make it big internationally?
-Maybe not that much. We live a world with virtually no boundaries and the exchange of culture and information makes us all citizens of the world. Maybe in our case it can arouse curiosity because Albania is a small country and has been isolated for half of a century. It has its own issues and it’s almost exotic in a sense. Its rock/metal scene is still young and small and it has still no international recognition or just too little. But if the band rocks and the music is good enough and lucky enough to break into the world, the nationality is just a personal info in the bio section.
It is important to try hard and make the most of your potential and deliver a product that could easily compete with any other band in the world. We come from a small country but have big dreams. Sky is the limit.

I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
A funny story here to answer the question. A fan of ours bought our new album CD “WWIII” in the live premiere we had on the 26-th of February here in Tirana. She was really exited about that, went through the pages of the booklet, took a picture with us, signing the CD, you know that kind of stuff and all of a sudden she said: – Where should I play this? Hahaha.
It has come to a point where CD players are becoming obsolete, because everything is online.
You make a lot of effort to release a new album, and your music converts into zeros and ones and digital fragments. Don’t you think it’s too late to go back to those golden times when you could enjoy your favorite music in a good old CD player?

What does the future hold for you?
-We hope it holds great things and achievements. The best is yet to come but we are thankful for what we have so far.
Thank you for your time and for spreading the word about Crossbones and Albania.

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