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Harmony In Grotesque

Het Siberische bandje Harmony In Grotesque was al een tijdje bezig en is nu voldoende tot wasdom gekomen om de vleugels uit te slaan naar een internationaal publiek. Zoals zo vaak kende de band de nodige personele wisselingen. De stijl van de band is niet per se in één noemer te vangen, maar duidelijk is wel dat het geen standaard spierballenvertoon is, maar eerder en weloverwogen balans tussen atmosfeer en een energie die past bij het onderwerp dat op dat moment behandeld wordt. De onderwerpen gaan overigens wel wat dieper dan de gemiddelde extreme metal band. Ik vond het in Nederland koud zat de afgelopen tijd, dus even een tripje naar hun thuisbasis zag ik niet zitten. Daarom stuurde ik ze de vragenlijst op en drummer Oleg pakte hem op. Daarbij liet hij met regelmaat zijn andere bandleden aan het woord, die allemaal minstens één keer mee doen. En zo hoort het. Ze introduceren eerst zichzelf aan u.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder doom metal

Hail! We are Harmony in Grotesque from the Siberian city Krasnoyarsk, Russia. We've been existing since 1998 thus we are one of the “brontosaurus” of metal in our region. So to speak we are something like a gang of elderly hedonists overcoming severe weather conditions and crazy about rock n' roll.

So I read, yes. Congratulations with the release of you first full length album. It took you quite some time to make, didn't it?
Oleg: Well, thank you! Actually this is not quite the first our album. In 2003 we issued our debut album called 'Cold Sowing Seeds Of Death'. Of course, at the moment, taking into account unsatisfactory record quality and our today's experience, it would be reasonably to call it a demo-album.

Eugeny: However, we still don't give up hope to remix 'Cold Sowing Seeds Of Death', that will raise its status to full-fledged album. Moreover, we've been working at this already.

Oleg: As regards the main question we may add that recording of 'Painted By Pain' took HORRIBLY much time. The first ideas that laid the basis for it were born at the turn of millennium. But the recording process alternated with long periods of stagnation and hibernation, dragged on more than four years, almost resulting in nervous wreck and total hair loss.

Hahaha, in those four years even my hair has become less. So now I know, it is you guys to blame, haha. What was the main aspect of the delay, funding, or to get all the people who contributed to it to the studio?
Eugeny: To gather all the members in the studio was a nearly impossible task.

Did you have it in mind this big already, or did you just want to keep on making it bigger and bigger during the recording?
Oleg: A skeleton concept of the album emerged approximately in 2004-2005. But at a later stage during recording, thanks to new opportunities and increasingly due to our own growing up and revision of the initial ideas, 'Painted By Pain' accumulated additional details, “ripened” and acquired the finished form.

Pavel: And all this is a kind of “echoes” to the future material being created parallel to 'Painted By Pain'.

I'll get to that later on. You have already released a DVD before you made this album. That usually is done in the other order, why did you, as a demo band, want to release that DVD already at that time?
Oleg: The idea of DVD called 'Decade In Siberian Swamp' was born from amateur attempt to capture our concert marking the tenth anniversary of the band, which took place in our city. We wanted to do it more for ourselves – just to make a kind of report on the last years, to play on one stage with those who ever contributed the band. But at that moment were not its members anymore. The show is divided in two parts, with a bit different line-up and concept. The second part comprises material taken as a basis for the forthcoming album that is being recorded at the moment.

The atmosphere on the album is quite tense and melancholic at times, which makes it unlistenable for me at times, yet SO beautiful when I feel fine. Is that the initial intention for you guys to make music, creating a vibe that actually has the ability to touch people, whether that be good or bad?
Oleg: Well, it makes no sense at all, if you write, paint or play music without intention to touch one or another string deep inside one's soul. Principally, even deep inside your own soul…

Eugeny: As for some eclecticism in the atmosphere of our tracks, we are called 'Harmony In Grotesque' and this fact is reflected on our music and texts – one way or another.

You lyrical content is not the standard blasphemy or murderous inclination, like seen in many metal bands. Could you tell me something about your lyrics?
Anton: The real life of everyone is constantly changing, and the changes could be good or bad, in this regard the state of mind is also constantly changing. The texts were written within a definite time period. They reflect these changes as a whole. Perhaps somebody will read them and find something reflecting his own inner nature, of course, from his individual angle. Our texts express also a wish to go beyond the routine, our protest against dull society, maybe, even an appeal to revolution))) You know, a strong desire to change anything around us occurs sometimes…

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What do you think of bands that do use the standard lyrical metal themes?
Oleg: You mean murders and blasphemy? Well, if your soul desires for murders and blasphemy – why not? If seriously, any art sphere has some standard set of ready-made clichés. Exploitation of this “toolbox”, maybe, does not make you honour, but allows you feel easy and carelessly in this sphere – right at home, if I may say so…

Anton: I think the bands you mean don't bother about significance of their songs. Simple rhymes. Verse – chorus – verse. But we are not looking for easy ways, haha. In fact, if we retrace poetic components of many bands of such type, we can conclude that the texts are virtually alike. Maybe, the words are different but the meaning. It's just as running in a circle – you see one and the same scenery but every time it becomes more and more boring. In this case you pay more attention to music. But the worst case is when you listen to a group but find neither good texts nor good music.

Timophey: If you want to be someone who actually is not you – imitate.

What inspires you the most to make your songs?
Oleg: A standard kit of “external irritants”: Nature, people, films, music, journeys, alcohol, drugs…

Pavel: Emotional experiences and desire for inner peace, inner harmony.

Oleg: In a word – life.

Now that the album is out, it has reached us, in the Netherlands. What do you know about the Netherlands?
Oleg: To say the truth, it's fucking great to realize that your creation may be heard and esteemed somewhere on the other end of the Earth! It's a very new and pleasant feeling for us! As for the Netherlands – we see it as a small free “open-minded” country with rich culture and traditions, daringly gaining its land from the see and turning this land into fragrant tulip-cannabis plantations hahaha. But, we are “seriously” bothered by situation relating to some restrictions of tourists in coffee-shops… hehehe.

Nika: In addition to what Oleg said, off the top of my head Holland is: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Bosch, windmills, of course excellent football with old school and rich traditions!!

Pavel: If take sports – your country has excellent mixed Martial Arts fighters.

Do we? I have to take that from you. Do you have a favourite Dutch band?
Oleg: Of course, Holland has given the world a lot of bright names. For example, for me it is The Gathering, Pestilence, Gorefest, Phlebotomized, Sungrazer, Celestial Season, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble...

Pavel: I would add also Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Textures, and I used to listen Epica sometimes.

There's some insider's names there too, great. Since the release of the album, do you feel the interest in the band has grown and does it help you to get shows more easily?
Oleg: It's early to speak about “growing of interest” in the band as we released our album on Ukrainian ARX Productions just a little more than a month ago. But in the meantime we've already got many reviews (mostly positive) from different countries and, for example, this interview. All this cannot but please and inspire new ideas).

What has been the greatest highlight of the band to date, apart from the obvious one, which is the release of this album, of course?
Oleg: Well, once I was so drunk that could not control myself and vomited on a grave. And our bass guitarist jumped from the fourteenth floor but caught hold of something on the thirteenth one. You mean this?

Timophey: February 28th 1998, is our band's Birthday. We celebrate it every year obligatorily!

If there are theh, then that is what I was after, yes. Hahaha. Do you think this band will one day enable you to live as musician, without another day job, or don't you even dare to dream about that?
Oleg: Taking into account day-to-day realities of Siberian life the probability of this seems to be steadily tending to zero.

Eugeny: On the other hand, as I know, Opeth, Lacuna Coil, Behemoth, Nile have released not one, not two and even not three albums before they could earn enough money for living and creating new albums. “The night is young!”

That's right, nor have The Gathering and Gorefest. Not even Within Temptation. The previous question implies a certain level of success, but at what stage do you consider the album or your band a success?
Oleg: Sometimes, when we are on tour, the host side pays for tickets, housing and food – is this success? I must say that we are rather intransigent in our not-for-profit creativity, that's why “success” for us means not “dough”, but a chance to be heard by as many as possible potentially congenial people.

that's a warm thought. If you forward the calendar one year, what do you hope to have achieved in 2012?
Oleg: As many bands which begin working with a new label, we are very optimistic about the future. We hope to expand the audience, give new concerts (by the way, this March we are going to mini-tour in our region as warm-up for The Ocean), we will try to work more intensively and productively (as compared to epically long recording 'Painted By Pain').

Are you already working on new material and is this a multi-album deal you closed?
Oleg: Yes, we've been working on the next album already. By the moment drums have been completely recorded, and we've begun to record bass. We evaluate the future album notably higher than previous one. Perhaps, it will be our Opus Magnum. Moreover, about 70% of material for the next (fourth!) album has been created! That's the convenience of recording that lasts for years – you have time to accumulate a lot of new ideas!

That's about it for now, thanks for your time. I enjoyed thinking of some questions for you. Is there anything I forgot to ask about, or you would like to say?
Oleg: Thank you for your interest in our modest persons! Hot greetings from cold Siberia!

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