I don’t get to listen to too much instrumental music but every once in a while along comes a band like SHAKHTYOR that have no vocals and shake about my world. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
Why this fascination with Russia and its industrialism? Is that a specific German thing, that fascination?
-It is my very own specific thing in the first place. I have spent half a year in Russia during university, came back later regularly and used to have very close personal relationships to a number of people there. It is not so much about the “industrialism”, it is more about the mysteries of the largest country in this world and the secrets hidden in it’s outmost corners, secrets of nature or also leftovers of the communist era and its GULAG. It is about despair and hopelessness, being lost and left alone but also about its incredible beauty.
Why would it be typically German? I have met only very few people having an understanding for my affinity towards this region. Nevertheless, most people consider the name a good choice for a band playing this kind of music.
Isn’t the Ruhr area gray enough to influence you guys?
It might be as grey as Norilsk but this is not what SHAKHTYOR is about. The Ruhr is more about Thrash Metal anyway…
I’m quite familiar with doom, stoner but what is post and sludge to you guys?
-Sludge is a very raw, often rather simple but in your face kind of music, it is brutal, downtuned riffs and heavy fuzz distortion. Sludge might also be taken as some bastard of doom, punk and stoner. Postmetal on the other hand brings the more atmospheric, elaborated part into our sound. To me, postmetal is kind of the evil link between doom and death metal, lacking doom’s pathos and musicians showing-off their skills instead of focusing on the songs like often found in death metal.
How does your metal fit in with the rest of the German metal scene?
-What do you mean – how do we compare with Running Wild and Helloween, haha? I have no idea, actually it took some time until we realized that we are often recognized as a metal band, being signed by a label like Cyclone Empire underlines this. But frankly speaking, we are all not very familiar with the current metal scene anymore and the few people we know from metal bands do not seem to consider us as their likes, haha. Without a singer, without the typical solos and with our long songs I think it will be hard to establish ourselves as part of the metal scene even if doom is becoming more and more popular at the moment. We see ourselves more as a part of an underground scene where doom, drone, sludge and such kinds of music exist alongside and influence each other.
When you write songs that are longer than 10 minutes how do you keep it interesting to listen to?
-Tough question…it seems to work somehow. I would say you either have to surprise the listener from time to time or you have to hypnotize him somehow so he does not even realize how long he has already been listening. Our songs are mainly based on the results of long jam sessions and we just play and try different things, sometimes over and over again, sometimes it works from the first take…in fact, we do not plan to write long songs, it just happens and we always say “oh no, again more than 10 minutes” but hey, this is how it comes out and we like it.
How hard is it to not have vocals to hang up the melodies on?
-That is no problem, we focus on the riffs, the grooves and the massive sound so I would even say it is easier not to have another instrument added. Reducing it to the minimum with a maximum effect.
What would you say have been your biggest musical inspiration?
One of the reasons to found this band were Ufomammut. They just have a magic groove you can’t escape and their sound is heavy as fuck. Plus they are almost instrumental. But we do not and will never sound like Ufomammut, we get inspiration from every kind of music and are old enough to dare and try if it works if we like it.
How much have you looked for influences outside of music? How much inspiration comes from literature and film?
-We have one song named after a book of Aleksander Solzhenytsin but I would not consider the song being influenced by the book. We make our songs first and look for a title afterwards. There is no plot or something like this, everybody can make up his own movie to our soundtrack afterwards.
Is it Important that the art work and lay out follow a specific aesthetic?
-For the first album – yes. We wanted something closely related to our name, the imagery itself and the style or the aesthetics, as you call it. I did the concept and a first draft but Nils got in touch with Alexander von Wieding who has done loads of covers for Bands like Monster Magnet or Karma to Burn and he turned it into professional artwork. Our cover is very different from his other works but we love it as it fits our music perfectly. I do not know if we will stick to this soviet-propaganda-ish style in the future. As I said before, SHAKHTYOR is not about glorification of the Soviet Union. For our demo, we had used a photo of a graffity from Morocco taken by a friend of ours, showing the portrait of an old miner. For our next release, we have no specific concept yet, only some rough ideas. It should support the character of our music, though, heavy, dark, hypnotic.
How pleased are you with the final outcome of your debut album?
-We are absolutely satisfied. The Tonmeisterei has a very good reputation In the German underground, Omega Massif, B-SON,Kodiak, Blackwaves and many others have recorded or mastered their albums there so it was a dream for us to go there. Role, the mastermind, just knows what he is doing and he gave us a fantastic sound. We are really looking forward to the release of the vinyl, not only because we have recorded another song for it but also because the artwork really deserves a large vinyl cover.