I discovered the band Panychida about 10 years ago when they played a gig in my hometown Belgrade (Serbia). Since that night, I have become a big fan of the band and I am looking forward to each of their releases. Also, I had the privilege to be on tour with the guys from Panychida, and besides being good musicians, they are also very good and honest people. It is my great pleasure to present to you the interview I did with Sinneral, the guitarist of Panychida, on the occasion of the release of their new album, a masterpiece called “Gabreta Aeterna”.
Hi Sinneral, I hope you and the rest of the Panychida gang, as well as your families, are good in these difficult times. How do you guys spend your days during this Covid madness?
Hi Vidoje, hi Serbia! Long time no see! Yes, so far we all are ok, hoping it’s the same on your side. From the band life point of view, we have been hard working on the album in the last 12 months. We were looking for a label, found one, lost it right before signing the contract (due to Covid crisis), searching again, found a different solution, fine tuning the sound, recording the children’s choir, working on the graphics for the digipack CD, LP, MC, preparing various features to be put in the limited edition wooden box, etc. Pretty busy months. We are pretty pissed off we can’t play live to support the album. We really miss the stage, the decibels in the guts. We wish to be on the road in our van… To Serbia for example hehe.
First of all, I would like to thank you for the outstanding album “Gabreta Aeterna”. As for me, the album is among the top 3 albums for 2020. We have been waiting for a new album for 4 years, but it was worth the wait. Can you tell us how the album recording process went (where you recorded it, how long, etc.)?
Wow, thanks a lot, I am glad you like the album! Yep, it took a while to finish all the works. “Thanks” to Covid it took even longer. Some of the songs (e.g. “Todesmarsch” and couple of others) are more than 6 years old. They did not blend in the previous album “Haereticalia” concept and we were counting with them for “Gabreta Aeterna”. So, the songs’ drafts were built during the last 5-6 years and we decided to start recording the drums in January 2018 (yes – almost 3 years before the release, haha).
I see, you know, the entire album is dedicated to the Czech mountain region called “Šumava”. We wanted to imprint this mystical mountains’ atmosphere in the album as deep as possible, that’s why we have rented an old cottage in the heart of Šumava (Staré Srní – you can google it) for two weeks and we moved the recording studio in there. We were completely insulated from the outer world, surrounded by nature, hills, woods, snow… We were keeping the fire burning at the fireplace, bottles open, recording, totally embedded in the mystical atmosphere. In the evenings after the recording we were walking over snowy plains to have a couple of beers in a small local brewery… Simply said – a paradise! And it took more than 2 other years to finish all the works as from the musical, sound and visual point of view. It sounds a pretty long time, but we did not want to haste. We wanted everything to be flawless!
The quality of the album is also evidenced by the fact that it was published by 4 different labels in various formats. Could you tell us more about that? In what forms was the album released? How can people buy the album?
I am not sure the number of labels proves the quality of the album anyhow, but yes, we actually cooperate with four labels. As I mentioned above, in spring 2020 we were pretty close to signing a contract with a well-known western label. Unfortunately, the pandemic came in and the label stopped new signings. This was also one of the reasons why releasing the album took longer. Finally, we made a deal with those four labels. We already had a good experience with all of them previously. The album is released on all possible physical media types and also at electronic platforms. Folter Records released the CD (digipack), Nasphyr Records took care of the vinyl, Evil Horn made the MC, and Epidemie Records helped us with the limited edition (wooden box). The album can be heard also online on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal, and others!
The album is dedicated to the endless landscapes of the Šumava mountains. Since the lyrics are written in your native language, Czech, can you tell us something about them? Can you also tell the readers, why did you decide to dedicate the album to the Šumava mountains? I have to admit, thanks to the band Panychida, I did a little research. This is definitely the first place I will visit as soon as the borders open again!
All the lyrics were put together by our guitarist Honza. He is an infinite lover of the Šumava mountains, as from the hiker as from the reader point of view. His passion for this region is pretty contagious. I have to admit, I also found my fascination in Šumava’s magical atmosphere and beautiful natural scenaries. So, when Honza brought the idea about the album’s topic, there was no discussion – we all agreed enthusiastically! The album has got no story line, as someone may expect. Each song tells a different story, having the common denominator – the old Šumava. The attribute “The old” is very important. Today Šumava is full of tourists, cyclists, hipsters, etc. We are singing about the old times, when the life was hard, nature was unspoiled, people were believing the woods were full of good and evil creatures, full of magic… The Czech language was an obvious choice, although the foreigners can’t understand exactly, the sound of our mother language fits perfectly in the album’s atmosphere. I believe Czech language is not that big problem for Serbians, right hehe?
Sure, brate! Once you decide to visit Šumava, let us know, we will take you to some breathtaking places!
The album left a strong impression on me. Almost every song has some detail, a riff, a chorus, a solo … that makes me listen to it again and again. However, I have to ask a special question about the song titled “Bludné ohně na stráních Hirschensteinských”. I believe that the story related to the recording of that song is very interesting, considering that it was sung by a children’s choir. I saw photos of you and guitarist Honza while you were recording that song. How did you establish cooperation with the choir and how did you convince the children’s choir to be a guest on the album of the black/heavy metal band?
Yeah, for us this song was a cherry on the top of a cake! We always like to put some interesting unusual tracks among the regular songs on each album. Our friend Martina, a barmaid at our metal home Parlament Club (pub) in Pilsen, played a very creepy mystical song to us during one drinking night back in the days. The song was so strong that inspired us to… Not copy, but to do our own song, completely different but with a similar creepy and spooky atmosphere. I wrote the music and the melody line, Honza wrote the lyric and we started to look for a children’s’ choir to ask them for cooperation. Luckily, Honza’s wife is a friend of a head conductor of the very well-known choir Andílici from Pilsen – Kateřina. We had a couple of meetings, discussing, listening to samples, fine tuning and finally (delayed due to covid restrictions) we managed to record.
We heard some of the kids’ parents were not OK with this cooperation at the beginning. Fortunately, Kateřina convinced the parents, there is nothing to be worried about and all the kids could join us. I will never forget the recording day with the kids! The atmosphere was awesome! We were in a hall with approx. 60 children. The kids were fascinated by my and Honza’s look, haha. They probably do not see someone like us every day…long haired guys with tattoos, dressed in black, leather, heavy boots, rattling chains hanging down their holey jeans, etc. The moment I heard all the little ones singing my melody and Honza’s lyric, I felt my blood was freezing in my veins. Unbelievable power, strong atmosphere…you can judge on your own listening to the recording result.
The visual part of the album is also a special pleasure. The booklet is truly phenomenal. Can you tell us who was all involved in its creation?
We can proudly claim, all the work (music, lyrics, sound, graphic) was done by us – the production completely stayed within the band. Talking about the graphic aspect of the album, everything was fixed by Honza. Last but not least, for example, he was in touch with some archive institutions and private photos collectors to obtain copyrights to use the old photos of Šumava. And for example, the band promo photos were done by our friends Ivo “Oskar” Osvald and Zdeněk Katera – at the Šumava mountains of course.
I also have to ask about the band’s current lineup. A few months ago, drummer Karel wrote that it was his last concert with the band Panychida, after your gig in Czech. Is Karel still a drummer and if not, have you found a replacement for him? I sincerely hope it’s just a joke.
Unfortunately, the rumors are true. After finishing the album’s sound and after the summer festival show at Enter the Eterna Fire fest, Karel decided to leave. It was his personal decision and we fully respect it. We are staying well-tuned and our friendship continues! We found Karel’s successor, a youngster (in respect to the age average of the band, haha). At the moment we are in phase of rehearsing, teaching him the songs, to get used each to other musically. As no concerts can be held and we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have plenty of time to get to the same frequency and to train enough.
The members of Panychida have no side projects except for you, Sinneral. You also play in the band Mallephyr. Do you have information, what is happening with the Mallephyr, what are their current activities?
Sure! As all the bands we, Mallephyr, are having a “dry season”. No gigs, no trips, no parties…It sucks. However, we are not hibernating. The stuff for our 3rd album is now ready and we plan to start the recording in January 2021! It’s gonna kick ass, I promise!
Due to the situation with the Covid virus, many bands have decided to play Online stream concerts. What is your opinion on that? Would you do something similar?
Yes, I have noticed this new trend. We have a friend who has a place and equipment to make such an online gig happen and we were discussing this possibility with him. Anyway, we are now fully focusing on training the new drummer. Once we’re ready to play live, we may re-open this topic with a friend of ours again.
I believe that Covid ruined your plans regarding the promotion of the album for this year. However, I believe that in a few months we will get out of this madness and continue our lives normally. Do you have some plans for 2021?
Yeah, I remember, after releasing each album, we were receiving shit load of offers to play around the Czech Republic, Europe, even beyond! From this point of view, we could not choose a worse timing to release a new album. We feel such an album deserves a proper support also with live playing. And of course, we all miss the feeling headbanging on the stage, enjoying sharing the energy with the crowd.
Sinneral, thank you very much for your time. I wish all the best to the band Panychida. I believe yours is yet to come. Hodně štěstí, bratře (Good luck bro). If you have some message for the fans, feel free to say.
I also thank you for very pleasant interview, Vidoje! Hvala puno, brate! I miss the old times sharing the road together in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš… It was fun! And I miss Serbian hospitality too. Your awesome rakija, ajvar, pljeskavica, čevapi! U pičku materinu! And to you all guys and girls who are reading this: stay strong, keep calm and safe, listen to metal and to Panychida especially. I hope we’ll hit the road again soon and we’ll meet you all and share some metal energy and rakija!