The sound of DISTANT SUN is being described as German sounding power/speed/thrash. What would you say has been the greatest influence on the band’s sound?
-For me it’s three great bands: Blind Guardian, Rage and Metallica. After I joined forces with our bassist Artem, who is a big fan of Annihilator and Grave Digger, we had our influences mixed together. The drummer – Eric – is also a huge fan of Blind Guardian and Kai Hansen (virtually every project Kai’s been a part of – Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, etc). So yes, it’s mostly German power/speed metal of the 90’s era.
We see more and more of the old bands making a comeback these days. Do you have a faves of the old German bands that you’d like to see making a comeback?
-I’m looking forward to see the new Rage lineup (the “The Devil Strikes Again” is great!), and what excites me most is their “Refuge” reunion with Chris and Manni – I’m a bi-i-ig fan of “Trapped” and “The Missing Link”. The latest Running Wild album is not bad too, maybe they’ll begin touring again – might as well go see them live. Sadly the new Blind Guardian album doesn’t excite me at all, so I would really love them to reunite with Thomen and produce another “Imaginations”. Well, that’s only a dream.
When you picked the title “Dark Matter” what was it that made you pick that for the album title?
-It’s a scientific term from astrophysics (which I sometimes dig in Wikipedia), and it sounds very fantasy-themed at the same time. It just came to me one day and I instantly knew it’s the perfect title for the album. It also has philosophical meaning, so it’s basically great.
Russia is a large country and there are tons of bands but is there camaraderie between metal bands or do you feel like you are alone doing your thing? Do you feel that you are part of a universal movement playing metal?
-Well, you can very easily count Russian bands that tour the world, because you only count to one. It’s our mighty ARKONA. There are some other bands that tour Europe, but they do it for their own money, spending on music, not earning. I don’t feel that I’m alone, I’d say we all the same cohort of striving-for-success musicians, but not getting any 🙂 I know a lot of musicians though, and the community is quite friendly, but there’s still a chasm between English- and Russian-language bands. The latter are much more popular here.
What will the future bring to DISTANT SUN
-We’re producing the 2nd album right now. The guitars and drums are ready, Artem’s doing the bass and I’m recording the vocals this very week. It’s gonna be a little bit slower and probably more melodic than “Dark Matter”, and I’ll put a lot of effort promoting it, cause I really want everyone to hear it. The title is “Into the Nebula”, the new artwork by W. Smerdulak is majestic and the songs are good. Let’s see.
What can you tell us about SHADOW HOST?
-Shadow Host is a very old (20 years) power metal (Blind Guardian-oriented) band from Russia which once enjoyed a lot of popularity, but suffered a lot due to constant lineup changes (more than 50 members!) Here it’s widely known as a “musician university”, a lot of good musicians were a part of Shadow Host one day, like Andrey Smirnov – now a guitarist of U.D.O.
What would you say has been the greatest inspiration for SHADOW HOST? How do you introduce the band to people that hasn’t heard of you?
-At first it was Blind Guardian + Helloween, period. After I joined it three years ago, we changed the style closer to thrash metal bands like Overkill, Exodus and Testament. It’s now a strong mixture of classic thrash and power metal. Maybe something like Dark Empire or Evile, or a faster (and no-keyboards) version of Iced Earth.
When I look for new bands the first thing I notice is the art work. How important is the art work today when people download your music?
-For Shadow Host it’s not that important, but we try to add some kind of a mascot (a dark angel in a hood) now. For me (as a leader of Distant Sun and Starsoup), it’s very important. I totally agree with you that it’s the first thing people notice. So my artworks will always be classy and intriguing.
How bad is the downloading for bands today? Is there a risk that the whole downloading phenomenon will eventually kill music completely?
-Here in Russia it’s another thing that killed music completely 🙂 It’s VK.com social network with free music streaming. There’s no need to pay for music anymore. I heard they were going to change it due to legal issues, but it’s still available for everyone for free. So nobody here buys anything from us and yes, it kills us. But we’ll never stop creating music anyway. We’re the dreamers.
What has the future in its womb for SHADOW HOST
-In fact the band is kind of on vacation right now. I’m really busy with my other projects, and the guys say they wrote a few songs for the new album (I wrote a few lyrics too), but it’s still far ahead.
I’m fascinated with band names. How you take common words and turn them into something with meaning. What is there to tell about the name STARSOUP?
-Well, the band comes from a project I once took part in, it was called Crime of Passion. The band split, but we had some songs that I really wanted to record (like “Angels”, “Cradle of War” and “Perfect Loser”). I started to combine words I liked and came up with Starsoup. The other name I had in mind was Soulfall, but I decided Starsoup was more awkward and recognizable.
When you write songs for STARSOUP do you only look to inspiration from metal? What influences you when you write the songs?
-Starsoup for me is a mixture of Savatage and Queensryche, but a lot of people say it’s a Dream Theater ripoff (it’s not! I just like Dream Theater). Its music is very (I hope!) emotional, so the inspiration comes from everything – my mood, books, weather, nature, my acoustic guitar. Too bad I can’t play the piano, or I’d use it for musical ideas too!
When you write lyrics do you do so with a clear idea in your head or do you let the music steer you writing? Is it important to have a message?
-The message is important, but most of the time I write for myself, so maybe some messages are not that clear for the listeners. I very much hope everyone gets SOME feelings when listening to my music. I usually have a song title and music, with the chorus melody ready, and I compose the verses along with lyrics while listening to the demo several times. But this year I was writing lyrics independently, using some beautiful Russian texts, translating them and transforming them into something I’d like to hear myself. Let’s see how it turns out.
What is the live scene? Is playing live still a great way to spread the name of a band?
-No, definitely not. I’d say right now it’s mostly YouTube that spreads your name. So you gotta make tons of good videos to get a fan base, putting lots of money into Facebook ads at the same time. Maybe after you get SOME fans you can start playing live – so that you get like at least 100 people watching you in this particular city. I don’t thing we are able to do this yet, but we’re trying. The shows will definitely come.
What lies ahead in the future for STARSOUP
-The new album will come out eventually, but I don’t want to make any promises. I can say that 3 songs are ready and one was already mixed in the studio, but that’s about all. We’ll see after the new Distant Sun album comes out – I have some good ideas recorded on my phone, so I know the album will come. Maybe in 2017.