Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Some time ago I presented to you a review of “Our Life Belong To Us” Ukrainian band Lethargy. While writing this enthusiastic review I just decided to do an interview with them, but it took quite a long time for me due to some other stuff I had on my mind. But what is delayed isn’t lost, as one of Polish sayings is. So here you have the opportunity to read what guitarist and vocalist Vitaly has to say about the band itself and several other topics – all of them are of course associated with music.  Let’s go!

Hail Vitaly! How are things going? Are you and all you care about saving (well, relatively safe because we all know how it is even in Kiev these days)?
Hello! Thank you for your care and concern. Kiev is relatively calm. The air defense system is currently coping with enemy rockets, thank God. It was tough during the last winter: there was no electricity, water, or heating. But we survived. This winter has been a real gift as there haven’t been any power or heating outages.

Ok, let’s talk a little about other things you let you “forgot” all this shit around, even if I deeply doubt it’s possible at all. Lethargy was created in 2007 in Zaporizhia, but the ensemble moved to the capital city. What was it about?
By the way, I’m not originally from Zaporizhia. An inner voice called me to this city, telling me that there I would find like-minded people. I found them after 2 years. I moved to Kyiv for personal reasons, which I don’t really want to recall now. But my bandmates and I are glad that we had to move to the capital.

The same here! Anyways, as I know changes in lineup happened very often. What was the reason and how, in what conditions did you come back to almost the original line-up?
Yes, we had changes in the lineup. At one point, I even kept track of how many musicians went through our band. I counted almost 30 people. The reasons were various: some decided to quit music altogether, some didn’t want to play this type of music, and other ones simply didn’t fit in the group or couldn’t find common ground with me. The original lineup reunited after a series of bad events turned into good ones. These were my personal events that I don’t really want to talk about.

 Oh… I wanna ask one more thing connected with the line-up. Actually this is about the position of keyboardist. During the recording of “Our Life Belongs to Us” there was anyone who played this instrument. Was it a conscious decision or it just happened the last keyboardist left you and you just didn’t find the new one?
Our regular keyboardist left us during the album recording. We had to resort to session musicians’ help, but none of them could handle composing keyboard parts for all the songs. So, we broke down the task, and each hired keyboardist recorded as many songs as they could. Now, we play along with a playback. There’s a plus side to this too, especially for the drummer.

By the way, what surprised me is the fact that the number of your releases is quite huge. I mean, it can stay in contrast with the facts we were talking about before. The first and actually the only demo you released was 2008. Can you tell me something more about this? It contains only three songs…
Oh, great question. This demo was our first studio experience. We were still students, very young and inexperienced musicians. We’re glad that this demo hasn’t been forgotten and that people often ask us about it. Some listeners even requested it on a CD.

Two years or so later the debut full-length has seen the world. It was released on CD by Grailight Productions. How did you get to know each other? Was it good cooperation with some profits for both sides?
Yes, we were very pleased with the release. For a debut album, it was quite grandiose. It included a 20-page booklet and very high-quality, sturdy printing. Now, this album has become a collector’s item. I don’t even have a copy of it myself. I don’t remember how we found the label. All I remember is that I spent six months looking for a label, and for a relatively unknown band, it was a challenging task. And the label was right under our noses: they were commenting on our social media posts. An interesting fact: we were so excited about the release of our first album that we almost missed the train through which they were sending us the author’s copies.

Second album came out in 2012 by Total Metal records coming from your country. But I somehow wanna ask at the moment about something else. I mean, all your releases, except the one, hasn’t English titles. What was the reason for that? Was it about making all your fans understand lyrics?
For the first three albums, I sang in Russian. The band name was also written in Cyrillic. However, shortly before the full-scale invasion of Russians into our country, I decided to switch to singing in English. Until 2015, I sang in Russian to convey the meaning of our songs to a larger audience in our country and the CIS. I can’t say it was a mistake, but if I could turn back time, I would have started singing in English even from the demo.

This exception was released last year as mentioned before “Our Life…”. Why this time you decided it’ll have English both title and lyrics as well? Was it about wanting to be at least a little bit known band in the so -called western world?
As I mentioned in the previous conversation, I decided to sing in English even before the war began. The reason was to reach out to the European audience rather than remain a local Ukrainian band. By the way, we’ve gained a lot of listeners in Europe and overseas. 80% of the customers who order our merchandise and vinyl are from abroad.

The same as your third album, it’s released by Moon Records.. Are you satisfied when it takes cooperation with them?
Yes, we are quite satisfied with our collaboration. This label fulfilled our dream: we wanted to release our album on a digipak and then on vinyl. Accordingly, the third album was released on a 6-panel digipak, and the fourth on vinyl. We are pleased with the outcome.

I wonder why you decided for the second day to cooperate with a label who isn’t stricte metal one. I mean it also has some rock or even pop in their catalog…
We decided to collaborate with them because they offered us a vinyl release. That became the determining factor for our decision.

 By the way, what does the scene over there look like in these hard times? Well, I know bands release new stuff and so on. But are there some gigs in relatively safe cities or all of them moved to Poland (just like games of the national team of Ukraine in football)?
We are in Kyiv. Concerts are often held here, and they are all charitable. As far as I know, Ukrainian bands even go on tours around the country. So, life and creativity continue to exist even in the realities of war.

Yeah! And I’m sure it pisses off this KGB asshole. It shows Ukrainians still have a spirit of freedom. By the way,let’s talk about the underground a little bit more. I wonder if war changed the approach of metalheads to several scenes? If something changed during last years in this case?
When the war began, many musicians showed themselves from a different perspective. And those bands that justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became persona non grata for us.

That’s exactly what I meant with the question. Anyways, I somehow think most Russian bands don’t support this shit at all! I personally know musicians who still have Ukrainian flags on their profiles and we know what they risk by showing support to Your country. Anyways, if war can have some positive effects for Ukraine? I mean, to talk only about our field, can you see some more interest in, let’s call them, foreign maniacs in the bands from your country?
Yes, as in everything in this world, there are always two sides to the coin. And even in the current situation, there is a positive side: our country has become more recognizable. If before, in other countries, when asked where Ukraine is, we would answer: near Russia, now Ukraine is known worldwide. And of course, we are supported and our creativity is respected with great interest and admiration.

Until Ukrainian bands still aren’t as well-known as I think they deserve, then recommend some of the ones you personally like. Of course you can name not only Ukrainian, but also for example Georgian and so on ensembles, if you wanna.
All of us are familiar with Nokturnal Mortum. There’s also Jinjer, but there’s currently a very mixed perception of this band. I can highlight Hell:On, Khors, FleshGore, Mournful Gust, Ignea, and Sectorial. These are the bands I can recall at the moment.

Personally I like Nokturanal Mortum and even more FleshGore (Igor has been my good buddy for years). Now let’s change roles. Ask me some questions, then.
What major festivals are there? What Ukrainian bands do you know and would like to see at your concerts? What Swedish underground bands would you recommend listening to?

Well, there’s really tons of great bands here in Sweden and even in my new home-city or even region. And I actually have no idea why so few people know about their existence if they play such great music. Real legend of brutal playing is based in a little town nearby Malmo Deranged existing since 1991. I also like Birdflesh very much. I saw it so many times (both here in Sweden and on Obscene Extreme) I even have no idea if I have enough fingers to count it. Besides of course General Surgery, The Crown, Siniestro or even Entrails. What is Malmo and Scania in general? I have to mention Interemo, Grand Harvest, Dead Sleep, Bastard Grave, Cabeza or Coffin Creep. Of course I could continue in eternity with this litany of names, but I think we should go back to “normal” interview right now.

Ok, I think we’ll have some mercy for readers and end this interview here. Thanks a lot for this! Do you have something to add?

Thank you for the interview and the interest shown in our band and our country. We hope for a swift victory and a performance in Sweden. Thank you for the assistance your country provides to Ukraine.

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